baby bottleI almost didn't make it as a breastfeeding mom. I took it all seriously, of course. I took a breastfeeding class while I was pregnant, and after I had my son, I pestered every nurse in the maternity ward to help me latch on correctly. I was surprised -- turns out breastfeeding doesn't come naturally after all, at least for me. It took a lot of practice and determination.

And even after I got a latch going, I wasn't exactly Lady Bountiful with the milk supply. And my son just wanted to nurse constantly -- all day, all night, always on the boob. Was it because he wasn't getting enough? I turned to the experts: La Leche League. I know these well-meaning people have helped countless moms. But wow, they sure led me down one crazy breastfeeding rabbit hole.

To be fair, La Leche League and other lactivists have done a lot of important work in protecting mothers' rights to breastfeed. I have personally benefited from this advocacy, and I'm grateful for it. Lactation consultants can be very helpful and supportive. These are all well-meaning people who do mostly wonderful, necessary work. That said ...

When you start breastfeeding, you start hearing all the stories from your friends about how lactation consultants and lactivists advised them. The gadgets, the balms, the teas, the pumps, the nipple shields! Who knew nursing could be so complicated?!? Before I knew it, I'd been drawn into the insanity. I was using a hospital grade pump in between nursing sessions. I was trying to drink a gallon of water a day. I was exhausted. I was ... I was starting to get angry! This was just ridiculous.

And then I got some advice from my sister-in-law. "Just top him off with a little formula. We all do it."

"NOOOO!" said one of my breast-is-best friends. "You'll dry up! Your baby will start preferring the bottle! You can't feed him that crap!" All untrue. Supplementing with formula SAVED MY BREASTFEEDING. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true. Using just a little formula for the first couple of months gave me a break, ensured that my son was getting enough food, and helped us both.

And you know what? My son did not get nipple confusion. He still preferred the breast to the bottle. He loved nursing so damn much I finally had to wean him when he was 3 freakin' years old.

I think all the extra pumping and gadgets and measuring just stresses your body out. What a mom's body needs while nursing, especially in the beginning, is to relax. And if you need to supplement with a little formula to relax, so be it. I say, skip anything that causes anxiety and be open to whatever works.

Did you both breastfeed and formula feed?

 

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