August 12, 2018

My Breastfeeding Story

Last week was World Breastfeeding Week, and I thought now would be a nice opportunity to share how breastfeeding went for me after the birth of Cocoa. But before I get into it, can I just say that sometimes I still feel astounded that I have a child. As in, I have a daughter! It's just amazing and I thank God every day for her life! From sharing our struggles to conceive, and then our pregnancy, and labor/delivery - it's just amazing. Cakes and I have really been blessed and shown immense grace by God.
I had to do a little research for yesterday's Tea With Cubes show on Breastfeeding (check out our past episodes on our Youtube channel). The World Health Organization, UNICEF and other international bodies say that it is best to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of an infant's life. While that is ideal, circumstances do not always allow for that to happen - things from difficulty with lactating or producing breast milk, to not having adequate time because of short maternity leave. I wish I had been able to breastfeed Cocoa for up to 6 months. I wish I had been able to breastfeed her exclusively at all. However, none of that happened.


After Cocoa was born, and cleaned up, she was instantly given to me for breastfeeding. Within the first hour of an infant's life, they should latch onto their mother's breast. She expresses colostrum, which is packed full of antibodies that will help her baby's immunity. Cocoa latched on well, even though she was born prematurely. However, because she was so small, and we needed to get her weight up, she was also given formula right in the hospital. I didn't see a problem with it, as I thought once she gained weight, I would have more than enough milk to feed her.
Unfortunately, I just never had a good supply of milk. From the beginning, up until I stopped breastfeeding at 3 months, we always supplemented her feeding with formula. In fact, she drank more formula than breast milk every day. I was never able to express more than an ounce bottle of breast milk - actually, I got 3 ounces of milk ONLY ONE TIME during the whole three months of breastfeeding. I was given so much advice on what to do to try and increase my milk supply. I drank lots of lots of water. I breastfed and/or pumped every 2 hours (which was exhausting). I drank Mother's Milk Tea. I got Fenugreek tablets. I made Lactation Cookies, Lactation Smoothies, and Lactation Granola. All of these, I did at the same time, and I was still barely getting just 1 ounce a day.

Of course, this was very disheartening for me. I thought it was my fault. After all, my sister had such a breezy time with breastfeeding and pumping. As in, she had almost 2 months worth of breast milk that she had pumped, in her freezer! I spoke to a lactation specialist - well, I mostly cried to her, and she cried with me. It felt nice to have some emotional support over the whole thing. But at the end of the day, she told me that since I had tried so hard, I didn't need to feel bad. Not every woman will breastfeed like a cow on steroids. Even with her reassurance, I still tried to hold on and see what else I could do. I eventually, convinced my doctors/midwives to prescribe some medicine for me.
When I started on the medicine, my supply increased very quickly. It still wasn't a lot, but it was much more than I was getting normally. But I noticed that I was exhausted all the time. It dawned on me that a side effect of the medicine was a lot of fatigue. At that point, Cocoa was just about to turn 3 months old. That was when I decided that enough was enough. I had tried my hardest and pushed myself without getting the results that I wanted. I checked with Cocoa's doctor, and he said she was fine and growing well. I made the decision to quit trying and just let the little milk I had, dry up.
Like I said, I wish I'd been able to breastfeed exclusively... and also do it for 6 months. With Cocoa, I was unable to - and it's okay. A lot of women who have issues with breastfeeding their babies, tend to feel guilty or shameful that they can't seem to give their babies enough food. Listen, as long as you've tried, and your doctor/pediatrician says your baby is healthy, there's no need to feel bad. It's certainly not the end of the world.

So that's my Breastfeeding story. It didn't go how I wanted, but Cocoa is healthy and that's what matters. She just started walking much better this weekend and it's so sweet, watching her smile and walk all over the place!
Have a wonderful week everyone!

4 comments:

  1. Even the tiny drops you gave her were enough. FED IS BEST. many women have supply issues and there's Just no point driving yourself insane over things that really don't matter in the long run. Cocoa will grow and thrive as God wants her too. You won't even be thinking about breast milk or formula the day she goes to college, gets married, drives Her first car, etc etc. Parenting is a journey. Let's not get hung up on the first steps of that journey when So many other milestones remain!

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    1. You're right about other milestones coming up. And I am trying to enjoy the moments. They go by so quickly. I barely remember what she looked like without teeth! LOL!

      Thanks for your comment!

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  2. I have updated myself with your posts. Welcome back. I think to a large extent we both struggled with certain things- like breastfeeding, not wanting yo be mommy bloggers etc.
    I breastfed my twins for 2.5 months - it was nowhere near exclusive as the milk was barely there- I got 6oz total daily and split between the girls. Never for one day was I made to feel guilty, my mom and MIL told me to stop- I would be in my pjs at 11pm looking for breakfast. My husband told me they would do just fine on formula, my dad is a formula king- pharmacist who ran a formula divison for donkey years. Lets just say my twins are riots as we speak.

    To mothers who are able to breastfeed, please do it. To those who cant, give them the formula and enjoy doing it.

    www.pynk360.com

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  3. My dear,

    You tried. I can't think of anything else you could have done. I'm grateful that my milk came in well enough and I've been able to pump at work so it's been more feasible for me. But with all my friends who are mums, I knew it wasn't to be taken lightly. Even pumping can be a big commitment but it's one I signed up for.

    You've done everything that you could have, but most importantly you made sure Cocoa got what she needed which includes a mum who is present and actively with her. She's gorgeous, growing and healthy - great job mama. May God continue to give you grace.

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Reading your comments ALWAYS makes me smile. I hope you smile when I reply :)