A short story: Breast is Best, but not for Everyone

“Breast is best.” We see it all the time, everywhere. Although there is some truth to this statement, it’s not necessarily true for everyone. My heart was set on breastfeeding my baby girl. After giving birth and having skin to skin time I tried and to my surprise she latched right on. I felt so accomplished and cried in amazement. Just 5 years before, and what seemed like the exact moment, I cried in sadness after giving birth to my son who wanted no parts of it. He refused the breast and being a first time mom with little to no knowledge about breastfeeding, I gave up. I really had no clue what I was doing and after hours of my child not eating, I just gave up. With tears rolling down my eyes, I asked for the formula. But this time around things were different. My baby girl was a pro. She was sucking for dear life. We spent three days in the hospital and things went well each day. Not one issued arrived. I soaked up all the information from the lactation nurse and thought this would be a breeze. Football positions, cradle holds, the lying techniques, you name it we did it.

A sudden change happened once we arrived home. I was feeling like a super amazing breastfeeding mom and then my daughter decided nope I changed my mind. I’m sure you can believe how distraught I was. Distraught, depressed but determined. Determined to not give up, determined to give my child the best. After trying every technique to get my baby girl back on the breast and failing completely, I became an exclusive pumper. I told myself  “maybe this isn’t so bad” but boy was I kidding myself. This had to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I spent all my days and nights attached to an electric breast pump. The constant “err-err” noise the pump made started to haunt me. I continued on because my determination would not allow me to give up on giving my baby “the best.”

I wanted to give my baby what was best for her no matter the cost. If that meant being attached to a pump forever then that was just what I I would have to do. Or so I thought. I slowly became more and more depressed but I stayed determined. I had built up a decent freezer stash, but that was doing a disappearing act. “Why was my freezer stash going so fast?” I asked. I had been hit with a ton of bricks. My supply had dropped. I realized I hadn’t been producing enough milk anymore and what I had “saved up” was becoming nonexistent. My soul was crushed, but in likely mommy fashion I stuffed my feelings deep down in the pit of my soul and kept trying. I joined a Facebook community for breastfeeding mamas for suggestions, but already felt defeated.

My determination was on 100 though. I took the advice of many, “try beer,” “try the lactation cookies” constant do this and do that, from people who were truly trying to help and I felt they were coming from a loving place. I started to feel low because nothing was working, but everywhere I looked “breast is best” was plastered. I even read comments on how bad formula was and I had better not give my baby formula. Everyone kept insisting I don’t give up, but try any and everything possible because formula was not an option. I felt so bad and had no clue what to do because this issue had consumed me. I lashed out at those who loved me most, my husband and oldest son included. I was sad all the time and just in a depressive state. I didn’t care about anything but trying to make sure I had a breast fed baby. No one was encouraging me that fed is best, but to constantly figure out how to breastfeed only.

I was a complete mess. I was ashamed to even consider formula because “they said” it was basically the devil. Already torn on what to do, I got news that I had a mass on my breast. My doctor told me I could keep pumping if I wanted but he’d advise against it. He said it shouldn’t hurt my baby, but of course I got inside of my own head. I came up with a million what if’s and eventually decided to just stop. I hadn’t told anyone of my stop, but for some reason I felt like I was such a bad person. One of my friends came to my rescue as I was battling with myself. Her words were golden. She told me “breast is best, but not for everyone. ” As she said those words it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I had been beating myself up over something that was beyond my control and true for only some people.

Fed is best! Becoming a mom doesn’t come with a manual. There are no made in stone rules. What works for one mom may not work for another. Stop making moms feel like crap because they don’t breastfeed. It’s not the best choice for everyone. Sometimes circumstances don’t allow a mom to breastfeed. I salute every breastfeeding mom because it is definitely hard work. It takes a lot out of you and is extremely exhausting, so to any mom that breastfeeds you are my hero. The bashing, oh the bashing though! We shouldn’t bash moms who don’t breastfeed. We have no idea how hard they’ve tried to breastfeed or the things they have gone through to do it. It’s tough! Some moms just simply don’t want to and that is perfectly fine as well. As a mom you go through so much and sometimes support is nonexistent. Let’s make a conscious decision to uplift one another on this journey of motherhood. We can start by looking outside of ourselves and realizing that what works for one mama may not work for the next, but better believe she’s giving more than she’s got to raise her babies! Breast is best, but not for everyone.

Written By: Lynyadia Prosper