The Breastfeeding Diaries: Erica from Let Why Lead

September 18, 2013

Hello Girl in the Red Shoes readers! I'm Erica, and I write about being a purposeful wife and mom at Let Why Lead. The concept behind my blog is to let why you live determine how you live. I try hard to balance positive with real, and I'd love to have you visit. Thanks to cute Julie for hosting me today and letting me be a part of this beautiful series!

We joked that my first son was born angry. I spent hours in our pitch-black laundry room, rocking-swaying-bouncing him to the hum of the running dryer.

As it turns out, he was just born hungry!

Prior to Trenton's birth, breastfeeding was never a decision for me; it was a given. But I never really considered that it wouldn't go as I had hoped.

I nursed around the clock, but my baby was never satisfied after feedings. If he wasn't asleep or trying to nurse, he was loud. Feeling like our lives had been turned upside down, after about ten days, my husband and I gave Trenton his first bottle of formula. He downed it like a pro and basked happily afterward. Who is this baby? we thought.

newborn feetAfter consulting with our pediatrician, we decided to supplement with formula after every nursing session. This went well for about two months, until Trenton started becoming increasingly discontent at the breast. At that point, I started pumping as well, which is when I discovered I was only producing an ounce or less per feeding. No wonder the poor guy was frustrated!

Because he seemed to prefer the bottle, I stopped breastfeeding him traditionally and began pumping five to six times a day, which allowed me to give him ONE bottle of breastmilk per 24-hour period. I maintained the pumping until he was six months old, and then I happily packed that baby up (the pump! not the baby!) and set it in storage...until my next son was born!

The story with my second and third babies was markedly similar. I did all I could to boost my milk supply: I ate oatmeal, took fenugreek in pill form, drank gallons of water, and generally ate a healthy diet. (I think I exhausted google with my "how to increase milk supply" pleas. :) Despite my efforts, my babies continued dropping weight, and I knew after the first week with each baby that supplementing with formula would mean a more full and content baby—and a calmer, happier mom.

I never breastfed traditionally for more than three months.

baby qMy advice to any new mom is to not let your breastfeeding experience define you as a mother. Breastfeeding is paradoxically both a sacrifice and a privilege, but your success with it is not indicative of your love for your child or your status as a mom.

Let's say that long and continual nursing sessions with another little one underfoot feel like more than you can handle. Or maybe you need to go back to work and honestly don't want to attempt pumping in the workplace. Maybe, like me, you struggle with supply. Or maybe you just prefer the ability to let other people feed your child. Maybe it's harder than you thought it would be.

The point is—you don't owe us an explanation. You're doing the best work in the world—loving that baby. And no matter the path your breastfeeding journey takes (whether it is two sessions or two years), you can choose to call it a success.

let why lead
Go ahead and re-read Erica's wise words and let them sink in. As moms, we are all just trying to do our best! If you would like to share your breastfeeding story I would love to have you! Please email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail     Also, be sure to catch up with the rest of the series at the top of my navigation bar.

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15 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Erica from Let Why Lead”

  1. I love that you wrote "You don't owe us an explanation." I always feel like I do when I tell someone I didn't breastfeed Cameron for long. I always felt glaring eyes when I pulled out a can of formula at a restaurant. I am sure I was just very paranoid (and feeling guilty), but I definitely felt (and still feel) like I need to explain my story when the subject comes up. THANK YOU for writing this!!

  2. Amen! My daughter was never satisfied either and I would literally spend 10+ hours a day with her on my breast. I finally hit my breaking point and initially felt guilty when I stopped at 9 weeks, but my daughter literally became a new baby the day we switched to formula. It was the right decision for us and I haven't regretted it since!

  3. I LOVE THIS! No reason to let it define you, or feel bad about it... Plus it's not like there's a box on college applications that asks how long you were breastfeed! Just do your best and that's what's best for you and your babe!!

    And I ALWAYS felt the need to explain why we couldn't nurse for more than 6 months. Thankfully I soon realized that I was doing what was best for me and lex. And who cares about everyone else!!

  4. So far, my son is 4 months old and we are going strong with the breastfeeding. However, it hasn't always been easy and there have been times where I have found myself resentful over the sacrifices I feel like I'm making since we are exclusively breastfeeding - being the old one who can feed him, having to pump at work, scheduling everything around when he needs to eat so that I don't have to nurse that often in public, etc. And then the guilt sets in. Guilt for having any negative feelings about breastfeeding. The truth is - it's hard. Being a mom is hard. All the way around. And you are SO right - we don't owe anyone explanations for doing the best we can for our babies! Love this story!

  5. Pumping an ounce does not mean that you're only producing an ounce. Pumps are way less efficient than a baby and their is an art to getting a pump to work well! Glad you found a feeding method that worked for you and your babies. Thanks for sharing :-)

  6. Love this. I feel like I am constantly explaining to people why my baby is formula fed and I shouldn't have to offer any explanations. It's the choice my husband and I made after seeing what was best for our baby. Thank you for that reminder!

  7. I always feel like I need to explain that I didn't breast feed because he was tongue tied but you are so right... No explanation is needed! Thanks for reminding us!

  8. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For finally sharing a story where breastfeeding didn't quite turn out like rainbows and roses for 18 months! Love this!

  9. Great story and so very true that we don't owe anyone an explanation! Love is all that matters :)

    IG: megawat
    Hello Newlywed Life Blog

  10. I love this series, but I agree with Ariane, and hope folks realize that the amount you pump is NOT the amount your baby gets when s/he nurses. Babies are much more effective than a pump. And also, know that supplementing with formula will decrease your supply, which is not what you want to do if you plan to breastfeed. It's all supply and demand.

  11. I want to clarify to Ariane and Anonymous that I did know that information and gave it my best effort (all three times), BUT the point of my post is that even if I didn't know or didn't go to lengths to research it, I don't need to explain it. Breastfeeding is very personal and never black & white. I hope to support women no matter what decisions they make. We women get enough criticism for other things, wouldn't it be great if this were one area where we could just build each other up.

  12. Amen!! This has been the best post out of the whole series! You put into words what I have been trying to say for over a year. Thank your for encouraging those that struggled with the decision to stop breast feeding (or not breast feed at all) and enlightening those that think breast feeding your child = loving your child more than those that don't.
    Stick together moms, no matter how you feed your child. No mother should ever feel guilty or ashamed because of a decision on how they chose to feed their baby. Judgmental moms are the ones that are creating these insecurities and it's not right.
    Thanks for sharing; you have an awesome outlook on life and I admire you!

  13. Awesome post, Erica! Always love your encouragement for other mama's!

  14. Amazing story! Sounds similar to me and I love that you state "You don't owe an explanation." I can't tell you how many times strangers have asked if I am nursing. Really? None of your business. That would always get me on the defensive side.

    Thanks for sharing!


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