I would say that my feeding story began long before I was a mom, long before I even ever attempted to breastfeed my first born, a beautiful, healthy baby boy who was born at 36 weeks—catching us all by surprise.
I remember my mom cooing at my baby brother while she would breastfeed him, and I remember hearing how wonderful this experience was, about the loving bond it created and you could see what nurturing looked like.
These stories and memories generated a warm and fuzzy feeling within me.
So you can imagine my shock when I learned (fairly quickly) that breastfeeding was not all rainbows and unicorns... It was not a “plug and play” kind of thing – your newborn didn’t necessarily just latch on and milk didn’t just flow in abundance.
I literally remember crying out in (toe curling) pain as my baby latched on in the middle of the night, nipples so sore that I would fear showering because the water coming down would make me recoil in pain. I remember my scrawny baby unable to thrive and gain weight. Worst of all, I remember feeling completely ashamed and unprepared.
Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and failure consumed me. I felt that I couldn’t do the most basic, ‘natural’ thing as a mother –feed my baby. These emotions left me feeling so very alone. How could I possibly be a good mother if I couldn’t even feed my baby?
I consulted lactation specialists, applied home remedies, and followed demanding pumping schedules, tried nipple guards, and took fenugreek herbs to increase milk supply, but nothing seemed to help. My baby and I were not doing well. One afternoon, Tzach cried so frequently that I realized, I didn’t even want to pick him up anymore. I didn’t want to tend to my crying baby, because it was clear to me that I had nothing to give him.
Luckily, this jolted me into realizing – this is not normal and I called the one mom I knew who gave formula with confidence, affection and praise. “Happy mothers, make happy babies” she said. “You do you”. And that was that. I fed Tzach formula and I could finally breathe.
As I began to speak to fellow moms about my challenges and feeding experience they shared theirs and I quickly learned many of us were struggling here! And I learned that no tow stories were alike. Why weren't we sharing this?
I found hearing these stories to be an empowering resource, giving me strength and validation at a time when I was my most vulnerable. I felt less alone with my challenges and the more I spoke about my own experience, the more I owned my story and determined my narrative. I was able to feel seen and heard.
M.Other Milk was launched to provide women a platform to read and share their feeding stories, so they can own their experiences, reflect and celebrate the great triumphs of their personal journey.