Yup, I've certainly been kept busy since Feb 2008 when I conceived Josiah. And I'm very much looking forward to weaning Joash off and taking a break so that I can finally get my lasik done! Did you know you can't do lasik if you're pregnant or breastfeeding? However, If not for the fact that we're planning a 4th (and I've another baby to look forward to), I would probably feel a lot more sentimental about this.
Breast and formula
When a friend asked me if I thought breastfeeding advocates were being unfair to formula feeding mums in response to this post who in turn was referencing the negative feedback to this post that compares breastmilk to formula, I approached it with caution. This is a topic I tread lightly around because it is something very sensitive and deeply personal.
Personally, I love breastfeeding and I readily acknowledge the fact that I'm very blessed to be able to breastfeed all 3 kids. Even though Joash currently treats me like a water bottle, I love the closeness that I feel when breastfeeding him, and feeling like I'm his favourite thing. This is not to say that you can't develop this same closeness if you don't breastfeed of course.
But being aware of the sensitivities, when I talk about the benefits of breastfeeding I usually talk about cost-savings (breastfeeding is free!), convenience (feed in bed, don't have to boil water, sterilise bottles etc) and the benefits to mum, like calorie-burning (see comic strip below...I do love em' Baby Blues!) and lower risk of getting breast cancer, and not so much about the health, brain, developmental benefits that breastmilk is supposed to provide over formula milk.
This section has been purposely titled 'Breast AND Formula' and not Breast vs Formula, which is, unfortunately, how it is usually perceived. Breastfeeding advocates, in all their passion and conviction, sadly tend to end up being viewed as unfair because I believe most mothers want to be able to breastfeed their children, and most mothers recognise that breastmilk is more beneficial than formula milk, but not all mothers are able to breastfeed their children...So this naturally becomes a prickly topic. For the mums who want to breastfeed but can't, and are guilt-tripping (unnecessarily) for their inability to, any type of 'breastfeeding good, formula bad' type of propoganda will understandably feel like an attack on them.
Well to these mums I say, FLEE, flee from reading all these articles that you know will only get you upset. To be fair to the breastfeeding advocates, their articles are probably not targeted at those who agree that breastmilk is more beneficial than formula milk, it is not aimed at the mother who "wanted to breastfeed, but was unable to", it is certainly not written to tell formula feeding mothers that they are 'bad" or "lousy" (which they aren't). But rather, I think the breastfeeding advocates hope to educate and perhaps change the minds of the mothers who are able to, but purposefully choose not to breastfeed; those who have bought into the sales pitches of the formula producers hook, line and sinker and fail to see the benefits of breastfeeding.
If you don't try, you will never succeed...
What I would personally advocate for though, is for all mums to TRY. Don't give up without really giving this breastfeeding thing a shot. Don't write it off without even trying because you think it's too troublesome and inconvenient.
If you failed with no. 1, try again for no. 2. I take my hats off to a friend who couldn't get her first child to latch on, but nevertheless persisted with pumping and feeding for 10 months. She succeeded with no. 2.
My personal journey with breastfeeding had a painful, bloody start. How can a little suckling creature inflict this much pain, I wondered. And Josiah was supposedly quite good at latching on (I can't imagine what it must be like for those with babies who couldn't latch). Josiah was our first, so breastfeeding was a completely new experience then. The milk took quite a while to come in, and for 2 or 3 days after we returned from the hospital, Josiah had pink coloured urine, or urates in his pee. While in hospital, we were told that this could indicate that the baby wasn't getting enough milk. He was, however, drinking every 3 hours throughout the day, for about 30-45 minutes each time, and knocking out into a milk coma with each feed...so I persisted. It helped that I had the reassurance of my husband, we hadn't bought any formula milk for 'backup', and there was no one nagging me to supplement the breastfeeding.
The milk finally came in after a week. By this time, my nipples were already blistery and in pain. So when Josiah had a 5-day long growth spurt at 3 weeks old, feeding every 1.5 hours throughout the day and night for 30-45 minutes each time, it was torture. I was sleep deprived with nipples cracked and bleeding.
I eventually decided to get the nipple shield (kudos to the husband who immediately went to the departmental store and bought them for me). Anyway, maybe a month plus into breastfeeding, everything finally normalised - the nipples stopped bleeding, the milk supply was more or less regulated. You do have other little crises to deal with down the road, like waking up to rock hard, feels-like-they-are-gonna-explode-soon boobs, or when baby starts teething and treats you as his newest teether... but the pain does go away, the milk does come in eventually, and for the most part, the milk will be enough for your baby. The best part, breastfeeding will be sooooooo much easier with baby no. 2.
Listen to yourself and your body
We are never short of well-intentioned people in our life giving us unsolicited advice and making disparaging remarks, so it'll be good if we all learn how to just tune them out. My point here is that you shouldn't allow yourself to be 'bullied' into doing something that you don't want to. It is ok to feed on demand and not follow a schedule. It is not odd, or an indication that you're not producing enough milk, if your baby is hungry again 2 hours or less after feeding. If your baby can't latch on, it's ok to pump and feed. And if after trying, you are simply unable to breastfeed while maintaining your sanity, it's ok not to.
Ultimately, if you're satisfied that the decision you made is the best possible for your child given your circumstances, find peace with your decision.
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