Disclaimer: this is about breast feeding, so if you are uncomfortable with that topic, stop now. 🙂 i know it is totally random and not a usual topic, but I am going to share my thoughts! Thanks!
I watched a story on the news today and a woman who was at the “nurse-in” at Hollister, said that society was more discriminating of breast feeding mothers these days. To me, nothing could be farther from the truth, but that is only my opinion, and here is why.
After talking with a new mom last week, and thinking about all of the other women and mothers in my life who I have had this same conversation with, I thought I would jot my thoughts down. This is in no way intended to start a deep conversation or rile anyone up, I just feel like so many moms and new moms go through this.
I could give you at least 5 examples of new moms off the top of my head who in the last year or two have struggled with breast feeding, postpartum depression, and/or feeling totally wrong about every decision they make for their child. News flash: you are not alone! This is something every mother struggles with!
When Hadley was born I felt really pressured to breast feed her, and not in a bad way, just that was what I was supposed to do. We went to the breast feeding classes and I have a family friend who was a lactation consultant, and I really thought it was going to be easy. Everyone told me that if I was doing it right, it would be easy and the baby would gain weight and it was the best thing for her, nothing else was good enough. So 4 weeks early my water broke and out comes this 5 pound 13 ounce little girl, who was taken to the NICU three hours after birth because she began having trouble breathing. At first they told us she was just going to be monitored for a little while but she kept getting worse and ended up on a breathing machine, feeding tubes, and in a little incubator. It was one of the worst weeks of my life. And the nurses kept telling me to pump, pump, pump! So I did, every two hours, the whole time she was there. On day 7 she got to come home, and it was awesome. I assumed she would breast feed with no problems, but that was the opposite of what happened. I ended up having to use nipple shields because her mouth was so small she wasn’t latching right, and after weeks of trying and supplementing with formula, I gave up trying altogether and exclusively pumped. It was so hard. But I was getting her what she needed and that was all that mattered, right? Looking back, I was totally wrong. I was sleep deprived and depressed because every time I hooked on to the pump, I felt like a total failure for not being able to just feed her like I thought I was supposed to. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t breast feed her and my emotions were a roller coaster. I wanted so badly to switch to formula, but I thought that that would really make me a failure. Why though? Because it had been put into my head by nurses and others that this was the only way. Many of my friends had done it, why couldn’t I? What was wrong with me? Nothing! So many moms go through this and I feel like it never gets talked about. I looked on the Internet and found so many other moms searching for someone to validate the at they were feeling, and it was the same as I did. But there was no one doing it, no one saying it was ok to formula feed or let your husband pitch in while you sleep four 4 straight hours.
Don’t get me wrong,I think the women who breast feed are amazing and I wish I could get the hang of it. Not only did I want to conquer it, it would have saved me lots of money. But when we finally switched to formula with Hadley, it was like I got my sanity back. With Truett, I wanted to try again, and I gave it a good shot I think. The difference between a preemie and a full term baby is the amount and veracity with which they eat. As well as with your second baby, you don’t have the time you had to sit there and help them latch and nurse as long as they wanted, or at least I didn’t. Maybe it was because Truett was the slowest eater on the planet. He would nurse for an hour and still be hungry, and an hour later be screaming for more. My pediatrician told me to only let him nurse for 15 minutes and he would learn to eat faster. This resulted I him crying for an hour and 45 minutes between feelings. By the end of the second week I was crying my eyes out because I wanted so badly to have success with breast feeding. At his 2 week check up, he had lost weight and was below his birth weight. Our pediatrician told me I needed to come back in in one week for a weight check, and if he had lost any more or hadn’t gained enough, I would have to supplement with formula. I remember crying all the way home, and just deciding that was it. i felt selfish for wanting to continue to try breast feeding, when clearly he was not getting the nutrients he needed. As soon as we started on formula with him, my life was a hundred times easier. Hadley was happier because not only was he not always attached to me, but she could help give him a bottle, or Brent could and I could spend time with her. I was less stressed out about his weight and how long he would eat for, and could actually enjoy having a new baby in the house. Another person that really helped me was my friend Claire, who is amazing at breast feeding. She is currently nursing her second son, just as she did her first. She is very pro breast feeding, and I remember almost not wanting to tell her I was going to switch to formula with Truett. But when I did she was so supportive. She knew my struggles with both kids and was very encouraging for me to do what was best for our family, not just what society says is best.
As far as all of the health benefits, absolutely I agree that breast milk is best, however, Truett didn’t get sick until he was 11 months old, and that was a 24 hour bug. They make formula so amazingly good for babies these days, no one should feel bad for supplementing or switching to formula feeding their babies. If you are sleep deprived, not only will your postpartum depression increase, but your body will stop producing milk. If you don’t eat enough, your body will not have the fuel it needs to make the milk for your little one. And in turn they will lose weight and become under nourished. I fully believe that everyone should try breast feeding with a good attitude and coaching from someone who has had success. But if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out for you, don’t beat yourself up over it. By you recognizing that your baby needs more nourishment, you are already doing what a good mother does. If you let someone help you feed the baby so you can get a nap, you will be better able to handle the crying and anxiety that comes with being a new mom. You have to take care of yourself so you can capably take care of your baby. This means sleeping, eating, and showering. Taking care of your baby does not only mean breast feeding them, and taking care of yourself means more than just being awake.
If you are contemplating switching to formula, talk to your pediatrician and get their opinion on the best kind for your baby. If anyone judges you or tries to make you feel bad,
punch them find someone reasonable to talk to and weigh the pros and cons. Your sanity and well being are more important to being a good mom than the ability to produce milk.