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A letter to… the lactation consultant

“As a stay-at-home mum, you have the time you need to figure this out.” That was what you said after I explained that I was spending 12 hours a day feeding my son – trying to breastfeed him, giving him a bottle when he was still hungry after the feeding, pumping after that, washing the pump parts, mixing up the formula, and then starting the whole process over again. I was overwhelmed.

How long have you been using the hospital-grade pump? Have you tried the nipple shield? Have you fixed his tongue tie? How much fenugreek are you taking? Have you been eating lots of garlic?

I did all those things and more, and you were still convinced that the solution was more time and effort from me. Women were designed to breastfeed! Shouldn’t a stay-at-home mum be willing to spend all her waking hours doing it? I just needed to buck up and realise that being a mother requires sacrifice and hard work. You didn’t say these things in those exact words, but you implied them.

One day I realised I was spending more time thinking about how to breastfeed my son than anything else. It was consuming everything. And your urgings reminded me there was always more I could do: more fenugreek, more lactation cookies, more mother’s milk tea, more essential oils, more water, more calories, more nutritious calories, more hand expression, more, more, more.

But I was also feeling more anxious. I didn’t feel a deep, close bond with my baby. I second-guessed everything I was doing. I felt incompetent. I didn’t have much time to enjoy him. My milk supply didn’t increase.

So I quit breastfeeding. Today I am a happy stay-at-home mum who spends my days feeding my baby, playing with him, doing his laundry, reading to him, and enjoying him. The long days at home as my baby’s primary caregiver did give me the time I needed to figure things out, and for me that meant switching to a bottle. I don’t regret it.

The path you were pushing me on was one where I focused on my own efforts and judged myself by how they turned out. But in motherhood, as in life, you can’t always control the outcome, so my focus is now on doing the best I can. I wasn’t able to “figure out” breastfeeding, but I was able to figure out something about being a mother.

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Source: TheGuardian