Momversation: Breasts

5th February 2009

First circumcision, now breast feeding. Hoo-eee! This Momversation gig has been interesting, because it’s all stuff I generally wouldn’t think to discuss online. I just added a comment over there about how I don’t really know anyone who chose to just go straight to the bottle. If you did or plan to, I’m interested to hear your reasoning.

In other news, that screencap of Rebecca is golden.

Update: Two commenters at the Momversation site made great points:

1. Ces lasalle pointed out that you can make formula, which blew my mind. I’d never heard of that before. She says:

“I pumped for six weeks and supplemented with a homemade formula, a concoction my mother helped me make based on a book by Adele Davis. It had goat’s milk, yeast, plain yogurt, lecithin, cod liver oil and a high quality infant vitamin in it. He loved it,thrived on it and still drinks it 5.5 years later instead of regular milk.”

2. Patty has the perfect response to people who ask why you’re not breastfeeding:

“When people ask (and boy howdy they did!) why I wasn’t nursing I just said “medical reasons” and let them wonder.”


26 thoughts on “Momversation: Breasts

  1. franny

    I’ll comment here because it’s easier…

    I had my baby six weeks early at the beginning of January. Before he was born, I was insistent that I would breast feed. (Also that he wouldn’t use pacifiers, but that’s another story). Well, being in the NICU for two weeks gave me a whole new perspective on it all. He needs formula to grow and stay healthy. Plus unfortunately because we were away for each other for that time, it’s been difficult for me to get a milk supply growing. If he wasn’t eating formula, he wouldn’t be eating. I hope to be able to breast feed him at least some of the time eventually, but I will never look down on a formula feeding mom again!

  2. rachel

    i would have loved to have been able to breastfeed. i got to for about 2weeks (and boy was it a relief too!) then i developed an infection that required antibiotics. so that means no breast feeding till i was off that stuff. well guess what?! i dried up folks. im thankful that i got in the two weeks but i kinda feel like i missed out on that whole experience. as far as the questions…yeah there were a few but i guess i must’ve had my “fuckoff and die face” on cause i didnt get bothered much about it.

  3. Meegan

    I breastfed my first-born for a year. She wouldn’t take a bottle in any form for the first 7 months. I couldn’t be away from her for more than a few hours. My nipples never stopped cracking and bleeding and I found breastfeeding to be quite painful. But I did it because “breast is best”. Also, I need drugs to keep me sane. I am bipolar and require a cocktail of meds to maintain m;y mental health. I was unable to take all but one medication while I was nursing. I suffered from significant PPD.

    In August I had my 2nd. I finally found out that I have inverted nipples, hence the constant cracking and bleeding and crying and crying. I also realized that by putting my mental health first, I was putting my family first. So I breast fed my son for 5 days but also included formula. I switched to full-time formula after 5 days, went back on all my meds and said good-bye to painful nipples. People – not just people – complete fucking strangers – have asked me if I’m only feeding my son formula. My answer? Yes, I am! I am proud of the decision I made and the idiots that judge me, well, they can just piss off.

  4. Lyz

    I am a big fan of breast feeding, and did so for my own 2 until they were 11 1/2 months.

    However, after having friends with various issues such as lactose-intolerant babies, preemies, and mental-health meds, I have become MUCH less judgemental of bottle-feeding moms. Anyone who would confront a mom about her choice of how to feed her baby is fairly close-minded about the different personal situations out there – I try to think about that before my righteous indignation can get the better of me!:)

  5. Ann

    Went straight to formula with my son, who just turned two. Second son is coming in May and will do the same thing.

    Never thought about nursing! Didn’t want to do it. Personally think it’s yucky, but that’s just me.

    I didn’t want to be any more tied to my kid than I already, willingly was. I wanted my husband to play a big roll in his life, from the very minute he joined us and feeding him a bottle was a great way for dad to help. Especially in the middle of the night when I didn’t want to have to be in charge.

