Monday, April 19, 2010

Breastfeeding and Me

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?


  1. Well, I do really enjoy breastfeeding. It's difficult and challenging sometimes especially in the begining and I have had my share of problems from sore nipples to mastitis. However, there is a special bond, and there are special hormones that are released in mommy's body during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can be relaxing (many women fall asleep during breastfeeding-not neccesarily because they are exhausted-but because of the hormones) and enjoyable. I am sorry you have not experienced this. When do you wean your baby from bottle to cup or off of the binkie? Many moms don't wean their older babies from binkie (pacifier) or bottle until much later. Really, is this any different than weaning a baby from the breast? Babies, even older babies, continue to benefit from antibodies in breast milk and emotional security from nursing even if they get the majority of their calories from solids. I have weaned some of my babies at 12 months and some at 2 years. Neither is best, neither is wrong. More is dependant on baby and mother. May God bless every mother with the wisdom to discern what is best for her baby, herself, her circumstances, and her family.

  2. I agree with you Colleen. I never got that special bond stuff with my boys. I did it because of the pratical reasons of it being great for their health and its free. I actually got very annoyed with Clark because I have never been the type to just stop in the middle of something and with him, I would have to stop in the middle of every job/chore I was trying to get done. That's when I realized if I'm getting annoyed with my own child then something needs to change so he went to formula at 6 months. With Eric, he went at 5 months because I was trying to give him a bottle of formula so I could have a break and he was purposly spitting it out until I gave him my breast. I told him I wasn't going to play that game and cut him off the next day I was so mad. I became a much better mother after I weaned them and I enjoyed my boys much more. I wouldn't worry too much if I was you. You know what is right for you and your family dynamic.
    Any idea when baby 5 will come along? =)

  3. can't say much here, cause i haven't any babies yet...

    but i truly hope NO ONE makes you feel guilty nor bad over this.. if so.. then pooey on them!!!

    i'm not sure how i'll feel about breast feeding when i do have a baby.. i think it's a wait and see for me...

    and btw- i once saw this special on the discovery channel of mothers who were breast feeding their kids who were like between the ages of 5 and 9... YIKES, JUST YIKES!!!!

  4. as a mommy who also experienced having a premature baby and as a result of probably stress and only pumping, having a very low milk supply, I really appreciate your thoughts.If I would have had the choice to breastfeed Jack, of course I would have but that was not an option for him at all. I pumped for as long as I could, getting about 1 oz each time, until my milk completely dried up. I felt guilty for a long time for not being able to give him the "best" milk but you're right, life happens.
    It is very refreshing to hear from someone who HAS gotten the opportunity to breast feed and still understands that sometimes it is just not possible and your baby will still be fine. There are a lot of people out there who are not sensitive to that fact which can be hurtful to those of us who simply didn't have the option.

  5. I've been lucky in the breastfeeding department (not so much with delivery and I strongly dislike being pregnant). My milk has always been plentiful, has come in about 24 hours after Baby comes out, and it's been easy for me. I know many moms are not so lucky.

    Right now I've got another fussy-colicky baby and I'm not so sure how I feel about it. Part of me wants to switch her to the bottle because it's so frustrating to try to nurse a baby who's arching her back and fighting me. I had two others like this. The other part of me thinks that if I put her on formula it will only increase her problems (but I've got something in the works to try to fix her).

    I love the cuddling and the smell and the soft sleepy baby in my arms. This, my fifth child, is the first one with whom I have not been sore and had cracked nipples--the lactation nurse caught it in the hospital and showed me how to latch properly. I'd been allowing my babies to latch wrong for 8 years!

    So I'm hoping to get Maria up to a year but I'm playing it by ear. I'm not a die-hard breastfeeding mother but I much prefer it. I didn't mind weaning any of my first three kids but when I weaned Isaiah I was a little sad, even though he was only nursing twice a day at that time. I'm still not sure why I was sad, I just was.

    On the other hand, I do not lose baby weight until I quit nursing. I'm carrying around 20 pounds that will not let go no matter what I eat or how much I exercise. And I have gotten mastitis often in the past. BUT it's free and it gives me an excuse to sit down and watch the Discovery channel several times a day. Oh, and it renders me infertile for several months. ;)

  6. Oh geez....I agree with everything??? And everyone??? Seriously, I think that might actually be true for once in my life. Aubrey...I feel your pain...with the weight issue. That's one thing that bugged me. I nursed all 5 till around one year give or take (more give) a couple months. And I had HUGE boobs the whole time...yes, we are talking DD. NOT fun. Nothing fits...where do girls like Pamela Anderson find their t-shirts? Always wondered that. It's not Target that's for sure. The last 2 babies, I supplemented with formula because I just HAD to. I am an awful pumper..getting 2 oz. if I am lucky after ages. I stopped torturing myself and accepted that a bottle isn't going to kill them once in awhile but being stressed out, occupied for hours and so forth, just might kill me. I too had two colicky babies, just like you Colleen...and you are right, cutting out everything is SO not easy. I was also afraid though, to make the colic worse by going to formula.
    I could never NOT breastfeed...only because I've read SO much on the benefits...and you know they have only done a tiny bit of research and the benefits really are astounding...for both baby and us. I bet in 20 years there will be SO much more information out there in terms of cancer protection, immunity benefits, HUGE stuff. (Not much funding compared to Nestle Corp.) It will come like time...look how much the trends have changed in the last 20 years.
    That said, with 5, I can totally relate to some of the challenges...and some of the decisions we have to make.

