A new mom has opened up about the shame she feels because of her breastfeeding struggles in a powerful Instagram post.
On Tuesday, Heyona Cho posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her son, Bo, who was born on Oct. 26. In the emotional caption, she described her feelings of failure due to low supply and hope from community support.
”The feeling you get when your newborn cries for milk is hard to describe,” she wrote. “The heartbreak you feel when your newborn cries and you don’t have milk is even harder to describe.”
Cho launched into a heartbreaking description of her breastfeeding struggles:
“Nevermind that the nipples are cracked and sore, baby’s cries sound like ringing alarms INside the brain and I’m desperate to do anything to alleviate his discomforts and meet his needs. When the night hits, I have to make a choice to supplement with formula or let him sleep hungry. Or more like wake up every hour, stress and fuss to calm his hungry cries, fight with my loving partner, and feel like a failure ― shame.”
Speculating about why her milk hadn’t come in, she added, “Am I doing something wrong? Nobody ever told me. Nobody ever told me about the challenges of breastfeeding. This must be an unspoken reality for SO many new moms.”
Addressing her fellow moms who struggle to feed their newborns, Cho encouraged them to feel no guilt or shame, to accept what cannot be controlled and to feel confident in their ability to make the best decisions for their babies.
At the end of her post, Cho noted that her supply is increasing, and empahsized the power of sisterhood and community in helping her get through these challenges.
The mom’s post received over 300 likes and many supportive comments from fellow parents. The photo and caption were also re-posted on The Empowered Birth Project Instagram, where it received over 5,300 likes.
Cho, who lives on Orcas Island in Washington State, told The Huffington Post she decided to share her story because she knew others must be going through this struggle as well. “This very beginning stage of motherhood has taken me by a whirlwind, and I’m floored. I needed a way to articulate this very visceral experience.”
The mom said she wants to build a website to connect breastfeeding mothers around the U.S. for local “milkshares” and create a platform for information about nursing.
“I want new parents to know that breastfeeding can be a slow going process,” Cho explained. “When I had the baby, I was told that milk should come in approximately three days ― that a thick and sweet substance called colostrum would nourish the baby in very small yet potent amounts until a more substantial flow of milk comes to replace it.”
“But I didn’t know that often times, milk production takes longer than three days,” she added, noting that she wished she’d known this so that she could have prepared supplementing options.
“I wouldn’t have felt so inadequate for not being able to produce milk in the allotted ‘time limit,’” she said.
With her new website, Cho hopes to educate new moms and share personal stories that are informative and empowering.
Because women should know they are not alone in their struggles.