  6. Michelle

    I went almost immediately to bottle feeding because I had a very significant hypothyroid disorder (triggered by pregnancy and fairly common) that went undiagnosed for several months postpartum. My milk never came in, but until that diagnosis was made, I tried and tried, eeking out the few ounces I produced over these weeks. No one thought to test my thyroid, even after I told them my milk wasn’t coming in. Doctors said it might be my age (I was 35 at the time!). I was who asked for a blood test at my 6-week postpartum visit and my OB, though she believed I was probably okay since I’d started a period again, agreed. When she called with the results, she was surprised at how off the numbers were, and when I met with my endocrinologist, she said the number was the highest she’d ever seen.
    Long story short, everyone does the best they can, yes? My daughter needed to gain weight and be nourished and my body didn’t cooperate. The sad thing is many women (not saying you implied this Maggie, at all!) who can’t/don’t breastfeed are vilified when oftentimes it’s not a choice they’ve made (though, Ann, I think you’re decision to go straight to formula for personal reasons is perfectly a-okay).
    Anyway, just a long-winded way of saying not everyone can/wants to breastfeed and this decision should not make you feel as guilty and useless as many woman are made to feel today.

  7. Katie

    I feel like I have breastfed for ever, my oldest weaned at 2 1/2 and his sister is going on 15 months now and still breasfeeding I am also trained as a doula. It works for me and my family. I have seen so many women struggle with their role as a mother, the guilt, the anxiety, feeling like you aren’t doing the right thing (myself included). A friend of mine suffered from postpartum psychosis and drove herself mad by trying to breastfeed on demand, she didn’t want to give up because she felt as though she was failing her child. I reside on Vancouver Island where the moms are very liberal and breastfeeding/elimination communication/all organic diets are the norm. I used to feel a lot of pressure to live up to this holistic lifestyle and it still eeks in, but I think I have learned to LET IT GO. What is right for me and my family is not right for another and the other way around. I am doing my best. (And right now that means me getting some sanity while my two are laying on the bed watching SpongeBob drinking smoothies)

  8. Michelle

    I’ll raise my hand… I didn’t breast feed my girls and I made that choice before they were born. Oh yeah I’m that mom that had formula bought and ready to go before delivery. I even had it packed in my hospital bag. Boy did I piss off some nurses. I didn’t even try to breast feed, you would of thought I said I wasn’t going to feed my baby the way everyone acted. And before I go any farther I need to add that my oldest has never been sick more than the common cold and she’s in the gifted program. So that throws out the breast milk is the best brain food there is. Now here is my reason why… too many scary stories from other moms. Biting, cracking, pain, sore… ick… my nipples are sensitive as it is, hearing all these comments really turned me off to the idea.

  9. Carla

    Ooh, ooh, if you really want controversy, let’s talk about C-section vs vaginal birth! I hate how I still feel as though I need to rationalize the fact that both of my sons (now 16 & 20) were born caesarian. And on the subject at hand, yes, both of them were breast-fed. It was a joyous, easy, visceral bonding experience for me. As for them, they don’t remember a thing about it.

  10. darcy

    I hate the breast feeding police, and what I really hated was all the nurses and lactation consultants grabbing my nipples and squeezing the shit out of them to stuff them into my daughters mouth. I breast fed, but I hated every second of hit. HATED. So my question has always been “I carried the baby for 9 months, and now my husband sits on his ass for another 12 why I am the human pacifier.? My mom fed my brothers sisters and I 2% milk. I graduated at the top of my class in college and high school, and I’ve never been sicker than the common cold. My guilt forced me to do something that made me miserable, and I was way fatter when I was breast feeding.. so I didn’t see the “whole weight loss” thing.
    Its all a racket, as far as I am concerned.

  11. Lisa

    My twin boys were born nine weeks early, last November, and spent 6 and 9 weeks in the NICU. They weren’t even able to take anything by mouth at first which gave me the chance to stock up some milk by pumping. However, as time went on I felt like all I did was pump. My entire day was scheduled around pumping and if I missed one session I felt horrible because of the fear that my milk production would reduce. This consumed me to the point of actually crying, no wailing, over spilled milk. I had a melt down over two ounces of milk. I was also starting to realize I was spending more time pumping than visiting my boys and was feeling guilty for not spending the time with them. After talking with other twin moms and deciding time with my boys is more important than my desire to feed them solely breast milk for the first year (mind you, two bottles per day of my milk is fortified, per drs. orders, with formula) I backed off of my pumping marathon. I felt a huge sigh of relief and with it came a ridiculous amount of milk. Yes, stress does really impede milk production.

