Today, as I’m inching my way through work, I “overhear” a conversation about breastfeeding. I don’t know the exact details but something about one woman had an abundance of milk when she breastfed years ago while another makes just enough to get her newborn son through the night. The topic of breastfeeding gives me mixed emotions. I admit before I had children, I was very naïve. I believed that once you became pregnant your lady bits became engorged with a never-ending supply of milk. Oh, how wrong I was.
Unfortunately, I had complications like many others during my pregnancy. I had Eclampsia. The first week postpartum was great. I was breastfeeding like a champ. My son latched with no problem. Then, one week later I had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital where I stayed for a week. There I became depressed. I was too weak to watch over my son and felt terrible for not being with him. In the hospital I didn’t want to pump because I was afraid of my blood pressure rising to stroke level again and was afraid of those consequences. I find now that one probably didn’t influence the other, but hindsight is 20/20.
Once I was released from the hospital, I mustered up the courage to try and pump. I was lucky to get 1 cc. Not enough to satisfy even the smallest of beings. I placed my son on my breast a few times to see if this would help but he became agitated as his efforts were to no avail. No milk. I tried for weeks. I was determined. My breasts were so sore and now resembled that of a deflated balloon. My breasts were sad. I was sad.
I took supplements and ate lactation cookies before I realized that my window of opportunity had possibly passed. This was not a great feeling to have while experiencing postpartum depression, but I got through it. I realized I could still provide for my baby with formula and still give him all the love I could.
Breastfeeding is an amazing gift from God, one I guess I took for granted. When I hear people who boast about their abundance it makes me sad because it was something I was not able to give to my child but also makes me proud to hear someone who used their gift and sacrifice to provide for their child. I challenge those women who have an over abundant supply, to donate to milk banks at your local hospitals for the women who cannot provide but very much want to. This liquid gold is especially helpful to NICU babies which I also experienced with my second child and was very thankful for.
I challenge those who feel their supply is inadequate or non-existent, to know that you are enough. Your love is enough. There is a reason there are aisles filled with formula. You are not alone.
For those who choose not to breastfeed for whatever reason. I am not here to convince you because I do not think it makes you any less of a great mother. The number one thing a child needs is Love.
ME ADVICE: Do what’s best for you. Do not sacrifice your health and mental well-being. Formula fed babies are still healthy babies but there is no substitution for a well-loved baby.
ME DATE: Today write down 3 things that you have done well. Whether you made it through a difficult night with a moody teenager, provided yet another warm meal for your family (Grubhub and Uber Eats count), or you worked out this week. Look at these things and remind yourself how awesome you are. Say it out loud and believe it – I AM AWESOME.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding here are a few resources.
Disclaimer: I do not endorse or promote any of the below suggestions as each woman is unique and results may vary.
- Consult a Lactation consultant if you are having trouble latching. Recommendations can be found through your doctor or pediatrician.
- There are several supplements that are noted to boost milk production. Among those identified are Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. These items can be found in health food stores or natural healthcare locations.
- Foods known to help boost milk production include whole grains (oatmeal or oats), dark green vegetables (Kale, spinach), fennel, garlic and chickpeas among others.
- New to the market are lactation cookies and lactation teas which can be found in your local stores such as Wal-Mart and Target.