Thursday, September 16, 2010

Breastfeeding is Hard (or Stating the Obvious)

I now know why some women choose not to breastfeed. It is really hard at first. It gets easier, but it starts out really hard. When I was in the hospital with Pumpkin I truly understood why this was so hard. First of all, she was a VERY sleepy baby. She really slept for like 6 hours at a time and waking her up was really hard. So breastfeeding her every 2-3 hours was impossible. Then when she finally woke up, she was so hungry that she got very upset and had a very hard time latching on. So I would spend 45 minutes trying to get her to latch on to no avail. Then she would be upset and I would be upset because I felt like a failure, especially since I had breastfed my other daughter for 12 months. I thought I would be a pro this time.

With Peanut, breastfeeding went very differently. I delivered her via c-section and was under general anesthesia so I couldn't breastfeed her right away. Her blood sugar was really low so they gave her a bottle of formula the minute she was born. They also had to do quite a bit of suctioning to get her revived when she was born, and she ended up with a sore on the roof of her mouth that made her really reluctant to eat. We did everything we could to get her to eat that first week in the hospital so most of the time we gave her formula and I pumped. This really had no effect on her future ability to breastfeed and in fact she never, EVER, took a bottle after breastfeeding was established (to my detriment I might add, since I had to go back to school when she was 3 months old).

The thing that was hard this time around was all the conflicting advice I was getting in the hospital. The nurses kept telling me I had to wake her up to feed her, which was impossible. This involved getting her completely undressed and rolling her around until she woke up. I know she had to eat, but I always heard that you should never wake a sleeping baby (j/k). Then my pediatrician kept saying not to worry about waking her up to eat, that she would wake up when she was hungry and that she didn't really need much in the first few days of life. Then the lactation consultants all were giving me different advice as to how to get her to latch on. My head was spinning. At three in the morning when I hadn't slept at all in 2 days, when my baby was crying and hadn't eaten in 5 hours, when I was trying to get her to latch on for 45 minutes, that bottle of formula sitting on her bassinet was looking pretty nice to me. So I gave it to her. And you know what? She ate every ounce and I didn't go to mommy jail.

I now know why many women choose to formula feed their babies. I have made a commitment to myself to want to breastfeed my babies for a year and I am willing to continue trying until I get it. But for women who are on the fence, who don't have support from their spouses or families, and their babies are not easy breast feeders, I can see why they give up. And everyone, other moms, doctors, nurses, should give them a break. I felt like when I told the nurses in the hospital that I gave my baby formula that they were going to punish me.

Guess what? Even though I gave my baby several bottles of formula, she is now, at 13 days old, a great breast feeder. So it goes to show that if you stick with it you CAN breastfeed. But I have a fantastic husband that truly supports me, that lets me rest, that helps me out when he can. But breastfeeding is hard, and if you need to formula feed, there is nothing wrong with that.

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  1. Good for you for sticking it out Jackie!! Not everyone would do that.

  2. I had the HARDEST time too! It is so exhausting, and for me it was severly painful. I cried every time he nursed for 3.5 weeks. I was so stubborn I felt like I would be a failure if I gave E formula. I never did, but I know now that it would not have been the end of the world if I had. My ped. also said to not wake a sleeping baby. And I also got tons of different opinions on how to nurse. This one nurse gave me advice that was so stupid, I asked her how long she breastfed and she said "I didn't". What!? Well then don't give me advice. I had cuts and sores b/c of improper latching the first few days that lasted me 8 weeks. Worst time in my life, but I'm glad I did it. I joked to Jay that I want to keep nursing E until my next kid is born so I don't have to go through that initial pain again. (Kind of Duggar-ish though?!?) Anyways, glad you got through it. It is the hardest thing I've ever done, but as you know, worth every minute of it with that special bond and every dollar you save.

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