I have been praised in pro-breastfeeding groups for my tenacity. For overcoming overwhelming odds. For persisting when others would have “given up.” Along the way there were people who told me that I should just feed formula, that I should just stop breastfeeding because of the horrible experiences I was having, but I honestly thought those people were just misinformed. I never thought that formula was bad, horrible, or poison, but I honestly thought that I should keep going. It wasn’t until I broke down crying in front of my midwife with my second child, my second bout of severe PPD, and my second struggle to breastfeed (26 months into my parenting journey) that a medical professional or breastfeeding support person told me that my mental health was more important for my child than my milk. And I don’t think I will ever forget that moment.
My first pregnancy was textbook. Very uneventful. I took the classes, read the books, had supplies, had supportive friends, ordered my pump. I had heard it was very important that I not have any formula in the house because it might be “tempting” and that babies shouldn’t get bottles until 6 weeks, so I had no bottles and no formula.
My baby arrived at 36 weeks, 6 pounds 5 oz and quite healthy for a preemie. I was encouraged to supplement with formula from birth because we were afraid he wouldn’t be able to latch and suckle properly. I used a nipple shield because of my flat nipples. I wasn’t even 2 hours postpartum the first time I was hooked up to a pump to get a drop or two of colostrum which got smeared on baby’s lips. We spent the first week in and out of the NICU and on and off phototherapy for jaundice. By 3 weeks old, he was diagnosed with severe GERD, and we cut dairy and soy.
I triple fed for 3 months, every feed taking 1.5 hours if my husband could help, 2 hours if I was home alone. I woke my baby to feed every 3 hours for the first 5 weeks. I took all the galactogogues. I took prescription drugs that I really shouldn’t have taken because I have a cardiac condition and aren’t even approved by the FDA. Continue reading