To all the struggling mama’s reading this… for starters, you are not alone. If you feel you need to educate yourself on the good old breastfeeding vs. breast pumping debate, or if you just feel emotionally, physically, or psychologically drained, this piece is for you.
This piece is to give you somewhere to start, and in doing so, we hope it lifts off some of the pressure that comes with breastfeeding. Quite frankly, pressure you really don’t need to be adding onto yourself.
So, sit back and breathe! Then relax and read on…
Most of us don’t need a definition on what breastfeeding is, but let’s put it this way: consider it a skill that takes time to get the hang of. You read that right… a skill. It’s easy to forget that it’s not something that must come effortlessly for every mother. A lot of mothers, especially new mothers, wonder if they are doing it right, especially in the first few days. But once mastered, it can feel like the easiest, most satisfying way to feed your baby.
In terms of the breastmilk, you probably have already heard this statement before, that it is the main source of nutrients for a baby. Some have even called it the living “liquid gold.” Not only that, but it also creates a bonding experience between you and your child because it promotes skin-to-skin contact, more holding and therefore more comfort, security, and overall closeness.
That begs the question… If breast feeding is a no brainer, if it’s the best way to feed your baby, why do people resort to breast pumping? Why would people deny their baby the best source of nutrients? The best form of connection?
Before we answer that question, let’s start off by pointing out that the question is flawed. It is only applicable if breast feeding is the best option for both you and your baby. We briefly touched up on how motherhood is not one-size that fits all. What works for one mother, may not work for another. More so, what works for one baby, may not work for the next!
Have you ever heard the saying “Remember to take care of yourself… you can’t pour from an empty cup”? It might seem irrelevant, or worse, cliché, but it’s a saying that is worth contemplating over in this context. What if some mothers struggle to produce healthy breast milk supply? What if some mothers experience constant pain trying? What if despite their best efforts, the traditional method of breastfeeding is just not working out for them?
A mother that’s struggling to breastfeed, wants to breastfeed. She might not enjoy the process and she might not be very hopeful over it, but if this is something that is good for her baby… something that will help her connect more with her baby, she will most definitely want to do it, and she will want to do it right. But what if she’s in pain? When does she draw the line? When does she look for alternatives?
This is not to champion one method over the other… In fact, there should be no comparison. This is to raise awareness that often, it’s not one or the other. It takes a lot of work to find what works best for both you and your baby. It takes a lot of work to release the guilt and shame. It takes a lot of effort for struggling mothers to realise that they are doing the best that they can.
If you are a mother that is struggling to breastfeed, know that you deserve some relief. You don’t deserve to feel guilt, and you don’t deserve to internalise the external pressures that have made you feel like you can’t do anything right. While it’s natural to worry about missing out on some of the benefits that breastfeeding ensures, you can bond with your baby in so many other ways. Breastfeeding is just one thing of many that you can do to bond with your baby.
Make sure to see a specialist, one that you feel comfortable with and one that you can trust. Make sure to share your concerns and non-negotiables. Explore your options because you have options that can satisfy both you and your baby. Be receptive to learning as you educate yourself; most importantly, remember that you’re doing the best that you can… and your best is enough.