Regret in the Broken Heart of a "Breastfeeding Failure"

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

Created: Wednesday, 15 April 2020 18:31

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Amanda didn’t plan for any of the traumatic stuff that happened to her.

There was no way to prepare for it. She planned on a natural birth without drugs. She planned to have her baby placed on her chest, and together they would begin breastfeeding, in the “golden hour.”

Instead, she felt rushed and pressured during labor. She couldn’t get comfortable with a fetal monitor around her belly. It kept slipping and giving false alarms, as she tried to get comfortable on the bed. And, after 12 hours, the alarm was real, and baby Jade was born via c-section. Amanda and Jade were separated and then reunited a few hours later, and they started breastfeeding.  

It was magical! 

Jade knew what to do, and they did it together. They nursed and dozed, blissfully connected. Amanda had no pain. Jade was drinking first colostrum, then milk and making lots of diapers.

After two days home, Amanda's incision turned bright red and started oozing.

She went to her doctor who put her back to the hospital, for a week. She pumped as best she could, drifting in and out of drugs, and fever. Her husband, Rick, held the flanges and comforted her. Her mother fed the milk to Jade at home.

Back at home again, Amanda tried to start breastfeeding again, and Jade refused to nurse. Amanda cried, both in pain from her incision, and the heartache of not breastfeeding. She held Jade skin-to-skin and tried to pump. She was not yet making enough milk. 

Her first two months postpartum were painful and messy.

A visiting nurse came to her home to check on her, and to change her dressings, every other day. She encouraged Amanda to try to breastfeed, and taught her better pumping techniques. But, over the next few weeks, Jade was receiving more, and more, formula. 

Amanda was spending nearly 3 hours a day plugged into the pump. Her mom was bottle feeding Jade. She was discouraged and angry. She cried because she missed her baby and one day decided to stop pumping. She got even angrier when her milk just “stopped” the next day. There was no swelling, no pain. She felt like her body had failed at everything it was supposed to be able to do naturally. It couldn’t birth, and it didn’t make milk. 

She had slammed into an immovable object—an uncommon situation that is nearly insurmountable once it starts: a new mother with a life threatening illness or complication from birth.