I should have known something was up. Two days before I was rushed to the emergency room – my milk supply had started to decline despite feeding my son and pumping on a consistent schedule. I suppose the signs were everywhere. I’ve never gasped for air in the shower or had stabbing pains in my back and sides. Yet there I was in the emergency room being discharged after being diagnosed with pneumonia. As the nurse handed me several bottles of pills for my lungs and the pain – she looks at me and smiles “no breastfeeding for 14 days,” she instructs.
I sat there wondering what about that statement was worth smiling about. I know she was just doing her job, but she basically handed me a million pills (I hate taking pills) and told me that I couldn’t feed my son for two weeks. Then I started to panic…if only good moms breastfeed their babies – then what will that make me? I know that seems really dramatic since I could just feed him formula. But I had spent the last nine months being preached to about the benefits of breastfeeding and “how much better my baby would be” if I nursed as long as possible. In fact, my very first lactation consultant literally asked me if I wanted to be a good mother. If so, I’d need to breastfeed my baby.
I was lucky to have enough milk stored in the freezer to make it through those two weeks. I felt even luckier to have my milk supply return to normal after a week. Looking back — I realized that feeding Jackson formula would not have been the end of the world. And while I understand doctors and nurses wanting to stress the importance of breastfeeding — they may create an internal struggle for mothers who do not have an opportunity to nurse because of their jobs or their health. Despite my happy ending, there’s an important lesson I think all Moms should keep in mind when nursing your little ones — feeding them formula is not the end of the world!
Your milk might dry up. Your job may be too demanding for you to pump. You may just want to stop because breastfeeding is hard work and that’s totally okay. What we need to do is start supporting all mothers and their choices when caring for their kids. If I would have realized that sooner, maybe I wouldn’t have questioned my own abilities as a new mom instead of focusing on my health. Food for that, right?