  7. I believe that nursing is the most logical approach to feeding your baby. God put the milk there for a reason. We know it carries antibodies and nursing can be beneficial not just for the baby but the mother as well. I personally retain water and do NOT lose weight due to nursing, in fact it makes my weight loss very difficult and frustrating.
    I believe it is important to nurse for at least 6 months, but preferably 1 year. I did nurse one of my boys until about 14 months as he was sick when he turned 1 and I take my time weaning. However when my children can chew a bite of lean tender steak and digest it and eat and drink everything, I see that there is really not much “nourishment” to nurse after about a year. Again, I have heard of unique circumstances, in particular with disabled children, where nursing benefits the child beyond 1 year, other than “bonding.”
    I believe that a woman who does not nurse her baby can bond just as much (yes, just as much) as a woman who nurses. The woman who holds their baby to bottle feed him, kisses him and gazes at him and breathes on him and talks to him is bonding just as much. That child is not going to turn 7 or 8 (age of reason) and turn to their mother and say, “Mama, you neglected me and didn’t love me because you bottle fed me.” I do not believe that it will hurt the child in developing healthy relationships or hurt them psychologically if they are not breastfed. That is ludicrous.

    All my boys were intolerant. Each one different; Joseph-dairy, Elijah-dairy & soy, Joachim-dairy, soy, wheat, fish, nuts & eggs Raphael-dairy, soy, wheat. I am used to changing my diet. I have found that eating a high protein diet can make me feel great even though I’m not getting a lot of other foods. It only lasts 6-9 months and then they eat everything and I as well can start enjoying my yogurt (that’s what I miss the most!) & pita bread! Ha It is NOT easy. I believe (and I know many won’t agree) that colicky is simply an intolerance. If you have a fussy baby and you eliminate the correct food group within 3 weeks there will be a change. I only say this because I went through this with my first, second and third! I should do a post on it I guess! I certainly do NOT fault a woman who chooses not to do this. There are so many things going on in people’s lives, we know not their crosses. To criticize a woman for putting their child on formula just doesn’t make sense to me. I think the mother needs to do the best she can for her baby, her physical & mental well being, as well as what is best for the whole family.

  8. Thanks for this post and your honesty Colleen! I cannot tell you how often I have felt less than the perfect mom for not breastfeeding both my children. It seems that there are so many 'in your face' nursing moms who absolutely love it and good for them, but too often I have felt less of a mom for making the choices I did.

    Can I just admit that my children had latching issues? Seriously, with Lily I had more nurses grabbing me, positioning Lily and numerous other things I don't even care to mention, that I just about had a complete panic attack as a first time mom. Ultimately, I wanted to nurse with all my heart, but I just couldn't. So I pumped. I had no issues with it and had an abundance of milk. I pumped strictly for 6 weeks and Lily was able to just have breast milk until she was over 3 months old due to the supply I had stocked in the freezer.

    With Jonah, I struggled once again. My heart just wasn't in it and I didn't even force myself to pump. With a two year old running around and a new baby, I just felt like it would be too difficult to strictly pump. So we chose formula. At that particular time, it was right for us. I still think I'd change things if I could do it over again and should more babies be in our future I def. hope to nurse.

    In the end, both of my children thrived and were more than healthy. Neither was sick ever until they were close to two years old. So, for us it worked. Less than the ideal of what I envisioned and hoped for, but in my circumstances I just felt like I couldn't push the issue and become frustrated and hate it. If it came to that, then I needed to quit pumping as well.

  9. I was not good at it... My oldest cried all the time, I did seek any good support and I gave up after a month. She had lost almost 2 lbs so it was a good choice, she loved the bottle and has been very healthy, did not even try with #2. I had just moved away from everyone I knew so it was not a good time for me. Then I tried again with #3, did ok for a couple of months, no support from spouse or family so I gave up. I know it is better and I have to say I kinda feel like I failed a little.

  10. I agree...breast is best. But when the baby is a large toddler...he/she should do without.
    I never was able to breast feed with either...I was so dissapointed and felt like a failure. That being said...both my girls were healthy and it all worked out for me.

  11. I have to say, I truly love breastfeeding. And not because it's always magical. I've had mastitis 4 times with Kameryn. Sigh. It's okay if that's hard to understand, but I truly do love it. My girls never did take a bottle, so I'm not sure what it would have felt like to feed them that way {simply because I've never done it}, but I'm sure I would've felt a closeness through bottle feeding as well.

