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Baby Steps, Mom Steps: Breast Intentions

13 April 2010 54 Comments

There was no doubt in my mind: I was going to breastfeed. Exclusively. Nature set it up for me to be able to provide food for my baby and I didn’t need to worry about formula…or so I thought.

While I did plan to pump so that we could also use bottles, allowing my husband to get in on the 3am feedings (I love you, honey!), I was not planning on using anything but breastmilk. However, when my son started to show physical signs of lack of nutrition (including a scary change in skin color), my doctor suggested supplementing him with formula in addition to the breastfeeding. I made my first decision as a mom for the health of my child and said “okay.”

Once his color returned to normal, I stopped using the formula. We were home by this time, and my postpartum depression was in full force. We had gotten a baby nurse (thank heaven for her!) and on her first day, she made the suggestion, once again, that I supplement breastmilk with formula. Well, since my son was at least his normal color again I just wouldn’t have it. Even though his constant crying was likely due to his being hungry, I threw a fit. I said a lot of awful things, slammed a few doors, and proceeded to cry for the next hour!

I realized that I’d come to believe that anything less than 100% breastmilk was failure. I had to let go of that belief for my personal well being.

I continued to breastfeed and supplement for the first 5-6 months, and, while I was able to pump at night when he slept, I was not able to store any “extras.” When I went back to work I weaned him off the breastmilk and he continued on formula until he was a year old when he then started drinking regular cow’s milk. And you know what? He didn’t get his first cold until he was 11 months old. When he started day care he certainly had his share of physical ailments, but in general, his health has been great.

When new moms talk to me about what to do about breastfeeding, I always tell them that there is no such thing as failure: you do what you can, and that IS good enough.

Lauren is a mom, wife, BornFree Ambassador, and former architect living in New York. She describes herself as being quite a bit like Phoebe from “Friends” with a little Monica thrown in. Her blog “Baby Steps. Mom Steps” is a regular column on BornFreeMom.com

Contest: Comment on Lauren’s post. One person will be chosen to win a Breast Pump Adaptor and a 5oz or 9oz Twin pack of bottles!

Breat Pump Adaptor: http://www.newbornfree.com/Accessories/Breast-Pump-Adaptor-142559/3876261-Breast-Pump-Adaptor/ProductInfo.aspx

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  • Traci Bryant said:

    No cold until 11 months? Breast is certainly best! :) My little boy would only feed for 3 months, then he stopped, I won’t deny being a little heartbroken..I was hoping to keep it up until he was at least a year old. Oh well, perhaps the next one.

    And I shared on FB! :)

  • Rebekah Streich said:

    Nice to hear someone else’s experience! My husband and I are expecting our child in August and I too plan to just strictly breastfeed/pump. This article opened my eyes to realize it may just not be that easy! Thanks for sharing your story, I am sure I will remember it when or if I have problems breastfeeding!

  • Angela Dirks said:

    We started supplementing after a month too. Baby Girl is doing fine. I learned that the immunity doesn’t go up with more breastmilk, so celebrate whatever you got.

  • diana said:

    thank you so much for sharing that with us , you are a great mother and did what you had to , to care for your child good job on making great decisions

  • Mel1010 said:

    breast feeding is for sure work and very stressful but the rewards overcome that

  • Michelle Murphy said:

    I wasn’t able to breastfeed completely either and had to supplement and I felt so guilty because of how much pressure I put on myself, and I perceived that others were pressuring me as well. I did my best and my son is very health and happy. I’m happy to read your words of encouragement especially because women need to hear that they aren’t failing if they are doing the best they can!

  • diana said:

    i shared

  • Kelly Sanderson said:

    I’m always glad to hear stories about breastfeeding because its not easy and it takes alot of patience and sometimes it doesnt work out and thats OK. You have to do what works for you. A happy mommy equals a happy baby. :)

  • Kelly Sanderson said:

    I shared on FB!

