At 4 months of age, we finally discovered the cause of my son’s weight gain issues. We finally determined through weighed feeds that he was having trouble transferring milk and that he needed to undergo craniosacral therapy to treat the bones and tissues so they could work properly. I not only dedicated countless hours researching and taking my son to appointments, but over the last nine months, I have spent a great deal of money to stay dedicated to breastfeeding and improve his health. My story should also act as a warning that before following the “Commandments of Breastfeeding” that are preached by lactation consultants and La Leche League, it is important to first determine that you have an effectively nursing baby.
Some breastfeeding rules intended to enhance your breastfeeding relationship that did not apply to me were:
- Nursing your baby often will increase your supply
- Skin to skin will increase your supply
- A pump will never be as effective as a baby (I only learned later that the key words were EFFECTIVELY NURSING BABY)
Since my son could not transfer enough milk on his own, following these rules initially was detrimental to his health and my supply. However, these were the answers I was given for months. So, I religiously followed them for months and continued to go to weight checks feeling like a failure as a mother when my son would gain little weight. No matter how often I nursed him or how much skin touched, the fact was my body wasn’t getting the signal for appropriate demand because he couldn’t drink the milk. For this time period, a pump was more effective than him and drinking from a bottle where we could monitor how much he drank allowed him to get more, and he started gaining more weight.
Many women use “cost” as a benefit of breastfeeding, saying it is cheaper than formula. For me, it was not when I factor in the appointments, treatments, and supplies I spent money on to ensure I could provide milk for him and that he could nurse effectively. Here were some of my costs:
- Nursing tanks and bras ($100)
- Galactagues/supplements – Mother’s Milk Tea, Moringa, Coconut Water, Mother Love More Milk Plus, lactation cookies ($10/month)
- Pump supplies ($5-10/month)
- Hospital grade rental pump ($45/month)
- Baby scale for weight checks and weighed feeds at home ($40)
- Appointment to check for potential tongue or lip ties ($100)
- Craniosacral therapy ($500 for about 5 sessions)
- Chiropractic appointments ($40 – 1 appointment per month since birth)
I certainly didn’t choose breastfeeding because it was the cheaper option or the easier one. I chose it because it was what I wanted for my son and for our relationship. There are dollar amounts and time commitments I can calculate that could be labeled as a waste of time by some, but to me, this journey has been priceless. My journey as a mother has made me a stronger, more open person, and I would not trade the bond I have with my son for anything.