When I became pregnant with my first baby there was no doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed. I had such an idyllic picture in my mind of peacefully nursing my newborn in a rocking chair, smiling at each other, and feeling complete bliss. I couldn't wait to get started!
Well, let's just say my experience was anything but.
We did end up exclusively breastfeeding. Even though we had such a rough time I was determined to stick with it. I'm a stubborn person and I refused to give up. I had to prove to myself that I could do what I said I would do. I could feed my child my own breast milk without the use of formula. And I did. We made it 14 months nursing before my son self-weaned. I was four months pregnant and my supply had dropped significantly which I think contributed to the weaning process. I was really proud of us.
I had every intention of breastfeeding my second, but then I realized that I didn't have anything to prove. Could I breastfeed exclusively? Yep. Could I face the challenges head on? I sure could. Could I produce enough milk to properly nourish a baby? My breasts had already proven they were more than capable. So before my daughter was born I decided that I would not put too much pressure on myself. If nursing worked out again, great! If not, I wouldn't be against the idea of using formula.
Mostly I wanted that idyllic picture I had in my mind. I wanted to cradle my newborn in my arms, sitting in a rocking chair, feeding and smiling… and I got it. It just took using a bottle instead of my breast.
The truth is, putting such extreme pressure on myself the first time around to breastfeed exclusively gave me anxiety. I believe one of the reasons I suffered with postpartum depression was because of this pressure. I didn't know how to give myself a break and I refused to go through that again. I knew my daughter would be my last baby and I wanted to enjoy her. I wanted to feed her without pain radiating from my body. I wanted to feed her without cringing and fighting tears. I wanted someone else to feed her without worrying about pumping and nipple confusion.
Mostly I wanted that idyllic picture I had in my mind. I wanted to cradle my newborn in my arms, sitting in a rocking chair, feeding and smiling… and I got it. It just took using a bottle instead of my breast. And that's okay. I know it's okay because my daughter is now two-and- a-half and she's a firecracker. She's hilarious and smart and silly and healthy. She runs after her brother and spends her days laughing and playing.
Breastfeeding is truly wonderful. I really think every mom should give it a shot. But if for some reason you can't or don't want to breastfeed, it's okay. You and your baby will be just fine. It's all about finding what works best for your family. For some that's exclusively breastfeeding, for others it's a mix of breastfeeding and formula feeding, for others it's exclusively pumping or exclusively formula feeding. Find what works, ignore the critics, and enjoy your baby. Because it really does go so fast.