Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: I Failed At Breastfeeding, Even With 4 Different Lactation Consultants

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Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

Every pregnancy book I forced myself to read told me that I absolutely had to breastfeed. It was a non-negotiable. It was the only way to feed your baby.

I was convinced that I’d form an instant bond with the baby. The baby would look lovingly into my eyes as she lapped her nourishment from my engorged breasts. I would release endorphins during the process. I would begin to feel that loving connection with my daughter—only felt through breastfeeding.

It was the very life source for baby. The baby that is breastfed is healthier, gets fewer medical problems, wouldn’t develop allergies and would avoid other maladies. And on and on and on. I learned this through thick, door-stop like books and classes. Ah yes, there were classes. One of these three-hour classes came replete with videos on how to properly position the baby to latch on and how to squeeze your nipple into the baby’s mouth. I learned about breast massage and nipple stimulation and hot showers. I was prepared. I took notes. I watched my videos online. I even watched one on manual expressing. I nearly puked.

My first signal something was awry with this entire breastfeeding propaganda was when the lactation consultant told me I couldn’t think to go back to work until my milk supply was established. At least six weeks. I told her that was not possible. I was going back after two. Come hell or high water, I was going to be back in the office. But commitment to the process and to feeding your baby what she needs is most important, the consultant told me. But, I have to go back to work. It’s not a question. Period. She pressed on: I can’t imagine you not taking time for this. You’re her mother.

I felt like a failure. With my rotund belly ready to pop, I felt like I was already going to scar the kid for life. If there was a written test on breastfeeding, I would have passed with flying colors. If there was a driving portion, I would have failed…miserably.

First, I’ve never had a deeper understanding or appreciation of my breasts as feeding mechanisms. I’ve grown up thinking of them as sex objects and not as nourishment. So, it was quite a leap of faith to convince myself that I would commit to breastfeeding. But, I did. Really, I did. I was committed.

I had bought boxes and boxes of nursing pads for my leaking breasts. I bought freezer bags so I could store my extra milk. I had the most expensive pump on the market to establish supply and to pump effectively and efficiently at work. I had nipple creams and nursing tops—in all colors. I was all set.

But then came real life. Three weeks early and after a traumatic birthing story, tootsie roll and I were having technical difficulties—severe technical difficulties. Four different lactation nurses/consultants tried to help. We dutifully and eagerly tried every position and every hold technique and every bonding ritual known to man (and women). Nothing was working. If toots would get a proper latch, there just wasn’t much milk. She’d scream. Meanwhile, I waited and waited to get engorged.

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