Deep Discussion: Breast Feeding

I know I promised a DIY accessory a couple days ago and I didn’t deliver. I’m really sad about it but I came down with another killer bout of mastitis. Which brings me to this post about Breast Feeding. I've had a lot of thoughts on this subject the last couple days and I just want to vent a moment.

When I was preparing to have Miss. S I remember having a conversation with Denny about whether I was going to breast feed or not. I told him I didn’t care either way. That I would try breast feeding but if it didn’t work out then I would go to formula. After she was born it was a whole different story. I all of a sudden felt this over whelming desire to breast feed exclusively. Like it was my duty to give this little girl the best nutrition possible for her. There were a lot of other reasons why it was important to me also. However she did not take to it very easily. It took her two weeks of crying, sleepless nights, appointments with lactation consultants, over a pound of weight lost, but she eventually got it. I breast feed her for a year. Those first two weeks though were probably two of the hardest weeks I have ever experienced. It wasn’t smooth sailing after that, but it did get easier. Unfortunately in that year I got mastitis probably 8 times. I know that you are thinking I’m straight up crazy for continuing to breast feed after having mastitis even twice. It really feels like your dying. But I was determined and I felt like I had to.

Now I have this new little boy. He’s six weeks old and already I have had mastitis twice. It’s like nothing I ever experienced with Miss. S. It is so much worse. A couple nights ago I had a break down because of this internal war over to keep breast feeding or to stop. I was feeling overwhelming guilt over wanting to stop. I was in so much pain and I was so very sick that it just seemed like I couldn’t go on with it. There was a lot to consider though with the decision. We already know that he is sensitive to milk. His pediatrician told us to use a specific formula if we choose to go that route. That formula costs $21 for a 12 ounce can. That right there made me think that I had to keep on going with breast feeding. There are so many reasons though as to why I wanted to keep going, but the cost was a big part. Also the knowledge that breast is best. I didn’t want to compromise and give him something that isn’t as nutritious.

I feel like a lot of times woman feel like they have to breast feed no matter what and if they don’t then they feel like they are looked down upon. I know a lot of woman feel guilty if they don’t or they can’t. I know that these feelings are wrong. Formula fed babies are just as healthy and happy as breast fed babies. My sister has fed all three of her children soy (Gasp!) formula and they are super healthy, smart, talented kids. Mothers should not feel guilty about the decision to go to formula. I do feel like there is a lot of pressure to breast feed. From doctor’s, from birthing classes, from the media (yeah not every woman is blessed to have perfect boobs like you Giselle), certain social circles, family members or friends. I think the pressure is pretty unfair. If a mother gives breast feeding a good try and it just doesn’t work for them they shouldn’t be judged in a negative light. There really is no reason to feel guilty… but I did feel guilty…

Until I went to the doctor yesterday. She made the decision really easy for me. She told me flat out to stop. She related her own struggles with mastitis. How with her first child she had it three times the final time landing her in the hospital for surgery. How she almost lost her breast. She highly encouraged me to pump exclusively. Honestly when she said that my heart sunk a little. I hate pumping. She made a good case for it though. Your baby still gets all the benefits of breast milk. Instead of feeding for 40 min. every three hours you pump for 20 every three hours. Anyone can help with feedings. So Denny can take a night time shift every now and then and we can leave him with Grandma if we want a date night. She also pointed out that $21 a can is a lot cheaper than a hospital stay and surgery. So if we needed to supplement with formula then we need to keep that in mind. She said I needed to consider my safety and happiness. If I’m constantly sick or struggling with breast feeding I’m not going to be a very happy Mom. So that’s it. I was sold. Every other Doctor or lactation consultant told me there wasn’t anything I could do. I just had to tough it out. I appreciated her advice so much. Toughing it out was just not working any longer. And you know what I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt.

So I'm sorry about the lack of posting this week. I could hardly hold my baby let alone type out post. I'll get caught up over the weekend though and hopefully I'll have those DIY's ready for Monday!


Todd said...

Rachelle has struggled with breast feeding. With Evie, she ended up in the hospital because one side was massively infected. Even after that, she still tried to breast feed. When Evie was 2 months old Rachelle finally decided it wasn't worth it and we went to formula. That is when my wife returned.

With Laney, it was a struggle and she quickly switched to the bottle.

With Kenny,things have been a lot better but it seems like one side or the other is sore all the time. She had mastitis early on but the threat always seems to loom on the horizon.

Do what you have to to keep your sanity. Sometimes we are hardest on ourselves.

Aubrey Jane said...

That's right! Soy formula for us! After the whole needle to the boob thing - twice - I was through. Good luck with the pumping. Try not to think of cows while in the process. Your mental and physical health are so important! Do what you need to do to stay healthy!

tamara davis said...

You should never feel guilty for not breast feeding. Its your choice and no one else's business. I know ALOT of moms that use formula and have perfectly healthy babies. I pumped every two hours for a whole year. After awhole you get used to pumping and it just becomes part of your day. And I lost 80 lbs pumping!!!

Fire said...

80 pounds!!! That is incredible!!! Yay for pumping!

Beth said...

Yeah, I'd say at least pumping will help with weight loss. BFing was always really hard for me, too, but I did BF both of mine til they were one, weight loss was a huge benefit. With #3 I will probably pump a lot more b/c I am going to keep working part time. Did you buy a nice pump? I am going to try to find a nicer one that I've had before. What kind do you have (if you like it). And yeah, I'd say don't pay attention to anyone else. I have known friends to have extreme guilt about formula feeding, but take a deep breath and move on. It's totally ok. Also reading this I'm reminded that there is a huge double standard - we feel society pressures us to breastfeed, but there is still a lack of acceptance (socially) in having to actually SEE a woman breastfeed. Like "we want you to breastfeed, but we don't want to actually have to see you do it, can you just go in the back room or disappear so we don't have to feel uncomfortable if we happen to accidentally see anything we don't wanna see". Sheesh! It can be a touchy subject all around.

So glad you have a great DR.

Jessy said...

I didn't breastfeed Ellie- the way her mouth was shaped cause me to get terrible cracks and to bleed. It hurt so much that I would sit down and cry every time I had to nurse her. Not what breastfeed is suppose to be. You're a great mom, don't ever feel guilty about decision you make concerning your well being and your sweet baby boys! Love you!

Bailey said...

Todd I'm so sorry it's so hard for Rachelle. It is not only hard on me but Denny really struggles having to watch me go through this. I hope everything goes well with Kenneth.

Tamara I'm now expecting to loose 80 lbs too. Fingers crossed! :)

Beth I have an old Medela pump in style. It is fantastic well worth the extra cost. I don't know where you're delivering but when we had S we delivered at St. Joe's in Burbank. They had a really good rental program. We rented from there for the first two months then my sister gave us her old pump. You might want to consider that also.

Sisters I love you.

Crazy Lady said...

dude i only nursed 1 kid for 5 1/2 months... i never pumped so don't know what its like.

do what you gotta do. happy mom, happy life :)

my husband wasn't nursed (nor his 7 other siblings) and they are way healthier than I am! ha! but they did grow up eating lots of veggies!