Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Momma, You're Doing Just Fine

I'm going to start by telling a little story. 

After Audrey was born we were told that she was Coombs positive, which basically just means that she is at a higher risk for jaundice after birth. They closely monitored her bilirubin levels before discharge and to our surprise they were low enough to take her home at the 48 hour mark. This was a Friday afternoon. Bilirubin is excreted through stool and she had only pooped once since birth. They told us to keep a close eye on her for the next couple days until we could take her in to her first check up on Monday. 

Well, by Sunday she still had not pooped and I felt like she was looking a little yellow, especially in her eyes and the roof of her mouth. It was really starting to worry us so we called the hospital and asked if we could bring her in to be weighed. I spoke with the lactation nurse, gave her an update, and told her that I was pumping and giving her milk with a bottle. She asked me how much I was feeding her and I told her 20-30 mLs every 2-3 hours. We were feeding her this amount based on a chart that we were given at the hospital. It was basically this chart showing how big a newborn's stomach is at different stages. So at 4 days old we were feeding her about an ounce at a time. If we fed her much more she would spit up.

{Let me take a time out here and mention a few reasons why I decided to exclusively pump for my baby. This was something I gave A LOT of thought to before Audrey was born. There are several reasons why I landed on this decision. 
1.) I wanted her to have breast milk but I never particularly enjoyed breastfeeding with Raley. 
2.) Raley would eat for about 30-45 minutes every 2-3 hours. I knew that if Audrey was the same way I wouldn't be able to give my 2 year old the care and attention that she needed with a baby on my breast all the time. 
3.) I am NOT in the least bit comfortable breastfeeding in front of people. Which means that when family and friends came over to visit the baby and she got hungry I would have to take her into another room for however long to feed her. 
4.) I wanted to build a freezer stock so that when I went back to work I would have enough to supplement her while I was away. Once I went back to work with Raley I wasn't making enough to get her through the day and I didn't have a freezer stock so we ended up supplementing with formula. Eventually I just stopped trying (it's very hard to pump twice a day at work when you're a nurse on a busy unit!)
Pumping has gone so much better than I ever thought it would. It is definitely not easy but for me and my situation it is the best decision I could have made.}

Ok, time in! We took her in to the hospital to meet with the lactation nurse so she could weigh her and assess her. I was actually nervous to go in because I was afraid that she would give me grief about pumping instead of nursing. When we got there she said, "I looked in to your chart. So breastfeeding was hurting too bad so you quit and started pumping?" And then she told me that I wasn't feeding her enough. I was kind of stunned when she said that. I can't even remember how I responded to her. What I wanted to say was It's none of your business why I decided to pump, just tell me if my baby is ok! There are sooooo many people out there that believe that if you're not actually nursing your baby, you're not properly nourishing your child.

This post was sparked by a conversation I had with some ladies in Mommy and Me at church tonight. Every one of them stated that they were made to feel guilty at one point or another about the choices they made regarding feeding their child.

I just want to put this out there - to all you Mommas working your tails off to feed your baby - you are doing just fine! It absolutely does not matter if you are breastfeeding, pumping, using formula, or doing a combination of any of these. As long as your baby is adequately fed and getting the care that they need, you are doing your job as a parent. And you're doing a very good job. 

It's incredibly disappointing that new moms can't get more support from hospital staff for whatever method of feeding they choose. Don't get me wrong, I had some wonderful nurses. But as a whole breastfeeding is pushed on new moms and sometimes it just doesn't work for them. 

There are numerous reasons that pumping or formula may be a better option for a person - four of them are listed above. Maybe baby has a hard time latching (common with preemies). Maybe mom is not making enough milk to meet baby's demand so she needs to supplement with formula. Maybe the pain is too much. Maybe the mother's milk just doesn't come in. Maybe mom has to work and is unable to pump enough milk. Maybe she just doesn't enjoy it and she is happier and better able to enjoy her newborn without this pressure. 

