As a nurse, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I learned everything I could about breastfeeding, and I just knew that it would work for us. In nursing school, we were told that anyone could breastfeed who wanted to and I believed it. I would not even consider the possibility of feeding my children in any way other than nursing and was extremely judgmental of anyone who did not breastfeed their children. I honestly thought they were lazy, selfish, and unwilling to do the work. I lived by the mantra that “breast is best!” My son was born, and I was so excited to meet him and begin our breastfeeding journey. Unfortunately, we struggled from the very beginning. It was very difficult to get him to latch, and when he did, he wouldn’t stay on very long. Eventually, our son became difficult to wake up, but the nurses responded to our frustrations by saying, “he must not be hungry!” By discharge, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. I bravely went home, believing this was normal. We would figure it out because “breast is best.”
My husband and I cried a lot during the first 24 hours at home. We fought to wake our sleepy newborn up, but we were rarely successful, and when we were, we couldn’t get him to eat. I kept on refusing to allow my husband to give our son any formula because I didn’t want it to ruin our breastfeeding relationship. We went to his newborn appointment when he was four days old. I knew at that point things weren’t going well but wasn’t prepared for the realities we were about to face. Our son had lost 13% of his body weight, he was hypothermic with a body temperature of 94.9, he was hypoglycemic, and had lost his reflexes. Our pediatrician looked at us with very sad eyes and kindly but firmly, explained our son was very sick and needed to eat now.
My husband and I cried as we watched our son guzzle down 2 ounces of formula. His temperature was still dangerously low so we went to the local children’s hospital.
We spent three days with him there before it was finally determined he was stable for discharge. During this time, we never saw a lactation consultant. The hospital we delivered at did not have them on the weekends, and the Children’s hospital only had one, and no matter how much we begged, she never came to visit.
After we went home, I tried to pump for him but didn’t know what I was doing and could not establish a sufficient supply. When he was two weeks old, I tearfully decided to stop pumping, and we started giving him only formula. For the first year of his life, I felt guilty whenever I mixed up a bottle. I was terrified of being judged when we were out in public and felt like such a failure. I was ashamed that I couldn’t breastfeed my son and felt like I should have just tried harder. I vowed that this would not happen with our next child and started to develop a game plan to be better educated to breastfeed again.
Our beautiful daughter was born in January of this year, and things were much different. She latched perfectly from the very beginning, and I was thrilled!! We nursed on demand, but we scheduled her newborn visit a little earlier this time. I was so excited for the appointment because things were going well. We had the correct number of wet and dirty diapers; our daughter was waking up and letting me know she wanted to eat and was alert.
I was devastated to find out she had lost 12% of her body weight!
Our pediatrician insisted we start bottle feeding, and we called a lactation consultant for help. During our visit, we learned she only ate 1/2 ounce during a 30-minute nursing session. We kept going to the lactation consultants and breastfeeding support groups. We nursed, we used nipple shields, we pumped, we bottle-fed formula and breastmilk; we did it all!!
At seven weeks, she was still nursing every hour and a half for 30-45 minutes or more. We did another weighted feeding at this point, and she still only ate 1.5 ounces. She was not gaining enough weight. This time was different, though…thanks to the stories and information I have learned from The Fed Is Best Foundation, I confidently decided to discontinue our journey with nursing. I decided I would pump as much as I could, but if I couldn’t keep up with her needs, I would give her formula without hesitation.
After about a week of pumping, I quickly realized that pumping wasn’t for me. I felt that my children needed time with their mommy more than one of my children needed my milk. We are transitioning to formula now, and I feel confident about my decision. I realized that if I continued to try nursing, it would only be for selfish reasons. It was NOT what was best for my daughter.
Now that I am on the other side of all of this, I have realized that the stress and anxiety of breastfeeding, in any form, caused me was not worth it. I missed out on so much during the first weeks of both of my children’s lives for making this feeding decision. I can’t get that time back. When I look back on my life, I know I wouldn’t wish I spent more time pumping breast milk for my children; I would wish I got more time with them. I am now enjoying every minute I can with my children and finally don’t feel any anxiety about feeding either of them.
The only negative feelings I have are sadness that I didn’t get the nursing relationship I wanted and that I missed so much of those first precious weeks.
I appreciate the information I received from The Fed Is Best Foundation; it has absolutely changed me as a mom, woman, and friend. Fed is best, no matter how it looks, and I will fight to support all moms in making the best feeding decisions they can for their families.
I am completely at peace with everything that has happened to our family and feel so grateful that neither of our children had any lasting effects from our experience. It breaks my heart to see other families suffer like we did and see moms who can’t breastfeed feel inadequate. It is needless, and our society needs to stop putting this undue stress on mothers. I love the quote you have posted several times: “Your worth as a mother is not measured in ounces.” It is so true!
For our family, breast was NOT best. FED was best.
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HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST
There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:
- Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles, and everything in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to feed her baby safely. Every voice contributes to change.
- If you need infant feeding support, we have a private support group– Join us here.
- If you or your baby were harmed from complications of insufficient breastfeeding, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, and our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies, and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All of the Foundation’s work is achieved via its supporters’ pro bono and volunteer work.
- Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page, and by sending our FREE infant feeding educational resources to expectant moms you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
- Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write to them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
- Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care, and hospitals.
- Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for the legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of the mother’s rights.
- Click here to join our healthcare professionals group.
- Please email Jody@fedisbest.org if you want to join any of our volunteer groups.
- Send us messages of support. We work daily to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child. Your messages of support keep us all going.