    I will admit that my girls {all three} are extended nursers :) And that was definitely not due to me forcing it upon them. I chose to wean Sierra at 20 months because we really wanted to try for another baby. It was difficult the first few days, but not as bad as I had thought it would be. I attempted to wean Makenna at 20 months, but it was so rough, that I let her nurse another 5 1/2 months. Yes, that's right, she was over 2 years old when she quit. She just wasn't ready at 20 months. I don't know how long Kameryn will nurse, but she certainly shows no signs of wanting to stop. Sometimes it seems that she nurses more now than she did when she was a newborn. Not because she needs the nourishment {she's a great eater of solid foods!}, but because she craves the closeness and comfort. She's kind of been my "needy" one from the get-go {probably due to her being born 5 1/2 weeks early}.

    All this to say, that I would never ever judge a mother for how she chooses to feed her baby. I have breastfeeding friends, and non-breastfeeding friends. I don't believe for a second that either choice determines what kind of Mama you are.

  12. I have to say I do enjoy breastfeeding my children. It definatly did not start off that way with Madeline, she was tough to nurse and we had a lot of bumps along the way. but we got the hang of it. Owen took to it right away, he wanted food and knew where it was and that was that. With both I nursed for well over a year, 18 months with Madeline and 16 months with Owen. At that point we were only nursing at bedtime but it was a nice part of the routine. I will nurse my next little one (due in June) for at least 18 months as well.
    this is what worked for me and my family. Everyone is different but I personally enjoyed about 90% of it (some of the middle of the nights and sore nipples I could do without).
    I also had NO supply issue (other than I produced enough for twins it felt like) which also made it easier.
    I think every mom needs to do what is best for her and her family. I know several friends who solely formula fed their children and that is what was right for them.

  13. I guess I was lucky in that all 4 of mine nursed great and weren't collicky, so it was really very easy. Jason took a little longer to catch on, but by day 3 he'd figured it out. I had to work a bit and pump with Evie, and that truly is a chore. I think we did try formula with all of them at one point or another, but none of them would accept it. So they were stuck with me! Thankfully it worked out for us. I didn't mind it, and as I was at home most of the time it wasn't inconvenient. Trying to nurse in public places stinks.

    Ideally I think every mother should try to nurse at least in the very beginning , if at all possible, because there are so many benefits for the baby, but in the end that's a decision the mother has to make and everyone else should just keep their opinions to themselves. Phew! That was a lot :)

  14. I just wanted to give another tidbit to the first comment, but every parenting and baby book or magazine I have says it is highly dangerous for a new mom or dad to fall asleep while feeding a baby. Falling asleep while feeding a baby could end up with the baby falling or worse, SIDS, which is what happened to a new dad when he was bottle feeding his son and fell asleep. It is recommended if you are falling asleep while feeding that you need to change where you feed and for how long, and if there is a secondary caregiver in the home, then trade offs should be set up so that both parties can be alert at feeding times.

  15. well, i think i have been either nursing and/or pg for my entire married honestly, i hate hate hate nursing. i think its messy and gross but i did it since its free, good for the baby and myself.

  16. I would love to read everyone's comments, but have not had the chance. I did read Sara and Bill Kolath and agree with her completely.

    I'm sorry and hope I do not make you feel bad for not feeling the same as I do regarding breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding, I love the bond, the closeness, the ease, the savings, the antibodies, and everything. I can't imagine anything else. I try very hard to not make others feel bad for not doing so. As I get older and wiser I realize that everyone has to do what's best for them and their family and it truly is harder for some over others.

    I think one of the reasons I feel so strongly about posting things and talking about it is because it's so against the norm. In my eyes God created woman's breasts to feed and nourish their children because it's what's best for a variety of reasons (not saying that you're bad or horrible, etc for not doing this. Or it's a moral thing to do one or the other.) It just seems like so many say it's gross, weird, cover it up, and that makes me sad.

    You need to do what's best for you. God Bless you, love that you are sharing your thoughts! *Hugs*

  17. Im with you. I think breastfeeding is a wonderful, inexpensive, natural - God-given way of nurishing your child. BUT #1 not everyone is even able to do it and #2 it is certainly MUCH harder then anyone ever told me it was going to be! I was lucky to make it to 12 months with Darby. My goal was 6 and it was going so well I just stuck it out until I could switch her to whole milk. I feel lucky to have been able to make it, and also that Darby weaned so well. I think any amount of breastmilk is good whether its a month, 2 months or a year!! I also agree with you on the whole - once the kid is walking/talking/eating solids - it isn't as neccessary!(but don't judge those who choose it, just have a hard time understanding their choice!) While I loved snuggling Darby while she nursed, you are right, you can do the same thing while feeding a bottle. It's all about HOW you make it feel for yourself. It's about time together with Mother(or father) and child. Like you said, it's ALL so precious and goes so fast.

  18. One more thing.. yes, breastfeeding is "beautiful" but no one ever mentions the cracked/bleeding nipples, leakage, the pain that pumping is, getting clogged milk ducts (had that a few times.. OOOUCH), etc.

    While it has LOTS of advantages and I suppose it's our job as mothers to sacrifice all that, it is certainly NOT for everyone! Seriously makes me cringe thing about all that!


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