    Recently, my milk has reduced a bit but I have been able to get the babes to breast, a little. I still struggle almost daily with my guilt about this. Even though I already made the decision to let it go, I can’t.

    I appreciate you all sharing your experiences on Momversation. After watching the video I think I might just give each of my boys a whole bottle of straight formula. Maybe then I can get over it. I know the time is coming soon, anyhow, when I will run out of frozen breast milk and have to give them formula.

    Wow, why do I feel so out of control of something that is solely in my control?

  12. Melis

    I tried, albeit without much enthusiasm, to breast feed my my first daughter, and lasted about 7 days. She wasn’t getting enough milk, I was miserable, no one was happy. When I finally caved and gave her a bottle, I was in tears, and felt like a failure. I remember my husband telling me it was ok- what mattered most was that we were doing our best. I think those might have been the best words I could have heard at that time- because inside I felt so horrible. She thrived– and when my second daughter came, I didn’t even hesitate, and went straight to a bottle. They are both healthy, brilliant girls- and while I wish it would have been a better experience- I am ok with what it was. At the end of the day, every mom out there is trying to do her best. How can we fault ourselves, or eachother, for that?

  13. Dana

    I planned on breast-feeding and did for about 4 weeks (it took almost two weeks to get the latch right), but my son developed acid reflux and instead of putting him straight on a medicine, my doctor recommended the old fashioned “put some rice cereal in a bottle with milk trick”. It did the trick more or less, but it did require using a bottle. I pumped exclusively for 6 months.

    So remember, just because it might be given in a bottle doesn’t mean it ain’t breastmilk.

    (As a side note, it turns out my son also had a milk allergy and probably would have been better off on a special formula from the get-go. So really, it think it’s incredibly ignorant for anyone to make blanket statements about what may or may not be best for babies).

  14. Nicole

    I actually had a MISERABLE pregnancy that was spent on bedrest, with constant B-H contractions, and I was totally depressed so the last thing I even wanted to consider was breast-feeding. I felt like the baby had already had sucked up enough of my physical energy and there was no way that I would breastfeed. I live in France, though, and none of the mid-wives batted an eyelash, only they wanted to know to have the medicine ready for me to stop the lactation. In the end, the baby sort of latched on to my boob while we were still in the delivery room and I ended up changing my mind- which was what really pissed them all off. They kept telling me that if I was not committed to the idea, there was no point in starting. I couldn’t come back to the maternity hospital after for the pills so I had better just make up my mind, etc etc. Now pregnant with number 2 and I have the bottles packed in my hospital bag, formula in the cupboard, and I’ve explained the situation to my new midwife- I am physically exhausted my being pregnant, but I’ll still play it by ear. I think that despite having 16 weeks of maternity leave, French women (and their doctors) seem to look at breastfeeding as a massive commitment and so its better to not start if you aren’t sure about it (and are a bit of a hippy).

  15. Tiffany

    Michele – Thank you! A lightbulb went off for me. I delivered in October, and my milk never came in either. You would have thought I was completely defective or something, the way how everyone would come in and squeeze squeeze squeeze my boobs to get a drop out while in the hospital. It sucked, it was embarrassing, and I felt like a failure the whole time I was in the hospital.

    ANYway – about a month ago I was diagnosed with a non-acting thyroid. No one ever made the connection with me, but now I’m wondering if I wasn’t failure after all! Yay!

    (and my babe wound up needing special formula anyway for a severe allergy, so it looks like I wouldn’t have BFed for very long).

  16. Celina

    I breastfed all three of my kids for the first three weeks of life and then switched over to a combo of pumped breast milk/formula before switching over to formula full time. It seems that everytime I hit the three week mark my milk supply cannot keep up with the demand no matter how much I feed or pump. Plus the initial pain never goes away for me, so a few weeks in and I am pretty much out of my mind from the contant agony of the whole thing. If I have another baby, I will be going straight to formula. I would consider pumping for a few weeks so the baby gets the colustrum at least, but I am done with having a baby on the breast. I have had a hard time dealing with all the women out there to whom breastfeeding comes easily and who don’t understand that it isn’t a wonderful experience for everyone. For some women breastfeeding just hurts and will continue to hurt forever, despite the fact that the baby is latched on PERFECTLY. It is so refreshing to read about other women in the same boat! Thanks for opening up this dialogue Maggie!

