For women with low or no supply of breast milk, I know it’s not what you expected and I see how deeply upsetting it is. At some point, you make a decision about breastfeeding based on you and your baby’s well being. Let’s review the value of what you are doing: comfort sucking, paced bottle-feeding and thoughtful parenting questions.
(If you are worried about your supply, it’s worth investing the time in the first weeks. You’ll also benefit from consistent, practical support so that you can spend that time.)
I’ve heard mothers reiterate their sense of failure, what did they do wrong, why isn’t this working? Sometimes we can answer that question, sometimes we can’t. Guilt will keep breeding, so I suggest asking another question instead:
What is working here?
Base your decision on the good you have and build from that.
• Remember your unique and valuable qualities as a parent: your familiar smell, voice and heartbeat. Skin to skin time helps stabilize your baby’s breathing, temperature and heart rate so he/she is calmer and not wasting calories.
• If you have a low supply, you can still offer some breast milk to your child. As long as you are expressing/pumping, you will have the option of even a little bit.
• Learning and responding to your baby’s unique cues and making eye contact are an essential part of a healthy relationship… with each other and with food.
• You were taking care of your newborn all this time. You made the effort to find the best option for your family. Among the many choices, you’ve narrowed it down to what worked. Thank those who did give support: answered questions, made you a meal, carried baby while you showered. Things like that gave you some time and options.
Parents have a great deal of influence in their family’s health. Your children benefit from many other healthy aspects: certified organic and wholesome foods, calm sleep routines, fun outdoors and creative play.
Women feel guilty a lot, so do men. Is that guilt serving you any purpose? Probably not. Ask this: What is working here? You are.