Breast is best. Did you know? Breast is best. Everyone tells you that. If you don’t know that, you must be totally secluded from women or parents or doctors.
But if you ask me, sometimes, breast isn’t always best.
There. I said it. For me, breastfeeding has been difficult. I have three children, and I have breastfed all of them for various amounts of time. Two nursed only a few weeks, and the rest of the time were fed with bottles of expressed milk or formula. My middle child managed to nurse for 8 months (an incredible accomplishment for both of us), and even though I was also pumping, my supply wasn’t enough for that to be his only nourishment.
I’ve taken supplements, consumed my weight in water, eaten healthfully and plentifully, done everything I could to keep my supply up… It’s just never worked. For me, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t keep up with my hungry babies. And in my household, a hungry baby made for an angry baby, which made for stressed mom, which made for upset dad, and very little sleep for all of us. Our sanity was going out the window, so we threw “Breast is best” to the wind, and supplemented with formula. Our babies grew and grew, were happier and happier, are rarely sick and the most fun and intelligent kiddos I know.
Just this week, as my youngest turned four months old, I had a difficult conversation with Hubby. “I’m tired,” I said tearfully. “I’m stressed, and I want those two hours of my day back.” Those two hours I spend pumping. Those were two hours that I could be spending time with my children, writing, reading, showering, folding laundry, or SLEEPING were always sacrificed to the milk machine. I slaved at the pump to get less than three bottles a day for my little guy (who eats like a horse – what will I do when he’s a teenager?!) when I could be feeding him formula and actually playing with him during those times. Instead, my free moments while the kids were asleep, at school, or playing with Daddy were spent in my room getting a few ounces of what everyone told me was the best thing for my child.
So I stopped.
I stopped my supplements. I stopped charting my water intake. I stopped stressing about a schedule. I weaned myself off the pump.
Y’all, it feels great. I’ve gotten more sleep, spent more time with Hubby and the kids, and I’m less stressed about how I’m going to plan those hours into my day. Breast was only best for so long… and then it wasn’t anymore. Don’t crack under the pressure if it’s not working for you. I’m not staying don’t try – you absolutely should give it a shot. For so many, it is the best. But if it’s not, that’s okay. You’re not broken and neither is your child. There are other ways to nourish them, and certainly other ways to bond with them. You do you, mamas, however it works. That is the best.