  17. Lindsay @ Kickypants

    I know that there are some women who choose not to breastfeed from the get-go, and while it’s not a choice I would make, I am working really hard to be able to accept it as their choice to make.

    I do feel, though that most women who end up not being able to breastfeed it is because of a lack of support, good information, bf-friendly doctors, bf-friendly government policies (mat leave anyone?!) etc. As I`m reading though these comments, this becomes more clear to me. There is safe, cheap medication you can take to increase your milk supply (it’s called Domperidone and it’s really hard to get in the US, unfortunately). There are lots of antibiotics (most, in fact) that are safe to use while bf-ing. Actually, almost all meds say they are not to be used while bf-ing, but this is not actually true. It is the drug companies covering their butt. If you have a question about a medication and breastfeeding check out Dr. Thomas Hale’s book – Medications and Mothers Milk. It tells you what is safe and what’s not.

    I am breastfeeing my 8 month old and will continue until we are both ready to be done. That said, I am also privileged to have had a wonderful support network and 24-hour care from midwives and family in my first few weeks after he was born. I still had major issues and had it not been for the support, I would have stopped. We also have gov’t sponsored 1 year mat leave here in Canada, another thing that makes it easier to bf. You women who exclusively pump have my utmost respect. I don’t know how you do it!

    So I guess I’m trying to say that if you make your decision to not bf based on all of the solid, research backed information out there, then, I need to respect that. It’s your body.

    And I hope you respect my decision to nurse in public and to bf until my little boy weans himself. My decision to breastfeed and to promote and spread support and good information for other moms who are making this tough decision does not make me the breastfeeding police, and it is not a judgment on your parenting or your formula feeding.

  18. Meg

    How did we go from “people have good reasons for not breastfeeding, don’t judge, happy rainbows” to “breastfeeding is a racket”?

    I liked Meegan’s comment above, “I also realized that by putting my mental health first, I was putting my family first.” I’m sure that in plenty of situations it’s totally worth it to make one sacrifice (less than ideal nutrition) for a large benefit (the overall happiness and health of your family as a whole). If choosing to not breastfeed is a bit “selfish” but it makes you a better mother overall, then it’s a net gain, right? I applaud your decision, especially if you’ve thought through it that much. But please don’t just gloss over the fact that it IS a nutritional sacrifice. Every study shows that breastmilk is nutritionally better, and that the babies statistically are healthier. Your anecdotal evidence can’t change this. (If you’re as smart as you say you are, darcy, I’m sure you understand the difference between anecdotes and large, controlled studies, right?) I will never judge you for the choice you make in how to feed your child. But I WILL judge you for not understanding basic science.

    Seriously. A racket?

  19. chris

    i breastfed my first for 11 months. i breastfed my second for 20 months. the first weeks were hard but we got through it and enjoyed a happy breastfeeding relationship.

    i supplemented with formula whenever one of them needed a bottle because i hated pumping.

    if we have a third, i’m considering going straight to the bottle. i’m trying to picture trying to juggle a non-stop nursing newborn with two active children who go to two different schools and have different schedules. i can’t help but wonder if bottle feeding would just be easier on everyone.

    i’m sure i’ll change my mind several times before having to make a decision!

  20. Nancy R

    I agree with Lindsay@kickypants that many breastfeeding…’relationships’ are unsuccessful due to lack of support, lack of good information, and lack of supportive doctors. I wish lactation consultants had a little more finesse on working with mothers too.

    Celina’s comment about not being able to keep up with demand at the three week mark -wouldn’t it be nice to have someone let you know that the three week mark is the first major growth spurt and to hang in there for a few more days and it might level out again? Three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months – on average, that’s when babies hit growth spurts and will nurse more to build up your supply. Sadly, I would not have known this if I didn’t previously have a job that put me in a WIC clinic once a week where they try to educate about breastfeeding. We need non-threatening support people who can help clarify the ’emergency’ situations from the ‘normal – hang in there it will be okay’ situations.

