As if the changes in your body aren’t enough, giving birth to a preemie adds a whole other element to recovery. I was always uncomfortable talking about breastfeeding and was never the type to share breastfeeding posts or advocate for it. I wasn’t against it or anything, I just didn’t talk about it.
When my milk finally came in though, it was a whole other story. The days before that I became very informed and educated on breast milk and the positive effects it has on babies, especially premature ones. I couldn’t wait to breastfeed my little girl! Kylie was 10 weeks early, but started to develop her suck/swallow/breathe reflex around 33 weeks, which was earlier than her NICU doctor had expected. She latched on the first try, and although she tired quickly, I was hopeful we would be a breastfeeding team in no time. I pumped regularly and was very scheduled. I brought my little milk capsules with me to every visit and was sure I’d have some in stock to take home with us. That was, until I went to the NICU one day and the nurse said I was running low on supply.
Kylie had started eating more and my 3-6oz per pump session wasn’t doing the trick anymore. I kind of panicked and tried a few things the nurses recommended to increase my supply. I talked to a lactation consultant and tried several suggestions, but I still was not pumping enough. Once we got Kylie home, we had to supplement the breast milk so that she continued to gain weight and that made things even harder for breastfeeding.
Kylie was about 6 weeks old when my milk completely stopped producing. I felt like such a failure. Especially because so many moms would say, “That doesn’t make sense, did you try this? Did you try that?” “YES!” I had literally tried everything. I tried pumping more, I tried different positions, I tried Fenugreek, I talked to several nurses – it just wasn’t happening. After having another baby and again having problems and again feeling like a failure, I learned that sometimes it just doesn’t happen for moms. You may be able to pump 5oz at a time or you may be able to pump 100, we are all different. I have realized that I have to come to peace with the fact that I TRIED. I tried my hardest and breastfeeding our kids until they were at least a year, as I had planned, was just not in the cards for us.
I hope that if you struggled with breastfeeding that you know you’re not alone and you’re certainly not a failure. Being stressed out over breastfeeding isn’t healthy for you OR your baby. I think there is SO much pressure on moms to be able to breastfeed for a certain amount of time, but just have peace knowing that you tried and any amount they got is good! Let me be the first person to tell you that you are doing a great job! Give yourself a hug, don’t beat yourself up over it, and let’s all support each other in this process of motherhood – breastfeeding or not.