Reality of Breastfeeding…Where are the Rainbows?

by January Harshe on February 5, 2015

Let’s talk about breastfeeding for a moment. While it would be wonderful if all babies magically nursed perfectly, well…they don’t.

breastfeed without fear

Similar to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood…. breastfeeding is another life lesson that can push us to our limits. It’s a *journey* all of its own.

Out of six children, I have nursed four. I’ve also used formula, pumped (a lot), made my own formula, donated milk, and breastfed babies and toddlers. Also, out of six children, #beardbaby is the only one to come out and latch perfectly (it’s because of the beard magic).

There is no one perfect way for every person, baby, and situation. Yes, breastmilk is a perfect food and our babies are meant to have it. In an ideal world all mothers would make enough milk, all babies would have the perfect latch, and rainbows would appear when we figure it out.

breastfeed without fear

Reality is not always ideal though. What I’m saying is, work hard to give your babies the best nutrition you can, but give yourself grace when it’s hard. Mamas need to be healthy not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally. Do what is best for you, your baby, and your family. Do not care what others say or think. This goes for breastfeeding how and where you please, or if you choose to pump, use donated milk, or use formula.

What matters is you are healthy, your baby is healthy, and your baby is loved and fed. You are doing your best. You are doing enough. Feed and love without fear.

breastfeed without fear

Photography by Leilani Rogers Photographer.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren February 5, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Thank you, a million times. I love so much your kind heart and relentless passion and encouragement here, and even more I love that you are speaking so powerfully from a position of various perspectives and experiences just from within your own stories.

As someone who suffers from primary lactation failure, who had a hundred (maybe not that many, but it felt like it) people tell me I just needed to try x, y, or z and everything would fall into place, including 4 different lactation consultants, this post is making me cry in public. Finally, after a million (maybe not quite that many) alternate opinions, I found a compassionate lactation consultant who listened to my whole story and kindly told me the truth, but it’s hard to undo years of hearing that I just didn’t try hard enough. It’s hard to unfeel judgy looks, whether intended or imagined. I’ve written about breastfeeding on my blog an awful lot for someone who has still not been able to exclusively nurse any of my 5 babies.

I’m hopeful I get to become a mama again, and I’m always hopeful that God will, for some reason, change my story. But the fact that these bodies of ours don’t always work the way they are “supposed to” IS actually fact, and one I’m still slowly making peace with. Thank you for using your voice to share truth and encourage compassion among women.

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Miruna February 18, 2015 at 4:57 pm

THANK YOU for this great article. It came in the perfect moment for me, as I couldn’t stand the guilt for not exclusively breastfeeding my 2nd baby.

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Sarah February 18, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Thankyou so much for this article. My bub is only one week old but my milk hasn’t come in yet and he ended up dehydrated, screaming in pain from hunger and back in to the hospital. I’ve been pumping milk constantly and getting hardly anything, having to feed him mostly on formula. I always imagined breast feeding to be a beautiful and rewarding experience and yet at the moment the thought stresses me so much that I feel physically ill. Thankyou for this insight at such a stressful time in my life. I am starting to realise that as long as he is full and happy it doesn’t matter how we get there.

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tali boots February 18, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Thank you for this. I’m about to have my second and breast feeding my first was the hardest thing ever. I made it 10 months, but it was REALLY difficult. I’m nervous this next time around and plan to not be so hard on myself, but know thats going to be tough too. We are enough! 🙂

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Cammi February 18, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Thank you for this. My little girl is 4 weeks old and were having some issues. I didn’t understand about cluster feedings and started supplementing and now I’m having supply issues as a result. She’s a bit tongue tied and tends to flatten my nipples when she eats. I’ve been struggling with this mentally and emotionally and this article really couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Emily May 3, 2015 at 3:57 am

I have been following you for about a year now since I got pregnant with my first baby girl. (Who looks SO much like beard baby!) I find so much confidence and comfort from your posts! But this is what I needed to see tonight. I am currently in the hospital recovering from my second surgery in a two week period for breast abscesses. My daughter is 11 weeks old and was exclusively breast fed after some struggling the first few weeks postpartum. I felt so guilty giving her formula after the surgery. I felt inadequate. Like I was failing my girl. But then I thought, “what would January say about it?” Self care! I knew I needed to take care of myself in order to take care of her in the best way possible. I’m currently pumping and storing breastmilk in a cooler for my girl who is at home. I hate being away from her at night, but I keep reminding myself that I need to heal and she is being taken care of. My breastfeeding journey has taken a rough turn, but it is a journey I can feel proud of. Thank you for being so encouraging!

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