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Breastfeeding: It's not for everyone and that's okay...

As #NationalBlackBreastFeedingWeek comes to an end I first would like to say, I felt so proud to see so many beautiful black women embracing breast feeding this week. I was even more proud to see the photos of moms all month on my timeline sharing their own breastfeeding stories. Growing up, it was not seen as "normal" to breastfeed your children so I never really seen women around me that breastfed their kids.

Breastfeeding is categorized as one of the ultimate ways for you and baby to stay connected. Not only is it healthier, it also helps you shed a few pounds after the baby as well (my personal experience). During my pregnancy, I was informed by every doctor or specialist I went to see of the benefits of breastfeeding but I knew I would try it but I didn't know if I was going to like it. But I eventually came around to the idea. After my son's birth the nurse immediately placed him on my chest so he could get used to latching. Hmm... this is a funny story but for another time. Ultimately, my son finally latched on but we alternated between the bottles that the hospital provided to ensure he was getting enough food.

My son was mostly formula fed after his two month mark. Mainly because of the lack of milk I was producing. There are so many benefits of breastfeeding such as being less likely to have ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and are less likely to be obese. But these benefits are not always a guarantee and there are many other factors that contributes to the baby's overall health such as genetics, home environment and if the baby attends daycare regularly.

I thought after leaving the hospital it would be easy to adjust to breastfeeding since he actually latched fairly quickly in the hospital. This proved to be a different story once once I got home. Not only was he waking up every two hours, he was very cranky during feedings. I could not understand why he was so cranky other than not getting enough milk. So I made an appointment with my lactation nurse and she recommended some lifestyle changes and really helped support me through the process.

But for some reason I still was not producing enough milk, I was pumping almost every 4 hours just to produce less than 5 ounces of milk in a WHOLE day.

I was mentally exhausted and I know my son was not too thrilled to have to deal with my lack of milk as well. He eventually preferred the bottle nipple over mine and without the breast stimulation my milk supply diminished. So although I only breastfed for TWO months, I am glad that my son was able to get some versus none. The decision was better for not only my sanity but for my son to ensure he was getting enough milk to stay full and sleep for more than two hours.

Although many mothers won't say it, I felt like a complete failure.

Why wasn't my body able to produce enough milk for my baby? My body and mind had changed completely and I needed to realign myself mentally, physically and etc. After endless google searches to try and find ways to increase my supply. I realized that there was no reason for me to feel bad about making this decision because I was putting my child's needs first and screw what everyone else has to say.

According to Baby Center here are a few reasons for low milk supply:

  • Lack of enough breast stimulation. If your baby doesn't latch on frequently enough for feedings that drain all the milk from your breasts, they won't receive the stimulation necessary for building up your milk supply. Many factors can affect adequate breast stimulation, including nipple pain, poor latch-on technique, fewer feedings or pumping sessions each day, or a sleepy baby at the breast.

  • Some health conditions. Certain illnesses can affect milk production, such as a low thyroid level, diabetes, anemia, a hormonal imbalance, or previous breast surgery.

  • Certain medications. Over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine as well as some prescription medications can reduce milk supply.

  • Combination birth control pills. There's some evidence that taking birth control pills containing estrogen may reduce milk production a bit, so this may not be a good choice for you if you're concerned about your supply. (Progestin-only birth control is often recommended for nursing mothers because it doesn't appear to affect milk supply.)

  • Hypoplastic breasts. Women with hypoplastic breasts may not have enough glandular tissue to produce a full milk supply.

There are many factors that contribute to a low milk supply and I love that we as women are becoming more educated about ways to become better breastfeeders to our children. I admit being a new mom, working a full time job and juggling personal and professional goals became overwhelming and to add breastfeeding in the mix it just was not in the plans for me. But I did consult my physician and I later found out that it was due to a hormone imbalance because I started experiencing post partum hair loss.

So please be mindful the next time you decide to comment on the decision of mothers who do not breastfeed. Because honestly, it is a goal of almost every mother to be able to breastfeed their child and ensure they are getting the best start as possible. But sometimes we have limitations with our bodies and that's okay.

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