  • Laura said:

    I had my first daughter in December. I am also a Labor and Delivery and Postpartum nurse and had a lot of education in infant care and breastfeeding. I had been teaching my patients for years. It was a true eye opener for me to see how physically and emotionally challenging it is to have a baby and the pressure many of us put on ourselves to be the perfect mom. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I think at the beginning I overthought everything. I tihnk the more relaxed you are and focusing instead on the happiness of you and your baby the easier everything becomes. I am still breastfeeding and occasionally giving some formula too. I have learned to go with the flow (sorry for the pun:)

  • Alicia Rodriguez said:

    I also was convinced that breastfeeding was going to be the way to go….until in the first 24 hours, our baby got jaundice.. The Dr. suggested it would be best to supplement with formula to speed up the process of it going away. That was fine..I continued to breastfeed, but the baby was always hungry and he wasn’t gaining much weight.. I started supplementing with formula again, but then at 3 weeks, we found out he was allergic to cow’s milk protein and I was no longer going to be able to breastfeed. I was heartbroken, I was convinced that was the worst thing that had happened to me. I had my heart set on breastfeeding….Now we are using special Hypoallergenic formula. He is 3 months old and he is doing great!

  • Kellie Brabender said:

    I am going on 4 months of breastfeeding now!! I have to supplement with formula as well. First due to his color, and now because I don’t have “extra” stored breastmilk. I have to agree it is frustrating at first, but then you learn you need to do what is best for your baby. :)

    I shared on Facebook as well!!

  • Joyce said:

    I know this feeling completely. I planned to exclusiely breast feed, but when my son decided it was time to come 3 weeks early and only weighed 5lbs at birth that plan was thrown out the window. At first, I was fine with the idea of giving him a bottle because I knew it was better for him, so I pumped and made so much milk that they sent us home a week later with some. At the hospital the lactation consultants tried to get my son to latch, but he was having none of it. So for 3 months I pumped probably 8 times a day and slowly my milk supply got smaller and smaller. I of course gave him formula, but I get really upset (especially since people I know are having babies and breast feeding perfectly) because I couldn’t breast feed. I feel like I have failed him and want that feeling of feeding my baby (he latched a couple of times and the feeling was incredible). I now have PPD and I try not to think of my inability to feed him because he is a happy, healthy, normal (or as normal as you can be in our family) baby boy.

  • Patsy Lander said:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the writer. Being a parent is all about doing what is best for your child…there is NO set standards or rules. Every child and every situation is different and it’s up to you as a Mom, to decide what works best for you and your child!

  • Joyce said:

    I shared too!

  • Anna said:

    Parenthood is certainly all about trial and error, going with the flow and figuring things out along the way! You really can’t go into it with too many rigid rules for the way you are going to do things – it depends so much on the baby.

  • Christina said:

    I breastfed my first child exclusively, but started noticing she seemed really thin. I was living with my husband far away from all my friends and family, and was in denial…until we went to her 6 month appt and she had lost a pound since her last appointment. I felt like the worst mom. I had lost my milk supply and for 3 months, tried everything I could to get it back up. Finally, at 9 months, my daughter accepted a bottle of formula. I cried and cried, but ultimately, I know I did what I needed to. It can be so hard, trust me, I understand!!

  • Erin O'Connor said:

    I Breast fed my son for the first 4 months of his life. While I did do SOME formula it wasn’t much. But life didn’t have breastfeeding in the cards for me either. My husband had recently deployed and there was a lot of stress involved with having a newborn and a house and 2 dogs and bills and a deployed hubby all alone. I stopped producing milk. I think I cried for about a week over that. It took me a long time to realize it wasn’t my fault. My next baby I will try again, and if it turns out not to work (again) I won’t beat myself up. I do agree its the best thing for mommy and baby. Just keep your chin up if it doesn’t work. Thank you for sharing your story! (my son is a happy healthy 15 month old now!)

  • Nicole N said:

    I so wanted to breastfeed but found it to be much harder than ppl let on. My daughter always seemed hungry and would stay latched for hours if I let her. We slowly and reluctantly started supplementing with formula and after 10 weeks she was completely on formula. I am sad that I wasn’t able to breastfeed, but I am happy I gave it a try. I will try again with my next little one.

  • Kellie Brabender said:

    Oops, separate post….I shared!!!

