Friday, October 6, 2017

Opening up about infant feeding



I loved breastfeeding. Is that a weird thing to say? As a mom of four who's nursed all four babies, I can honestly say that breastfeeding was one of my highlights with each baby and it's one of the things I looked forward to most after each subsequent birth. Maybe it was because it always just came easy to me. My milk came in quickly I had an abundant supply, I could switch back & forth from nursing to pumping with no issues, I always had a freezer stocked full of extra milk by the time my kids were all 3 months old...it was one of the best feelings in the world! My body was doing exactly what it was intended for and I was feeding my baby liquid gold- the most nutritious, natural thing I could give them. I had plump, chubby, healthy babies at the top of the growth charts and I shrunk back down to my pre-pregnancy size in no time...with all four kids. Win win for everyone, right? 

With each pregnancy I knew I would be breastfeeding. I didn't even pause to think about it when asked at the OBGYN for my prenatal check ups. Of course I'd be nursing! Why wouldn't I? After the baby was born I always declined help from the lactation specialists. I've got this, I'd think. Each baby latched right on from day one and we never had any major issues after that (besides the occasional clogged milk duct). If only I'd known that baby number four would throw a wrench in my feeding plan. 

When Josiah 5 or 6 months old my milk supply plummeted. I had to break into my frozen milk stash in the freezer because he was becoming so impatient at my breast that he was having a hard time nursing. Once he got the  bottle of milk that was it- he didn't have the patience to nurse from that day forward. I quickly blew through the frozen milk and was pumping just an ounce or so at a time. I couldn't keep up. I was so distraught and depressed. My baby was going to starve because I couldn't make enough milk. My husband suggested getting some formula and I think I almost bit his head right off! Formula was not an option in my mind! But why was that? I had already tried everything to bring my supply back up nothing was working. I felt ashamed when I finally agreed to try some formula. All of the websites and forums I read said not to give up, and here I was doing just that.

I hate to admit, but I look back on my breastfeeding journey now and I realize how naive I was, and also how unknowingly judgmental I was towards formula feeding moms. I guess I always secretly thought they just weren't trying hard enough or something. I felt absolutely sick when I realized that I'd been silently thinking these kinds of things about my friends and was quietly judging them when I'd hear they had stopped nursing. But now the tables had been turned- I was the one struggling. I had tried everything I could! I really, truly did. I agonized over it, and literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into feeding my baby the best I could. I could now sympathize with all of those moms out there who chose to end their breastfeeding journey, for whatever their reason. All of my frustration, guilt, and shame melted away as soon as my baby boy drank that first bottle of formula. Josiah was happy, fed, and perfectly healthy, and I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders! The day he switched to formula was truly one of the happiest moments I'd had in a while. 
He just turned 1! Look at that milky grin :) 

Open conversations about infant feeding is so important. I look back on that very stressful time in our lives when I was struggling with the decision to continue breastfeeding or supplement with formula and wish I'd had more support. The Happy Family's Infant Feeding Resource Center offers new parents direct and free access to Cornell-Certified nutritionists and lactation consultants, the Happy Mama Milk Mentors, as well as educational materials on a variety of feeding topics. It's a great place to get support for your feeding decision and have all of your questions answered when it comes to feeding your baby. I'm definitely passing this on to all of my expectant mom friends! 

Happy Family is a brand I already know and trust because they make the Happy Baby Stage 2 Organic formula that I feed Josiah now. This is a great formula option for babies over 6 months old and supports their changing nutritional needs. It's modeled after breast milk too and includes premium, organic & Non-GMO ingredients so I can feel confident about what I'm feeding my baby boy. It also contains key vitamins and minerals found in breast milk, as well as DHA/ARA, Folic Acid, and a prebiotic mix to help support digestive health. 

Wherever your feeding journey takes you, know that I'm with you in solidarity! It's hard being a mama. We try to make all of the right choices, but really, whatever the choice you end up making- that IS the right choice for you and your family. Every baby is different, every pregnancy is different, and every feeding journey is different. I want every new mom out there to open up and reach out if you need support, and know that you are not alone in this. Happy Family has you covered with their free resource center and amazing line of organic formula for you and your baby, should you need them! 

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