All images from Kassy Flagg
1. When pregnant, what was your plan for feeding your child? How did you think you would do in the hospital? How easy did you think it would be?
My plan all along was to nurse my baby. I had many people telling me it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought it would be. I just thought "it can't be that hard. It's natural, we will just get it."
2. How did you prepare for feeding your child while pregnant? Did you read any good books, check out Web sites, take classes, take free items from your doctor's office, talk to other moms, etc.? How prepared did you feel going into the hospital for feeding your child?
I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital. I started to follow "the leaky boob" on Facebook. I read a lot of articles online, and I asked my friends questions. I still felt that we would just get it.
I was honestly more worried and focused on giving birth than nursing. I figured it would just happen.
3. How did the first week of feeding go for your child? What did you try? What helped, what did not help? What challenges did you experience that first week feeding your child? How did you FEEL with feeding your child that first week?
The first few days went great. My best friend was in the delivery room with me and had my son latched and nursing like a champ with in the first hour of his little life.
Everything was awesome. He nursed great in the hospital and I had a ton of support. I was so confident. THEN, we went home.
My milk came in the first night home and it was a mess. My son wouldn't latch, I became super engorged. We didn't have an ounce of formula. My husband ran to the hospital at to beg for formula because everything was closed and my baby wouldn't eat. It was a mess. My best friend (whom is also a labor and delivery nurse and was in the room with me) came over at to help "milk me" and get my son to nurse. I spent the first two weeks in my bedroom, crying, nursing, pumping. It was awful. I was determined to nurse. We couldn't afford formula and have me stay home, and I knew breastfeeding was best. I was going to make it work, but it was REALLY hard. It hurt, and I was super emotional.
4. What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first?
It all surprised me. It was so hard. It hurt!!!! I was expecting nipple pain, but not to be engorged. That was awful.
5. What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning?
I wish I had known what to do when I became engorged. I didn't have a clue. The class I took never covered that. My boobs were like rocks and I couldn't get anything out and the harder myself and my baby cried... The harder they got!
6. After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine?
My first three weeks were like this. Just super hard. I kept trying. I pumped, I nursed, I did hot compresses to relieve my engorgement. We did use a little formula from time to time, but I knew we couldn't use it forever so I had to figure this out. Eventually our routine because nursing him every 2/3 hours. After about three weeks my body and my baby finally clicked. It didn't hurt, and my supply was finally ok. I didn't really pump, once he got nursing I just nursed him.
7. What tips do you have for either breastfeeding or formula feeding, or exclusively pumping or some combo in between? What specific things helped you to feed your child the first few months? (Drink more water, bring baby to you when nursing, try 2 oz of formula at first, try different bottles, etc.)
Don't beat yourself up. I was really hard on myself. We probably could have figured out how to afford formula, and it would have been ok. Part of the reason why things were so crazy (I believe) is because I was such a wreck. Your body can't respond right when you're super tense, I needed to RELAX. Which is really hard, but really important to do. And yes drink a ton of water, sleep when you can and eat well. Also, GET OUT. I felt best on days that we took a quick family trip to the store or the local bagel place. I felt so good when I left the house.
8. What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?
A bad mom is a mom who let's her child starve. It doesn't matter what you feed them, just feed them!! If you are as determined to breastfeed as I was, get informed. Hopefully it will "just work" but it probably won't. Learn what to do when it doesn't so you don't want to jump off a cliff. And stay relaxed!!!!!
9. If you felt Mama Guilt over how you fed or did not feed your child, what was that like for you? What's your advice to other moms who experience that guilt?
I don't have guilt. I pushed my way through something very hard and we breastfed for 15 months.
10. What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child?
I am so proud of myself for sticking with it. At nine months I randomly got mastitis. It was right around Christmas, my baby's first Christmas. I was so so sick. After such a long road at the start, and doing so well for six months I was devastated. I tried to stay calm and powered through it. I nursed for five more months after that cleared up.
It was the hardest thing I had ever done.
11. If you have more than one child, was your experience feeding your children the same or different? In which ways? What's your advice to a mom who did not get the experience she wanted with one kid, could it be different with feeding another one?
I only have one child right now, but if/when we have more I will nurse that baby too. Many people in my family say I'm crazy after what we battled. But I believe it could be different and I know I will be different because I have learned so much about myself and the way babies eat. I'll try it again if the time comes.
12. What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child?
I have learned that I would do anything for my child. More than I ever thought I would. I have also learned that things with kids are temporary. You have REALLY hard moments, but they grow and change and those moments pass. I thought we would never leave the bed room, and some how he's 17 months old, walking and talking. Time goes SO fast.
13. Anything else you'd like to add?
I hope people understand that breastfeeding isn't for everyone or every baby. It was something I deep down inside KNEW we could do. And something I really wanted. I worked really hard to make it work. However, it doesn't work for everyone and that's ok.
As I said before... A bad mom is a mom who doesn't feed her child. I wasn't breastfed and I love my mom more than I can explain. You can have a great, perfect even, relationship with your baby if you nurse, pump or formula feed. It's all about loving yourself and your baby.