I was positive I was going to breastfeed… no doubt about it. I mean after all EVERY woman can breastfeed right. Those that say they cant really just aren’t trying hard enough… or they’re not committed… or they’re lazy… right? Right?
I spent many hours reading forums, articles, books… just about everything I could get my hands on about birth and breastfeeding. I felt prepared. I was ready… BRING IT ON BOOBIES! Until I was about 37 weeks pregnant. In all the research and articles that I had read NONE of them mentioned some of the legit reasons that a woman could maybe not be able to breastfeed. None of them mentioned IGT, PCOS or any kind of hormonal issues. It wasn’t until I took a breastfeeding class that I heard anything about these.
You see, I have struggled with PCOS since I was an adolescent. I don’t have a lot of the horrible symptoms thank goodness, but it does effect my fertility. I had no clue that it could also effect my ability to breastfeed. So I felt blindsided… only 3 weeks before my precious baby would enter the world and need to be sustained by me… me and my malfunctioning breasts. I was terrified.
Having PCOS doesn’t guarantee that you will have issues with breastfeeding. In fact 1/3 of women with PCOS are able to feed their babies from their breast just fine. 1/3 actually produce more milk than needed (oversupply) and then… well then there is the other 1/3. This group suffers from low supply. So honestly, if I were a rational thinker… I probably wouldn’t have worried.
Nearly 15 minutes after Max was born he latched beautifully. He took to the breast like… well, like a baby is supposed to take to the breast. A wave of relief washed over me. I really thought we were going to be ok. A few nights in though, things weren’t as beautiful. My son seemed increasingly unsatisfied after his feedings. As a first time mom the panic of not knowing what to do was to this day probably the worst and most scary emotion I have ever felt in my life. My resolve to NEVER use formula and ONLY feed my baby my milk went straight out the window. I don’t care what they would have fed him… I just didn’t want to starve my baby. I mean, what kind of mother starves her baby. What kind of woman cannot breastfeed. I mean, isn’t that what women were made to be able to do… have babies and breastfeed. And I wasn’t able to do either one without some kind of medical assistance. My body hated me, and now it hated my baby. Heartbroken is not the word to describe how I felt. It was deeper than that. It was more than just my heart that was broken. My body was broken, my confidence, my life… my life felt broken.
I sought help with a lactation consultant. And honestly, she was horrible. She didn’t seem to care… and honestly I didn’t know any better. Her lack of resolve lead me to believe that it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I tried various herbs… I took medications that are banned in the USA… I tried what I believed at the time to be everything. Emotionally I couldn’t handle the stress. I couldn’t balance trying to feed my baby from my breasts and also feed him from a bottle. I couldn’t deal with the pain of failure. I felt like I had let my baby down. I felt like I had let our whole family down.
This situation alone, was by far the most emotionally painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. And I know many of you reading this think that statement is absurd. Many moms formula feed their baby. Many moms make that choice. Many moms are unsuccessful at breastfeeding… blah blah blah. But for ME… FOR ME… this was painful. It wasn’t just that I could not breastfeed. It was struggling with fertility for almost 5 years and realizing that my body failed me in doing what it was meant to do, create life… only to have my body fail me once again at the simple task of making milk. It was the disappointment in the lack of “womanhood” that my body was able to participate in. It was knowing just enough facts to hate myself… and not enough to forgive myself.
But… alas, I got over it. I am still healing 17 months later. There are still moments where I see a woman put her child to her bosom and watch her child drift off into a comforted sleep that I tear up and wish that I had been able to have that experience. But rather than live in this land of disappointment and sadness… I decided to channel that energy elsewhere.
I became passionate about educating myself on breastfeeding… the ins, outs, mechanics, emotions, hormones, anatomy… all of it. A few months after Max’s birth I knew what I was meant to do. I knew I was called to work in women’s health when I was 19, but I didn’t understand my calling at that time. Now, 13 years later I have clarity.
Of course with the knowledge I have now, I know my breastfeeding experience could have been much different. But I didn’t know how to get the support and knowledge I needed. I knew about breastfeeding classes and lactation consultants, but I was never made to feel comfortable enough to really dive deep into the issues I may have had. And now it is my passion to make sure every woman is able to have lactation help and good information given to her by empathetic professionals who are truly passionate about making their desires for what they want their lactation journey to look like a reality.
You may call me crazy… but I really do feel called by God to work with women. With birthing women who want to provide their sweet mamas milk to their babies. I want to help them know how, feel comfortable and overcome any obstacle that may come before them. I want to spare them the emotions I had to encounter… I want them to feel confident in their bodies… and what it can do. And I want them to be prepared what their bodies may not be able to overcome, and rather than despair over this, learn how to build a bridge over the situation.
Today, those feelings of failure and pain are slowly being replaced with feelings of joy and pride as I help women feed their babies how they want to feed them. It is messages like these that fill that place in my heart that ached and longed for a breastfeeding relationship with my baby. Because I can help someone else…
*Screenshots used with permission