It's Okay Not To Breastfeed

I know that this post will stir up a lot of controversy. I understand that there are many benefits to breastfeeding. I accept that fact, but I will not apologize. It is okay not to breastfeed.

Before you get all angry, let me tell you my story.

I really wanted to breastfeed my baby. I bought the pump, the nursing bras, the leak pads,and pretty much every other breastfeeding item I could possibly need. I read the breast pump manuals, I read blog posts, watched videos. You name it, I did it.

Some people I know from college, often post about breast feeding and pumping. They made it sound like a piece of cake. I thought with all the prep work finished, that it would be smooth sailing. Boy was I wrong.

My baby was born early. My doctor decided we needed to try and induce labor because my baby was big and she had concerns about my blood pressure. We were both trying to avoid having c-section. I had expressed the fact that I needed to make sure I had a speedy recovery time, because I had to go back to work. Unfortunately, inducing labor didn't really work and I had to have a c-section anyway.

I thought the surgery went fine. I actually felt pretty great (then the drugs wore off), but apparently it hadn't went as smoothly as I thought. I had lost a lot of blood.

The first day or two with my little one were hectic and extremely painful for everyone involved. I loved my baby and I knew that the pain would go away eventually. I wanted to breastfeed. Breast was best, right? Needless to say I was sore and bleeding.

The lactation consultant showed me how to do a proper latch, gave me some ointment, and recommended I meet with her everyday while in the hospital and then follow up after.

After that, everything went downhill. My baby was 9 pounds which meant he wanted to consume a lot. Much more than the tiny amount of not even milk yet that I was producing. This lead to my baby crying and crying. So much that it broke my heart. I begged the nurse to see if they could do anything. Her response it that the don't supplement. She offered to take the baby with her so that my husband and I could get some rest. I was so exhausted I agreed. I don't know what she did to this day. I think she may have let him cry until he couldn't anymore.

The next day I had a new nurse, she could tell that my baby was hungry. She broke the rules and gave me equipment to supplement. It was actually pretty cool. The little hook like thing.  It works to that the baby thinks he is getting it from you and not being fed from a bottle.  I was so happy that my baby wasn't going hungry. I was sad that the nurse had to risk getting in big trouble to help me. The other nurses would have let my baby starve because they are not supposed to use formula.

The lactation consultant kept coming to my room trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and to try and sell me more stuff for the breast pump. Nipple shields, gel pads, $50 ointments, herbal supplements, and a ton of guilt.

Normally, milk starts to come in about now. I was hoping going home with my little guy ( and getting away from the stress of the hospital) would make things better. I was using formula at this point as well as trying to stimulate milk production with no luck.

The pediatrician even had suggestions for me. She also told me there was no way I could go back to work, at least for a month, if I was hoping to breastfeed or bond with my baby.

I had planned on being just like my friends and carrying my pump with me to work so that my husband would have a plethora of milk to feed the baby while I was at work. The pediatrician explained that my dream was not realistic. That there was no way that in three weeks I would be pumping enough milk. Deep down inside I knew she was right.

My job then was scanning documents, easy but required speed. There was a lot of pressure to do a lot of files really fast. If my numbers went down,  I knew I would lose my job (they told me that). Stopping to pump would keep me away from my desk for too long and my daily average would go down.

After the pediatrician, I saw a lactation consultant. I needed my milk to come in and I needed it to come in fast. However, when I got to the lactation consultant's office, all I did was cry. I was feeling so much pressure and having such a hard time with something that was supposed to come naturally. The lactation consultant was very nice. She gave me hope along with a list of herbal supplements and foods to buy that would increase milk supply. She also recommended a pumping schedule for me.

I took my herbal supplements, drank tons of water, and used the pump. For several days not a drop came out. When I did finally get some milk to come out, it was less than a teaspoon.

At this point I was tired, frustrated, and depressed. I couldn't feed my baby, he wasn't even interested anymore. He had gotten used to the bottle. I was being guilted by my mother, my in-laws, my lactation consultant, and my husband. I spent so much time just crying. I wanted to breastfeed so bad. Everybody was telling me how horrible it would be if I gave up.

My husband finally called my doctor concerned about me. I met with a doctor (mine wasn't available) and told her my plight. I was so sure she was going to tell me I had to breastfeed. To my relief she told my husband that he needed to let it go. That I needed to let it go. That as long as my baby was getting fed and was content that it was fine. That the stress wasn't worth it and that I should just enjoy my new baby.

It was an instant relief of burden.

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