    I had three successful runs down the gauntlet of breastfeeding and in my mind, the ‘ideal’ is that everyone have that…but I know that isn’t always the case. It always surprises me when someone says the don’t even want to try though. I mean, if you don’t like it you can always quit. If you never try, you don’t have the option to change your mind and you’ll never know…

  21. spoiledonlychild

    Of course, I don’t think it’s OK for strangers to question or judge a mom’s decision about how to feed her kid. And I don’t doubt that breastfeeding is really difficult, even impossible, for some people. But it seems there is so much talk about how HARD breastfeeding is that women might be scared off from it. I know I was expecting some kind of horrible pain and blood fest when my daughter started nursing. In reality, it was extremely easy and natural and worked just perfectly for us for 18 months. I say this not to rub it in anyone’s face, but as a reminder that in many, many cases, it really is a lovely way to feed your baby, not a hard slog that only the lucky survive.

  22. Amy

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this momversation and the subsequent comments. I have low milk production and had to supplement with formula for both my kids. My son (who just turned one) nursed till he was about 5 months, and in retrospect, I’m extremely proud of this, since he needed a bottle after ever single feeding. And FWIW, I tried every single trick on the planet (domperidone included) and was educated out the wazoo on breastfeeding on demand and increasing supply. Nothing worked. I beat myself around the block and back. Both my kids lost over a pound and a half of birth weight, before I “gave in” to formula. I cried for hours. Looking back, I wish I could have been more gentle on myself. And I also wish I didn’t feel the continued need to defend my life and nursing decisions. Anyway, thank you :)

  23. beck

    Such a good discussion to have. I’m currently BF-ing my 6 mo. old. I’m grateful I was warned by a close friend, who quickly became my breastfeeding guru, to make the decision to stick with it because it would very hard. My daughter had a poor latch from the beginning and I came down with mastitis. The worst moment was when I found myself sterilizing a pin to lance the blisters that continued to form on my nipples just so I could pump and get relief. I told a friend that the pain was so great that if it was anyone else but my little one causing me this kind of agony, even a furry little bunny, I’d bash it’s head against a wall.

    I happened upon Dr. Jack Newman’s website by chance and have consulted it over and over. He’s been more helpful than the lactation consultant who lives down the street. I agree w/ comment #18: we don’t have the kind of support we need. But I want to say that I also agree that judgment comes easy to those who haven’t walked in another’s shoes. I’ve realized that the temptation to judge comes only from my own insecurities about my choices as a mom.

    One final note: I’m just curious if others experienced the kind of anxiety that I did each night before bed. I’d be consumed with fear about having to wake up and BF in the middle of the night. For the first 10 weeks my husband had to talk me down, pray for me, force me to take a bath, all to help with the anxiety I felt over breastfeeding. Today my kid and I are a team…but I still feel that anxiety occasionally.

  24. Amy

    I wish I had made the decision to bottle feed my twin daughters earlier than I did. I was exhausted and constantly feeding them. The double football thing never worked for me. So I bottle fed one while the other got the boob. Rotated at next feeding. It really helped too as I could get help feeding the second baby. I wish I would have saved myself all the guilt and felt confident with that decision THEN.

  25. Shay

    Ugh. Breastfeeding can be such a war. I was pregnant just a few months ahead of my niece-in-law (she’s older than I am, her grandfather married my husband’s mom.) and she called me crying because her mother had been using me as an example– “I don’t understand why it’s so hard for you, it was just fine for Shay.” Fine. Yeah. What she didn’t know was the hours of crying, trying to get the baby to actually open her mouth, unlatching, crying, days that seemed to be spent only nursing, Ena shoving her hands in her mouth right when I was trying to get her to latch, and PAIN, oh, and mastitis. (AKA the same stuff she was dealing with and I set her ma straight right quick, ugh, it still sets my teeth on edge.) I personally lucked out with a husband that was extremely supportive, enough milk, and time to spend at home with her. We also decided that because I teach lessons and kids come (hacking germy kids) to the house, Ena needed that extra protection from getting sick & with the loss of my salary, NOT breastfeeding would be hard to afford. So, yeah, I worked my ass off, but the stars aligned and we also needed the benefits and cheapness that BF provided. Other people need other benefits like not being the sole moo-cow, kids that are losing weight, kids that can’t take breastmilk…Thousands of kids are raised on formula and are just fine and no one would ever know the difference.

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