No matter how sure about your child-rearing plans, it's safe to say that not everything will work out the way you expected. But Little People, Big World star Audrey Roloff's post about breastfeeding is inspiring parents who have had difficulty nursing, but aren't ready to give up yet. Audrey gave birth to Ember Jean Roloff, her first child with husband Jeremy Roloff, last September, and right from the start, she encountered numerous roadblocks to her plan to breastfeed exclusively. The reality star has been very candid about her struggles, regularly updating her social media followers on her progress.
Just two weeks after Ember was born, Audrey shared a beautifully framed shot of her daughter in her arms on Instagram. But in the caption, rather than perpetuating the myth that motherhood is a *~magical journey~* the new mom got real. "These past two weeks have been HARD," she wrote. "The first 24 hours with Ember were bliss, but after that it was as if I went back into labor again." She explained that she expected pain and suffering during childbirth, but not afterwards, and not... upstairs, shall we say? Audrey wrote that she suffered from "severe engorgement, too much milk, not enough milk, blisters, bruises, clogged ducts, and mastitis."
The breast pain she endured was even "comparable to unmedicated labor contractions," which I can personally confirm is one of the most painful things a person can experience, ranking just above running out of cream cheese when you've only spread it on half of your bagel. Perhaps because of the inordinate societal expectations of new mothers, and surely due in some part to hormonal shifts, Audrey wrote that her inability to breastfeed "left me feeling like I am failing my baby, frustrated, discouraged, and heart ached."
Ultimately, she chose physical pain over emotional pain, and vowed to keep breastfeeding in her own personal "rally the troops" speech. Imagine some mournful bugling while you read this, if you'd like:
"For Ember!" her breasts cried out in response, rushing bravely towards the enemy line. Yeah, probably not. But it worked for her. In November, Audrey shared more about her breastfeeding troubles, revealing that on top of all of her issues, it turned out that Ember had a "significant" lip and tongue tie at birth that had impeded her feeding. But the two soldiered on, and by the two-month mark, she wrote, "Ember has been exclusively breastfeed for the past 5 weeks!!!" And then she came down with mastitis again.
She still didn't give up, though, and in January, she posted an Instagram Story about her success, according to In Touch.
On Wednesday, she shared more good news, posting that although she'd initially been told she could never exclusively breastfed, she learned at Ember's six-month well visit that she was "hitting the 90th percentiles on pure mama milk!"
Roloff also acknowledged that breastfeeding is "not always a choice," and that she didn't intend to discourage anyone who couldn't. I'd add that aside from the many parents who are unable to breastfeed for biological or financial reasons, there are also some who simply can't endure the pain that Audrey did, and that's completely valid. There are also those who choose not to for myriad other reasons, and that's OK, too. Recent studies suggest that not only is formula feeding perfectly safe and healthy, it might actually be just as good as breastfeeding, so if you can't or won't breastfeed, do not feel the slightest bit guilty. But if you can, and you're looking for some serious inspiration, Audrey Roloff's got your back.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.