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Stop Telling Me “Breast is Best”

Breastfeeding sucks.

There. I said it.

I know, I know. “Breast is best … Do what’s best for the baby …”

Well, what if I can’t?

Not won’t, but can’t?

I want this whole breastfeeding thing so badly. I (semi) successfully breastfed my two older children, but this third time, it’s different. It has gotten progressively worse with each child and now it’s just not working.

I’ve tried it all: Supplements, special tea, extra feeds, lactation cookies, more hydration and pumping. I attempted supplementing at the breast to help stimulate production. I have drug myself into lactation consultant offices and struggled through their recommendations and guidance.

I did it all and nothing has worked.

If nothing else, it has aided in elevated stress levels for everyone in my home. The baby is hungry, mom is frustrated and sad, while sisters and Dad take the brunt of it all.

This isn’t how it is supposed to be, right? Breastfeeding is supposed to be natural. It is supposed to be easy.

So what’s wrong with me? Am I not a natural mom? Have I failed my baby?

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Society will tell me I have. Strangers and friends alike will encourage breastfeeding and offer suggestions (or condemnation) because of my struggles.

What they don’t realize is that I want this to work, too.

And I want to love this. Those bonding and tender moments I hear other moms rave about – I want them, too. The best nutrition for my infant – I want that, too.

But not like this.

Not with an infant screaming her level of hunger because my let-down takes 15 minutes. Or with more hunger screams because after 1-2 minutes, all milk has been consumed. I don’t want it with a body that isn’t performing as it should.

So what’s “best” for the baby now? I can tell you what’s best…

Fed is best.

Until breastfeeding starts working (or not), I need to emotionally and mentally be okay with providing formula and possibly not nursing anymore. Because in my situation and so many others, it is not what’s best.

I don’t need more supplements. Or more feeds. Or more time. Or more suggestions.

I need my baby fed.

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And I need society to be okay with that – my decision on what’s best for my baby. I need the stranger at the restaurant to fuss over how beautiful my baby is instead of the bottle in her mouth. I need friends and family to offer to clean bottles or feed the baby themselves instead of suggesting ways for me to increase my milk supply.

So, while I sit here feeding my hungry child with a bottle of great, nutritionally-sound formula, don’t tell me “breast is best.” Because it’s not. Not this time.

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11 Responses to Stop Telling Me “Breast is Best”

  1. Ashleigh February 21, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    You are a wonderful mother. Your baby is loved and cared for. focus on your baby and her needs and try, I say try because I know how difficult it is, to ignore the “well meaning” strangers and family. Do what is best for YOU and your child. Stay strong, mama.

    • Kristin Funston
      Kristin Funston February 26, 2016 at 11:38 am #

      Thank you Ashleigh!! It is hard to ignore, but I’m working on it! 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing! 🙂

  2. Sarah February 27, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    Wow. Hit the nail! I am not sure Anyone has ever wanted to breast feed more than myself! Being emotionally and mentally prepared is the part we are not ready for. No one ever tells you about under producers and the fact that you may just have insufficient glandular tissue to sustain another’s life. I too, took part in lactation cookies, supplements and diets…. To the point of extreme illness from a concoction I had made “sure to increase breast milk” the second time around. There are a small percentage of under producers, and I still strongly promote breastfeeding but I wasn’t able to do it. There. I said it. I was not able to produce enough breastmilk to sustain lab infants life and it WAS NOT for lack of trying. And as much as the devil would have let me believe I wasn’t a human…. Or fit to be a real mother….. My kids are growing up just fine by the grace of God who gave them to me! And in my profession, my lack of milk and struggle to produce more has made me more equipped to help others who want to have more milk or…. simply can’t do it. You never know something until you try and the amazing thing is that after the storm- we can see the rainbow! I am sorry that you experienced this as I know it is more painful than anyone can imagine. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your true struggle. Praying the right Kim stumbles upon this blog in the midst or her battle. And if that’s you reading- you can do it! We have to feed our babies, it’s OK to let your baby have formula. God knew what he was doing, trust Him.

    • Kristin Funston
      Kristin Funston February 27, 2016 at 9:23 am #

      Yes! My issue was not for a lack of trying either! It’s tough!

      I definitely still promote breastfeeding, but if it can’t happen, then so be it! And to be honest – if a mom chooses not to even try, I’m okay with that. She has her reasons and I trust she is choosing that because of reasons that are best for them (and quite frankly – not my business.)

      Thank you for sharing your story! I hope other moms are encouraged too!

  3. Sarah February 27, 2016 at 6:25 am #

    Lab= an
    Kim= mom

    Sorry….

