Whether you’ve ever had a baby, are planning on having a baby, never wanted anything to do with a baby, or have arbitrarily come across a baby in your life, you’ve likely heard talk of breastfeeding. It’s one of those things that we all know exists and have probably put some amount of thought into. That’s how I was…I knew that it was a viable option for feeding our kid but wasn’t sure of how I’d really feel about it until I gave it a shot.
Now, before I go any further, I feel like I have to put up a disclaimer because in my very recent experience, there are some people out there with very STRONG opinions about breastfeeding. So, here goes….
Disclaimer: The object of this article is to describe my husband’s and my personal experience with breastfeeding and to explain the options, alternatives, ups and downs of it all, based on OUR experience. We aren’t experts, doctors, or lactation specialists. We’re merely new parents with our baby’s best interest at heart.
Okay, on to the story, shall we? While pregnant, Matt and I discussed the breastfeeding option pretty extensively and the agreement that we came to was that I’d give it a shot, see how it went and we’d go from there. I did my due diligence with researching the benefits of breastfeeding, and will confidently say that I understood the magnitude of goodness that a baby gets from a breastfeeding Mom. Besides all the health benefits and immunities, there’s cool bonding time, plus it’s free and convenient! We wanted Matt to be in on the feeding times, plus I’d be going back to work after a few months so pumping my breastmilk seemed to be our best option.
Armed with all that information, we headed to the hospital for our scheduled C-section…all excited and anxious to meet our little dude. I’ll spare you all the details of the birth stuff for now, that can be its own whole novel another day! Fat forward to hanging out in the hospital room for 3 days with our brand new 7lb 11oz baby. For the first 24ish hours, he’s not so interested in eating. He’s more interested in recovering from getting blasted out into the cold, harsh world from his cozy little nook. But the hunger will come…it always does! Turns out he only really fusses when he’s hungry, and hungry he was! I tried breastfeeding; and honestly, wasn’t a huge fan. To be blunt, it was weird for me. But from what the nurses said, Sammy was a natural at it so I kept trying, but what they forgot to notice was that Mom wasn’t.
I think that’s where this story takes an interesting turn, with Mom and Dad. Neither of us were super keen on the idea of having a little sucker fish attached to my chest all the time. And when I say “all the time” what I really mean is ALMOST ALL THE TIME! Newborns need to eat approximately 8-12 times a day, for 20-40 minutes per feeding. I’ll let you do the math on how much time out of your day that takes. Matt and I are all about making the most efficient use of our time, and that just didn’t seem to fit into the efficiency model. I’m sure you’re starting to think that we’re “bad” parents, but I’ll tell you, we’re not. We’re thinking, planning, intentional parents. This was proven even more when we found out that little Sammy was losing weight and bordering on being jaundice. This can happen with “purely breastfed” babies…they drop some percentage of their birth weight and become somewhat dehydrated while they suck away waiting for Mom’s milk supply to hit go.
You take all of this into consideration; not being super comfortable with the physicality of breastfeeding, baby losing weight, dehydration/jaundice setting in, a set of proactive parents, and what do you get? A couple of parents demanding information and options, that’s what you get! We finally found out that there are things a mother can do to fill her baby’s belly without killing herself AND her boobs! Oh, and understanding that feeding your baby formula doesn’t make you a bad parent, and likely won’t kill him or make him a psychotic freak. When finally armed with all of the information, we went with a 2-pronged approach; pump the breastmilk and supplement that with formula. We get to actually measure the amount of food going into our baby’s belly and can be sure he’s getting what he needs! Everybody wins, right? Wrong!!!
We win, our baby wins, but the nurses at the “baby friendly” hospital lose. The ones that kept trying to put our baby directly on the breast, who never mentioned formula, who told us that it was “normal” for the baby to be hungry all the time. The frustrating part about all of this? The fact that there has to be winners and losers…the fact that “baby friendly” means promoting direct breastfeeding at all costs and not just sharing all of the information and options. We think we’re relatively intelligent people and are very capable of making smart choices for our son, but only when we have all of the information available to us.
The moral of this story? Well, we need to get better at demanding ALL of the information, not just going with the flow of the nurses or whoever else is giving our baby care. We’re brand spanking new parents and this whole breatstfeeding thing turned out to be a stress, not an enjoyable bonding experience for me and Sammy. If we had all of our options clearly laid out from the beginning, we could have avoided a lot of frustration and many tears. I understand that the nurses at our hospital have their beliefs and opinions about how terrific breastfeeding is/can be, but that doesn’t give them the right to impose those beliefs on us…it’s their job as members of the health care community to provide information and solutions.
You, my amazing sister-in-law, ROCK! You and Matt are intelligent people and, armed with the facts, can make smart decisions for your son. Don’t ever doubt that. I’ve learned over the last 18+ years as a mom that you have to make the best decisions possible with the knowledge you have at the time. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20, but I know I’ve made good decisions with the knowledge I had when I had to make them. Others will have their opinions, but in all honesty, they don’t matter. You, Matt and Sammy matter! Love you 3!