  • justine said:

    i’ve been one of those fortunate few who have had a really easy time breastfeeding. there is definitely a lot of pressure that “breast is best” but i know that if my baby’s health depended on it, i would switch to formula in a heartbeat. you do what is best for your baby, even if it isn’t what you thought you’d do. thanks for sharing.

  • justine said:

    i shared!!

  • angela tuttle said:

    Man oh man can I relate to this! With my first child breast feeding exclusively was no problem, he nursed exclusively for a full year! And when I got pregnant with my second I had no doubt in my mind that I would do the same because after all breast is best…that all changed when we realized she was not growing adequately and was dropping off the growth charts at an alarming rate, crying all the time and not helping my post partum, I felt in adequate! She now has 2-3 bottles of formula a day along with solids and breast, she is 6 month old and the size of a 2 month old, but happy and growing so I had to let go and know I’m not a bad mom just because I give her formula a few times a day…

  • Wendy said:

    I ended up not being able to breastfeed at all and still feel horribly guilty about it which makes my PPD a million times worse. My baby is happy and healthy and thriving on formula and NEVER gets sick so that helps with my guilt. I will try harder with my next baby, I think.

    Women who feed their babies formula are treated like pariahs, especially by women who exclusively breastfeed. Breastfeeding mothers rant and rave about how they need support and then they talk about how horrible formula is and don’t realize that formula feeding mothers need support too. A lot of people who use formula had issues breastfeeding and, like myself, feel guilty for not being able to and the last thing we need are people rubbing it in our faces.

    Why can’t we just support each other as mothers instead of how we feed our babies?

  • Ginger Ott said:

    I enjoyed reading your story. When I had my son, now 21 mths, I had tried to nurse for as long as I could. He was about 4 mths when I stopped b/c I had to go back to work, & lost my milk supply, & had to make up w/fomula. My goal was to nurse until he was atleast 1 yr, & I was devastated that I didn’t even reach 6 mths. I was very dissapointed w/myself. I felt like I had let him down, & I missed that bond. It is a true blessing to have a child to begin with, and then to be able to give them the best is even more of a blessing. Although, I truly believe “breast is best”, I’ve learned to accept that I did what I could, and I’m lucky to have been able to do that. As you’ve said tho, for health reasons, it’s most important to do whatever is neccessary to give a child the best start possible. We’re expecting again in October, so I PLAN to nurse exclusively if possible then as well. Thanks again for sharing your story. It was so nice knowing “I wasn’t alone” so-to-speak.

  • Becky Klothen said:

    When my twins were born i too wanted to breastfeed only, partially due to the immunity, partially due to the bonding between each child and i, and partially from pressure i felt from the mother of my boyfriend. After struggling for 3 months and supplementing with formula, i decided to go to only formula. It was too hard and i wasn’t producing enough milk for them to drink, in addition i was getting so little sleep already that the night pumping wasn’t a good option for me, so i let go, and i haven’t looked back. Sometimes I wish i was still breast feeding because of the closeness between mother and child, but i just grind my teeth and know that i tried. If i have a singleton someday, i will try again! I love my boys and they are happy and healthy and that is whats most important. We have other ways of bonding.

  • Tonya said:

    I agree totally with you. While it’s wonderful to be able to exlusively breastfeed, it’s a matter of whats best for mom and baby. I have 5 and I’m nursing the last one now. I have only been able to nurse 1 child for an entire year and even that was with bottle and breast. we as mom’s do whats best for our children and if that best is only a few weeks of breastmilk then hey!!! at least he/she got the antibodies and benefits for that short time. NO ONE SHOULD FEEL GUILTY!! Being a mom is hard work!!!

  • Siobhan Dobson said:

    I think this is great advice for new moms. I breastfed the first two for 16-17 months and I’m currently nursing my 6 week old son. I had to supplement with all 3 and while I always feel some guilt about it at first I realized that why’s important is that my baby is happy. Moms have to realize that no one is perfect and we all do the best we can for our kids.

