Confessions of a Low Supply Mom

Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

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Photo by Christy Scherrer

I nurse wherever and whenever my children need. I’ve had women tell me they admire that, that they love how I normalize breastfeeding, and that they applaud me for pulling out our Lact-Aids out in public. Along with my dedication to child-led weaning and perserverance through nursing during pregnancy and tandem nursing, I almost sound like a breastfeeding super-hero.

Except when it comes to breasfteeding, I’m far from it. I would do just about anything in order to exclusively breastfeed my children: pumping, eating specific foods, taking herbs, taking medications. I’ve done it all. Even though we knew prior to pregnancy that a medical condition would most likely affect my supply, I kept positive, supposedly setting myself up for success. In fact, I was setting myself up for failure – my own. When I didn’t make enough milk and I listened to my first child scream in hunger, I cried. When I first supplemented, I cried. Each time I tried something new and got my hopes up that this would be the thing that would fix everything, I would only plummet to new lows when it didn’t.

So while my dedication to child-led weaning, nursing in public, and lactivism in general stands, know that there is a crying, seething green monster inside of me that would do just about anything to shed these Lact-Aids and nurse my babies (toddlers, children) without them.

    • I hide formula in my cart. Sure, I try to be nonchalant when I do it so I don’t send the wrong message to my children. However, it always seems that something big just happens to land on top of the can of formula. I end up building a little pyramid of items around it so that I don’t have to see it. Setting items up on the conveyor belt and paying for them, I look anywhere but at the cashier. I don’t want to face what I might see reflected there: a mom with a child in a sling who can’t even fully nurse her own child. When the formula makes it home, the label comes off. Somehow, I think taking off the label lessens what it truly is and makes it easier to face. It doesn’t, but I try still do it.
  •  I am jealous of other mothers – not the ones nursing their children but the ones who gave up or didn’t even try. When a relative mentioned how she was so happy she was able to nurse her child for as long as possible (5 months) and that she had to quit because pumping at work was such a drag, it ate at me. I know what pumping is like. I pumped for the first year of my first child’s life, trying to increase supply, while also trying to nurse him. I pumped for the first year of my second child’s life once again trying to increase supply and while working through her own issues with latch, suck, and what turned out to be silent reflux, dealing with her rules for nursing that I figured out along the way. Pumping sucks and I’m glad that with my last two children we have been able to forego it, but I would do it again if it meant I could have a full milk supply. I don’t judge women who choose not to nurse, whether by culture, misinformation, or some other choice, but I am most certainly jealous of what they gave away. I know women have all sorts of reasons for choosing not to breastfeed and it isn’t any of my business, but the giant green jealous monster still rears up. If they aren’t going to nurse anyway, why couldn’t they be the one with low supply?
  • I’m afraid to go anywhere without Lact-Aids because my child might want to nurse. Even when my children are two, three, or four years old, I have Lact-Aids packed in the diaper bag any time we are out. I keep them in a littel cooler bag. I even have them in a little cooler bag around the house, a leftover facet from when my older daughter was suffering from silent reflux and gave me 30 seconds to latch her on after the very first sign of hunger.
  • I feel angry every time someone says that women shouldn’t nurse in public or talk about the benefits of breastfeeding because “some women can’t breastfeed.” Less than 2% of women who have given birth to their children cannot exclusively breastfeed, and most of them, like me, will be able to have a partial milk supply. Don’t give me the excuse that some women can’t breastfeed for not supporting nursing mothers. I am a low supply mom, and I am that 2%. The very best thing we can do for women is to give information and be supportive of breastfeeding in private or in public so that they are not being sabatoged in their breastfeeding.

So, that’s my confession. Outwardly, I’m a cool collected lactavist helping other mothers and nursing my children, with the help of Lact-Aids. Inside, I’m an insecure weeping, jealous mess who feels like a failure.

 

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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

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