“Breastfeeding is good for the baby.”
“There is just no substite for breast milk.”
“Colostrum is liquid gold.”
And so on goes all the pros of breastfeeding, and oh the poor little baby that doesn’t get beast milk from his mom!
I took these statements to heart and was determined to breastfeed my little preemie baby. I felt it was the least I can do for someone born too soon.
Surpassing all arguments for the pros (of breastfeeding) and cons (of formula feeding) is the golden rule that the health of the mother and baby should not be endangered in the endeavor. If the mother is sick and needs regular medication, that mother should not breastfeed.
Why did I not think that rule applied to me?
For one thing, I did not really know that I was a sick mom that needed regular medication. Newly diagnosed with “mild lupus” just a few months before I got pregnant, I had no idea what it meant to be sick with lupus. I could not differentiate between post c-section pain versus lupus flare. I didn’t take the kind of lupus medications that in hindsight, I probably really needed.
Secondly, logic took a back seat when I became a mom. Despite what my body and head were telling me, I was only able to listen to my heart. If breastmilk is good for babies, and it’s something I can provide, then I was going to do it! It was the least I could do for my preemie baby. So even before I was able to walk to meet my baby, I asked my husband to go buy a pump so I can provide my baby with the precious breastmilk with colostrum. I was stubborn. Very stubborn.
There were many hurdles. Because my son was in the NICU, the first few weeks were spent pumping and feeding him through the tube/bottles. When he came home, he was weak so I had to double up by breastfeeding and feeding him pumped milk. I was exhausted. Logic told me I should ease up, take care of my lupus and feed him formula. But I kept up the impossible schedule for about seven months until fluid filled my heart and I was hospitalized.
I am glad I was able to breastfeed. I will treasure those moments forever. With that said, I would have approached it much differently if I knew what I know now. I would have listened to my body much more. I wouldn’t have been so zealous about exclusively providing breastmilk. I also would not have insisted on breastfeeding for so long. Had I been less focused on breastfeeding and more on self-care, I would not have had such a big flare and miss out on so much of my son’s first year.