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August 10, 2007

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Jennifer

People don't follow their own instincts anymore and it's a damn shame.

I remember my second pregnancy as being a bit nightmarish. Heartburn and abnormal discomfort followed me around from dawn to dusk. Birth was the greatest thing to happen to me and not for the right reasons. It meant that I was free. I know that sounds selfish but having that heartburn taste in the back of your mouth for 9 months and not being able to take anything for it made me nigh on crazy.

After Brenna was born, she terrified me. She had taken so much out of me during the pregnancy and when I tried to breastfeed her I realised (albeit in my "just given birth deluded" mindset) that she would eat me alive. I decided that I would give her the bottle.

My nurse tried to make me feel guilty (so you really found a gem in yours). I told her that what my daughter needed was a mom who wasn't made crazy by her constantly needing to feed. What she didn't need was a brooding resentment emanating from her mother. In essence, I needed a clean break. I needed my body back. I haven't regretted my decision because I know myself and so I know it was best for her, though others have tried to make me regret it.

Jennifer

And by the way, the comment above is a little bit less eloquently put than the comment I had written and lost via my technical savvie, but I also wanted to point out how wonderful I think you're doing.

I'm glad that despite this age of googling, there are still some levelheaded "listening to gut instincts" parents out there. Bravo!

gleek

ugh, don't i know exactly what you went through. i remember crying through every feeding, my nipples cracked and bleeding, and my milk taking 5 days to come in. i thought that i would lose it! if it weren't for a very very helpful friend of mine who came over almost every single day or called me to check up on me, i would have given up on breastfeeding for sure. AND i would never have used those formulas that the hospital sent home anyway because the peanut is allergic to cow's milk :) just goes to show you that you can never be prepared for every situation anyway! you just have to follow your instinct and do what's right for you and your baby. that's what i always say.

AmyH

Such a good post. I had a hard time with my first, but after about six weeks I was glad I stuck in there. I breastfed my next two also and it was awesome, and with my fourth, I got mastitis so bad the first week I had to supplement. I eventually went formula only as I was bleeding and in severe pain pumping after two weeks. (another falsehood, incidentally, is it won't hurt if you're doing it right. Sometimes it does, especially if you are sensitive-skin freckly like I am.)I was bummed about it, but my daughter is gorgeous and brilliant nonetheless.

Sarah

Aimee, I think you have beautifully demonstrated that it isn't BFing versus formula feeding. They can both be used at the same time and it is great for all moms to have that option. And I think, moreover, that your post shows that good post-natal care is so important. Whether it comes from a professional or a friend, BFing is hard and especially if you are alone.

Sarah

I am hearing more and more stories about lactation consultants or other people being very aggressive and assertive with people about not giving supplemental bottles. It is sad because it gives those of us who do promote and encourage breastfeeding a bad name. It creates this division that doesn't need to exist.

I know that we were so scared to give Felix a bottle because he might get "nipple confusion" that we ended up waiting too long and he NEVER took a bottle. BFing was going just fine for me, we totally could have given him one which would have enabled me to take a few breaks every once in awhile.

Aimee

I think that aggressiveness is coming from people being passionate about the subject. I know sometimes when I get excited about something I can come off as being aggressive. I do agree that these aggressive pro breastfeeding types are making it hard for us who are just passionate and want to encourage it.

Nipple confusion was another word I heard from the LLL consult and I was worried about it but Max takes both. I bottle feed and then breastfeed him right after to top him off and there are no problems whatsoever. But there again our experience is our own.

Funny thing I have learned is that my nipples are the same speed as the 2 month old Avent nipples. I tried to give Max a 3 month old nipple and he gaged because the milk came out too fast and wouldn't drink from the bottle until I switched back to the 2 month old nipple.

Aimee

Jennifer,

I do think that I was lucky to have such a patient and open minded nurse at my clinic. She really made it for me.

As for googling things, I was doing that like crazy in the beginning and after talking to my dad and some other mother friends in my life, they all kept saying just follow your instincts. I know that's what my mom did, she didn't have the internet to tell her what to do. And everything worked out great for her.

