The Breastfeeding Debate…To Breastfeed or Not…

Ask me several years ago if I would ever breastfeed my children and I would’ve told you “absolutely not!” I had heard so many horror stories from my family about how much it hurt if you didn’t pump on time and what happened if the baby didn’t latch on correctly that I was more scared to breastfeed than I was of giving birth!

In my mind, breastfeeding was no big deal. I didn’t see the benefits it outweighed formula fed babies…after all, myself and 15 of my 17 cousins had all been formula fed and we all turned out just great!

Breast is Best…Is it the Only Option Though?

17499300_1094823600664026_4345808364742699565_nWhen Tory and I first found out we were pregnant, we took into consideration both options- breastfeeding or formula feeding. Most people have looked at me oddly for even asking that, but like I said I was formula fed and didn’t really see anything wrong with it. In the end though, we chose to breastfeed…or at least try to.

As if the contractions leading up to birth weren’t painful enough (I started experiencing pain around 4 cm dilated…thank goodness it was only another 15 minutes until I hit 9 cm and was ready to push)…breastfeeding Bryan the first time was the most painful thing I had ever experienced. Yup, you heard me right…pushing him out of me wasn’t even that painful…but to have him latch onto my breast and not latch correctly, hurt so much.

I didn’t want to give up on the idea of breastfeeding our son though. I endured the pain for the first two days while we were in the hospital. Tory could see me grimace every time Bryan latched or attempted to latch on.

A Mother’s Instinct

While we were in the hospital, I had spoken to several different nurses and lactation specialists about Bryan’s latch and this gut feeling I had that he wasn’t getting what he needed. When he did latch it was for no more than 5 minutes at a time and I was beginning to grow very concerned.

Nurses were telling me that he had to latch on for at least 20 minutes each side, but then 17553695_1094822930664093_3684632813339788484_nspecialists were telling me that the time didn’t matter because every baby was different. Some babies could get what they needed quicker than other babies and that I should just be rest assured that my baby was getting all that he needed.

I still wasn’t convinced! Our first night alone was a nightmare! Bryan was up all night crying to be fed every hour. I understand that I was a new parent and we were told that the first night was the toughest until we all got used to a routine or even to each other, but if this was going to continue where he would want to latch every hour, it was going to be a huge problem.

We continued to ask the nurses and specialists about my growing concern and we still received the same responses that it was fine and normal, but I still couldn’t believe them. My baby was constantly crying and wanting to be on the breast, that wasn’t normal! I may not have been breastfed as a baby, but even I could tell that this wasn’t normal behavior and that something was wrong.

I had read an article a couple weeks earlier about a mother who had breastfed her baby and had an instinct that something was wrong, (I still cry when I reread it because no parent should ever have to feel the loss of a child, nor a loss because they were told by doctors and nurses that things were fine and that their baby was just “cluster-feeding”) but was told by nurses and specialists that the behavior was normal and my gut was just telling me that things weren’t right.

 

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First doctor’s visit after being discharged

On our second day at the hospital I insisted that we begin supplementing with formula because I just couldn’t believe that Bryan was getting all that he needed and being fed enough. You try eating something that’s hard to get to (colostrum definitely doesn’t flow out as fast as milk does) for as little as 5 minutes and tell me that you’re full and you’ll be able to last hours without anything else…I don’t think so!

 

After we began supplementing with Enfamil, we could tell that our sweet little boy was turning around. He was sleeping for longer hours, he was crying less and he just seemed happier. Tory and I were both happier as well to see that our son was doing better.

On the day of our release, our pediatrician told us she was going to suggest we supplement formula, as well as, breastfeeding because Bryan’s weight had dropped and was almost on the border of concerning (he was born at 6 lbs. 10 oz. but was released from the hospital at just 6 lbs. 2 oz.).

Had we not supplemented, she would’ve suggested that we leave Bryan at the hospital and come back at the end of the week for him. You better believe we wouldn’t have left that hospital without our baby! We would’ve asked to stay longer, no matter the costs that built up.

Every Baby is Different

Like every pregnancy, every baby is different. On our first day home, as we were unpacking our bags, I noticed that the hospital had sent us home with Similac instead of Enfamil formula.

The last thing we needed was to change things on Bryan again so I posted on Facebook

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“I cried but when my bottle was ready I wanted to sleep…”

asking my friends if any of my new mommy friends used Similac and would like for me to send them the 8 bottles that we had been sent home with; instead I received more backlash for supplementing with formula than strictly breastfeeding.

Honestly, I don’t remember asking anyone for their opinions on what I should do for my son. After all, I’m his mother, not anyone else. I knew the situation we had experienced our first two days and I wasn’t going to starve my child just because breastfeeding is supposedly the best and the only option (who said it was the only option?!)…maybe it was for other mothers (and good for them!) but it wasn’t for us!

I was infuriated (maybe it was my hormones too) for trying to help out another mommy and instead was getting lectures about how I shouldn’t be giving my son formula because he wouldn’t get all he needed from my breast milk. He wasn’t getting what he needed in the first place, which is why we had to start supplementing!

I was already physically tired from spending two days in a hospital room on the most uncomfortable bed, not being able to sleep next to my husband (most nights I need to lay on his chest before I can actually fall asleep) and being up for most of the last 48 hours trying to take care of our newborn; now I was emotionally exhausted too from being told that I wasn’t doing what was best for my baby by people who didn’t know our situation or didn’t have any say in the decisions that we made for our family.

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Sleeps just like his daddy

When did it become okay for us to speak badly to other parents for their decisions that they make for their children. As parents, we need to do what’s best for our babies, not for other people’s babies.

What works for one family, may be a huge disaster for another. What I didn’t appreciate was that my son was being compared to other babies. Well that’s nice that it worked for your baby, but it’s not working for mine! Again, was I supposed to let my baby starve just for the sake of exclusively breastfeeding?! NO!

We’ve been home for almost two weeks now and we’ve been exclusively pumping. I’m no longer breastfeeding Bryan directly because it had hurt so much and I wasn’t sure how much he was actually getting because he still wasn’t latching on for more than 5 minutes at a time (I’ll probably hear some backlash for this decision too, but I DON’T CARE).

Since then, Bryan’s no longer on formula, although we still have it on hand just in case. He eats about 2-3 oz. at a time and it occurs about 8-9 times a day, sometimes even more. At our 2-week checkup yesterday {3.27.17}, we learned that Bryan is now 7 lbs. 8 oz. (he gained 12 oz. in one week!) and he’s 21 inches long!

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Our baby boy is growing and is more than healthy! We may not be breastfeeding the way others think we should be, but we’re doing what’s best for our baby and no one else’s!

So to all those new mommies or mommy-to-be’s out there, remember that you (and your partner) are your babies caretaker(s), no one else. No one else’s opinions should reign over yours. Sure, accept all those opinions and take what you find helpful, but take it with a grain of salt. What worked for someone, may not work for you.

We should be encouraging each other, not tearing each other down for our decisions. All that matters is that we’re raising happy, healthy babies.

 

 

 

 

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4 comments

  1. For both my girls I breast fed until about 3 months. Around then I noticed that they were still hungry and that I just wasn’t producing enough. At that point I felt it best to introduce formula.
    The point is that you tried. Even better is that you found a way to give him breast milk but with you both being comfortable. Like you said, you guys are the parents and you’ll know what’s best for Bryan. Trust your gut. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad. If people can’t support your decisions then show them the door. Right now your family just needs support and happiness around them. Do you momma. You have my support.

    Liked by 1 person

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