Breast is best right? Yes, except when it isn’t. I know, we’ve all been over this a million times. There are absolutely benefits to breast feeding for both baby and mom. But we also know that sometimes there are other factors that outweigh those benefits. But there is one thing we know for sure, without hesitation or argument, that good moms feed their babies. Period. And we are so incredibly lucky today to have access to formula that is safe, nutritious and enables our babies to thrive if that’s the route we chose to go. In my parent’s generation it was a completely different story. Baby’s who did not have access to breastmilk before the introduction of formula as we now know it were at serious risk of not just possible health problems, but death. Today (in industrialized regions with access to clean water) that risk is gone.
I am 100% in favour of breast feeding. Yes it can be hard. Very hard. Luckily there are some really good resources out there that can be helpful. Lactation experts and other mothers with years of experience. Fellow blogger Nicole, over at Domesticated Momma, just published 12 Tips For Going Back to Breastfeeding a post with some great tips worth checking out. We all love our babies. We all want what is best for them. But I firmly believe that making moms feel guilty (and let me tell you that bottle feeding guilt is enormous) is not what’s best for baby.
I’d like to share my story. I was blessed with a baby that instantly took to breast feeding. Right from the moment she was born. It was a huge relief. I knew it didn’t always come that easy for everyone. But it did for us. My daughter was a champ at nursing and I had no issues with my supply. It was all going wonderfully. Except for one problem. Unless my baby was nursing she was screaming. Which meant I was nursing around the clock. I was exhausted. And I was worried. I knew that something was not right. For the first two weeks I just carried on. I didn’t know what else to do. I was running on fumes. My mental health was suffering. I was a wreck. When the public health nurse showed up to check on us after two weeks and assured me that since my daughter was such a great nurser she she would have no problems both breast feeding and having pumped milk in a bottle I was relieved. And she was right. Even at two weeks Molly had no problems going back and forth from breast to bottle which meant I could have a small reprieve from nursing around the clock. It was a huge relief. For a while. Yes it was nice to be able to soak my stitches in a warm bath while my husband fed the baby in peace. But anyone that has ever pumped knows it’s still a lot of work. It’s still draining. I was still exhausted. And my baby still screamed.
The almost constant screaming was getting worse not better. This couldn’t be right. I tried to reach out for help. I talked to my doctor about it. Her advice? Give her a soother when she screams. Not very helpful eh? I talked to the public health nurse. Her only focus was “how can we get your supply up?” There was nothing wrong with my supply. My baby was gaining weight like a champ. I felt completely alone, totally exhausted, and I had no idea what to do. But I knew I had to do something. I will never forget that day. After another marathon nursing session I put my screaming daughter in her bassinet and sat on the couch and cried. I cried because I was drained. I also cried about the overwhelming guilt over what I was about to do. It was eating me up. Yet I did it. I walked to the pantry and picked up a can of premade formula. I hadn’t bought it, it was one of those freebies I had signed up for when I was pregnant. It was a “just in case” sort of thing. I stood there holding that can. Tears streaming down my face. I was torn between the guilt of giving my baby formula and the desperate need to have some peace. The desperation won. Again, I remember every moment. It still plays out in slow motion in my mind almost 6 years later. From the second I walked to the pantry right to the moment I picked up my baby and put that bottle in her mouth. And then I was filled with these mixed emotions. Torn between the guilt of giving her formula and the panic that she wasn’t going to take it. But she did. So there I sat, my baby eagerly sucking on that bottle of formula, me still crying, waiting for some kind of clarity. It took a while. In the end after a night with our daughter in the ER (when she went on a non stop screaming spree for hours on end) and finally meeting an amazing paediatrician, we finally realized she had a pretty severe case of silent reflux and required medication. That was a game changer. Within days of starting the medication the change in her was remarkable. That is another day that is clear in my memory after all these years. The day her medicine kicked in and her true personality, without all that pain, began to shine through. The smiles, the sweet little baby laughs – I thought my heart was going to break from the joy of it all. And it was that moment that the guilt (at least most of it) from not being able to exclusively breast feed her left me. She was going to be ok. She was going to be better than ok actually. And she is.
It was at this point, when my baby was almost three months old, that I was finally able to start to find some joy in being a mother. I loved my baby, long before she was even born. But those first few months were an emotional, exhausting roller coaster. Finally I could breathe. Finally I could start to actually take care of me. I did a good job of taking care of both of us when I was pregnant. I took my Prental Multi. I ate well. I worked out. I did all the things. And then my world was turned upside down in ways I never saw coming. I was ready to take care of me again. And one of the first things I did was to start taking Orange Naturals Advanced B-Complex. Vitamin B complexes are often called “stress formulas” because they can really help boost your mood and promote mental relaxation and reduce anxiety. Boy did I need some help with that! Another Orange Naturals product that can really help lift your mood and help you destress is Siberian Ginseng. This natural herbal tincture helps the body to deal with abnormal physical stress and rebalances your body’s energy. Orange Naturals has a whole line of natural products to help you manage stress and feel like “you” again. Just remember that not all products are recommended to use while you are still breast feeding so be sure to check with your health care provider before taking any supplements if you are still nursing!
For more information from the Orange Naturals experts (Orange Naturals are developed by naturopathic doctors) on a variety of health topics that are important to families be sure to check out the #onatural blog. You can also sign up for the Orange Naturals newsletter and never miss a thing!
Disclosure: I am part of the Orange Naturals Mom Ambassador Program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own