Honestly, it shouldn't matter what the reason is. The person should be supported no matter what she chooses. The staff should take the time to sit down and have a very real conversation with just mom about different choices and how the mom feels about it. Sure, she can explain the benefits of breastfeeding and what not, but a new mother should never be made to feel guilty or to feel like a failure if she decides against it. 
{After a rough night trying to get her to feed. I finally got her to sleep so David surrounded us with pillows and she slept for 3 hours in my arms. The first time I felt that we truly bonded} 
It's easy for me to say, "don't let it get to you" or "you shouldn't feel guilty" but it's not that simple. Even when you know in your heart, 100% that what you are doing is right, it's hard not to feel some sort of guilt when someone criticizes you and makes you feel like less of a mother.

That woman made me feel horrible that day I brought Audrey up to the hospital. I had thoroughly thought through my decision to exclusively pump and I knew I had made the right choice for me but I couldn't help but feel like it wasn't good enough. 

I'm currently going through some feelings of guilt because I'm starting to wean from the pump. My goal was to make it close to 6 months (she'll be 5 months next week). Honestly, I am just sick and tired of it. I want to be able to come home at night and snuggle in bed with Raley instead of having to go downstairs and pump and wash parts/bottles before going to bed and having to get up extra early to do it all again. I'm tired of having to leave my critical patients to sit in a bathroom for 30 minutes. Yes, the law states that employers allow you time to pump while on the job but it doesn't change the fact that it's inconvenient for your co-workers who are also busy with their own patients. I keep telling myself that I made it for longer than I did with Raley and I have about 5 months worth of milk in the freezer but I can't help but feel that I'm being selfish by not just pushing through to make it a few more weeks.
Audrey's just starting to try and hold her bottle
Our worth and sense of success as a mother shouldn't be gauged on whether or not/how long we breastfeed. Parenting is so much more than that.

So all I want to say to each and every one of you is to keep it up - you are taking care of your child and you're doing a wonderful job.

Let's get social!


  1. Such a real post, thank you so much for posting all of this. There is so much pressure in being a mother and so much guilt associated with it unfortunately. I agree with you that people shouldn't pass judgment on another mother and her choices to feed if her child is getting enough and is healthy. I recently got mastitis and breastfeeding became so painful and was previously painful because my daughter had a lip tie and couldn't latch properly. After many tears and so much guilt I decided to start pumping and supplement with formula because I wasn't producing enough for her on the uninfected breast. Sometimes I feel almost bad for telling people I'm giving her formula and some friends I haven't even told because fear of being judged even if they don't in the end. I didn't want to breastfeed while on antibiotics because I feared we'd get thrush but I'm done with my antibiotics now and going to try breastfeeding again tomorrow. Being a first time mom it has been trying and difficult but also awesome at the same time. I'm starting to really try not to listen to the negativity surrounding this topic but I so appreciate reading your blog post of something I've been feeling very strongly as well!

    1. I'm so sorry that you had mastitis and have had a rough time. Breastfeeding is rough, and so is pumping. It's easy for me to say "don't feel guilty" (because you have nothing to feel guilty about) but I know it's hard not to. Keep your head up! I hope things have been going better for you but even if you end up needing to switch to formula, it is ok! If you decide you want to pump, check out my post on exclusive pumping for some tips to increase supply. Good luck!

  2. LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for sharing your story. I am a new mom currently agonizing over the best way to feed my baby girl. I nursed exclusively for 3 weeks. She is not gaining weight as quick as the Dr wants, so I started pumping to monitor her intake. I am making a disappointing amount (which makes me feel so guilty!, not to mention the constant reminders that breastmilk is the highest quality nutrition!) and now considering supplementing. The whole thing is emotional and confusing. Fingers crossed that my baby doesn't out eat my supply so we can avoid supplements! Sorry if this is TMI - just so nice to hear others share their pumping/feeding journey!! - Carly