New Mom Secrets: I Was a Better Mom When I Quit Breastfeeding

Jennie Canzoneri
13


Breastfeeding in the hospital
It's hard being a new mom (or even an experienced mom to a new baby) and sometimes we do things we know we shouldn't, despite what all the experts say. But this is a safe place to share your secrets—we won't tell.

This Week's Secret:

This isn't much of a "secret" as I've talked about my breastfeeding story at length on my personal blog, but I stopped breastfeeding my son when he was 2 months old, and within a week both he and I were much happier people.

I'm an educated woman and I only say that so you know that I know the medical benefits of breastfeeding. I know these benefits well. (Please don't feel you have to remind me of those benefits because, really, I do know them.)

I was eager and happy to breastfeed both while pregnant and when my son was first born, and after a physically painful first week or so, breastfeeding became much easier. But my supply was always low and my stress was always high, and the process -- while physically manageable -- became very difficult emotionally.

When I look back on my first two months as a mom, I now know that I was depressed, and I was lonely, but that was hard to recognize while living through it. I was having a very hard time, and it was made worse by my son's colic. I tried ridding my diet of a myriad of things to help any gas or digestion issues he may have been having, and nothing seemed to work. He and I both screamed a lot in those early days.

The actual act of breastfeeding was going well, and those moments breastfeeding my son in the early days of his life were some of my favorite. But. Well. My stress and anxiety and eventual insomnia were all physically taking a toll on me, and my supply was just not cutting it. We had to supplement early on, and I hated myself for failing my son and for feeling relief that formula feeding was working for us.

Eventually he and I weaned him off my breast entirely, and while it wasn't what I anticipated happening, it was what was best for us both. Although exclusively breastfeeding is ideal, and I admire any woman who manages to stick to that plan, my sanity was also important, and there's no denying that my peace of mind was being compromised while breastfeeding and the self-imposed stress that went along with it. There's also no denying that the day I stopped breastfeeding, my anxiety levels drastically decreased. (And, in turn, my son became a drastically happier child.)

I was ill-prepared for breastfeeding, and if I ever have another baby, I'll arm myself with knowledge and an emotional and physical support team to see me through those hard days, but I won't beat myself up for not being able to handle the stress as a first-time mom who didn't know any better. I couldn't do it, and my son was suffering because of my shortcomings.

We both thrived when I stopped breastfeeding, and while I would never tell a new mom she shouldn't try (that's absolutely not my place), I would also never judge a new mom for doing what she felt was best for herself and her family.

What a child needs most is a happy, healthy mother, and I truly believe it's unfair to tell any mother -- without knowing her or knowing her situation -- that she failed her child or herself by not breastfeeding.

What was your breastfeeding experience like?


Image via Jennie Canzoneri

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