This one goes out to all the breastfeeding losers

Do you know, the day my body gave up its milk, four days after deciding to stop breastfeeding Teddy, I felt cleansed.

I didn’t say that to anyone, except Tim. I was ashamed of it. It’s not how you’re supposed to feel. But I did.

Without my inadequate little supply of milk, I was free. Free from the guilt that he needed food I couldn’t give him.

Free from the two-hourly feeling that my body was a failure.

Free from the excruciating pain of his constant latching-on, and the frustration of both of us when he wasn’t satisfied.

Free from the nagging sadness that I wasn’t good enough for this baby I’d grown and given birth to. Our bodies were supposed to be compatible. I was supposed to feed him. I’d had his latch checked, eaten all the right things, gathered him to me every ninety minutes, night and day, for weeks. It didn’t work. I didn’t work. I sat on the sofa, getting angry with everything, Henry climbing up the walls, Teddy arching his back and screeching, stuff everywhere. It was awful.

So I let it go. I started topping him up with formula at four weeks, and it took another three months after that to accept that the little breastmilk he was getting was doing me more harm than good. Me, and therefore him. It was a huge mental leap, accepting that sometimes, the thing you believe in wholeheartedly just isn’t the right thing for you. With Henry, he chose to stop breastfeeding and I just went along with it. With Teddy, I made that decision for both of us, and it was so much harder.

Once he fed from a bottle, everything changed. I was giddy with the freedom of it. I had more energy, more optimism, more peace of mind. I stopped worrying about his weight and his milestones, and started pulling us all into a routine where we enjoyed each other’s company. He is the happiest, chubbiest, healthiest baby you can imagine. He sleeps well, eats well, and is a huge mama’s boy (unlike Henry, who subscribes more to the school of thought where sunshine beams out of Daddy’s every orifice). I’ve never regretted making that decision, even if I’ve regretted the fact that things weren’t different in the first place.

I still feel sad when I read articles about the joys of breastfeeding. I still believe that breastfeeding is the best possible thing for your baby. But I can’t get away from the truth of it, for me, which is: once I stopped breastfeeding Teds, I was free to be his mother.

Sometimes that’s just the way it works out.

SAM_0898

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15 thoughts on “This one goes out to all the breastfeeding losers

  1. Dad x says:

    You are everything a boy needs in a mother – your honest acceptance of your limitations will do much more for their self worth than if you were constantly striving to match up to the impossible world/media view on perfect motherhood and perfect childhood. Children need to grow up understanding that limitations are not failings but opportunities to find new and exciting ways to do things.
    Your boys will (Henry already is finding this out!) learn this truth. XxxxX

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  2. I could hug you for writing this. Matilda is 3 months old and I have battled with breastfeeding the whole time because it was best for her. I kept thinking ‘is it best for her though if I am miserable?’ I’ve had a rubbish supply, she’s had a tongue tie cut 3 times and we’ve had painful thrush. I finally conceded that a happy mother and formula was just as valuable as any breastmilk. It’s hard to read about how we should be breastfeeding when sometimes it’s just not an option. Thankyou!

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    • Oh, you poor thing! Well done for battling this long without going insane. I had thrush with Teddy too, almost the whole time – I couldn’t believe how much it hurt, which definitely didn’t help!

      I totally agree – you just have to do what’s best for both of you – you and her. And you can be a much better mother when you’re not miserable and stressed. Good for you for finding out what was best and sticking to it! Hope it all continues to go well :-)

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  3. Becky Alan says:

    I agree. I had a such a stressful time trying to get Jacob to breast feed. I wanted him to do it so badly at first and was encourage by the midwives in and out of hospital. He just wouldn’t take to it and I expressed milk for him for nearly three months! He did have some formula as well. When I gave up expressing is was just like being set free! I was more relaxed and could just enjoy being a Mum to Jacob.

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    • Oh wow, you superwoman – I had a few months expressing after feeds with Henry when he was tiny, and it drove me insane. And that was just to increase my supply, not to feed him completely!
      This is the decision we all have to make, and it’s different for everyone, but I think you made the right one – is this making me so miserable it’s not allowing me to be the mum I want to be? Good on you for finding what worked! Xx

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  4. Tiffany says:

    Hey, I have a question I wanted to ask you regarding your blog. If you could send me an email when you get this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
    -Tiffany
    tpham(at)dropcam(dot)com

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  5. Lindsey Smith says:

    I don’t know you, but am very happy that you wrote this post! I had an almost identical experience, and felt so bad about myself for so long, but the milk just wouldn’t come, no matter what I tried. I am sorry that this happens, but am happy to know that I’m not the only one!

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