My Non-Breastfeeding ExperienceTuesday, September 8, 2015
Before I gave birth to my daughter I had heard and seen a lot online posts, campaigns, and personal publicity about moms who felt judged by society for choosing to breastfeed, therefore it came as a shock to me when I experienced judgement when I chose to bottle-feed my baby.
I wasn't planning to bottle-feed my daughter before she was born. I actually read and researched a lot of information about breastfeeding when I became pregnant. I even paid to take a breastfeeding class because I really wanted to. I had imagined for nine months having a natural, drug-free birth and in that dream I got to breastfeed my baby right after she was born. However, that all went out the window when I had an emergency c-section and I was given general anesthesia and woke up almost two hours after my baby had been born.
I remember telling the nurse when my baby was placed into my arms that I wanted to breastfeed but also that I was in a lot of pain. She placed her in my arms and also shot painkillers into my IV which caused me to feel woozy, and weak. So I asked my husband to take the baby from me. That night as I was feeling completely out of whack, exhausted and with our baby crying and crying, unable to move or even keep my eyes open, my husband and I made the decision to give her a bottle so I could get some rest.
Throughout our stay at the hospital as I recovered I tried my hardest to breastfeed my baby. We even had nurses and a lactation consultant help me with little success. She did latch on for a couple of seconds, but it always ended with her screaming at my chest unable to eat. This continued as we arrived home, however, with the help of my mom we were able to get her to breastfeed using a bottle nipple at my chest. But after continual feedings this caused my nipples to crack to the point of blood, which freaked me out to have my daughter feed from me bleeding so much. At this point I didn't know if to continue or stop. Stopping made me feel like a complete failure at something that should've been so natural. After trying and trying to get my daughter to latch naturally, my husband and I chose to trying pumping, and see if that would solve the problem. It did for a little while, however, like last time, if I hadn't pumped enough, we again had a screaming baby at our arms.
So after much talk with my husband we decided to bottle-feed her formula. Once we made this decision known to other people we received encouragement and understanding from some, but surprisingly a lot of judging looks and comments from most. I did feel guilty about not breastfeeding, and at times I even felt like I was failing her as a mother for not doing so. However, with the support from my husband and my family and seeing my baby grow healthy and strong, the feelings slowly started to fade away. And with time I felt stronger and more secure when telling people we had chosen to bottle-feed. Another draw back I experienced with my decision was the bonding time I needed with my daughter. Because I was now bottle-feeding, anyone was now able to feed her. And as days passed by I realized that even though others could feed her, I needed to spend extra time with her, holding her and comforting her and even feeding her as her mother. I learned that having her fall asleep on my chest soothed and comforted her in a way that no one else could, and finding that one thing that bonded us together as mother and baby helped heal a lot of the guilt feelings I had bottled up on those first weeks of her life.
From the birth to now I've had to find a deep comfort in the Lord, since most of what I had dreamed of and planned for my daughter didn't happen as I thought it would. I wanted to write about my experience because what had kept me going through my non-breastfeeding experience was a story I had heard from another girl who had chosen to bottle-feed. So I hope that my story encourages you to know that even when things don't go as planned, it does not mean you've failed. It means you made the best decision for your family with the situation you're in. I hope my story also softens the hearts of those breastfeeding mommas towards other mommies who chose to do otherwise. And to everyone else out there with an opinion on either side just know that we, as moms, are just trying to do the best we can.