I was not raised in a region where breastfeeding is prevalent. However, after I became pregnant with my first child, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I ended up with an unexpected c-section that derailed my plans for a natural birth. Due to hospital policies, I was unable to breastfeed my daughter immediately, but she latched on like a champ. A few days later at home, I noticed my milk still hadn't come in. My daughter would scream at the breast and never seemed satisfied. She wasn't having enough wet diapers and her lips seemed dry. We decided to take her to the hospital and learned she had lost a significant amount of weight. The nurse told me that she had lost a considerable amount of weight because she wasn't getting enough to eat. It crushed me to watch her hungrily gobble down that bottle of formula and realize that she had been starving. I had home visits from a lactation consultant, power pumped, and took galactagoges, but my milk supply never increased. My daughter had also developed a bottle preference. The pain over losing the birth experience I had envision combined with my inability to successfully breastfeed was very difficult for me to work through. By the time I returned to work at 10 weeks post partum, I had given up on breastfeeding completely.
Almost two years later, we were anxiously awaiting the birth of our son. I wanted to VBAC, but my provider was not supportive. I wish I knew then what I now know; I should have found a different provider. I tried to make the best out of the situation. I was very adamant about my desire to breastfeed, and I told them I wanted my son as soon as possible after the surgery. About thirty minutes after the c-section, I was able to nurse my son. Once home from the hospital, he began exhibiting the same frustration and dissatisfaction at the breast as his older sister had. I began supplementing, and thankfully he did not develop a bottle preference. However, he was a very high needs baby. In addition, my husband was not home often due to his military career. It became too difficult to care for a two year old and an infant while keeping up with the vigorous feed then pump schedule I needed in order to keep what miniscule milk supply I had so I gave up.
We conceived our third child after five years of unexplained secondary infertility. I was older, wiser, and determined to have the birth that I wanted. In October 2014, I had an emotionally healing VBA2C with a midwife in a birth center. I was hoping that the circumstances of this birth would lead to a better breastfeeding experience. I wanted to be able to exclusively meet all my second daughter's needs with my milk supply, but I was prepared if that wasn't a possibility. I had galactagogues already on hand as well as a supplemental nursing system so I could still feed at the breast if I had to supplement. We had a bumpy start, as my daughter had lip and tongue ties that needed revised. I started galactagogues immediately and also pumped whenever possible between feedings. Despite doing all these things, my daughter was not gaining weight. I worked with an IBCLC, and she showed me how to use the SNS. It hasn't been easy ,and I only meet about half of my daughter's needs with my milk, but I am proud to say that we have made it 6 months and are still growing strong. I have made peace with our situation. Our nursing relationship may not look as I had always envisioned, but breastfeeding is about so much more than just the milk. I can still offer her the closeness and bonding even if I don't produce enough to meet all of her nutritional needs. My worth as a mother is not measured in ounces.