I thought I would piggyback on Brooke’s post from yesterday, since we all know how robust (and exciting) a topic breastfeeding is!
While I completely understand the benefits to breastfeeding your child, I definitely fall into the “it’s every mother’s choice” category- much like Brooke. I am one of five girls (and my father still has all his hair!) and NONE of us were breastfed (as Brooke mentioned yesterday, it just wasn’t en vogue when our parents were having kids), and despite being formula fed (gassssppp!), I think my sisters and I turned out okay- at least for the most part ;)
I also agree that there seems to be an overpopulation of Boob Bullies in Vermont. Or at least “‘extreme nursing enthusiasts”. Again, I completely understand the benefits of breastfeeding (and a total pat on the back to those mothers that choose to do so), but sometimes the added pressure to nurse! nurse! nurse! puts an extra strain on the mother- which can drastically alter the nursing experience. Case in point: when Ben was about four months old (at which point he had only received breast milk) I noticed that he was looking a little more “svelte” than usual. (Granted, he was always long and lanky, so to say that he was looking skinny is a given- but he was starting to look at little Nicole Richie circa 2006.)
I brought him in to his pediatrician for an impromptu weigh-in and my suspicions were confirmed: the little bugger had fallen off the growth chart :( As any rational mother would do, I burst into tears right in the doctor’s office- obviously this had to be the result of something I was doing wrong. The guilt was all-consuming, let me tell you.
Over the next several weeks numerous weigh-ins, LC visits, and pediatrician appointments ensued: I am not sure there are any employees at our pediatric practice who have yet to see my boobs. It had become evident that I was not producing enough milk for Ben, and thus the solutions were: pump more! nurse constantly! pump at least 5 times a day while at work! wake up in the middle of the night from a perfectly peaceful slumber to pump! leave work at lunch, drive 15 minutes in both directions, and go nurse Ben! arrive at daycare early (which entails leaving work early) to pick up Ben and nurse him immediately! nurse, nurse, nurse…and when you’re done nursing, go pump! Of course, there was also the atrocious amount of oatmeal and sprouts I was consuming, in addition to the Mother’s Love I was taking (that made me smell like maple syrup).
All of the added stress to nurse & pump, nurse & pump, nurse & pump just sucked the joys right out of breastfeeding and made it seem like more of a chore. I was so consumed with increasing my milk production that I think it was actually having the opposite effect; for all of my efforts I saw very little (if any) increase in my production.
Thus, we started supplementing feedings with formula…and what an immediate difference it made! Suddenly, there was a little meat on Benny’s bones!
Not to mention, just the sheer relief of knowing that Ben was getting a measurable amount of calories from his (couple of) daily formula feedings made a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE to me.
About this time, we visited a (boob bullying) family member who, upon seeing me take the container of Enfamil out of my diaper bag snidely commented, “What’s that for? You don’t need that.” Ohhhhh…..if looks could kill. I feel my blood pressure rising right now just recalling the scene. Seriously? I want to shove this Sophie La Giraffe right up your *@$! You know nothing about what we have been through the last few weeks- so keep your judgmental comments to yourself! Didn’t your mother ever teach you: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all???
But, that’s just it: the hardcore “extreme nursing enthusiasts” generally know nothing about your personal situation-so (hard as it is), you almost have to take what they say with a grain of salt. It’s difficult: trust me, I’m still learning!
I have to say, my friends (especially my new-mommy friends) were incredibly encouraging and non-judgmental. Often I would vent my frustrations to my mother- but having never breastfed, she simply couldn’t relate (try as she may have). I found myself using my fellow Mamateurs as a sounding board, and were (and still are) AMAZING!
So, I guess the moral of my story is: unless we’ve walked a mile in another mother’s slippers, who are we to judge her for feeding her baby formula or breast milk? As my OB told me, “It’s not like you love your child any less because you give them formula”. Amen.