Reality Check: Breastfeeding is Hard!

I feel like an ill-equipped mother. I want to breastfeed my sweet little one and it seems like everything is in place to do so- she is latching and I am producing- but we are struggling.

Or maybe it’s just me who is struggling.

She shows signs of hunger, so I feed her.

She falls asleep soon after.

I wake her up. Take off her clothes, make her feel uncomfortable by putting a cool washcloth on her body, tickle her feet, mess with different body parts.

She awakes, recommits to eating.

…Falls asleep.

This happens multiple times in the 30 minutes she remains latched.

When she pushes away and seems to be satisfied.

I burp her.

Waiting for her eyes to open up again and for her to begin rooting, I change sides.

Same issue: different side.

I become frustrated.

What is going on my sweet little one?

Are you tired from all the work of sucking? I know, this is so much harder than the bottle and even harder than the umbilical cord that just put food into you for the last 10 months.

She will go for 10-15 more minutes and then give all the signs that she is done.

Limp arms, open hands, eyes rolled back in her head.

I think she is full and so I change her diaper, re-clothe her and she is out.

For 15-20 minutes.

Then she is fussy, squirmy and putting her hands near her mouth.

Really?

Still hungry?

Ok- so I proceed to feed her more.

10 minutes of feeding and then she is milk drunk.

Is she done?

I hope she is full.

I am tired and wanting to take nap- sleep when she sleeps is what I’ve been told.

I put her down, ready to take my nap- and she stirs.

Still hungry.

I don’t know what to do. How often to keep feeding her these little amounts?

I cave.

1-2ounces of expressed milk delivered via bottle.

The easy way out.

She sleeps for 3-4 hours.

I am so tempted to just stop breastfeeding all together.

The bottle is easier for her, for Hubby, and possibly for me as it would be more time back in my day to take care of me and do other things.

But I don’t want to just be a milk factory- I want to breastfeed.

I am conflicted because I thought this would be easier.

No one told me how hard breastfeeding is.

Why is it so hard to feed my baby?

What am I missing here?


Another scenario:

I take a nap and while I’m asleep, Hubby and I miscommunications and he feeds her a 4oz bottle.

I wake up from my nap an hour later, ready to nurse, and surprised to see her nursery door still closed.

Shouldn’t she be up by now?

I ask and that is when I find out the reality.

I began to cry.

What is wrong with me that I can’t feed my baby enough food to help her sleep?

I am so scared of my milk production going down because I am not feeding her when she is hungry that I immediately hook up to the breast pump.

I am scared that I am doing it wrong.Image result for frustrated mom

Scared that she is going to get used to the bottle and reject me.

Scared that my milk production is going to be so out of whack because sometimes I feed and sometimes I pump, that I won’t be able to continue this beautiful act of producing food for her.

I’ve heard that she is young and still practicing this whole eating thing.

To give her grace as she will get tired from sucking for 30+ minutes.

I just don’t know how to take care of myself and sleep when she is eating little bits every so often.

I think I need a day when I just commit to not giving into the bottle and just feeding her, little as it may be and as often as it may be.

How will I get the sleep I need?

I’m not sure- but others seem to be doing it without the bottle. Maybe I’m just enabling her.

My expectations are off–  I didn’t know it would be like this…

She latches well, I have milk- what’s the issue?

I thought it would be easier, but it’s not.

It’s not just me, it’s the way this whole thing works.

God help me be patient with her… and with me.


A FEW DAYS LATER

We tried getting her on a 3-hour schedule of feeding and she was just so sleepy during the breastfeeding portion that we would attempt for a minute and then go straight to the bottle.

It just wasn’t working.

We are now back to letting her sleep until she naturally wakes up.

Little Princess feeds her from me first (which when she is awake is about 20 minutes)

Tops her off with the bottle (which is typically 1-3oz depending)

Play with her

Put her to sleep for another 4 hours.

I still have the twinge of “I’m not a good enough mother to be able to provide her the full meal”, but then I realize, it’s not me. It’s not my ability to provide.

It’s her stamina.

She’s just a sleepy baby.

I keep telling myself- the most important thing is that she is loved, she is safe, she has a full belly and she has a place to sleep.

It’s my ego, my pride, my fear that is keeping me away from the peace and serenity of this season.

I decide to push away the negativity and instead embrace the hours in between when I get to rest and recover while enjoying the moments I get to hold her close.

I’m not a bad mother. We are all just learning.

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7 thoughts on “Reality Check: Breastfeeding is Hard!

  1. C section babies take a little while to “wake up”. I had three. It’s different. But don’t give up as discouraging as it may be. And when she’s hungry feed her. If there’s poop (I’m sure there’s a better word 😉) coming out she’s probably doing ok. Don’t worry.
    And on a practical note do you have a lactation coach?

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  2. Mama, you need to give yourself some slack. You are doing a wonderful job. Combination feeding with a bottle and breast is totally okay. Your baby gets all the brain boost and antibodies from one single ounce of boobjuice. You’re doing great. Honestly. Dont feel guilty if that baby takes a bottle. Fed is best. Give the bottle, your stress levels will decrease and that’s really good for baby, you, and your milk supply. You got this.

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    • Thanks so much! As a first time mom, I don’t really know what I’m doing so I read a lot and talk with friends. Trying not to compare and just be where I am is my goal. Giving myself permission to do what I feel I need to do is key.

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      • There is such pressure to only breastfeed. You are not a superhero. You’re just a tired AF mom doing her best, and that is totally okay. Combination feeding for convenience or necessity is slowly making it’s way into accepted mainstream. But no one ever mentions it as an option. You dont have to have it all together. Truly. Momming is hard enough without trying to pretend to be perfect. Did you know they recently unearthed prehistoric clay baby bottles with traces of other mammal milk in them? Supplementing has been happening for thousands if years. It’s not new or unnatural and theres nothing wrong with it! Give yourself permission to not be instaperfect.

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  3. Hey Hilary. I’ve been following your journey, and I just wish I could reach through the screen and help you. With all you’ve been through (quite literally the worst case a vaginal birth could go without a fatality), the fact that you’re still dedicated to breastfeeding demonstrates how how committed and in love with your little girl you are. The Tripple feed is NO freaking JOKE, takes so much physical effort, requires partners be committed too, and barely leaves enough time to clean the pump and try to sleep, much less have happy time on the floor playing.

    In the tense moments, just think about getting through the end of the month breastfeeding. One more month, and when that becomes too much to think about, just try one more day, or even one more feeding. Just get through the hour you’re in. Similar to your hours and hours of labor it took to bring her out, this is a labor of love. Channel those skills you used in labor into your pumping and feeding. Meditate on Scripture, take deep long breathes. Think about Gods faithfulness, and just take it one day at a time.

    Breastfeeding Lucas was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You’re not crazy. It’s freaking hard.

    You’re a good mom.

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