How a Former Breastfeeding 'Failure' Learned to Love Nursing

Up until 10 days ago, I hated breastfeeding. Absolutely loathed it. I had attempted to breastfeed my now-2-year-old daughter, and the experience left me feeling deflated and depressed at a time when I should have been over the moon.

My little girl was healthy and had a healthy appetite -- that I couldn't manage to satisfy, which just made me feel like a horribly inadequate mom. Perhaps as a result of the fact that I was induced, I produced little milk at first, and coupled with the amount of stress I and everyone around me had placed in my breastfeeding success, nursing just wasn't happening.

I trashed breastfeeding every opportunity I got and thought of myself as a cheerleader for bottle feeding -- which I definitely felt was needed given our culture's borderline nutso obsession with nursing.

But two weeks ago I gave birth to my baby boy and everything changed. I'm breastfeeding and loving it -- not because I'm a better mom, but because of 5 factors that had nothing to do with me.


First, let me provide 5 reasons why I feel nursing didn't work for me after I delivered my daughter:

1. I got to hold her for a few minutes before she was whisked away to be examined and bathed. She returned about an hour later and I then attempted to put her to my breast. She was still sleepy, perhaps from the epidural I chose to have after a painful induction. She barely latched on.

2. My request to see the hospital's lactation counselor was finally fulfilled -- two days after I gave birth.

3. Nurses were either unable or unwilling to help me learn how to help my baby nurse. Their response when she kept crying? "Keep feeding her."

4. My daughter latched on incorrectly and my nipples were bloody and bruised the day after I gave birth.

5. When I asked for formula on day 2 (after a concerned pediatrician informed me that my baby had lost a lot of weight, which freaked me out), my nurse's response was: "Are you sure? If you give her formula now, she will never take your milk." Thanks a lot.

Am I bitter? Yep, a little bit. At the end of the day, formula was a game changer for me, and my daughter is extremely healthy and happy, which is all that matters. But while some moms find it natural to nurse, others have a difficult time. And we need immediate support as soon as we deliver our babies.

I wanted to give nursing another shot. I delivered my son at a different hospital, and despite how much credit I give myself for trying it again, I owe my current breastfeeding success to these 5 factors:

1. My baby stayed with me in the birthing room for two hours before we were transferred to a private room. He only left my side for a few minutes while being examined. We had immediate skin-to-skin contact and a knowledgeable nurse was right there to show me how to help him latch on 10 minutes after he was born.

2. I met a lactation counselor two hours after he was born (and this was in the middle of the night) and she provided an amazing amount of help and support.

3. The hospital offered two breastfeeding classes per day.

4. Throughout the day, I continued to receive periodic visits from lactation counselors and nurses who knew their stuff and observed my son while we nursed.

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY -- I was offered formula every single morning. No one made me feel like I HAD to breastfeed. I was never made to feel like a bad mom if I decided I wanted to supplement.

If hospitals feel they are encouraging breastfeeding by removing access to formula, they have it ALL WRONG. The opposite is true. New moms need to feel like it's our choice. We need to be told we are successful at breastfeeding, but that we are equally successful moms if we choose to or have to nourish our children with formula.

Above all, a militant approach to nursing absolutely does not work.

Did you find it difficult or easy to breastfeed? How did your hospital approach the issue of nursing?

Image via Summer/Flickr

Read More >