Hello! I hope everyone had a relaxing Christmas! Today's post is about my own struggle with lack of breastfeeding confidence.
I was recently talking to one of my friends who is a pediatrician about my current situation with breastfeeding my son. I told her that I needed a lactation consult just for someone to tell me that everything was going fine with our breastfeeding journey. As a medical professional (dietitian, lactation consultant), it can be difficult to take your own advice sometimes! It's similar to when I hear nurses talk about how cool, calm and collected they are when faced with medical issues with all patients but not so much with their own kids or family members!
So let's take a step back and talk about the events that made me start to lack confidence in my own breastfeeding journey! The first thing was when my son's weight was a little below what I expected it to be at his six month well-child visit. I am definitely hypersensitive to this because of my profession and also my experience with my daughter's poor weight gain in her newborn days. Our pediatrician said she was sure his weight would increase more at the next appointment and was not worried at all, BUT for some reason this small event caused a downward spiral of stress for me.
The next thing that caused some stress was when my breastmilk output while pumping drastically decreased for a couple of weeks. I was pumping about half as much as before. The decrease in milk output made it very difficult for me to have enough milk for him to drink while I was working (and our freezer stash was almost gone). One day, I even had to have my husband stop at my office to get a bag of pumped milk just to have enough for the day--ugh!
As if those two events weren't enough to decrease my confidence in my supply and breastfeeding ability, my son became super distracted while feeding at this same time. He would latch for a couple of minutes and then want to look at all the things rather than eat. After battling with him for several minutes trying to get him to eat, I would give up. After I stopped trying, he would cry as if he was still hungry. Of course this made me think that my supply was not enough for him which was why he lost interest.
So, after a week of stressing out over all the things related to breastfeeding, I made the decision to start bottle feeding breastmilk before bed each night to make sure that my son was getting enough at that feed (this was the feeding that he was the most distracted each day and also when my supply was the lowest). This sounds like a simple solution but it was so hard for me to make this decision. Breastfeeding can be such a personal and emotional process. I felt like I was failing at breastfeeding because my baby needed a bottle while I was there to feed him--totally not the case but just the thoughts I was having at the time. In addition, I started supplementing with a small amount of formula in his bedtime bottle to make it possible for me to have enough pumped milk for the next day. We have been doing this for a few weeks now, and I feel much better about all the things. AND my supply has increased so I think it was just a temporary problem that is resolving itself.
Looking back, I wish that I would have remained confident in my ability to make the right feeding choices for my baby rather than stressing over it for so long. I truly believe that we doubt ourselves during the breastfeeding process which can easily lead us to give up before we are ready. I also believe that if breastfeeding is not working and it's time to start feeding in an alternative way (formula, bottled breastmilk or a combination), you need to do what's best for you!
If you are currently doubting your feeding choices or abilities, STOP! You are doing great and know exactly what your baby needs! And, if you need someone to increase your confidence in these choices, feel free to reach out to me!