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‘I thought it would be easy’: When breastfeeding is the hardest thing ever by Laura T. Coffey  8/4/2020

‘I thought it would be easy’: When breastfeeding is the hardest thing ever

by Laura T. Coffey  8/4/2020

Like millions of new moms around the world, Sandra Chance figured she’d have no problem breastfeeding her baby girl.

“I thought it would be easy — that it was natural and it would just happen,” Chance, 39, of Hoboken, New Jersey, told TODAY Parents. “But it didn’t ‘just happen.’ It didn’t.”

It’s not that Chance wasn’t trying — hard — to make it work. She met with lactation consultants and watched YouTube videos and pumped breast milk every two hours. But no matter how many calories she devoted to her efforts, the exhausted mom couldn’t get enough calories into her infant daughter, Charlotte. She finally realized that she needed to combine breast-milk feedings with formula feedings in order to give Charlotte enough nutrition to thrive.

“A lot of people call what I’m doing ‘supplementing’ — that I’m breastfeeding her through my pump milk and then I’m supplementing her with formula — and I really hate the word ‘supplementing,’” Chance said. “Like, with all the fiery passions of my being I hate that word, because it means that I’m not enough. It means that what I’m doing for my daughter by pumping seven times a day for 15 or 30 minutes at a pop is not enough.

“I can’t accept that. I don’t accept that. I’m not going to supplement what I’m doing. I’m just feeding my daughter.”

‘You’re doing an amazing job’

Chance’s experience highlights a thorny phenomenon among many new mothers who want to breastfeed their babies. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization advise exclusive breastfeeding for babies during the first six months of their lives to help them achieve optimal growth and development. That’s an ideal path for women who produce enough breast milk — but what about mothers who, for any number of reasons, cannot?

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