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.