Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts On Baby Feeding

I'm going to warn you right now--some of you won't want to read this. If you're male, and related to me or know me in real life, you probably won't want to read this. You might be blushing already. Also, if you happen to feel super strongly about breastfeeding in every and all circumstance, you won't want to read this.

A few days ago, Lindsay over at Suburban Turmoil posted about breastfeeding. One of her comments that hit me like a big, giant "DUH" was that there were very few women blogging about bottle feeding, in comparison with the number of breastfeeding bloggers out there. So I thought I'd post about my experiences feeding Wiggle Man.

Let me start by saying I totally support breastfeeding. I really do. And when I was pregnant, I was praying I'd be able to feed my son that way.

I wasn't sure I would be able to. In college, doctors told me after some surgery I had (perhaps I'll explain that another day) that breastfeeding might not be a possibility for me. I desperately hoped and prayed that it would not only be a possibility, but a reality.

Before giving birth, I read everything I could on the subject, including the experiences of women in situations like mine. I thought I was pretty well prepared. Then, in the hospital after having Wiggle Man, each nurse had something different to tell me about nursing--how long, when to switch sides, how to hold him--all this changed with every shift. Suddenly, everything I'd read flew from my mind, and I was more than a little confused.

Add to that the extreme discomfort (no, let's call it what it was--PAIN) that breastfeeding gave me, and the result was one slightly disillusioned, and terribly frustrated new mom.

Still, I kept breastfeeding. I tried every position suggested. Thanks to my mother-in-law, a truly wonderful lactation consultant came and helped out. But the pain continued--it felt like glass coming out, instead of milk.

At Wiggle Man's one week check up, he had lost 1 lb, 9 oz since his hospital discharge.

I don't remember much from that appointment. All I really remember is trying to fill out the patient information forms while rocking a screaming Wiggle Man's carrier with my foot. (He cried a lot back then.)

I really don't think his weight loss registered with me. I remember the nurse telling me his weight, and when I heard "6 lbs, 1 oz" I thought she must be mistaken. I'd delivered a 7 lb, 13 oz baby. I knew babies lost some weight at first, but there was no way he'd dropped down to 6 lbs. That was crazy.

Wiggle Man was scheduled for weekly weigh-ins. I believe this was when my wonderful lactation consultant came to help me out.

The next week was awful. Wiggle Man was constantly fussy, constantly nursing. Nothing I did seemed to make any difference--he was always hungry.

The breaking point for me came when I literally could do nothing but breastfeed. Before Hubba Hubba left for work, I made several sandwiches, and camped out on the couch for the day, doing nothing but breastfeed. He'd go maybe 15, 20 minutes without nursing. When Hubba Hubba came home that night, we finally decided to try some of the formula the hospital sent home with all new mothers.

Wiggle Man gulped down than teeny ounce bottle in about a minute, and the scales fell from my eyes. My baby wasn't fussy, wasn't colicky, he was hungry.

Of course.

What frustrates me the most is not the two weeks I spent futilely trying to do something my body couldn't, but that I felt I had to. Breast is best, after all. It drives me nuts that it took me two full weeks to realise breast is not best if your baby is still hungry.

This is the point at which some of you will ask me why I didn't try any of the products available to help with my supply problem. Why wasn't I pumping? (I was, but it wasn't doing much good.) Why wasn't I trying fenugreek, or something else?

By that point, I was just trying to get him as much nourishment as I could, as quickly as I could. Also, for me, it didn't feel right taking herbs, drinking tea, pumping my breasts, all to accomplish the "natural" method of feeding my son.

So, from that point on, Wiggle Man was exclusively bottle fed. And suddenly, he was the happiest baby. I was a much calmer, more nurturing mother. Hubba Hubba could help with the late night feedings. And with that, our family routine fell into place.

Like I said at the beginning of the post, I am in full support of breastfeeding. What I have a problem with is pressure many moms feel to breastfeed, regardless of whether it is the best choice for them and their children. In my case, bottle was definitely best. I just wish I'd felt that confidence sooner.


Mighty M said...

You gotta go with what you feel is best. I really struggled the first time around. It worked itself out, but I wanted to stop so many times. In my case though my daughter was gaining weight like crazy, so even though it was killing me I knew something must be right!

Tiffany @ Paging Doctor Mommy said...

I agree with you... what is best for one is not best for all! I also had a very confusing and frustrating time in the hospital with every nurse telling me something different. Same as you, Reagan was losing weight fast and was so very hungry. We had the lactation consultant come to the house our second day home from the hospital, and she stayed with me for almost 4 hours that day to make sure that Reagan and I both finally knew what we were doing. Reagan was finally getting the food and nourishment she needed. In the end, breastfeeding worked out for us, but it was touch and go there for a while! If we hadn't gotten the hang of it soon, I too would have gone to bottle feeding, and not felt guilty for doing so! Good for you for realizing what you had to do, even if it wasn't part of your original plan!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I agree. Do what is best for YOU and YOUR child. I had a fantastic time with Elijah, but Asher? Latched incorrectly and it was beyond painful. Some mother/son bond when you produce enough milk for twins, are engorged for a week and cry the whole time he nurses!

Bethany said...

I found your blog through Suburban Turmoil and I wanted to thank you for being so honest. I could have written your post. I had similar circumstances with my first son and nearly cried when I watched him gobble down that first bottle. I had been starving my baby and felt tremendously guilty. With my second son I tried pumping every two hours and even added the drug domperidone, but the same thing happened again - I only was able to pump 1 ounce PER DAY! I continued to try to increase the supply, but we were at least prepared this time and started him on formula at 4 days old. Still, he lost a pound and a half in those 4 days. Now, I am happy to say he is a chubby, bottle-fed and happy 6 week old. And my oldest son is a smart, healthy 5 year old who is ahead of his classmates in reading, writing and math and who is 4 foot 1 inch tall and weighs 62 pounds - he didn't suffer by being bottlefed. Don't buy into the "everyone can breastfeed" mantra - not everyone can. And if you choose to use formula you can still be a great, loving and happy Mom! Thank you for sharing!

Bri said...

I absolutley agree with you. I am a breastfeeding mom and it is great-for me. But that is the thing it has to work for mom & baby. We had a really rough start and my little one lost over a pound. It is sad that there is not better support from nurses in the hospital-I had the same confusion and the shield they gave me to use actually caused my problem. We did the feed/pump non-stop cycle and it worked for us but I was more than ready to give up on several occasions. I can't imagine that combined with your pain. Great post!

Seeryus Mama said...

Amen Sister! When I was in the hospital with Pea they pushed and pushed and pushed breastfeeding. It just wasn't for me.

I applaud those that it works for...but you are so very right, it's not for everyone.