La Rêveuse

I am so proud of you! Wow, though mine has hell days and screams, I have had a much easier time breast feeding. What can I say, she loves to eat! (Already 12 lbs. at 8 weeks!) But I know it's not easy for everyone, and I don't think we should feel guilty--being a mom is hard! Whether it's colic, BF difficulties, or post-natal depression, we all need support and help--first baby or twentieth!

I'm here for you! Skype me anytime!

kelly

Once again, you beautifully state what happens to so many moms around the world.
As a RN in the NICU and postpartum units, I get so frusterated with professionals who repremend mothers for using a pacifier and/or supplementing. The fact of the matter is, if a mom is persistant enough in making the breastfeeding work, then the other factors don't matter (there are times when it simply doesn't work so I am not implying that in those times the mother simply didn't try hard enough (disclaimer)) I really have not seen a baby have actual nipple confusion.
I also believe any breastfeeding a woman does, even if it is just for one feeding a day, provides the baby with the most perfect nutrition made for them. Many moms, including myself, make feeding a baby work using breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Moms need to be supported no matter what their breastfeeding situation, and not made to feel bad for incorporating other forms of feeding.
I could go on and on.
What a perfect post you made!

Mary Anne

I am glad you are completely happy with your choices...Max is thriving and you are doing great as a mom...following your instincts is important...the most important!

Our local hospital doesn't encourage bottle feeding...in fact they were not supportive at all of the choice I made...I had one of those typical bad lactation consultants...who gave me a really hard time when choosing to bottle feed...but I had already bottle fed 2 others, who are healthy, happy and very much attached to their mom...and that was with a late start ;). I was very frustrated with the breastfeeding, and glad that I made the choice I did for me. The problem I have with the breast is best movement is that the breastfeeding proponents in the US seem to be unable to allow you to make a choice that is best for your family...without a lot of guilt...yes, breast milk is the healthiest...but in some cases, formula can be a good alternative...yes, not perfect...but a very acceptable alternative.

Katy had a very severe case of jaundice, and after the 4 nights at the children's hospital here...I cannot imagine the extra stress I would have gone through had I contiuned to try to b/f...I was a basketcase...worrying about Jack(me missing a very big school event) and Sarah home with mom and dad...worrying every 3 hours about Katy's numbers that weren't dropping...how very close we came to a very serious outcome...after so many years of waiting for her...so, yes breast milk is best...but for our family bottles are great. Do I feel like the failure the breastfeeding proponents say I am...heavens no....have you seen her smile? I am not worried at all...

The thing is....respecting and accepting anothers choices is an important thing...I am a great mom...who has made different choices...just as all of my breastfeeding friends and family are great moms too...I wish the lactation consultants wouldn't prey on the scared young new moms...making them feel inadequate, but finding ways to help them through such a tough time...postpartum is hard on everyone, and everyone needs support and care...not judgment and guilt!

You are doing great, and we are all so very proud of you!

Mary Anne

Erin

It is so great that you have brought up this topic...looks like so many of us have been through similar situations and feelings of self-doubt through this whole learning process.

The fact is, we are not super heros who can just breast feed at moments notice...and who may not even be able to produce what our children need. We are real and every single one of us has a unique experience, unique lifestyles, unique bodies and unique babies.

My experience recently has been a little overwhelming too. My little boy, Flynn, was born a month early and is a little small for his eleven weeks and underweight, per the pediatrician. So, we are adding formula to our breast feeding schedule. I'm actually glad that's an option now.

I have become so exhausted of late with all the pumping, full time job, going home at lunch to nurse, and night time feedings. Just this week I had to request fewer hours at work...there was just no choice. I became so worn physically, mentally and emotionally that I was so out of focus when I did get to spend time with Flynn. I have been totally absent from the experience and it was breaking my heart. At one point, I even considered just going all pumped bottle or even all formula. There was just not enough time in the day to make everything happen. And, oh yeah, am I supposed to do laundry, dishes, by groceries, cook, notice the dogs and take a shower? Hmmmm? I can't nurse my baby period if I have a nervous break down!

Luckily, my OBGYN, pediatrician and lactation nurse have been such a blessing to us in figuring out our needs, even emotionally supporting like your hospital nurse was. The lactation nurse was brilliant in helping me help Flynn to nurse and to help get his weight up...my milk or his intake just hasn't been enough in calories to help him develop. I'd rather add a formula supplement, than to be so determined to go "All Breast" that he has health issues. It's not worth it to be that stubborn or passionate about an issue.

