Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, we shared a contributor piece about why her unique parenting experience was not conducive to breastfeeding. Today’s post is about how a different contributor made breastfeeding work for her family despite early struggles. We’re all about sharing different voices on similar subjects, so we would love to hear what you think! It’s all part of our Perspectives in Parenting Series!
If there was one thing I was certain of when I was pregnant, it was that I was going to breastfeed my son. Nothing was going to stop me. Everyone knows formula-fed babies never go to college, hate their parents, and end up in jail. At least, that’s what all the experts made me believe. I felt the pressure to nurse my son, and I was going to make it happen. I read about 100 nursing books, talked to other moms on forums, and got the low-down in a prenatal class. Nursing was going to work for us.
The day after my son was born, a lactation consultant came to meet with me in our hospital room. She looked at his latch. Good. She watched how I was holding him. Good. Then she looked at my breasts.
“You’re underdeveloped on your left side,” she said. “You’ll most likely have supply issues.”
EXCUSE ME!? I mean, I’ve always known I have small boobs, but underdeveloped?!? Come on!
I was immediately thrown off and discouraged. I had felt so confident in my ability to nurse my son, and now someone was telling me I was going to need the help of formula to do it.
I was already failing at being a mom and my baby was only about 12 hours old.
After a brief freakout and a talk with my doctor, I was reassured in my ability to breastfeed. There are plenty of women with small boobs in this world who successfully breastfeed their children. I could do it.
At Callum’s two week doctor’s visit, his pediatrician showed concern with his weight gain. It wasn’t where it should’ve been, and she was concerned with how much he was getting to eat. At this point, I was still exclusively breastfeeding, trying to make it work. I was encouraged to continue nursing until Callum wouldn’t, and then offer a bottle of formula to top him off.
I was so disappointed, but I knew what I had to do to keep my baby healthy: We’d have to supplement with formula.
Looking back now, my negative attitude towards formula was so ridiculous. Sure, there are benefits from nursing that formula just doesn’t provide, but Callum’s life was not going to be over just because he was formula fed. I was doing everything I could to breastfeed, and I needed to acknowledge that. It was OK if I was also filling his belly with formula.
And that’s how our nursing story went. I was able to nurse Callum until he was about 11 months old, supplementing with formula along the way. I’ll never know if it was small boobs, Callum’s insatiable appetite, or something else entirely that caused my lower supply. Whatever it was, I did my best to exclusively breastfeed, and it sort of worked.
Through it all, if there’s one thing I learned about breastfeeding versus formula feeding, it was this: The right way to feed your baby is the way that works for you, and no one should make you feel bad about the decision you make. As long as you’re baby is healthy and loved, you are making the right choice.
When my husband and I decide it’s time for Baby No. 2, I absolutely plan on giving breastfeeding another shot. I will do my best to make it work. But, if I have to once again supplement with formula, I am going to be more than OK with that.