  4. Skye March 1, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    If people in your life are offering suggestions to help you breastfeed, maybe it’s because they see that YOU are putting effort into doing it. You are the one who is trying to breastfeed and they are trying to help you achieve that. I hate how people turn support into a negative thing just because they have feelings of failure. It’s completely misplaced anger towards people who probably care. All you have to do is tell them you would like support in a different way, not turn everyone who breastfeeds or believes it’s good into a bad guy and act like they are doing something wrong by supporting you in a way you don’t like. That just feels so immature.

    And yeah, strangers make dumb and inappropriate comments all the time. People make comments about women breastfeeding in public, too. If your kid has a pacifier or not, or is sucking their thumb. Even their haircuts. No mom is completely free from receiving other peoples’ unsolicited opinions. You just have to shake them off.

    Strangers aside, I seriously doubt anybody in your personal life is actually SHAMING you or acting like you aren’t trying. And outside of that I don’t believe the majority people who understand the benefits of breastfeeding and promote it would ever shame someone for trying really hard and not being able to produce. In fact, I think that’s ludicrous to imply that and would like to have actual examples.

    I’m just getting tired of posts like this that pin breastfeeding moms against ones who use formula. I breastfeed and I am in no way prejudice against people who don’t, but posts like this make it sound like anyone who is pro breastfeeding is automatically anti-formula and judgmental. Maybe speak from your specific experiences and the individuals who made you feel bad instead of labeling your judgers as “society” as a whole.

    • Kristin Funston
      Kristin Funston March 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

      Hey Skye! Thank you for your comments! I’m glad you weighed in on the conversation. Though I want you to know I am not (nor have I ever been) “angry” at anyone who offers suggestions to me. 🙂 This post wasn’t meant to attack anyone who tries to help or offer support, and if it did, I’m so sorry! Please know that was definitely NOT the intention. It was merely my personal thoughts and emotions in my own breastfeeding experience, based on cultural/societal norms and expectations. (That yes – I may have placed on myself. Regardless, the expectations are there. They are shown in commercials, through nurses and doctors actions at hospitals, and mothering/breastfeeding forum groups/comments I’ve seen, among other examples.)

      Also, please be aware in this article I never once pinned breastfeeding moms against myself or anyone else who chooses to formula feed. Most moms I know are totally okay with either way. So I appreciate ALL moms who are supportive of other moms, you included! 🙂

      Yes, you are right – I have had strangers make insensitive comments (and/or give rude looks) to me before… in the grocery store, at restaurants, etc… those I tend to brush off.

      Also – to be completely transparent – you’re right, nobody I am super close to has “shamed” me regarding this issue. Most have been nothing but supportive. Though I DO know some have been disappointed about it. Now, should I allow their thoughts/opinions affect my decisions? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care what they think – because they are important to me. I can’t change that.

      This article was mainly based on intrinsic feelings and thoughts that stem from, like I mentioned above, cultural expectations I feel.

      Anyway, I wanted to address your comment in the areas I felt could use some clarification from my end. Thanks again for weighing in! 🙂 I appreciate you!

  5. Robyn March 21, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. As a first-time mom of a four week old who isn’t producing enough milk and has tried everything you mentioned, I feel so much better knowing I’m not alone. I’m still pumping and supplementing with formula. My baby became pretty uninterested in nursing when she wasn’t getting enough milk. And who can blame her? As much as I wanted and want it to work, my body just isn’t cooperating. And I was sorely unprepared for the fact my body wouldn’t produce enough milk. I read all about potential latch issues, but nothing about low supply. The general assumption is that everyone can breastfeed and if you don’t it is because you don’t want to or aren’t trying hard enough. I feel totally let down by my body and felt like I was letting my baby down. It is exhausting to pump every few hours and only get an ounce and I’m not sure how much longer I can continue, but you’re right, the only important thing is that my baby is fed. Thank you.

    • Kristin Funston
      Kristin Funston March 21, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

      Girl! Please do not feel bad about it! Whether you breastfeed or not – you are a great mother! I can tell by your concern on the whole subject.

      And no – not everyone can breastfeed… It just feels that way. But it’s not reality. Please know you’re not alone and if you need to feed formula, go for it and be proud!

      Much love to you, new Mama, and your sweet baby! ?

  6. Chris May 7, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    Thank you for this post! You have spoken on behalf of all mothers who cannot breastfeed. I am so sick of hearing breast is best! I too could not breastfeed my baby and was shamed by others for not doing it. I know so many women as well that have felt shamed because they could not breastfeed their babies. I’m so sick of seeing people post articles about why breast is best, I never understood why they would post that. Like why are you so concerned about how other women feed their babies??

    Thank you Kristin for speaking out for us:)

    • Kristin Funston
      Kristin Funston May 11, 2016 at 10:41 am #

      Chris – You’re welcome and I’m glad you liked the post. I’m so sorry you felt shamed by other for not breastfeeding, but know I have your back!!! 🙂