Human Milk Machine

Breastfeeding might be natural and instinctive and all that jazz, but the mechanics of it are often far from natural … even if you’ve done it before. Each child is different and there are lots of variables that go into play with respect to the supply and demand side of milk production.

For some women, it’s a piece of cake. And for others – like me – it’s anything but.

While I made it nine months pumping and breastfeeding for Maya (plus formula) I never pretended to love breastfeeding …  but I did it because I believe in all the benefits it gives to baby and mom and did treasure many special bonding moments with Maya.

Well, it’s been nine days that Ben has been here and I can tell you … I am not loving it any more this go-around, either! Whereas Maya had a great latch and my supply sucked … my supply is good this time, but Ben has trouble latching. For the love.

We’ve seen the lactation consultant at the hospital and he nursed like a champ in front of her (wouldn’t you know!) …but sometimes he just won’t latch, even though I know he’s a starvin’ marvin. It causes me tons of angst and surely he feels it. Plus, stress means my production could be affected.

It takes time to get into a groove, to be sure … but for now, I feel like a human milk machine. I try to nurse first and so for the times he won’t latch, it’s often “too late” … meaning I have to quick hurry up and pump … which means he turns into a screaming red cherry tomato, all the way down to his scalp.

Of course, this adds stress to an already stressful situation (being a mom to two kids, recovering from a C-section, hormones going wild …) and it gets me really agitated and frustrated. I’m nursing on-demand [when he will do it]; I’m pumping frequently to keep my supply up between feedings; I’ve been trying to drink lots of water, eat oatmeal, lots of fruits and veggies … all the good things that help boost supply and they are helping … but none of those things help Ben easily latch. 😦

In spite of my frustration, I’m not throwing in the towel [yet]. We will keep trying … but I refuse to kill myself in the process or guilt myself into sticking it out for the sake of sticking it out. If we have to add in some formula again, I’ll do it. I know I’m giving it my all this time, and that’s the best I can do. I want to cherish the time with my son … not spend my time stressing about his weight, if he’s getting enough to eat … it’s just not worth it and made me resentful of what could have been a good experience.

At this point, it’s only been nine days … so it’s a little hard to say a specific time frame I’ll “stick it out” this time; I’m not making any definitive plans either way.

I’m sharing my frustrations today because there’s so much literature out there advocating “breast is best”…  and while that may be true, it doesn’t mean it’s easy for all of us. A lot of new moms — or second/third/fourth time moms — struggle with what is considered to be a totally natural thing. And we should support all moms, regardless of how they choose to feed their infants.

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2 thoughts on “Human Milk Machine

  1. Had to click over to suggest maybe he’s tongue tied? My 6 mo old baby was tongue tied and had trouble latching. I pumped for three months with my daughter before my supply gave out (and my c-section incision was infected, 😦 ). But with him, I kept trying trying trying and had his tongue tie corrected TWICE before he started to latch when he was 5 weeks old. And having formula fed vs. breastfed, I completely agree with you, it’s SO HARD. So so hard. I completely understand why people don’t breastfeed. It feels like the cards are stacked against it, you know? But I’m glad I stuck it out — for me — it was important. As you said, we should support all moms, however they choose to feed their babies. Hang in there, or don’t — it’s all good. 🙂

    1. So funny you mention that–our lactation consultants checked because they thought he might be tongue-tied but apparently he’s not … just takes a while to properly latch. Good for you doing what you could–though boo for that c-section incision being infected!! 😦 Hugs!

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