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The Truth About Drying Up {Series}

This series is dedicated to discussing some of my more challenging experiences in motherhood. In the first installment of this series, I talked about the first of my 3 D’s: [Gender] Disappointment.

The Second D: Drying Up

There are messages you see and hear when you’re pregnant and become a mom. People don’t always say them out loud, but they’re there, in the world, in your head [on your newsfeed…] and in your heart. They make you feel like if you don’t do certain things, feel certain ways, or have certain abilities, you’re a less qualified mother.

One of the loudest of those messages is: “Breast is Best.”

Yes, there are certain things about breast milk that, try as they might, cannot be duplicated into formula. Giving a baby a bottle will never be exactly the same as providing nourishment for your baby from your own body. But that doesn’t mean that bottle feeding makes you a less of a mother. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to nurse both my babies, even just for a little while, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only option or I’m a better mom than one who can’t or chooses not to nurse their baby.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you: I used to judge moms who didn’t breastfeed. 

But like many things, once I became a mom, my preconceptions were proved incredibly wrong. 

Breastfeeding is HARD.

It doesn’t always simply come naturally. It’s painful and takes immense effort. One of the most sensitive parts of your entire body gets sucked on multiple times a day and can become cracked and start to bleed. But even when that happens, you still have to allow said body part to be sucked on again and again, only a couple hours later. Oh there’s creams and balms, but those don’t completely take away the pain and discomfort. 

Before becoming a mom, I really had no clue about the depth of emotions that run hand in hand with breastfeeding. I also had no clue that your milk supply was something that could just dry up for no fault of your own. 

I lost my milk supply when my first born son, Knox, was around 5 months old. And unfortunately, I found out the hard way. Realizing his diaper tabs were overlapping a little bit more than they used to, and that he was starting to get fussy during nursing, I took him to the pediatrician. My sweet, laid back, too-chill-to-show-me-the-signs babe had lost almost a pound, moving from the 90th percentile down to the 5th!

Talk about mom guilt.

My pediatrician was so gracious and understanding with me, affirming me as a mom, reminding that some babies are just really good sleepers, and don’t always show the signs that they’re not getting enough milk. Mix that with being a first time mom and having no idea that my body simply wasn’t the greatest at producing milk, and it was the perfect storm.

That day was such a mixture of emotions for me. Guilt over not realizing my baby was undernourished for so long, relief at finally being able to give him the nutrients he needed through formula, and also sad that my milk supply was basically gone, and nursing my first baby was pretty much over.

So when I had my second son, I was super watchful over my supply. I saw a lactation consultant when Zeke was about a month old, I pumped as often as I could handle it, and I took fenugreek diligently.

But despite my immense effort to keep my supply up, at Zeke’s 4 month appointment, my pediatrician told me that my sweet boy had dropped percentiles. He hadn’t lost weight yet, but the signs of a depleting milk supply were showing up.

Despite all my hard work, my body is just not great at producing milk past the first few months. And I have to accept that.

There are still days when I feel less than, knowing I can’t nurse my baby to a full year or more. But then in the same moment, I’m so thankful that we have such quality formula to give our babies, when bodies such as mine don’t produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed.

So if you’re like me and your body doesn’t produce milk like it’s supposed to, or you decide that nursing just isn’t your cup of tea, or you adopt a baby and don’t even have the choice of breastfeeding, please don’t beat yourself up. Moms have enough to deal with to add unnecessary guilt into the mix.

I saw a new movement in the motherhood world called, “Fed is Best.” And YES, absolutely yes.

Fed. Is. Best.

Let’s stop the mom shaming, and mom judging and that includes shaming and judging ourselves. Your baby will be fed, and that’s what’s most important. Bonding will still take place. Being held in your arms and receiving the nutrients out of a bottle can be just as special as being held in your arms and receiving those nutrients from your breast. The important thing is that your baby will feel loved, cared for, and protected while receiving the nutrients he or she needs.

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9 Responses to The Truth About Drying Up {Series}

  1. Becky July 27, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

    I can totally relate. I “dried up” three months after my first son was born. I knew it was happening because my normally happy guy was screaming and trying to nurse for over an hour. I tried pumping and not a drop came out. I gave him a bottle of formula (thank goodness I kept the sample his pediatrician gave me). You would have thought that I fed him cake. He was so hungry poor guy. I tried everything.. Fenugreek pills, milk tea, visiting a lactation consultant, you name it. I felt soooo guilty and thought that I was a bad mom. I got over that real quick. I dried up after 2 weeks with my second. Moms should not be shamed for not breastfeeding, regardless of whether the problem is biological or not. We as moms have enough on our plates to deal with!!

    • Jenn Grandlienard July 27, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

      Thanks Becky! I couldn’t agree more…and my son reacted the same way when I gave him his first bottle of formula, sucked it right down. Made me so sad that I had been undernourishing him. But luckily we caught it soon enough and his weight bounced right back! Thank the Lord for quality formula!!

  2. Julia July 28, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    I regret that I haven’t read anything that would prepare me for breastfeeding when my first baby was born but I certainly don’t regret that I decided to use this method of feeding. But one is sure – it’s not that easy. When I was pregnant for the first time I was sure I wanted to breastfeed and I didn’t think I need to prepare for it. Now I know that it’s so not true! I had problems at the beginning of breastfeeding and I dropped it!. When I was pregnant with my second daughter I knew I need to be prepared for this task. My friend told me about Susan Urban’s guide “How to make breastfeeding pleasant and easy” ( http://www.parental-love.com ). She said it’s great because after reading it she knew exactly what to do when she had problems. She told me that I should read it and I did. She was right! This guide was awesome! Helped me so much with breastfeeding. I was confident and well-prepared. I knew how to deal with problems that may occur. Every new mom or mom to be should read it. Such a great help!

    • Leona August 2, 2017 at 4:32 am #

      Lovely blog! Very informative! I am happy I saw these comments here, After reading Julia’s comment I got the guide about making breastfeeding pleasant and easy and I am happy to report it is a very good book! It is not the first book I have read about breastfeeding but certainly the best one! Thanks

    • Jenn Grandlienard August 2, 2017 at 8:11 am #

      Thanks Julia! That’s a great suggestion! Sometimes even every effort still doesn’t result in being able to breastfeed, but I’m sure that guide will help lots of women try as hard as they can to make it work!

      • Erin August 4, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

        This guide is a great collection of information on breastfeeding, thanks for sharing the title.

  3. Suzanne Hines August 6, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    Loved this post, especially today when I needed to hear it. Ironically, I quit breastfeeding Kiah this week only to find out it was world breastfeeding week. LOL.
    With both my kids, I went STRONG until 10 months. And then…nothing. It just stopped.
    And that’s ok.

    Thanks for sharing your story and this encouragement.

    • Jenn Grandlienard August 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm #

      Thanks Suzanne! I had no idea it was national breastfeeding week! But for some of us that means something very different than others. Everyone has a different story with breastfeeding and like you said, that’s ok! Thanks for commenting!

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