Posts Tagged ‘breast milk’
This is a little longish, so skip it if you’re not into the baby stuff. However, if you think you might have one at some point, it is worth a scan.
Back when I was pregnant I took a pretty hard line on breastfeeding. While I still basically stand by what I said (specifically that, if you are medically able, you should give it a shot), I want to walk it back a little.
For a combination of reasons that go along with having a baby, not the least of which was labor, I was totally exhausted in the hospital (and for weeks after). As is standard, a lactation nurse came through to see if I wanted to her to work with us, but I declined. Besides the fact that I thought that I was breastfeeding correctly, I was just too damn tired to do the consultation.
Cut to a couple of days later when we took Z to see the pediatrician. She had lost some weight, as babies do in their first few days, but it was a little more than the standard weight loss. The doctor said he wasn’t concerned in her case, though, because she was an abnormally large baby at 11 pounds 4 ounces.
Then we brought her back for the two week visit. J.R. and I both looked and felt like zombies because Z didn’t allow us much sleep. I expected this, but it was exhaustion like none I’ve felt before. It made me cry more than a few times. I just didn’t know why the baby was so angry!
It didn’t take long for the doctor to figure it out the problem. He weighed her, and her weight was down some more, which is not what’s supposed to happen at the two week visit. He had me feed her in the exam room, and they weighed her again when I finished. I can’t remember what the difference was, but it wasn’t much. Basically, she wasn’t getting enough to eat (I later determined that what I thought was a good latch wasn’t). We talked over some options and I decided to supplement with some formula after breast feeding so I could watch how much she was taking in. He scheduled us for a followup visit a few days later.
When we returned for the follow up, her weight was up, which pretty much settled the issue. The next decision I had to make was how to proceed. I talked over some different options with the doctor, and settled on exclusively pumping breast milk and feeding it to her by bottle. As he said, I had probably saved my supply because I had been pumping after feedings in order to stock the freezer with milk. In fact, I think I probably had an oversupply because of it. He had written me a prescription to see the lactation consultants at the hospital, but I opted not to go that route because, honestly, I was just too tired. There are people out there who would want me to feel guilty for making that choice, but those people are awful, and they can suck it (oh shit, I swear there was no pun intended).
What the doctor didn’t tell me – and maybe, as he isn’t a woman, he didn’t know – is what a tough road exclusive pumping would be. I look back now, 10 months later, and I can’t believe I didn’t quit. I’m pretty sure that it causes serious exhaustion that regular breastfeeding doesn’t cause (don’t know why – maybe because I’m putting out more at a time, since I do it fewer times per day), and that has been debilitating for me. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m struggling while trying to get my anxiety back under control, but I have a sneaking suspicion that at times, the exhaustion that has come along with this has set off some panic attacks.
I’ve wanted to quit so many times, but the number one reason I haven’t is that formula is soooo expensive! I’ve also not quit purely out of the culture of guilt that surrounds the topic. Spend a little time reading message boards dealing with breastfeeding issues. It won’t be long before you run across someone accusing another woman of not doing what’s best for her child because she had to stop breastfeeding to take some medication that she needed. It’s terrible. So you go looking for support, and maybe you find it, or maybe someone just judges you.
Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for me now. It was always my intention to quit when Z turned one, and that’s only two months away. My milk supply is dwindling because I cut one pumping situation just to avoid a nervous breakdown, so I may have to stop before then. I can’t say that it would bother me. She seems not to care whether she gets formula or milk anyway, as long as you hand her that baba as soon as she asks for it.
I will, however, give some advice that I intend to take myself the next time around: no matter how exhausted you are, take the time to have the lactation consultant evaluate your technique in the hospital. If you run into a situation like I did, go back and see the lactation people again. It’s a crazy time, but it will save you stress later on.
Another piece of advice: be supportive of other mothers. It’s not your place to decide what is the best way to nourish their children. Be ready with a kind word or to share your experience in a non-judgmental way, or just STFU.
I didn’t really want to jump on here and spend a lot of time talking about what I do and don’t do with my boobs, but I felt like I wasn’t being honest given how hard I came down on the topic previously.
I probably ought to follow up on the other posts I did around that time with what I’ve learned. I pretty much haven’t changed my opinions (other than softening up on the breastfeeding thing), but maybe I will have something to add that will help someone.
Also, please don’t misinterpret this as me being unhappy. This has been the best time of my life, and I’ve never been so happy. I’m just going to be happier when she’s getting her milk from a cow.
Oh, one last thing: There’s some good stuff about moms judging moms in this interview with Nashville transplant (and Six from Blossom) Jenna von Oÿ.
Lastly, there are the people who are pessimistic about breastfeeding.
I recently offered up two canisters of Enfamil formula on Twitter. They showed up in my mailbox that afternoon (either thanks to Motherhood Maternity or Baptist Hospital selling my contact information – yay!), and I don’t need or want them, because I am determined to breastfeed. I got a well-meaning response telling me that I might want to hang on to them because the individual’s wife had to give up on breastfeeding after a few weeks.
Like I said, it was well-meaning, but it was more negativity that I was not interested in hearing. This is the way I’ve chosen to do it, and this is how I’m going to do it. If I fail, you can quietly pat yourself on the back, but for now, there is no reason not to be positive. Plenty of people succeed at it.
Furthermore, I’ve read a lot about breastfeeding and I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on how to do it, and what to do if there’s a problem. Every single thing I’ve read about it says that if it’s not working out, don’t give up without talking to a doctor, nurse or lactation consultant. They might know something you don’t. It’s worth a shot.
On a side note, I don’t understand why people don’t at least give it a chance (barring medical complications like HIV). Even if you don’t give a shit about all of the benefits to the baby, there are benefits for you, too. The main two being weight loss (you burn a lot of calories breastfeeding) and a considerable savings (formula is expensive). Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like something you should try rather than dismissing it out of hand.
I think that the bottom line is this: whether or not you’ve had kids, you need to be conscious of what you say to people who are expecting. At best, they’ve already heard it, and at worst, you’re really going to piss them off. It’s probably best to keep your lips zipped until you are asked for advice or opinions. Or you can just hold an aspirin between your lips.
Comments for this post are closed. I’ve learned that mothers and mothers-to-be can be an easily-angered, opinionated and judgmental group (obviously I’m no exception). In order to prevent myself from having one more thing to get mad about, I’m not really interested in hearing that you disagree. This is really my last place to vent, since Twitter and Facebook (oh especially you, Facebook) have become minefields. If you don’t like my opinion, no one’s forcing you to read.