We try our best, and that's all we can do...no way should moms feel guilty about our choices or paranoid about what's the right way. This is the biggest challenge of our lives, we don't need the extra preasure to be perfect...our children are loved and healthy and that's the most important thing of all.

Erin

Oh silly me...looks like I forgot to mention I have a husband too...I guess he's being completely neglected...I don't even remember to mention him...nice, huh? Kudos to this wonderful man. He works from home and has been doing that while watching Flynn during the day...takes him to meetings and errands and tries to fit in activity time for Flynn as well. So, he's equally wiped out. Sometimes we see each other in passing...such a crazy time right now for sure!

andie

Fabulous post! Thank you for that! And, I also thought it was neat to see some formula feeders 'coming out of the closet!' so to speak to talk about their own experiences!

As you know, I had the worst experience with Gab. La Leche League, who I turned to for help, ended up making me feel even worse. And since I had no support in my choices from anyone I encountered (except for my husband!) and I was battling a mild PP depression, it just made matters even worse when I decided to go all formula. I was actually told by a medical professional that I was a bad mother for not BF and for months afterwards, I felt guilty- was I doing the best thing for my baby? I really feel that the 'lactation consultants' or whatever you want to call them in France did prey on me, as one of your commentors uses as an expression!

But, now I know that the best thing for my baby is what I choose and what makes us both happy. Honestly, if BF were as easy as formula feeding, I would have done it. But, I just don't have the patience and the persistence it takes and I knew that my impatience and stress would end up being worse for Gab and Louise in the long run- babies feel that and I couldn't imagine having them feel, at every feeding, a tension instead of harmony and frustration and the fact that I, myself, wasn't at all comfortable. With FF, I created that harmony and we had wonderful bonding moments.

I tend to wrongly confuse passion with aggressivity. Because I had such aggressive reactions to my BF experience, now when I see any type of promotion for BF, I instantly think that it is against formula feeding mothers and that I'm being judged because I was judged. I shouldn't, but had I not had that awful experience things would be fine and I wouldn't have this mental block. We all just need to support each other. Obviously, BF mothers choose their methods for a reason, but FF mothers do too, and it's all good, all equal on different levels and overall, the choice you make is the better one for you and not necessarily for others.

I won't BF the third, it will be the bottle right away. After two children, I know myself and feel right about my choices, no matter what anyone says. That said, I will look for a maternity that doesn't condemn mothers who don't breastfeed and that respects those who want to formula feed.

Aimee

Erin- There are choices in the matter of feeding our babies and when it comes down to it mama knows best. This topic of breast feeding and formula feeding isn't black and white, there are so many shades of gray here and because of that we find our own ways to manage that work for each of our lifestyles. Thanks for sharing... your husband sounds awesome! My husband would love to be a work from home dad. just awesome.

Andie - I knew you had such a difficult experience and it really bothered me because some one decided to "prey" on you and make you feel guilty for making a choice that worked for your lifestyle.

Like I said. it's not black or white. Breast or bottle. Both or one or the other. These are choices that women make to ensure the livelihood of their families. There should be no guilt or pressure whatsoever.

phillippa

it's disappointing that the media and passionate -turned-aggressive-indignant-self-righteous 'activists' choose to perpetuate a divisive environment for mothers. there's so much judgment and defensiveness that we sometimes forget that we're all trying to be the best mothers that we can be, raising healthy, intelligent children.

both sides encounter criticism - breastfeeders for feeding in public, because it's 'so disgusting' and no one wants to see a baby on my boob. and formula feeders, because you're not breastfeeding.

i'm not quite sure what my point is, but really, you can't please everyone. i think that as long as your spouse is supportive of whichever you choose, your child will benefit from that sentiment alone.

one would think that we weren't all striving for the same goal in the end.

Tsoniki

I agree that it is disappointing when no other explanation is given. I had a rough time getting started with my second one - I delivered him alone (my dh was gone, though a good friend was there), my Mom kept my daughter and I was at the hospital by myself. My son nursed (I am so not kidding) for 20 minutes on one side, 'slept' for 15, then nursed again for 20 on the other side...for a day and a half. It was SO hard. But the encouragement from my awesome dr and my Mom helped, if not for them I would have gone crazy!