  • Christina said:

    when my son was born i breastfed, i went through the pain for the first two weeks and it was worth it when I stated producing milk and seen that he enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed caring for him in a way God intended me to. When he was released from the hospital he went for his two day check up and the doctor said wow he’s really yellow. To me he looked normal! Well when his billiruben (Jaundise) levels came back he was in the high 20′s. They called us into the office after hours, gave me his referral letter and sent us on our way to the hospital. My son was in the hospital for one week and for me it was tourture. I cont. to breastfeed per the doctors request but his billiruben levels were not coming down. After the first 5 days I decided huh maybe its my milk that’s doing this to him, so I bottle fed once and his levels came right down. On that day per the two doctors that seen him they were both very pro breastmilk, and suggested that I cont. wth the breast. So I did! So after his first bottle I cont. again with breastmilk The next day we were released and two days later we went back to his doc for a check up. After I had him home i cont. with the breast feeding again and poof his levels came back up again. I was always none formula since finding out I was pregnant with him but for him formula was better. I still to this day wish I was breastfeeding him. I think if anyone has the time, and everything goes right breastfeeding is the way to go.

  • Siobhan Dobson said:

    I shared on fb!

  • ktbug said:

    I planned on 100% bfing until at least six months…that was until allergy season hit me hard. I called my dr and asked him if I could take some Claritan. He said it was ok but could dry up my milk a bit. Sure enough it did and my lil girl is a eating machine. I felt bad not being able to 100% bf, but my lil girl has to eat. Ill bf most of the time, but do have to give her the occational fomula bottle.

  • Jennifer Ramirez said:

    Wow, I totally know how this feels……..I unfortunatly came to a point where i had no Breat Milk at all. I was trying everything to get my supply up and going. I took herbs I pumped every three hours. I cried and felt like a failure. I realized the best thing for my new baby would be to continue to try and nurse and to supplement with formula. I am still doing this. She has doubled in size and is healthy. I learned from this that we must not listen to others advice, but listen to our inside voices. I am now using a wonderful service called Mother Milk. It is a breast milk Bank located in northern ca. Wonderful company that provides heartfelt advice and excellent service.

  • Ashley said:

    I planned on EBF when I had my son in 08 and I had a very hard time getting him to latch.I was soon to give up and was heart broken when he latched and started feeding well but my supply was down and I had to supplement for the first 2 month then I EBF until he was 15 months last month.breast feeding is a special bond.

  • Omni Hampton said:

    I felt the same way with my first two kids, but I also supplement formula for my girls. Now that we have the third one I told myself that I was going to only breastfed. I got home and was not getting sleep and it seemed like I was always feeding him or pumping. I finally got a routine down and I have made the choice of supplementing formula too. I only did this so I will not feel like I was the only one feeding him. I love my husband but it kills me when he just holds him and not feed him.Baby boy is 1 month old and I am feeling a lot better about my choice in supplementing formula.

  • crystal said:

    i breastfeed for 2 months with both kids i relaly tried hard to continue but they were getting adequate nutrtion from me i know breast is best and felt like crap becaus ei couldnt give them what they needed but they are happy healthy children and sometimes u ahev no choice but to formula feed

  • Jessica said:

    Its amazing how it makes up feel when we cannot provide milk for our babies. I to had to supplement and no matter how much I pumped or nursed him My milk supply would not grow. After every feeding I would have to give him a bottle, and at about 6 weeks I had no milk. I feel much better knowing I am not the only one who felt this way. Thank you for sharing!

  • Leslie S said:

    I understand completely! I had 33 week preemie twins so they were supplemented with formula to help them gain weight quickly. I still have to supplement with formula, and I’m lucky if I can store 20 oz/month, if that! You do what you feel is right for your child and that’s that. Any naysayers can stuff it for all I care!

  • Amanda Owens said:

    I am a mother of 4, working on a fifth. My children are older, and Born Free products did not exist when they were babies. I breastfeed all of my children for at least the first 6 weeks, I too swore throughout pregnancy that I would breast feed exclusivly. I also felt as if I failed my babies somehow each time I switched to formula. All throughout their early childhood they always remained healthier than other children that never recieved any breastmilk at all! When I realized that even a little breastmilk makes a difference, I realized that I did what was healthiest for my babies.That alone makes me one proud mama! When we do have another one, I will breastfeed, but I will also formula feed with no other bottle than Born Free.

