Sunday, August 5, 2012

Breastfeeding Anxiety

It is late Sunday afternoon...all is quiet here at my husband is at work, my dog is resting peacefully and M is in the fourth hour of her nap. I am sitting at my computer, putzing on the internet, looking at my bookmarked sites that I browse daily - and I have 2 weeks left till my due date. I came to the conclusion yesterday that I am actually really excited to meet my new baby girl. I am ready for my life to be even crazier, to be running around after two children, to be sleep deprived and all that comes with having a newborn. The house is ready for her (she has about 4 places to sleep set up around in various rooms), her newborn sized diapers are out and waiting, I have my hospital bag packed and I am ready to do this. Roll tide!

But just now a different feeling of anxiety has overcome me. As I sit here reading all my mommy websites and blogs I am overwhelmed as it is the end of National Breastfeeding Week and everything I am reading has to do with breastfeeding babies. If you have been reading the blog since M was born you will know that I had a great struggle breastfeeding her as she was a month early, she was smaller than my boobs when she was born and unable to latch and suckle, and I ended up pumping and bottle feeding for almost 5 months of her life. Yes I sought out support from 2 lactation consultants and tried all the nipple shields and other tricks that were recommended, but it never happened for us.

When I think back to my pregnancy with her, I don't remember much of anything. When I think back to the birth I remember dribs and drabs of the 18 hour experience of getting her out of me (3 epidurals that never really took are unable to be forgotten!). But it feels like it was just yesterday that I was in our interim room after giving birth (there wasn't a room ready on the actual maternity floor so we were put in a holding room) and they wheeled M in to me for the first time (as she went to the NICU for an hour or so to be checked out because she was so small). My delivery nurse had become my BFF in the long hours we spent together, but this new nurse was the polar opposite - all business and no love. She took M out of the bassinet and gave her to me and said "she needs to be fed." I wanted to throw up.

I had taken a breastfeeding class, read a few books, watched instructional videos, but nothing really prepares you for that moment when you are first handed your child, and all eyes are on you with your giant naked boob just laying there and your new child screaming in hunger in your arms. I remember the nurse saying something like "just shove your breast in her mouth..." and me being like "what? don't I have to do this? How should I hold her?" and just wanting to die of embarrassment.

Is this how every other new mom felt? Did this come totally naturally for every other person delivering at that time? What the hell was I doing wrong? I thought I was supposed to enjoy this?

After a few minutes with no success we ended up giving M formula. I tried and tried to breastfeed her while at the hospital, with the help of a lactation consultant there as well, with no success - and even less hope for when I got home. It all ended up working out fine, and I was happy pumping so that my husband could share the feeding burden with me, and M is now healthy and very happy.

But as I sit her so close to meeting my new baby girl I have agida over attempting to breastfeeding her when she comes into the world! She has already made it 2 weeks past how far M was inside me, so she will be more developed which is great, and I know I could be fretting all for naught, but seriously I can't stop thinking about that moment when they hand her to me to try to feed her in the hospital. Will I be successful this time? Will she be a natural and latch right away? Will I want to throw up like I did last time? Will that same mean nurse be with me during my first try?

I have spent the last hour looking at all these photos of women breastfeeding their babies like it is as easy as breathing, and reading all these stories about how these women were born to breastfeed, and it isn't helping my anxiety at all. There is so much pressure to breastfeed your baby nowadays, all for the right reasons of course, but I am feeling that pressure from all sides right now.

All my friends and family ask me if I plan to breastfeed this new baby, and of course I say yes, but if it doesn't work out, won't they think of me as a failure? Even today when I went shopping for nursing bras and tanks the woman at the store was talking non-stop about the wonders and joys of breastfeeding. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it didn't work out with M, so I just told her that I did breastfeed M so I didn't have to go into the whole story.

When I do tell people the story of how I was unsuccessful with M I always get the comments about how I should have sought out more support and help - or have done anything to make it work. There is so much pressure on new moms to make breastfeeding work...sometimes that pressure makes it all that much harder for it to click in the first place.

I wish I was one of those mothers who was a natural breastfeeder, and who knows, with this next child I might be. For now I just need to go take some Zantac and a few Tums to settle this nauseous feeling I have in my stomach...stay tuned for the boob report once the baby is here! I am sure I will have a lot to say.


  1. For a bit of peace of mind, I do think that every child is different. It's a clean slate with this one, for lack of a better expression, so I wouldn't worry so much about what happened with M. You do have it right that her sucking mechanisms will be better developed with each day that she's in there, so keep your chin up. If you can't do it, none of your friends and family will care - it's a much more personal decision and therefore personal feelings attached to it. Your friends and family will likely not even bat an eyelash if you decide that breastfeeding this baby isn't for you and you want to switch to formula.

    I had a few issues with nursing A in the beginning - an undersupply, mastitis, etc - but in the end, I had some great support and a great lc that was able to get me through the worst of it, and I nursed Ava past her second birthday. Yep, I'm one of *those* mothers :)

    Good luck!

  2. Every kid is different, and you will be a different mama this time around this time around will be different. That's the one thing I learned with little miss versus her big bro. You're right, there is too much pressure about breastfeeding these days. No matter what the outcome is, just know that your daughter will be healthy and happy, just like her big sister.

  3. Thanks for posting this... I know it's something a lot of new moms struggle with. I'll be crossing my fingers for you for some smooth nursing this time around.

  4. Girl, try not to stress about it and just enjoy the time with the little girl. Do you really want to spend your waking moments with your new precious daughter worrying about how she's fed? I mean take a good look at baby M. Isn't she perfectly healthy? She's perfect! And this little girl will be too no matter how you decide to feed her. I totally get the pressure that we put on ourselves as Moms... I do. I'm VERY neurotic about it as well, but us Mom's need to just keep that in check and just focus on the things that really matter...loving and being there for our sweet kiddos. 20 years from now, how we fed our babies won't really matter, but enjoying the sweet moments will.
    If its any consolation, my nursing with my second was MUCH easier than with my first. With Parker, I had 8 weeks of thrush before I knew what the heck was going on, and then I started my cycle when he was just three months old which made my supply drop to a ridiculously low amount. I was a little less regimented with my second and just tried to go with the flow a little more. I was completely prepared to use formula if need be (no shame) but just didn't end up needing it with him. Now that we're expecting our third, I'm going to try to breastfeed, but honestly... I'm going to do whatever I can to make my life, and the lives of my kiddos easier and more fulfilling. If that means that nursing comes easier, than so be it... if bottle feeding and formula... than so be it. I'd rather focus on giving my kids the attention they need than being caught up in my own goals for how I should feed her, and what others will think if I can't make it happen. I'm sending good wishes your way for a good feeding experience for you and the new babe!