Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Breastfeeding Struggle

When I started thinking about having children years ago, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I believe it has many benefits for the baby including immune system protection, reduction in allergies, and weight maintenance. I also believe it helps the mother by reducing the risk of breast cancer. It also helps the mother and baby bond. So when my little girl, I set to work doing my very best at being a breastfeeding mommy.

I’ve tried to eat well by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and good fats. I’ve also made myself drink plenty of water every day, even when I’d rather have coffee or soda. I’ve also been diligent in taking the proper vitamins and supplements.

Soon after coming home, my daughter, Josey, was becoming covered in a terrible rash. She also became very colicky. She wasn’t sleeping, and neither was I. At six weeks old, she was diagnosed with a milk allergy. She wasn’t allergic to my milk, but she was allergic to the milk proteins from the foods I ate. So I eliminated milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and anything else with even trace amounts of milk. I started drinking soy milk and taking extra calcium so we wouldn’t suffer. After a week, her skin cleared, and she became a healthy, happy baby. I thought we’d defeated our breastfeeding demon. But then there was more.

Since she had been sleeping through the night since she was 5 weeks old, and I didn’t want my milk supply to diminish, I would get up every 3 hours in the night to pump. Since she slept all night, she wanted to eat all day, so I’d have to give her the milk I’d pumped in the night to be satisfied. But at 14 weeks, she wasn’t satisfied anymore. I knew I’d have to start supplementing.

Now I have nothing against formula. There are some great formulas on the market today, and I know many mothers have to use and some want to use it. And I don’t blame them. Sometimes breastfeeding can be a struggle when the baby is fussy or when Mommy is tired, and formula can be the answer. I just wanted to give my little one the gift of breastfeeding. And when I couldn’t give her enough, I felt defeated.

Why did I feel defeated? I’m not sure. I think it was because it was something I couldn’t conquer. I was also afraid she’d reject me after she tried formula. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t get my supply up enough for her. I’ve tried herbal supplements, extra pumping, extra water, and none of it has helped. Of course I didn’t want Josey to suffer, so I started giving her just enough formula to make up for my deficiency.

Because of her milk allergy, I chose Similac Sensitive Isomil Soy. It seems like a high quality product, and I thought it would be gentle for her. And you know what? It has been great. She doesn’t it treat it any differently than she does my milk, and it agrees with her. She still wants to breastfeed at every opportunity, and our bond is as strong as ever. While I’m still hoping I can eventually have enough milk for her, I’m glad she’s happy. That little smile makes it all ok.

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