Breastfeeding blog posts are the all the rage on social media these days; articles about the benefits of breastfeeding and the bond it creates. Articles about the work and dedication it takes to be a breastfeeding mom. Articles about how breast is best and how it isn’t impossible to breastfeed if correct actions and work ethic is performed. The list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding is beautiful and I applaud breastfeeding moms; you all are amazing, but reading these blog posts make me feel like a failure. Reminding me my body failed me. You see, I am the mom that had a deep desire to breastfeed my babies but couldn’t produce.
When meeting with my lactation consultant at roughly three weeks postpartum and only producing droplets at each pump session, she stated, “you must be doing something wrong.” And proceeded with, “Are your pump settings accurate? Are you pumping for at least 20 minutes every three hours? Are you drinking enough water? Have you tried foods that increase supply? Have you tried power pumping?”
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
“Are you able to rest? Do you have a history of PCOS? Do you put your baby to breast each available feeding?”
No. No. No.
Ugh, the conversation continued and my anger and frustration increased. She didn’t mention trauma, but she should have with empathy.
Let me explain. I am a NICU mom to two babies. One born at 33 weeks and my second at 31 weeks. With both babies I put them to breast every chance I got and I gave them every drop of milk I produced for thirty days. Most professionals encourage that even in these situations, if the hard work and consistency of pumping is performed, a supply can still come in.
Oh but the trauma that plays into this. Both of my babies were born unexpectedly. Both were emergency cesareans. Both babies were whisked away to the NICU without being able to satisfy my desire for the much talked about skin to skin time. Both babies I had to leave at the hospital when I was discharged home. Both babies I woke to a pump every three hours instead of a crying baby wanting my comfort. I did this for 30 plus days. My babies didn’t come home to me for 30 days and 51 days, respectively. This is trauma, and this is why I didn’t produce; although, the initial thoughts were consumed with my failing body and guilt of not being able to produce for my babies.
So to the NICU mama that had the greatest desire to produce milk for your little one and, despite your best efforts to do so, couldn’t. It is okay. God has a beautiful plan for each of us and our unique birth stories. You are certainly no failure either. Rather, you are one of the strongest of mothers; you see, your baby has to get their fight from someone!
-Ashton Tackett, Early Bird Foundation, Inc.
“He hath made everything beautiful in His time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Tips for bonding when breastfeeding isn’t possible:
- Reading to baby
- Lots of eye contact
- Singing lullabies
- Rocking and cuddles.
- Remembering, you are mama and your baby KNOWS you.
- Seeking medical professional help, if guilt or bonding issues develop beyond coping mechanisms.