At Bosom Buddy we often hear from mothers about concerns on low milk supply. We have clients that have tried it all, given every bit they have to give, and it just is not working as planned. I have seen broken hearts and mothers describing their mothering as a failure. As a professional and as a mother, it is heartbreaking to me to hear a mother describe herself as a failure. There is so much more to being a mother than breastfeeding. That is only one part of a very large equation.
So let's talk about the breastfeeding relationship. A while back a mother told me the best thing she did for her relationship with her baby was to quit nursing. She was spending all her time, emotion, and effort on making nursing work so she felt she had no time or energy left in her for the snuggles, smiles, and bonding. For many women, once the stress of making breastfeeding work is gone, their real journey of motherhood can begin.
We hear so much about bonding and how nursing creates a magical bond. It can and it does, but so can many other things. Here are a few examples:
Baby wearing. This is an amazing way to keep your baby close. You and your baby can learn to communicate effectively and quickly. Your baby will be calm and comforted by baby wearing therefore often cry less.
Skin to skin. S2S is magic. It can be done with anyone. Take time to relax together, skin to skin, and bond. There is a real science behind S2S. It helps release oxytocin, the feel good hormone, in both parties.
Reading to your baby. Create a special routine of reading to your baby which can increase vocabulary and reading skills. Snuggle up with a good book, a blanket, and a baby!
Bathing your baby. Many people find that bathing with their baby is a wonderful bonding opportunity. After the bath, whether together or separate, you can give your baby a massage for additional touch and relaxation.
Why does it have to be all or nothing? It doesn't! Many women nurse some and either formula or donor milk feed for any additional milk needed. This is a great option for many mothers. At the end of the day, you have to make the best decision for you!
The last thing I recommend is actually grieving. If you really wanted to breastfeed but were unable, grieving is needed. Allow yourself to process your thoughts and feelings on your breastfeeding journey. If you are unable to process this alone, seek a skilled counselor. Your feelings are valid and real. If you do not take the time to grieve, the suppressed feelings can sneak back out later and cause even more emotion turmoil. (Amy Green of Bosom Buddy can help you process these feelings.)
Bosom Buddy is here for you whether you breastfeed from the breast, pump, bottle feed, formula feed, donor milk feed or any other method of feeding. Breastfeeding does not define you as a mother. You are more than that and you deserve to believe that too. Remember, you made this incredible, tiny human and that is success! I am not telling you to quit, I am saying it is okay to stop if it isn't working for you and your family. An alternative method of feeding your baby does not mean that you are a failure. No one, including yourself, should pass judgment on your decision. It means you are making the best decision for you and your family.