Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ok, I'm a Breast-Feeding Nazi

I was reading some random bla bla bla political bla bla bla this morning, mainly glossing over it for pertinent bits of information when I came across this little gem:

"A 2010 cost analysis of low breast-feeding levels published in the American Academy of Pediatrics' medical journal Pediatrics found that if 90% of U.S. families followed medical recommendations to breast-feed for six months, "The United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess (of) 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants."

Bear with me here, I don't ever think that someone should be told what to do with their own bodies and I am certainly not a bastion of perfection as far as mothering goes.

But- if you decide to carry your child in your body and deliver them with your own strength and power, why the heck wouldn't you want to feed them from your body as well?

I understand that a lot of women decide not to breastfeed and that is their choice.

I just don't understand why not. I'll be the first to admit that breastfeeding is very hard, I gave Rosey a bottle for two weeks because some asshole Pediatrician (doctors aren't gods, you have to trust yourself as well) told me that I didn't have enough milk for her. Her recommendation? Give the baby a bottle of formula before I nurse her. I get seriously red in the face just thinking of this jerk telling other young, naive mothers just like I was the same thing and screwing up their chances of successfully breastfeeding.

Sooooo, if your body makes more milk depending on how often and how long you nurse your baby for, nursing the baby less will make you lose your milk completely. But even though I totally understood the concept, I felt like the Doc must know something that I didn't.

At 20 years old I was just a baby myself and despite my gut feeling, I gave Rose formula and it was horrible. The stuff actually stinks, bottle preparation, cleaning and sanitizing is such a pain in the ass. She was gassy, constantly vomiting and after trying three different types of formula and spending nearly $200 in two weeks, I was at my wits end.

I got a giant black garbage bag, packed up every bottle and every bit of formula and threw it all away. I went to Blockbuster and rented 10 movies. I came home, set up camp on my couch, complete with giant jugs of water and gatorade, snacks, movies and video games. I nursed then two month old Rosey straight for eight hours. She wasn't getting enough milk so I just kept on and kept on. She loved the attention and it was so surreal, just holding her for that long and staring at her.

Finally during the credits of The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, I felt this wave of heat flush my face and through my chest. Rose began gulping in surprise and then finished drinking in five minutes. I put her on the other side and the same thing happened.

I looked down at her and for the first time ever she had fallen asleep nursing, one thick drop of breastmilk dripping from the corner of her tiny little mouth. It was one of the most joyous moments of my life. I find myself thinking back on that time and actually yearning for it.

If you are considering breastfeeding and are leaning towards not doing it, or if you are currently breastfeeding and you think it's too hard, just trust me. It is well worth every bit of work and hardship you endure to accomplish your goal.

In two years you'll be crying because it's time to wean!


allison, a flea circus said...

all i can say is agreed. having children is hard, in general. why not go all the way with all the hardness, knowing what great good it will do? i mean, if having a baby is a 10 on the scale of 1-10, then breastfeeding? maybe goes to 11? 12?

Prunella Jones said...

Makes a lot of sense to me. After all, (apart from decoration) isn't that why we have breasts in the first place?

I never understand why people get offended when seeing a mom nurse her baby in public. I think it's lovely.

Aimee said...


You said it so much more eloquently than I could have, so I'm not going to clog up your comments with my own stories, but suffice to say that you have a fan in me.

SherilinR said...

i had a bad nursing experience at the beginning, as probably most moms do, but i was determined that in spite of the doctors telling me to give her formula, i wasn't going to cave so easily. my daughter ended up being a one sided nurser, but it worked & since she was eating off just the one side, milk let down super fast, she she got through a whole feeding in usually about 7 minutes flat. so worth the trouble at the beginning.

Angela Christensen said...

Erin, this is me, applauding wildly, too! My boys are now 21 and 19, so I'm not on the front lines of the battle any longer, but I could never understand why anyone would do anything else. I would have nursed them both until they were 5, if they'd wanted. Funny memory: after my older son was born I returned to singing at the Cathedral in St. Augustine, which typically has 3 or 4 hundred people attending, some of them babies. I'd be standing in front of the congregation, singing some solo or leading people in singing, and a baby would cry. Within a second or two, I'd feel something like the flush you described, and my milk would let down and in minutes I'd be soaked. I adopted carefully draped scarves as a fashion statement.

As for nursing in public, I'm deeply offended by people who are deeply offended by this: it's incontrovertible evidence that a mother is giving her baby one of the best advantages of care and nutrition possible. Thank you for writing this one. Love,
Angie at Eat Here

Aimee said...

You know, I said I wasn't going to clog up your comments with stories, but I lied.