@HeatherBrowneDearborn Thank you…we also think that you ROCK! And yes, it’s hard to see through all the commentary and opinions sometimes, but in the end it’s all about what our little family wants and needs. We’re learning as we go, and will continue to share our experiences so that we can possibly help somebody else trying to make good decisions. It’s a big world out there, we have to stick together!!!
Hi Annie & Matt:
Fabulous story, let me reassure you I tried breastfeeding my 2nd son, and it hurt like H___, and it didn’t work for me, I cried for days, thinking I wasn’t a good mother or something was wrong with me. The doctor had me put towels around my boobs to stop the milk so I couldn’t breast feed anymore and to dry me out…how weird and uncomfortable was that. Strange things they did back in my day. Just thought I’d share that with you, and breast feeding is not cut out for most of us, at least we tried…right.
@Beverlya Wow, Bev! Thank you for sharing your experience…it’s amazing to hear what other people have gone through. The breastfeeding thing is definitely an interesting phenomena and I think the best way to handle it is to give people ALL of the information and then let them decide what works best for their family. There shouldn’t be any guilt trips or making people feel bad about their choices!!!
HI Annie – Rest assured….I bottle fed both of my babies because I had major complications with breast feeding. And I understand the back lash you took as well. When I was in the hospital for weeks before my daughter was born I was brow beat into giving breast feeding another try. I was so stressed out and finally my pediatrician gave me the hall pass to do what worked for me. I have healthy strong teenagers today so remember to do what works best for you! Enjoy this special time!
@AnnieAdlerFernandez Hey Annie! Yesssss!!! Thank you! It’s a bummer that we get so much pressure to breastfeed, no matter what the reason that we can’t/don’t want to, or whatever! I think we all understand that it’s good for the baby, but it’s also just another thing along the way in life that we make decisions about. Who’s to say that formula doesn’t have terrific benefits as well??? After all, if it’s saving the sanity and curbing sleep deprivation of the mother and father, there’s something huge to be said about that!
I agree a well informed mom an reduce her stress. I’m going in for a c section due to a Franck breech baby this upcoming Friday. My goal is to breastfeed. With that said…. I still need to under stand all options.
@alisoncreamer Wow!!! Congratulations on the baby coming soon! I think had I known a little bit more about my options, I would have enjoyed my first hours with Sammy a little bit more. Be sure to clearly state what you want and don’t be afraid to tell the nurses! They’re doing their job, but sometimes I think they forget that we’re all individuals. Be sure to let us know how it goes and we look forward to seeing pics of the baby!!!
Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON says
Annie, I am sure the best you & Matt have to offer is perfect for your little man! You will have different benefits from the path you are taking and the family you are making than others can understand.
@Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON Thanks Janice! I appreciate the support…we’ve got lots of good stuff in store for little Sammy! He’s one happy little guy and we intend to keep it that way. Cheers!
I agree Annie about having all the options laid out while at the hospital. I opted for breastfeeding during pre-registration. I knew I wanted to try. I thought the staff at the hospital would be more helpful. I did get a five minute briefing, a video, and a hand pump given to me. It wasn’t explained how to use the handpump, my baby did not latch on the second day and when I asked for help, I got zero from the nurses. I was given the option for formula and I did both. It is almost like we are in a manufacturing plant, and if this piece doesn’t work, discard, do this, and next! I did not get a talk from the nurse staff about what was best. How long to breastfeed, when I knew if our daughter was full from breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. We got zero help.
When I ran home from the hospital, and I was hydrated, my milk came in full on the third day. I pumped like a maniac because I was afraid to latch her on because she had not done well. So I freaked, Raul got formula from our friend who is her pediatrician, and we supplemented with formula and did breastmilk in a bottle. During our second week, I sat down and watched videos of how to breastfeed. With just the baby and I, I latched her on and we were breastfeeding. I had rarely seen people breastfeeding (I think three people in my lifetime) and because I wanted to attempt this, I continued to breastfeed and still do. I provided her breastmilk in a bottle, from the boob, and we did supplement at night with formula up until three months. After that I choose to do breastfeeding and stop formula. Because it was what I wanted to do, not because someone told me to do it.
I think the stress people put on new mothers about formula vs breastfeeding, plus the stress of being new parents and having a million opinions about what is right and wrong from other people, you must ultimately do what you think is best for Sam and for Matt and your well-being. This is what our parent mentor wrote to us before we were going to have our daughter ““To the future new parents, prepare yourselves, where ever you go with the baby, along will come some asshole with opinions and advice. Patience.” Thanks for sharing your birth journey and now your parenthood journey.
@LucyMFel Ugghhhh! I completely understand where you’re coming from, Lucy! It’s so frustrating that the hospitals and nurses can’t bring it down to a more personal level sometimes. They forget that many of us are doing this for the first time, and aren’t used to seeing newborns day in and day out. The breastfeeding thing is so crazy, too! People have such strong opinions and are definitely not afraid to share them with you…or better yet, “fear” you into agreeing with their viewpoint. Love your mentor’s quote, it’s soooo very true!!! Cheers to you!
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