This is not a story about what you should or should not do. It is also not about what is or is not good for your baby. It is just my breastfeeding story and how I saw and felt everything. If you are just starting to breastfeed your baby and you feel like crap, maybe it can help you. I have been where you are and it wasn’t all fun and games and bliss all the time.
I wanted (like most moms?) to breastfeed my baby from the beginning. My belief that I can do it and was absolutely sure that I would not have any problems.
Once my little girl was born, everything changed. Because of a difficult labour she showed no interest in my boobs at all. She just slept through the first coupe of days. I was trying to put her on the boob every hour. She just used it as a nice and comfy pillow and hardly ate any milk.
I wanted (like most moms, I hope) to breastfeed my baby from the beginning.
Because her weight dropped more than it should, and she was already born quite light, personnel of the maternity hospital brought me the bottle and demanded I feed her artificial milk.
It made me feel so bad and incompetent and useless. I read and read about breastfeeding. Because of all the positive sides of it, I felt nothing could possibly go wrong. It is the most natural thing, after all, and how would people survive, if it wasn’t?
Looking back on everything, I think I know what the problem was. The issue made me read even more. Everything about breastfeeding, how I should put my baby on breast, how to stimulate her to latch on then nipple properly. All that reading made me even more determined to breastfeed my daughter. And more worried something even more serious was wrong.
It seemed like all I can do is continue to try and try and try even harder.
After about 4 days (we were still in hospital because of jaundice) the miracle started happening. She wanted to eat a little more already. She had 2 bottles of aptamil and 3 bottles of breast milk during the day (I had to pump all the time) – she even latched a few times a day which was quite a success. By the time we were finally discharged from the hospital, I breastfed her often enough and she did not need any formula. I was sooo happy! But this was not the end of story.
In our first week at home the community nurse came around and weighed her. Bad news. She was still losing weight so they advised us to give her a bottle of formula in the morning and one before bed. This was the hardest time for me ever. I had such a bad feeling that I am not a good mother and all that bad stuff. Looking back on it now, I see that I was nothing more than a drama queen.
I was sooo happy! But this was not the end of story.
I cried a lot. I am so lucky that my husband was really supportive, a really sturdy rock to me at that time. After a few days of torturing myself I decided to call the lactation consultant and she helped me a lot. Not what I expected, because my expectations were unrealistic – I kind of wanted her to tell me what to do like she gave me a cooking recipe, but she gave me something else, instead.
I could finally see the big picture again and stop thinking just about myself and focus on my baby. She had to start gaining weigh with or without me. So what if she wasn’t going to be breastfed, even though it is so much better for the baby. If it is not working, it is not working, it was time to stop trying to do stuff that obviously couldn’t be done and get the little one to gain weight. Bottle, it was.
Wonder what the wise woman told me? Exactly what I wasn’t ready to hear, but made so much difference anyway.
When I got my head sorted out and relaxed a little bit everything magically became a lot easier. It seems like the absence of worries opened something between my baby and me, and we got to quite a pace. She brestfed more and after a week she gained back all her lost weight and she was doing very good in general.
The secret was to stop worrying so much.
Really, stop! You are still a great mom, but after all, this is not about you anymore, is it? If you are so attached to your ego that you beat yourself with “bad mom feelings” more than with what you’re doing to your baby, you have even more problems coming your way and you are not even realising it yet.
Back to my girl and me: We slowly cut the morning bottle out of her ritual and breastfed instead. We kept the evening bottle just to make sure she got enough milk before night (she always slept the whole night from the day she was born, so why compromising that?). Everything became fun and games. At least until the allergies started showing, but that is a topic for another blog post.
Everything was fun and games until the allergies started showing.
This not worrying and letting it happen worked just fine, I was happy to breastfeed her most of the time. I must add that a greedy little baby was good for the mind, but really bad for my body. I got very sore nipples and breasts full of milk and yes, it was often painful. But because it was so hard to start, I almost did not care about these small things. Physical pain can be eased with stuff from your local drug store. Stuff I got would definitely be worth my last euros, so if this is the area of your concern, please have no problem with easing yourself with something. Just do not eat pills, because your baby then gets them, too.
A greedy little baby was good for the mind, but really bad for my body.
From the time she started gaining weight properly, we had no problems at all. But everything changed upside down again when she was 2,5 months old. She suddenly got a little rash on her eyelid and I made no fuss about it – I was sure that it was normal for babies to get a dry patch of skin from time to time. And it usually is, even our nurse told me that.
After a week, another rash showed on her shoulder and started growing. But rashes were not her only problems – she was throwing up after every meal. Like… a lot. Sometimes she had bloody spots in her poo and that was the last trigger and I knew something is not alright.
Time for a very hard decision
I took her to the doctor several times and before they finally diagnosed her with milk and egg allergy, 1 month passed. It was time to make a hard decision – continue with breastfeed and go a strict diet without any dairy and eggs, or put her on the formula exclusively.
I decided to carry on and started the diet. I have to say it was very hard sometimes and it made my date nights an absolute nightmare (I began respecting the restaurants that were willing to change an entire menu for me), but it was all worth it. This was the time my daughter’s problems really became mine. I decided to take the burden and would do it again anytime. This diet involves a lot of preparing, meal planning and home cooking but I knew that this is the best thing that I can do for my baby. All the missed deserts and hamburgers were very much worth it.
What I learned?
I think my breastfeeding story – this “exercise” even made me a better person. More determined, more disciplined, and it made me start this blog, which is also a fun project. More work than I signed up for, but the rewarding feeling of accomplishment while hitting that “Publish” button is something I never imagined.
I gradually stopped breastfeeding her about 1 month ago when she was 9 months old, and it was far from easy. It was very emotional and sad. She had problems at the beginning mostly in the mornings and evenings. The first few days she was not happy with the bottle at all and she was crying and demanding me but after some time and a lot of patience and cuddles she is now a very happy kid. She gets her bottle in the morning and in the evening and loves it, even though it tastes like crap. The most hardcore milks for allergic babies always do.
I will continue to write this blog and avoid the no-no ingredients. Because it kind of became “me”, because it is good for my daughter if we have as few of these in our kitchen, and because, with a little bit of misfortune, all these recipes might come handy again when she starts eating “proper” food. We have no warranty that her allergies will fade out when she gets older.
Everything is possible if you just want it enough. Your breastfeeding story could be a more relaxed one!
As I sad in the beginning of the post, i don’t want to say what is best for you and your baby, but I think you always have to follow your instincts and do whatever you think is best. If you decided to breastfeed or not and you can definitely be a good mother with or without breastfeeding.