On the subject of naive or scared young mothers listening to doctors versus trusting their instincts, I submit this. I had my first born when I was 18. He was born 2 months early, 2 pounds 13 ounces. He was in the NICU for 5 weeks at a hospital 45 minutes away. I rented an industrial sized monster of a dairy cow breast pump and pumped, bottled, and froze EVERY SINGLE SHRED OF NUTRITION that went into my child's body for that entire 5 weeks. He even had a sign on his incubator that said "breast milk only." The NICU had a deep freezer for nursing mothers. We were to label our bottles and drop them off when we visited. And I noticed something sad. These babies were the sickest, the earliest, the smallest, the ones who needed their mother's milk more than any other baby. But only one other mother besides myself ever put bottles into that deep freezer. I was only 18. Most of my pregnancy was spent overseas, away from my mother, no "parenting" classes, and I didn't read a single parenting book. Pumping his milk wasn't even a conscious decision I made. I just did what my body told me to do.

So, yeah. I'm not trying to be pretentious or snobby. I just think more women should trust themselves and their ability to be successful at something as raw and instinctual as feeding their child. Turn to your doctors when you have a medical problem, not for instruction on how to feed your child.

CTJen said...

Such a lovely story! <3

Pearl said...

Unfortunately, I think too many women have bought into the idea that breasts are sexual, playthings for men, and not functional. It's sad.

I breastfed for just short of year and it's still a fond memory for me.


Sandra said...

I completely agree. Although it took me four kids to get it right. I even skipped breastfeeding the second child completely because I had had such a bad experience with the first one and no advice from anyone. But I am so close to my fourth child, who breastfed for 10 months, and I'm convinced it's because of the bonding experience of the breast. This was a really good post. good for you for putting your opinion out there.

Opto-Mom said...

I think a lot of mothers quit if their baby has trouble latching on. My daughter did at first, but she got the hang of it soon enough. I think it frustrates a lot of the mothers who are very emotional at this time anyway, and if their baby isn't latching on properly at first, they worry the child will starve. So they give up within a few days.

It turns out that I was a milk machine. Good heavens, I was like a cow! I breast-fed for 6 weeks. I ended up getting mastitis and was bed-ridden with 104 fever. I have never felt so helpless in my life, and couldn't even get to the bathroom without my husband's help. So that's when I ended up stopping, because my husband was having to bottle-feed her while I was sick. I think he enjoyed getting to be the "feeder" for a couple of days, and they bonded so much during that time.

Bless his heart, he was having to take care of 2 babies (me and the actual infant, LOL) at the same time.

But I enjoyed breastfeeding, and would do it again.

LizzieK8 said...

Well said! I'm a mother of six breastfed children and grandmother of five breastfed grandchildren. The bonding is great, ability to comfort perfect, and ease of mothering spectacular!

Ms. Moon said...

I love you to pieces for writing this. Yes!

Mwa said...

Oh what a gorgeous story that was! I am loving breastfeeding my third baby just now as well. I love it so much I'm not sure when I'll stop.

Wupppy said...

I want to breastfeed my baby when she's here, like I did my son. I am not very confident though because I only have three months maternity leave, I'm afraid my production will decrease once I start working again. You're story inpsires me to push myself, try anyway.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree! I was unfortunately given a "nipple shield" in the hospital the day I had my son. It was so "wonderful" because he wouldn't latch any other way... until I realized the nurse had just turned me into a human pacifier. My DS lost over a pound in just a few days and after three terrible weeks of trying to get him to latch, eat and gain some weight, I reluctanly went and bought a can of formula. I cried all the way to the store and all the way home. Because he wouldn't latch at all (even with the help of a lactation consultant, ect.) I started trying to pump, fenugreek, anything I could do to salvage my milk supply but the damage was already done. I regret using that damn nipple shield every day when I give him stinky, awful formula! And I know without a doubt next time around I will breastfeed!

Brooke said...

Love it. You're an inspiration! If I have any issues, you're on my contact list : )

Candice said...

I appreciate your "I don't think that someone should be told what to do with their own bodies comment." To answer your question about why a woman would choose not to breastfeed- I called the Phoenix area La Leche League because I was having trouble breastfeeding my newborn and being a first time mom I felt that I needed the "expert" opinion from people who have been helping women for years with breastfeeding. What a MISTAKE that was!!! This woman wanted me up every 45 minutes to feed by daughter and told me it would be harmful to my baby if I didn't do this. I explained how physically exhausted I was and that I didn't think that I would be able to do this for very long. She not only called me a bad mother for worrying about getting my sanity back by wanting maybe an hour or two of sleep every day but she even told me that by not doing this my baby would likely die of SIDS. I was so upset when I got off of the phone that I called my pediatrician who recommended using formula for a bit to supplement so my baby would be fuller for longer. In doing so I lost my milk supply completely. My daughter is now almost 5 months old and doing just fine on formula. I truly feel that I made the best decision for my daughter and maybe with more a better supply I will be able to try again with future children but I will never seek support again.