A new report that breastfed babies are less likely to develop sleep disorders got me thinking. I haven’t had too much trouble breastfeeding Tyler, but I had lots of trouble at the beginning with Alex. When my doctor walked into the exam room at my two-week follow-up appointment after Alex was born and asked how I was doing, I burst into tears. I had some postpartum depression that I think was a result of the emergency C-section but it was compounded by the difficulty with breastfeeding.
Yet, no matter how many times Marc told me it was okay if I gave it up, no matter how many times I thought about giving it up, no matter that the pediatrician said Alex would be fine on formula and it was more important that he had a healthy, happy mommy, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was less concerned with bonding than with the health benefits of breastfeeding. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but in retrospect, I think perhaps my two miscarriages made me determined to do everything I could to ensure Alex’s health. In any event, it was incredibly important to me to breastfeed Alex for one year (we actually made it to 14 1/2 months).
If things aren’t going well, it’s important to take a few minutes to figure out what’s really important to you (maybe in the shower since that’s probably the only time you have to yourself when caring for a newborn). There are a lot of reasons women want to breastfeed. Identify the one or two that are most important to you and ask yourself if they’re important enough to keep going. Hopefully they are, and you will be able to get through the next few weeks by focusing on them (things got easier for me at about six weeks and I never thought about quitting after that).
But if the honest answer is that they’re not, then give yourself permission to stop – a lactation consultant told me once that sometimes people come to her for “permission” to stop breastfeeding and she gives them the information they need to make their decision. After all, we all have to do what’s right for us and our children – and no one else can tell us what that is.
Hat tip: Dot Moms