“I'd like to start out by saying that breast feeding is probably the most important and most memorable thing I have ever done. Yes, even over giving birth. Breast feeding my son was so enjoyable, relaxing, amazing... eventually.
Ignorance Hurdle #1: The Inconvenience of Breastfeeding
As a pregnant 25 year old woman, I was pretty positive I would NOT breastfeed. My pregnancy was unplanned and I was ready to get back to having fun as soon as the baby was born. How could I go out all night long, or enjoy alcohol if I had to (gasp) breastfeed?! But my son's birth culminated in a c-section and I spent hours in a recovery room while my son lay in a plastic tub in the nursery. I wasn't even able to hold him until 3 hours after he was born. The second I saw him, I put my baby straight to my breast and he just knew exactly what to do. The feeling of peace and attachment was so overwhelming in that moment- okay, it was 4am, I had been in induced labor since 8am the previous morning and so anything might feel overwhelming in that situation - but still, I suddenly felt like, no one can take this away from me; this ability to nourish my child.
Ignorance Hurdle #2: Trusting Medical Staff
The following evening a nurse recommended that I let my son sleep in the nursery so I could get some rest. I agreed under the condition that I be woken up when my son was ready to eat. The nurse assured me that it would be fine if he was just given a bottle, but I insisted and wrote a note on a paper towel in big letters which I laid across my son's swaddled blanket: 'WAKE MOM TO BREASTFEED.' When I woke the sun was shining through my hospital room window, I was shocked that my newborn was such a champion sleeper! That's when the nurse told me, "He was crying and wouldn't stop so I gave him a bottle and he went right back to sleep." Thinking about it now I'm absolutely appalled! That hospital took so much control away from me. They gave him a bottle without my consent.
In fact, I did not have even one single pro-breastfeeding nurse during my three day stay in the hospital. I asked so many questions- how do I hold him, when will my milk come in and is it normal that it hasn't yet, why do my nipples feel like they are on fire, how do I know my son is not starving... At best I got "I don't know." Usually they just asked if I wanted a bottle. No one ever offered me information on sources of support.
The nurse on the afternoon shift that day convinced me that until my milk came in my baby was not getting enough nutrition and that he would cry all night without formula. She brought us a 6 ounce bottle and walked away. My partner stuck the bottle in my 2-day-old baby's mouth and that baby sucked down almost the whole thing! Well, how convincing- he must have been starved! Cut to 2 minutes later when 5 1/2 ounces of formula came back out of that poor little baby's stomach. When the nurse reappeared later I asked how many ounces a newborn should typically take and she answered about 1 or 2. Holy Cow! I was stunned. I just put 3-4 times more food in that tiny tummy than should have ever been in there! I was done taking advice from these nurses. I didn't let my baby out of my sight.
But the run-ins with incompetent medical staff didn’t stop there - my pediatrician was also unhelpful. Although my son was 8 lbs 15 ounces when he was born, and 5 ounces heavier at his 1 week checkup, my pediatrician encouraged alternating formula with breastmilk (even though I never asked her opinion on the matter!) I changed pediatricians.
Thankfully, my partner was supportive. It didn't bother him to not be responsible for the feeding part of parenting. Since I had the c-section I was pretty immobile for a couple of weeks at home, so he had to do pretty much everything else and then bring the baby to me. He would also talk me down when all I could think was what a horrible mom I was, and that I couldn't make enough milk for my baby!
Ignorance Hurdle #3: Baby Books
|"Three months old and not lacking in nutrition."|
Ignorance Hurdle #4: Milk Regulation
Around 8 weeks I felt that I was losing my milk supply. I had gone back to work a couple weeks before and was expressing milk for my partner to bottle feed my son while I was gone. My breasts felt less full and the amount of milk I was expressing was minimal. Was I experiencing inadequate milk supply like so many women I read or heard about? I panicked, and experienced a lot of anxiety about my (soon to be) malnourished child. I decided to pump in between feedings to try to increase my supply. The Alpha Parent is the first blog I have ever read that mentions a loss of firmness or a feeling of emptiness at around 6 weeks. That's probably what was happening to me. I also never knew that the amount of milk I expressed did not accurately measure how much my son was getting. Honestly, almost every baby book lists anxiety and worry as a downside to breastfeeding, yet almost none give facts or education saying, "you don't have to worry if THIS happens..."
Ignorance Hurdle #5: Anti Co-Sleeping Culture
It was almost a year by the time my son fell asleep on his own or slept through the night. At the time I (and everything I read) blamed this on breastfeeding. I tried to let him "cry it out" and every other stupid "Does this idiot even HAVE kids???" suggestion I read. Even though all the books warned at the dangers of co-sleeping, the anxiety of rolling onto my baby was miniscule compared to the horrifying experience of listening to my poor baby wail for hours (and NEVER actually fall asleep). When I put my son in bed with me, we both slept, and waking to eat was SO easy!
|"His first birthday"|
Get your own Bingo Card here.
Email me with your story.