I don't know why I have been thinking about nursing a baby lately, but I have. Mostly I have been trying to figure out why I have such conflicted feelings about it. I do want to start out by saying that I firmly believe that "breast is best" for both the baby and the mother. There are plenty of studies backing this up, and you can't even buy a container of baby formula without a similar reminder.
When John-Paul was born, I was induced early and they took him away because he was premature and jaundiced, then I had my gallbladder out the next day (which was the reason I was induced). By the time I was able to nurse him, in between recovering and all the time he was under the lights at the hospital, I never got a great flow of milk. From the get go, he was a scrawny baby and it was recommended that we give him one bottle of formula a day. So we did, and I still nursed him for 8 months. Even when I pumped, I would only get about 4 oz. of milk total. I just never made enough with him.
When Andrew came along, we got a great start right away, and he nursed like a champ until he was 11 months old. He was colicky, but I cut out dairy from my diet until he was 4 months old and that did the trick. I still didn't make a ton of milk, but I nursed him so often that he was a chubby happy baby and I was glad to do it. Besides, he completely refused a bottle or pacifier, so I had no other choice (good thing I was a SAHM at that point).
Eamon was a different story. I started out nursing him, but he was even more colicky than Andrew. I removed dairy from my diet - no luck. I removed soy from my diet (at my doctor's recommendation) and that seemed to help a little. But do you know how hard it is to remove both dairy and soy from a diet and still eat enough to breastfeed? Answer: very difficult! I was hungry, frustrated, and HATING it. Phil and I decided I was actually a worse mom/person by nursing Eamon and so, at 3 months, we switched him to hypoallergenic formula.
God laughed, and when Eamon was 5 months old, I found out I was preggers with Maggie. I actually didn't mind breastfeeding Maggie - I didn't have to change my diet, and she was a good sleeper. But she was born right before tax season, and with my increased hours, high stress, and lack of privacy, pumping was really hard to fit in and eventually I wasn't making enough milk. So she went on formula at 4 months old.
If we are ever blessed with another baby, I will try to breastfeed again. My goal is 6 months, but life happens and I will do my best. I just don't want to be judged or made to feel even worse about whatever decisions we make in raising our children. For me, breastfeeding is a sacrifice....but one I am willing to make.
I will NEVER understand how some moms claim to love nursing their babies. What is there to love about breastfeeding in particular? Yes, I love holding my baby and giving him the nourishment he needs to grow, but you can hold a bottle and still do both of those things. I chose to breastfeed for practical reasons - it's God's perfect nourishment for babies, and it's free. Period, that's it. After having a baby and creating milk, I think it's the natural next step to give that milk to the baby. But is it wrong to give a bottle of formula? I definitely don't think so, however that's the feeling I get from some women who are really passionate about it.
The other thing I don't understand is why some mothers choose to do it for so long. Once the baby is eating a variety of solid foods, can walk and talk, they probably don't need breast milk anymore. Even baby cows stop nursing at some point - and I don't think the momma cows are sad about it. It's life - babies grow up and don't need us for certain things anymore. I wonder who really wants to extend the nursing period, the baby or the mom? Maybe I just don't have a deep enough maternal instinct when it comes to nursing babies, but I'll pray for it if/before #5 comes along.
What are your thoughts?