I always intended to breastfeed my babies. I mean, of course I did. After all, "breast is best," or at least that's what everyone told me. In reality, breastfeeding was difficult, I wasn't able to produce enough breast milk, and when things didn't go as planned it became clear that breastfeeding was negatively affecting my mental health in so many ways. In other words, and at least for me: breast isn't best. Not at all.
At first the signs were so subtle I almost overlooked them entirely. I thought I was handling things well. There were so many plans I made about motherhood and breastfeeding that went completely out the window, but I was, for the most part, still standing. So I mean, I was fine, right?
Well, for the first five days of my daughter's life I tried so hard to exclusively breastfeed her that she was literally starving. She had to be re-admitted to the NICU for medical care. I felt so guilty, even after she got help, that I didn't mentally recover. I blamed myself for my undersupply and obsessed about what was, and more importantly, was not coming out of my breasts. I started tracking every ounce and every diaper on a spreadsheet, pumping 12 times a day, researching ideas online, seeing numerous lactation consultants, and trying almost anything to increase my milk supply.
It didn't take long before I started to feel like I had failed as a mom. When I think about it now, the fact that I was made to doubt my abilities as a parent is so messed up. Motherhood is so much more than your ability to breastfeed. I tortured myself for months, only to produce a few ounces of breast milk a day. It was so not worth it, but I thought I had to continue. A refrain of breast is best echoed in my head, even when it was becoming clear that breast wasn't best for us.