Thursday, October 08, 2009

time to offend

In general, I try to stay away from overly controversial topics on my blog. I'm so middle of the road on pretty much every topic (except, as Andrew would say, my Quest to Save the World) that I'd be pretty boring if I did. Healthcare? Sure, bring it on! Except leave out the public option, because that's a little too "I want to be a socialist" for me. Abortion? No! Overturn Roe v. Wade. Except don't outlaw EVERY abortion. There's a huge gray area there. See what I mean? Middle of the road. Boring. I tend to see valid points in both sides of every argument.

But. And I'm going to offend some people here, but I don't understand why more people don't breastfeed their babies. I really don't get it. Yes, the first couple of weeks is hard. The baby has to learn, the mother has to learn, the father has to learn what he can do to help, etc. There's a lot of learning going on. And I wanted to give it up so many times in that first month. When BG would latch on and I thought I would die from the pain, visions of formula were dancing in my head. But I kept going. I was lucky, my mother really supported me in my determination to make it work. She kept telling me that it would get easier, the pain would go away, that in the long run it is SO much easier than bottles. And you know what? She was right. I don't feel a thing anymore. I don't have to worry about lugging formula, bottles, clean water, and whatever else you need around with me. I'm so glad I kept with it. My first goal was to make it until I went back to work. And now my goal is to make it till Christmas. If I make it till Christmas, I'm sure I will extend my goal, but right now all I have are short goals.

Going back to work was a huge obstacle for me. Luckily, I have good insurance and got a Medela double electric pump for free (which brings us back to healthcare... the fact that I got this pump for free and other monthers don't have access to it is just wrong. My baby isn't any more important than the mother without good insurance... why does that baby not get the advantages that BG gets?) so I am able to pump and send BG to daycare every day with breastmilk. Pumping at work is miserable. Right now I am in a satellite office that my company rents in an office building. There are no extra rooms available. I have to pump in the bathroom. In a stall. While standing up. In heels. So yeah, that sucks. But I do it. Also problematic - my supply has been diminishing. I went out this week and bought fenugreek, which is an herbal supplement that boots milk production. I've been drinking so much water that I might turn into a camel.

"I want my baby to sleep through the night and formula makes them sleep longer". The fear that breastfed babies won't sleep through the night is lame. My daughter has slept through the night since she was 4 weeks old. So I don't buy that. Babies will sleep through the night when they are ready. My baby was ready at 4 weeks, formula or not.

"I don't produce enough milk". Yes you do. Babies don't need to eat for the first few days of their life. I don't think BG actually ate anything at the hospital, despite the fact that I tried to nurse her every 2 hours. Your body will produce what your baby needs. All you have to do is feed them on demand. Breastfed babies need to eat when hungry, not according to the clock.

"It hurts". Yes it does. For about a month. Then it's fine. You can make it through that month. I did, with the help of my friend Mr. Tylenol.

"I have to go back to work". I work. I still breastfeed and I send BG to daycare with breastmilk. I will say that my boss is understanding and lets me pump through the day. Some women are not that lucky and can't pump at work. I say give it your best effort, but if your job or your boss won't allow for it, you can still nurse in the morning, at night, and on the weekends. You don't need to give it up entirely.

"I want my body back". So do I, my friends, so do I. That's why I make short goals for myself. I can make it till Christmas. The thought of making it a year seems daunting to me right now. But in the end, breast milk is just so much better for the babies than formula, so I keep on trying.

I can go on and on, but it comes down to my belief that more people should nurse their babies. You all have heard the benefits of breastfeeding over formula, so I am not even going to bother reiterating them here (just google it, if you don't believe me. But even the cans of formula say right on them that breastmilk is best).

Going to throw you for a loop here, but FORMULA IS NOT POISON. I am not against it. In fact, we have formula and BG has gone through about 2.5 cans of it already in her 15 weeks of life. Clearly there are times when she has to have it (when I was in a wedding and gone for the better part of 2 days... she needed to eat something). I don't judge women who formula feed their babies. I just think every woman owes it to her baby to give it her best shot. It's really not that hard. New mothers need a ton of support, and they also need support to keep going with breastfeeding. I would have given it up if I hadn't had my mother's support. It takes a village.

Okay, now we can go back to the regularly scheduled pointless blog entries :)


Bree said...

I think it is different for each baby and mother. I was only able to breastfeed for 6 weeks. And you say it hurts, but I say it kills. It got so bad that I was actually unable to wear a shirt for three days because any contact at all was excruciating. It's also not ideal to have your baby's milk tainted with blood from your cracked and bleeding nipples. It's actually not that hard to include a bottle of water and a canister of formula in your diaper bag, and it makes it all the more easy when, for example, your child is screaming in the backseat of the car while you're stuck in traffic on the freeway to mix up a bottle. Like learning to breastfeed, you learn to adapt to whatever situation you're in. In many cases, formula-feeding is a way for fathers to connect with their babies, as well--something that might be ideal, say, if your husband is a member of the armed services and has just returned from deployment and is meeting his 3-6 month old child for the first time. Every new family has a different set of circumstances, and it's up to the family to determine what is best. I would have kept breastfeeding had it been a viable option, but it wasn't working out, and I don't think my kid will flunk out of college as a result of my choosing to formula-feed him. How's that for middle-of-the-road?

And also, I'm pretty sure it's a violation of some sort for you to have to pump in the bathroom. I think companies are LEGALLY REQUIRED to provide a private area for pumping. And bosses who won't let their employees pump are engaging in discrimination. That is all. :)

Meghan said...

sadly in MA, companies are not legally required to provide any sort of space for pumping. Some states it is law, but not in MA. They don't have to give me anything, and they could fire me for taking the breaks during the day, if they so chose. Thankfully, my boss is cool with it. (luckily for me, she is a mother too)

And it's actually not harmful for your baby to ingest the blood from cracked and bleeding nipples. Unfortunately I had the same thing happen and frantic phone calls to LCs, pediatricians, and my OBGYN, all yielded the same answer: it's okay. Despite what it looks like, there isn't enough in there for it to be harmful.

Andrew is able to feed the baby. She not only takes the occasional bottle of formula, but she also takes pumped bottles of breastmilk.

And no, I highly doubt your kid will flunk out of college for any reason, let along being formula fed. Andrew was formula fed and he has his masters in finance, of all things.

Also, kudos to you for doing it for 6 weeks!