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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breastfeeding and the Like

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy and childbirth knows that it (nursing) is the best option. The healthiest option. The cheapest option. And some say, the most convenient option. However, for many women, it just isn't possible.

Whether it be due to demanding schedules, a lack of supply, trouble latching or some other issue...some mothers simply are not able to nurse their babies. With my first, I was hellbent on nursing throughout the first year. In the hospital, she had no formula, but was incredibly fussy. They told me that she was getting plenty from my colostrum (pre-milk) alone, so I went with it. However, the second day that we were home, my husband sent me for a much needed nap, and while I was asleep, he gave her a bottle of formula. I was furious. But for the first time since she was born, she was content. She was sleeping. She wasn't constantly screaming every waking minute. She was content. So, for the next two months, I continued to nurse and supplement with formula. However, at two months old she was hospitalized due to RSV and the stress caused my milk to dry up. 

With our second, again, I was hellbent on nursing. I knew what to expect this time around (that it was not as easy as people had made it out to be) and was prepared. Yes, I was working full time. Yes, I was in school. And yes, this time, I also had a two year old to tend to. I gave it my best shot. But between everything I was juggling, it was almost impossible. I took my breaks at work to pump. I nursed every time that I was with him. But it just wasn't enough. And under all the stress, I made the choice to take trying to nurse off of my list.

Finally, with our last, I went into it hellbent on nothing. I knew that it could go either way. But, I wasn't working this time. I was on a break from school. My oldest was in pre-k. So I gave it another shot. In the hospital, I supplemented with formula (though I let him nurse as much as he wanted, even though he wasn't getting much, as my milk didn't come in until after we got home). When we got home, he was a little underweight, so they had me on schedule to feed him every four hours. An alarm was set on my phone to wake me up, religiously, every four hours. I was exhausted, and the fact that he was a lazy baby who wanted to sleep through the night made it even harder. I had to wake him up every four hours, as well. I wasn't producing as much as he needed, but I kept at it. He still wasn't gaining enough weight, so the lactation consultant that we saw suggested we supplement with formula. We did, but RARELY. Maybe 4 ounces of formula per day. I felt like I had a permanent growth. He was constantly attached to me. I barely left the bedroom, and it didn't take long for me to start getting some serious post partum depression issues. After 6 solid weeks of giving it my best, I gave up. I couldn't do it. It was an added stress that was affecting everyone in our home, including my other two children. So, we switched to exclusive formula and he started gaining weight like he needed to. 

Like I said, for some women, it's just not doable. I'm not proud to admit that I couldn't...but I am proud to say that all three of my babies developed beautifully.

Yes, we all know that nursing is the best option, physically. It has great benefits and in a perfect world, it would be possible and sustainable for every women in the world. But the fact is, it's just not. And until all of us (mothers) accept that, there will be a ripple in the pool of motherhood (Yes, I'm very aware of how cheesy that sounded). Instead of pointing the finger at who is and isn't nursing, why not be supportive of the women who try and end up having to go a different route? Why not support the woman who makes the choice NOT to nurse? 

Get with it, ladies. Choose your battles. This is one that can't be the best option is to choose to coexist.