I'm pregnant and looking for insight from anyone who has learned from their breastfeeding mistakes of the past that don't fit into the "norm" of brestfeeding.
For me, breastfeeding was and will again probably be all about feeling anxious and hormonal.
Aside from the wonderful and indescribable bond it gave me which was amaaaaazing. But at a cost.
I have hypothyroidism and a minor anxiety disorder that disrupts my sleep patterns and makes me an extremely light sleeper, so much so that naps during the day are a virtual impossibility.
Still, I co-slept with and breastfed my son almost exclusively until he was about 9 months and then started to supplement with formula a little. I weaned him at 13 months and stopped co-sleeping around 1.5 years, but we are still in the same room and he is 2 now.
I did it. It was an accomplishment, huge, but I have mixed feelings about whether it was worth it, and think abut what I can do with my next baby to avoid the problems I had last time.
First of all, co-sleeping after the first few months left me incredibly sleep deprived. Once my menstruation came back and I began the decline of the endorphins and super mom hormones that gave me a blissful first few months (despite sleep deprivation), I simply did not do well with my son sleeping right next to me.
As time progressed, my thyroid levels went sky high before I realized it. I was too sleep deprived to remember to even get my levels checked. This in turn strongly boosted my anxiety, a symptom of too much thyroid compounded by my own GAD, and it became a viscious cycle. I feel that cosleeping in this condition was actually bad for my son and I. I had too much brain fog to even begin to figure out how to separate him; even contemplating it was hard. This is because each step of the weaning and separate sleeping process was started well after it should have been in my case.
I became an angry sleeper, my son woke several times a night during the first year to feed, and I would wake up angry while breastfeeding, and was hostile and irritable towards DH at all times. This in turn made me feel incredibly guilty that my son might sense my negativity and fatigue. I think he must have a few times, especially if his teeth scraped me and I shoved him by reflex. I feel heartbroken and ashamed as a mom in that regard.
This time, I plan to demand my husband help at night after the first few months (or whenever I need it), I plan to schedule pumping and go ahead and stock frozen breastmilk right away before I hopefully need it, and I also plan to bottle feed within the first week or two after giving birth so that the baby accepts it more readily. I will still mostly breastfeed but want to establish more structured habits in advance of needing them this time so that I am not overwhelmed by the time I need them.
The thing I did not know to prepare for was how overwhelming simple routine changes were and how long it took to make them. Now I know and will be more disciplined next time.
I also plan to prepare to feed formula in the event that I have PPD this next time, since I am a candidate for it and would prefer not to breastfeed if I find medication necessary for my mental health. That would be HARD. My heart goes out to any moms who had to stop breastfeeding or couldn't due to things beyond their control.