Within moments of our son David’s birth, I was encouraged to breastfeed him. Before David was born, my husband and I had planned that I would breastfeed our boy. Not just for all the health benefits we heard about but also because we are the kind of folk who try to save money – after all, kids are expensive! We invested in a breast pump and a really cool pillow that David could lie on so that I wouldn’t have to hold him up to feed him. We felt we were set up for success.
I would hold David close and rub his back while he fed. I’d look into his little eyes and sing songs like “You Are My Sunshine” and “Baby Mine” to him.
I remember feeling drained and a little bitter that my husband slept so peacefully while I was up at night and early mornings feeding our bundle of joy. I had tried pumping but found that my body did not produce enough milk to store. I felt something must have been wrong with me. I took warm showers and applied warm presses to my chest to help open the fountains. Between David’s suckling and the pressure of the breast pump, my breasts felt chafed raw and had hurt very much. With the lack of sleep and attempts to breastfeed, my mind was not in a good place.
It wasn’t until I took David to his pediatrician two weeks after his birth that I realized that I wasn’t giving him enough nutrients and that he was actually losing weight. David’s pediatrician assured me that I wasn’t a bad mother and all that mattered was that he received nutrients to grow up healthy – regardless if that was from breast milk or formula. In her words, “A fed baby is a healthy baby.” Her words took a huge weight off of my shoulders.
The pediatrician’s office supplied us with three sample sizes of different formulas. There was a bit of trial and error in finding which formula worked best for David. We eventually found one that worked. One of the benefits I found immediately from using formula was that I could sleep while my husband alternated with me throughout the night to feed our son. My husband felt happy when he saw how much better David and I looked soon after he was helping with the feedings. My son was gaining weight and I started to look well rested.
As we transitioned to baby formula, I took steps to keep my body from producing the limited milk that it had. This process felt equally painful to actual breastfeeding. My breasts had become swollen. I was taking cold showers to prevent any leakage that would come from taking warm showers. I discovered wet bras and shirts for a period of time. This made it a little embarrassing if I was out of the house. Eventually, the pain subsided and my breasts stopped producing milk.
Although there was pain and a little mom guilt, my baby was eating. Ultimately, this mommy was happy to have a healthy baby.