  • dawn said:

    i bottel fed both my kids and they were hethy as a horse lol and iu aloso shired on fb

  • Lauren Senese said:

    It always makes me happy to know that sharing my personal stories reaches so many of you out there. Thank you all for reading my story and for sharing yours. Remember that we’re never alone and as long as we’re trying our best, we’ve never failed our children.

  • Yesica Bravo said:

    This is a great story because I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding both my kids and I always felt like a failure.

  • Elizabeth Keller said:

    Absolutely. Do what you can (the best you can), and if you need to supplement – it’s OKAY. I had to start supplementing after about 6 months and was completely dry at 10 months. My lofty goal of 1 year was a bit much I guess. :) Hey, I was a first time Mom! Gotta get those overachiever goals pushed asaide asap so reality and momhood can set in. Enjoy it – life’s too short to fret over something so little.

  • Heather T said:

    i have seen my bff have similar issues. her kids actually ended up on soy formula. this article just supports my thoughts that you can only do what you can do. everyone is different and every baby is different with different needs.

  • Ashley Owen said:

    I understand the frustration related to breastfeeding. I planned to exclusively nurse and my baby boy was NOT into it. He liked the milk but did NOT want to latch and would choke at my over-supply of milk. It was horrible and I wanted it to be a perfect, bonding experience. So, now I just pump all the time and my baby just drinks out of his (BORNFREE) bottle. He hasn’t nursed in months…but at least he’s getting breast milk.

  • Oscar said:

    It’s best to stay open-minded when it comes to breastfeeding and raising your children in general. You just never know what to expect! Good blog.

  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    I completely agree. It is hard to accept that you can’t breastfeed if that is the only mental picture you have had. I could not breastfeed my first two and my third was only breastfed to five months before I had to wean him due to medical issues. Hoping to bf exclusively with this new one coming for at least a year!

  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    I shared!

  • Lauren Maar said:

    Totally agreed! While my experience has been different (sorta) I think that what ever work for you and your baby and they thrive is the “right way” for you and your baby.

    Thankfully, I am able to breast feeding even though I had a horribly rock start, many people I feel pressured me into formula telling me “it’s okay” but I knew my baby wasn’t having a hungry problem. She was gaining weight, looked helathy and got flying colors at the pedi. Once my milk was fully established and my nipples weren’t sore anymore (which took 4 wks because of open sores…ugh) I knew that breastfeeding was the right choice for us. But if she needed it, I would have tried formula.

  • kandi said:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It makes us all feel better when we realize we are not alone in the breast milk battle… My husband always tries to tell me its OK that my supply is not great, but as a mom who really wanted to be able to supply her babies with nothing but breast milk it is hard.
    I was only able to breast feed my 2 year old for about 6 weeks (formula supplemented the whole time too), and I currently have a 6 week old I am breast and formula feeding, trying to get my supply back up again as it goes up and down..

  • Amie said:

    I just had baby number 4 my first girl none the less. She was a big surprise for us as number three was only 7 months old and still nursing and we were done having kids. When I had my third son I had every intentions to nurse for a year because I didn’t make it half that with the other two. When my dr told me I really needed to wean I was really upset it took two months before I fully gave it up with him but still my dream was shot as far as goi g to a year. My husband told me that this last one had to bottle feed as well and I said fine but it has to be breast milk only. We have already had to supplement because surprisingly enough my milk took thr several days to come I. ( it didn’t with the last baby) and she isn’t really nursing well. Pumping isn’t really getting much out. So she’s had a few bottles of formula in her 8 days of life.

  • Summer said:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Its so true, you can only do what your body allows and its okay to supplement.

  • Trent P said:

    You just have to do what is best for baby.

  • Taylor P said:

    I have alot of respect for breastfeeding mothers. My wife had really high expectations.

  • Ashley P said:

    I also struggled with postpartum depression. My heart goes out to all mothers who suffer emotionally or physically.

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