You will find yourself feeling, on a different level, a wide range of fears, doubts and last but not least you will feel more responsible. From now on, you are also responsible for this tiny human growing next to you, not only inside you as before.
If you considered breastfeeding essential for bonding with your baby and for some reason this was not possible, losing it may seriously affect your general wellbeing. In this case, you need to know it is perfectly normal, as breastfeeding is in itself a relationship, to need a certain amount of time to recover after losing it. Whether you call it guilt, sadness or regret, it will leave a mark.
Discovering that this wonderful experience to breastfeed your baby which you were dreaming about has failed may affect you now as well as in the future. Keeping it locked in a secluded corner of your heart or out in the open, it will remain only to appear as a possible obstacle in the way of becoming pregnant again.
The way failing to breastfeed may affect a mother’s life is different, having a greater impact in some cases, where initially there were great expectations. However, most women will experience intense feelings of failure. When breastfeeding doesn’t go quite as we expected it is a real loss both for the mother and for the baby. As mothers, we lose something that we hoped for and planned all of our pregnancy. In this case, when exclusive breastfeeding fails, it is normal to feel disappointed. Both mother and baby lose that special natural bond that breastfeeding creates.
Mothers who don’t breastfeed experience many negative emotions such as:
- being misunderstood.
However, things don’t have to be either black or white. There is another option, even if for some reason breastfeeding has failed, to feed your baby breastmilk exclusively – the breast pump.
Pumping, in this case, can be your solution. Having the opportunity to feed your baby exclusively expressed milk can help to appease those negative emotions.
I want to teach you how to diminish that negative attitude towards yourself as an exclusively pumping mother. I want to show you there is a way to avoid self – blaming and to be happy for being able to offer your baby the best food, that will ensure an adequate physical, intellectual and emotional growth.
You will also discover that there are mothers who experience mourning when they find that they are not able to breastfeed. It might take a while until you can overcome these emotions and that is o.k. It might take time for you to accept that this is not a complete failure as you may see it now. Be kind to yourself! Try to concentrate on the positive aspects. Your baby needs his mother to be emotionally healthy. Start by taking care of yourself and your emotional state. Do one thing that you enjoy and will help you to relax: take a shower, read a couple of pages from that book you liked, watch an episode of your favorite show. Do something for yourself, something that makes you feel good.
Bonding with your baby means so much more than the way you are feeding him. It is true that for some reason, you can’t breastfeed your baby, but you can touch him in a loving way, you can carry him in your arms around the house, you can try skin to skin contact, allowing your baby to fall asleep on your chest, to feel you close.
You could help yourself by identifying your emotions, analyzing them. Accept them and move on with your experience. Don’t deny them, don’t try to hide your feelings deep inside your heart. Externalise your feelings. They are a part of your life. Feel at peace with them and yourself.
It is not easy at all to follow a strict pumping schedule, to wash and sterilize parts of your pump, having to carry it with you everywhere or to make sure that your milk is stored under proper conditions. While you are doing all that, remember that you are fighting for your baby, to offer your milk and this means high dedication and sacrifice on a whole different level. And your baby is worth all this effort. Your baby deserves to receive this liquid gold.
Another important step is for you to be aware of the fact that it is possible to continue to breastfeed only for comfort if returning to your previous state of exclusive breastfeeding is not possible.
Your breast offers your baby comfort even if it is not the main source of food. Next, you must concentrate on the positive aspects of your life. Motherhood often comes with certain fears and blames borrowed from the people surrounding us. Failing to breastfeed exclusively will probably not be the only thing you will blame yourself for. However, a negative outlook is not going to help improve the relationship you have with your baby. This will only increase your insecurities and what your baby needs is a confident and calm mother. Surround yourself with people who encourage you as a mother and who make you believe in yourself.
Next step is to realize that even if your baby doesn’t receive milk straight from the source, the benefits of your breastmilk are still present. There are no studies that might show pumped milk to be inferior to the milk directly extracted by the baby. In some cases, the baby doesn’t stimulate the breast to produce enough milk, while in other cases, he may only occasionally extract a sufficient quantity of milk. This can raise questions about whether your milk supply is enough to satisfy your baby’s needs. Your milk contributes to your baby’s immunity and it contains every nutrient he may need. Each Drop of breastmilk matters!
The fourth step requires you to reflect on your expectations. What were your expectations about breastfeeding? Have your expectations been met? If what you hoped for was that your baby would feed on breastmilk exclusively for the first six months of his or her life and to continue until the age of two, then you can’t say that your dream has been completely ruined. Maybe breastfeeding didn’t work for you, but you can still offer your milk to your baby. It is o.k. for you to have expectations, however, if there is no amount of flexibility, this may contribute to your loss. You probably didn’t allow yourself to consider failure as possible. Things are not always either black or white. Allow yourself to see the gray in-between.
Then, you must think about the meaning of this experience. Everything we do is a learning experience. Unfortunately, we do not always have all the answers. But we do have the chance to learn from our experience. Think about what went wrong in tour case and what caused that to happen. Think about what brought you up to this point and what you can do from now on.
And last, but not least, make peace with yourself. Accept the way things have changed. See the positive outlook of this situation, because there is one: your baby is receiving your milk – and this is what matters. Those struggles that you faced while breastfeeding is part of your story, of your experience. They made you become the mother you are today. Maybe this experience caused you to empathize on a much deeper level and encouraged you to find other ways to bond with your baby.
You may struggle, you may cry, you may even think that you are not able to continue. But you can! You are a mother and mothers have superpowers. You will fight and you will give your best! You will pull yourself together and MOVE ON! You will prove yourself that you can do this. There is no shame to feel that you can’t keep going. Accept help from the people surrounding you. Your baby is your mission and also is offering your baby food. You must take into consideration that it takes time to prepare it. Therefore, doing household chores such as cooking, washing dishes or clothes maybe temporarily become your husband’s or your mother or your mother in law’s duty. Both you and your husband must consider that your emotional well-being is essential to be able to care for your baby.
YOU matter and so do your feelings and emotions.
Weigh your options carefully. I advise you to talk to your best friend or to your husband about your feelings and emotions. This will help you release some of the pressure.
Please help other mothers who are going through the same situation as you to discover how to move on.
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