I failed at breastfeeding, twice

It was Breastfeeding Awareness week last week and in seeing many breastfeeding posts doing the rounds on social media, naturally my two very long yet short breastfeeding experiences kept popping into my mind. With so many moms talking about their successful breastfeeding journey’s, I’d be telling a complete lie if I said it was easy to read about them all. Because from beginning to end, and right up to this very day, it was a difficult experience for me. Physically and emotionally. Sadly, I failed at breastfeeding, twice, and I won’t even get a third chance.

I say ‘failed’ because I am constantly going between thinking that I gave up too easily, and thinking that I didn’t give up without a fight. Because I still long to experience a successful breastfeeding journey even though there is no chance of it ever happening again. ‘Failed’ because there was probably more that I could have done. I should have done more. If only I endured just a little while longer. I wish I could go back into time and do it all over again. I wish I had succeeded. But instead, I gave up. Twice.

I failed at breastfeeding, twice | South African Mommy Blogger

I failed against my own standards

I didn’t fail against the rest of the worlds standards of breastfeeding. Neither did every other mom who chooses to or is forced to formular feed their babies. No. I failed against my own standards. I wanted to breastfeed and when I gave up the first time, I was determined to make a success of it the second time around. And that was my standard that I had set. It was for me to succeed. When I didn’t, I felt that I had failed. So no, this article is not my opinion on other moms choices to breastfeed or not. This is my journey, how I felt then and how I feel now. 

And on the other end of the stick though, I know I did all that I could to breastfeed my two children. I know that I endured for as long as I could. I remember that pain like it was yesterday. My breastfeeding experience with both my kids were almost exactly the same. The pain was excruciating. It felt like I was having a tooth extracted without any pain relief. Over and over and over again. My nipples were raw and my nerve endings were exposed. They were bleeding. And my child kept sucking on them.

I failed at breastfeeding, twice | South African Mommy Blogger

There was no nipple cream that could help. The only thing that would help, is the correct latch. And regrettably I only learned this at the very last. By the time I finally learned how to get my baby to latch correctly, I was physically and emotionally drained. The experience was more than just physical. It was emotionally draining. I started becoming afraid of my own baby.

This stretch of my motherhood journey felt like a never ending one. I couldn’t see further than the painful moment I was in. It felt like I was going to feel this pain forever if I had to continue breastfeeding. The constant feeling of wanting to give up yet wanting to push myself harder. I was afraid to fail. How could I give up when I so badly wanted to succeed? How could I give up knowing that it is possible to find the correct the latch, that I had more than enough milk and that I would never get a third chance.

I failed at breastfeeding, twice | South African Mommy Blogger

Before each and every feed, I had to build up the courage to do it. And since the latch wasn’t correct, my babies were not getting enough milk, which meant they fed for longer, with short intervals between feeds. And so I ate, slept, and breathed breastfeeding. It was all I thought about and all I spoke about. It was everything I focused on. I was constantly putting myself down for wanting to giving yet at the same time constantly trying to give myself courage to endure.

It saddens me deeply, that despite the endless amount of time I spent on the internet researching, and the fact that I had a lactation specialist visit me while I was still in hospital, I only found out towards the very end, that his latch was wrong.

However, I am equally happy that because of this, I am able to share this with so many breastfeeding moms who have given up, who are on the verge on giving up or who just don’t know what to do. That I am able to share a little about the things I learned through my short breastfeeding journey like the article I wrote on five things you must know about breastfeeding.

I failed at breastfeeding, twice | South African Mommy Blogger

My last resort

I had decided that the very last thing I was going to do to try and win at this breastfeeding thing, was to visit the Breastfeeding Clinic. Apparently there are a few similar clinics around the country and if you join La Leche League on Facebook, they can help find a clinic closest to you. I remember anxiously waiting to see a lactation specialist.

Half of me was hoping they would say I should give up, and the other half was hoping they would say there is still a chance. So many other moms have no problem breastfeeding. Why did I have to suffer and struggle this way? Why didn’t I know how to latch my babies?

I failed at breastfeeding, twice | South African Mommy Blogger

The nurses at the Breastfeeding Clinic couldn’t believe that I had endured that much and that long. They couldn’t believe that I had been breastfeeding with exposed nerve endings. Visiting that clinic was more than just finding the correct latch. They helped me in more ways than one. In fact, I walked our of there feeling like the mother that I deserved to feel like. I felt like a champion, and that I had been doing everything I could.

Days later we struggled with the latch again. Which meant that I was back to square one. My nipples were bleeding again, I was in excruciating pain, and I was not doing well emotionally. So I decided to quit. I decided that I was going to do what was best for me. Because a better me, was what was best for my child. Better for both my children. I couldn’t continue being in that space and frame of mind, and still be a good mother to both my kids and a good wife to my husband. 

I failed at breastfeeding, twice | South African Mommy Blogger

So no, I didn’t fail at breastfeeding. I endured. Endured for as long as was possible, for me. I did all that I could.

Image credits: Grand Little Adventure | Website

Tata for now,

Tracy X

4 thoughts on “I failed at breastfeeding, twice”

  • Ah Tracy I don’t think you failed at all. You really did your best. Breastfeeding is so hard. I did get it in the end but it was probably because of my mom and her not giving up on me. I just pumped that first month because I could not get that latch but at least Nicky got the milk. I also did formula as well. You did the right thing for you, nobody would expect you to go through that pain. And you have beautiful kids by the way.

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