Feeding a 3-week old Alice. April 2012.
I always knew the day would come when I would stop breastfeeding Alice. When Alice was born and I started breastfeeding I honestly thought I wouldn't make it a month. And now, almost eight months in, I don't think twice about what I am doing. It just feels so easy and natural.
(In case you are squeamish about bodily things or a dude who doesn't care or just don't enjoy reading about breastfeeding, breast milk and other womanly things, here is your chance to stop reading!)
Unfortunately, though, my body seems ready to quit. I had a really tough time from the get-go with one breast producing significantly less than the other. One side only made a half to one ounce and the other side tried to make up the difference by making three to four ounces. At most. As Alice grew, my supply only slightly increased. At almost 4 months, after every feeding, Alice still seemed hungry and yet there was nothing left to give. I nursed her more frequently, took supplements and even pumped after feedings but all of that only slightly increased my production. So, on the recommendation of her pediatrician, we started solids at 4 months. Over the last few weeks, my milk supply has plummeted and I am now only making about 6-8 ounces of breast milk in a 24-hour period. Not nearly enough to sustain a growing baby.
Maybe we shouldn't have started solids when we did but, honestly, I was ready. Because I had known low supply issues, I felt tremendous pressure and stress over whether or not Alice was receiving enough nutrition and fluids. Giving her solid foods and pumped breast milk with an ounce or two of water helped alleviate some of that pressure. And she loved the experience of trying new foods and flavors and textures.
Luckily I have a few bagfuls of frozen breast milk that are sustaining Alice right now and we will slowly transition her to a bottle or two of formula a day when that runs out. I will continue to breastfeed her as long as she has interest (which is waning!) and as long as my body produces even a few drops.
It makes my heart hurt to think about the last time I will nurse Alice. But I also know that, with motherhood, comes heartache as your child grows up and grows less dependent on you. So I will continue to nurse Alice as best that my body can. And if there is a little formula in her tummy, that is okay, too. She will still grow to be a smart and wonderful and funny and happy and beautiful little girl, regardless of what is in her belly.
**Obviously breastfeeding and formula-feeding are polarizing issues within the world of motherhood. I googled a few things about weaning and transitioning to formula and was shocked at the negativity of some responses. Every mother has to do what is best for her and her child. I do not take this decision lightly and have spent countless hours worrying and wondering and deciding about what to do. Please, if you decide to leave a comment, be respectful. Thank you.**
Breastfeeding really shouldn't be the heated discussion it always seems to be. I'm a mama to 4 kids (yikes!). My first was a preemie on a feeding pump for her first four months. I pumped like a champion and she got breastmilk that whole time. Then years later I had three boys. All of which lost significant amounts of weight within the first few days and left me HEAVILY pressured to formula feed. I too never had a good supply after that. And I was devastated .. every . single . time. Those boys are now 6, 4 and 2. They are all smart and amazing. The pressure from the professionals left me feeling like I had no choice but to formula feed. As a working mom I was fully prepared to pump at work and do that whole thing. I was baffled that I had SOLELY pumped with my first years before and had no issues then with the other three serious supply issues. It was so disappointing.ReplyDelete
Sometimes I think we just don't have much say in these things. I spent lots of time beating myself up for giving up. But then just had to accept it is what it is. You know what's best for you and Alice. Period. I hope nobody leaves you any nasty comments!
Thank you for telling me your story! Your comment means SO much. It helps to hear that other moms have gone thru similar things as I feel like so many people put up an 'everything-is-perfect' facade. As moms we have to cheer the accomplishments and support the struggles. And, unfortunately, I think it tends to be the opposite.Delete
My husband (and his 3 brothers) were solely formula-fed... and they are all smart. Successful. Handsome. And tall! ; )
It is sad that this issue is so divisive with mothers. You know what is best for your family, your body, and your baby and it sounds like you are making a good choice. It is tough to stop breastfeeding, just emotionally. Wyatt was about 18 months when he weaned himself and it was still hard on me. I had some supply issues at around 8 months but was able to get through them (not without a lot of worry and tears of course).ReplyDelete
You've done a great job breastfeeding for as long as you have so be proud! And hopefully you don't gain the 10lbs that I did when W slowed on bfing ;) Just kidding- you won't!
This is such a great post. What a beautiful picture of you and Alice! You will always remember that bonding time, don't worry. You are clearly raising a beautiful, healthy, happy girl!ReplyDelete
I have been really lucky not to have any issues breastfeeding, but I went through a major hormonal shift once I weaned my first two boys... I think with my third I am dragging it on mostly because I know he is my last baby and it is the only time he will let anyone hold him/be close with him! It will probably change once I do wean, as he will seek snuggles since he won't be bf-ing, but I am nervous nonetheless! Also? I always lose about 5 - 7 lbs when I stop breastfeeding (most of it in the chest, unfortunately!).
hugs to youReplyDelete
that first picture is just beautiful!
go on, mama. you do what is best for the baby AND you. it's obvious you've put a lot of heart and thought into this and NO ONE should find any fault in that.ReplyDelete
Loved reading your story. I know it was really hard for you... especially those first few weeks. But you stuck with it. You should be proud that you even tried! Some people just give up.... and that is ok too. Breast feeding is not for everyone.ReplyDelete
I breast fed you for 10 months, but I also was giving you a formula bottle every once in a while. With your sis, I only kept it up for 6 months. Life just got too busy and my milk was not coming in or staying at the level to keep her fed. So... added formula bottles and solids. Everyone is different.
I'm so proud of you. I love that Alice will grow up to be a strong intelligent woman, just like her mother. xoxo