I have always wanted my blog to be a place of inspiration and positivity. But life isn’t all about that. There are so many things we have to figure out the hard way. Sometimes, they just don’t get sorted out, no matter how hard we try.
My delivery and postpartum experiences have been too upsetting to talk about. But I finally gathered some courage to write about my experience with breastfeeding as I know we find strength in hearing about others’ challenges. Despite the glamorous lives, we all seem to lead on Instagram, we are constantly facing one problem or another.
We all are in this constant struggle to try to be the best mother (or the best version of ourselves) but we all face hurdles on the way. Sometimes it’s better to talk about our problems so we all can gain strength from the community. So here’s my experience. Please feel free to share your feelings and emotions on the subject.
Even before Nyra was born, I had decided to breastfeed her. The lactation consultant at the hospital sat with me for two sessions. It was pretty painful at that time and she said Nyra’s face is too small and she may not be able to suck properly. She was born 5.9 pounds but she was just born; of course, she was small.
She suggested using a breast pump and gave a formula feed (Enfamil – Ready to feed) to her. I thought she’d know better so I trusted her. I was a brand new mom and had no idea what that little gesture of hers meant. Later I realized that it means the baby gets used to that taste, comfort and ease which comes with formula feeding. These are serious considerations that can make a breastfeeding mom’s life hell.
I will be honest, formula feeding can be easier for a mom too. I had complications at my delivery and after she was born. I was sent for a CT scan and various blood tests in a wheel-chair. Not having to worry about her feed while I was gone was comforting.
Breastfeeding for a new mom can be really painful. It could be from the fact that her gums were clenched together. I cried a few times with pain and sore nipples. I tried using bottle nipples and ordered nipple shields to relieve the pain. I also applied Lanisoh cream and coconut oil for relief. Then there was a stinging feeling. This pain reduced and eventually vanished. Initially latching was an issue and I couldn’t really find a position that worked best for both of us.
In the weeks and months to follow, breastfeeding slowly became a nightmare as she started rejecting it and wanting more and more formula milk. Gradually breastfeeding started getting replaced by the formula. Every time she was hungry, she would cry if I offered her the breast. I also noticed that her tummy wouldn’t fill with breast milk. Even if she breastfed for a long time, she would still be hungry and keep wanting more and more. There were times I’d be breastfeeding for an hour or more. The nipples would get too sore but she just wouldn’t fill up. So she would keep sucking the breast like a soother/pacifier.
There was also a problem of her dozing off every single time I would try to breastfeed her. When I’d remove her, she would wake up and want more. It was a pattern that was very frustrating. She just couldn’t stay awake for her feed. The consultant, family, friends offered a lot of advice. Tried everything. Nothing really worked for us for more than a few days!
Eventually, I decided to feed her formula at night (so she sleeps and lets me sleep) and breastmilk during the day. After a few weeks, this pattern reversed as she wouldn’t have breastmilk at all when she was hungry or wide awake. Then I started giving her breastmilk at night. She would only have it when she was drowsy and her eyes were closed. That meant I was up most of the night. She wouldn’t fill up and I had to eventually close each session with formula but I was glad she was at least having some breastmilk.
A few days later, it was an entirely new story. She started rejecting breastmilk completely (every single time it was offered to her). She would cry uncontrollably. That was very heartbreaking for me. I cried many times with her as I felt as if she hated me. A crying baby pulling her mom away from her and arching her back, turning to the other side is really really upsetting. Breastfeeding became the ugliest and most unpleasant part of our relationship. I didn’t want that. I was only trying it for her but if it upsets her so badly, what’s the point?
I talked to my public nurse and mama about how upsetting the process has become for both of us. They made me feel better and assured me that she doesn’t hate me. It’s just that she wants formula now as shes used to that and is easy for her to suck.
Meanwhile, my breast pump started collapsing. She had stopped having it completely and the pump stopped working. I was on the verge of giving up so so many times. But I kept trying one way or the other. While walking, by distracting her, while she was drowsy, by doing more skin-to-skin: nothing seemed to work for more than a day or so. This caused too much stress for me as I was really trying hard at excelling motherhood. Our culture has made us all believe that a good mother has to breastfeed her baby.
To make matters worse, I got messages from some important but sensitive relations telling me that I should not give her more than one bottle of formula, how it’s not good for babies, how they can get obese, lazy and how they are talking from experience and know better. That really upset me. There was so much I wanted to say but I decided not to reply… Just cried to myself. I wish people were kinder and more sensitive to new mothers and not offer unsolicited advice. Trust is the most important thing. Just trust a mother, she would never do anything that’s harmful to her baby!
I honestly never thought breastfeeding would be so so challenging! It has really been the hardest thing in my 4th trimester. Other than breastfeeding, I had serious problems with Hemorrhoids which have been really painful and have lasted months post-delivery. Even though I had a normal delivery with forceps, I had extreme blood loss due to which I couldn’t even stand up without getting severely breathless. I had no energy in my body, was in constant pain and was bedridden for 2 weeks. I had too many stitches and tears which took a long time to heal. On top of that, my nail infection got really bad and would hurt constantly. It has been really frustrating as I have to wash hands all the time and because of the infected nail, I have to keep wearing separate gloves for everything.
My recovery took a long time as doctors wouldn’t give me any ointment or medicines for nail and hemorrhoids saying I shouldn’t take it if I’m breastfeeding. If only they’d know what a struggle breastfeeding had been for me. Due to it, I couldn’t take any medicines to cure my other issues.
The current situation is that I have had to stop offering her the breast. It has gone to a point where the whole process has become so unpleasant that we both are better off without it. I have bought a new pump and give it to her in a bottle only once a day.
The breast pump isn’t an easy ride either. I have to pump when he’s at home so he can babysit while I do it as I can’t be interrupted. It takes so much time and effort to prepare (wash, sterilize, undress, arrange) and the amount of milk I get after half an hour of pumping is less than 30 ml which she finishes in literally less than one minute. The only way to increase supply is to pump more which is literally not possible as I don’t have babysitters and have to handle her alone most of the day along with housework and business.
My message to all moms who plan to breastfeed is not to let their child taste formula milk from the start. I really think that if Nyra was never introduced to it by the hospital, it wouldn’t have been such a big problem breastfeeding her.
But every case and every baby is different. Sometimes, they still prefer breastmilk even if they have tasted formula. We all have our own struggles and challenges. What worked or didn’t for me may not be the case with you.
Just FYI formula milk is considered to be completely safe and healthy for infants. There is nothing wrong with babies who are purely formula fed. So in case breastfeeding really doesn’t work for a woman, formula is a great solution. We all need to be more open to this and not think badly of mothers who have turned to it.
We used Enfamil Ready-to-feed till she was 2 months old. That was extremely expensive. Now we have switched to its powdered form. We still use Ready-to-feed small bottles for outings as its more convenient. Now we have bought Kirkland formula from Costco as we heard great reviews and it’s more reasonable. Hoping she adjusts to that.
P.S. Sorry for the negative post.
How have you coped with breastfeeding?
Have you faced any challenges in breastfeeding?
I would love to hear from you!
Have a lovely day.