It amazes me when knowledgeable people (ie an LLL person) doesn't console you, tell that you are doing fine and just tell you to following your instincts.

Michelle

I'm in the US, so I speak from that perspective when I say that I, too, was very disappointed and frustrated with the lack of guidance and advice I received when I had problems breastfeeding.

No one told me (and my hormone-flooded brain couldn't grasp on it's own) that it didn't have to be one or the other. That I could do both - breastfeed and botttle feed (formula or EBM). Everywhere I turned, I was told that I should do one or the other, but no one ever said to me "give the baby a bottle of formula, then he won't be a starving, screaming maniac, and maybe then you can relax enough to try the breast".

Please tell me more about this amazing creature - The Night Nurse. Did she stay at your home?

Aimee

Michelle,

The typical stay in the hospital or private clinic is 5 days. I stayed 7 days in the clinic after my cesarean. So for 7 days I had night and day baby nurses are my disposition, mid-wives who were trained to help in breast feeding or formula feeding available to me 24 hours a day. The post-natal care in France is phenomenal. Even if I needed I could have someone come to my house to help me if needed extra help. I think that is the difference between a lot of countries and the US is that the post-natal care is not long enough after the baby is born. Often you are in to have the baby and a few days later you are discharged to go through a lot of things like your milk coming in, frustrations with breast feeding and basic support alone. And for someone like me who is living in another country away from my family, I really needed the support of the hospital staff.

So the night nurse, just doing her job at the clinic I gave birth at.

Jennifer

I have a friend that googles everything and that's why I made my comment above.

I didn't have internet at my place when my kids were little, but I did benefit from a little wisdom from my Grandma. I remember that day so clearly. She sighed wistfully, shrugged, then said "You do what you can."

That's it. It helped me loads. Especially when she giggled to me after about how she was giving her kids mashed potatoes at two months... and they turned out ok. Farm life vs. City life maybe, but none of her kids turned out sickly or maniacal. So her philosophy works for me too.

Meg

Sometimes after I read your blog I wonder if you are my long lost twin sister in Paris.

Breastfeeding has been such a spectacular bonding experience for Thaya and me. I look forward to every feeding. When I can't nurse, I am confident that I am still doing my part by giving her my milk via a bottle. I also pump twice a day - 4 hours after Thaya goes to sleep, then right after her first feeding in the A.M. (she doesn't drain me, and my milk has already let down, so this pumping is my "jackpot" pumping time!). Do I feel like I'm a bad mother because I do a bottle? Certainly not after reading this post. I love that - courage to do the right thing for you and your child (aren't they one and the same?). I wish I had the same support in the hospital that you did. Sometimes I think that the people who are working so hard to work towards increasing the popularity of breastfeeding and just turning people off to it.

I really like what Jennifer said, "you do what you can". I'll need to remember that.

Michelle

Aimee -

Thanks for clarifying for me. I thought that you were saying that your night nurse dropped by your house at 4am. I was thinking "they just give these nurses keys to their homes to come and go as needed?".

Aimee

Jennifer,

You know, my dad gave me the same advice. He told me stories about my mom and that she just did things how she felt they should be done. We all turned out just fine.

You do what you can do. Doesn't get any simpler than that.

kat

What a great discussion and it's really helpful to read everyone's comments for a mother-to-be. All of them are duly noted. Only 8 weeks to go... Lucky for me, post-natal care in Japan is similar to France - you stay at the maternity hospital for 5 to 7 days after the birth and have midwives on hand 24 hours a day to help you through that first week. I actually feel better about giving birth in Japan with this kind of support. Everyone I know who gave birth in Japan didn't want to leave the hospital..

Laura

Your night nurse is the type of labor and delivery nurse I hope to be! That has been my vision of a career since I was pregnant with my daughter 5 years ago at a young age, it really helped me lean into something. Alas with this whole army wife thing nursing school isn't possible. But I still aim to be that amazing nurse with loads of wisdom to give new, scared, and hopeful moms about what they need to know, especially feeding their babies. my nurses were great in the states, and each came in at different times throughout my stay to check on the feeding process and teach my new techniques. It was awesome!

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