TMI: How you Feed your Child is your Choice
(this was supposed to be TMI Tuesday… but it is Wednesday and I am clearly behind… which seems to be a theme in my life, postpartum)
If the title of the post wasn’t enough to warn you, this is going to be a TMI post. And to top it off, I plan to share some of my opinions! No, I won’t be including any graphic photos so if you came to see if there were boob pics, you might as well turn back now (perv)… but I do want to share some thoughts as my journey through the clear as mud waters of feeding my child has been anything but standard.
This word is heavy as ish. Probably because there is a ton of controversy surrounding this one and only very personal choice. Do you or dont you? If you have been pregnant, you have, no doubt, been told that “breast is best” or have been asked if you plan to breastfeed…. yea, that isn’t personal or anything… (it was like this one time when someone asked me my birth plan and i was like uhhhh we haven’t even exchanged names… at least take me out to dinner first?)
The big question of do you plan to breastfeed or don’t you is something every (first-time and otherwise) pregnant woman thinks about and possibly, if you are like me, agonizes over. News flash: don’t stress because 1) your kid is going to get fed either way and 2) that is future you’s problem/decision. If you are lucky like me, the choice no longer becomes a choice when your full-term kid gets whisked away to the NICU mere hours after birth because of complications that you were told weren’t an issue really but then rapidly become an issue when someone hears something or sees something or does something and OMG… so I will go into more detail….
About 12 hours after my daughter was born, and several feeble attempts at trying to feed her, she was taken to the nursery for a checkup and one of those standard whatever your kid needs things after being born…. the nurse on the labor and delivery floor came back to tell me, about 35 min later, right when I was starting to look at my husband and ask where our daughter was, that she is being taken to the NICU for a number of reasons that could be possible complications. Anyway, needless to say, it was a very stressful whirlwind after that, but there was a lot of pressure to pump and produce for our baby so that she could get the strongest start possible despite being on formula and IV fluids from hour 12 through the next 7.5 days of her life. At the time, my primary thoughts had been: yes, I want to breastfeed and I hadn’t gotten much past that… (hell, a week before her birth, was when I started to wonder how in the hell she was going to get out of my body… I mean, yea, I know how kids get out conceptually but when you start to really think about it happening… to you…. yeeeeeaaaaaa). But I digress…. The NICU staff was amazing and the lactation consultants were… ok I suppose, but they didn’t seem to have much interest in assuaging my concerns… and I am pretty shy when it comes to displaying my body… it took me three years to become ok wearing a 2 piece swimsuit and yea… prolly gonna have to work back up to that now after the whole birth thing…. cause stretchmarks. every single one was worth it, but the struggle is absolutely real.
Anyway, my body thoughts are not topic, yet….
So long story short, I ended up pumping for the first 6 weeks of my child’s life because she was not having any of that boob thing. I did tons of research on how to up my supply myself (which is normally based on your little one and how much they need during growth spurts and such).
Brief aside: My supply has been a huge struggle and there has been some pain when not religious about pumping every 3-4 hours… and I know people who have quit breastfeeding because low supply and/or too much stress to continue to watch what you eat or whatever the case may be. Everyone is different and I am getting to that… long winded as I am…
My kid literally refused to latch for the first 6 weeks and every time I gave her a formula-filled bottle I felt like a royal failure, especially when you read those articles about how breastfeeding is best, etc etc… well… here is what I am to tell you about all of this…
Breastfeeding is not for everyone. It is hard and exhausting and can be downright painful and with a newborn keeping you from sanity by screaming every 2-4 hours, I can totally see why people opt out and go the formula route. If you are getting up and you have pants on, then hey, respect yo. Motherhood is tough.
Pumping and breastfeeding presents its own challenge. If you choose to go this route, things you should watch out for are:
Low supply — this can be caused by just about everything… from your diet to your water intake. If you are like me and your kid doesn’t latch, it is affected by how strong your pump is and unfortunately most pumps are not good substitutes for your kid’s ability to do that damn thang. HOWEVER, do NOT feel defeated or hopeless. If you are determined, you can absolutely make it work and if you need to supplement don’t beat yourself up. Try milkmaker cookies, oatmeal, fenugreek, etc — all of these things help. You can find a lot of good resources for how to boost your supply from a variety of sites (basically, not here as that is not my purpose, but i am happy to answer questions if you have them!)
If you start working out while breastfeeding, be prepped to up your water intake! And be aware that progestin birth control options can affect your supply also! Or it can affect the supply of some… these are both issues I have had.
Massive amounts of pain… Often come from cracked shit or mastitis…. Out some lansoh on them bad boys and keep gettin to it…. Because the only way to get past mastitis is to get through it.
And if your baby is like my baby and a doctor tells you to put your kid on GERD meds, I say seek a different opinion because you could be treating the symptom and not the problem…. Which is what our first pediatrician did. He put my two week old on Zantac because she was fussy and vomiting and having massive gas pains. But in reality it was the dairy in the breastmilk and formula….
Which brings me to my next point… Formula presents a whole ‘nother issue.
Background: My daughter has a milk sensitivity or allergy or whatever fancy term you want to call it… anyway, this is what was causing her GERD and reflux issues as well as her gassiness and massive amounts of pain. And even after I cut out dairy, it was not enough. She was still in pain, so we (JUST) switched her over to hypoallergenic (read: expensive as all get out) formula full-time. She is a completely different baby! Night and day over here. Logically, all of her GERD symptoms have decreased to almost nothing. Spit up is no longer projectile vomiting. Poops are back to normal (no longer watery), etc (which was not happening on b-milk, even with dairy and corn cut out… yes I waited a few weeks to see). Anywho, my baby is happier and I am poorer. I have massive amounts of guilt because logically, formula was the right move but emotionally, I am not there yet. Luckily, I am lacking in the emotion area and so I have long since ignored the majority of my emotions making decisions based mostly on logic and head things (aside from anger, but that is another story).
There may come a time when you need or decide to switch or supplement with formula. Formula is not (NOT) the devil. It gives your baby the nutrients that he or she needs and allows them to grow big and strong. I was a formula baby starting at like 8 weeks… and I am not dumb by any stretch. My brother was also a formula baby starting at 8 weeks or something around there and he is one of the smartest people I know (Brother, if you are reading, don’t let this go to your head… k thanks.)
Your kid will survive and the guilt you may feel is normal, and if you feel any guilt, ask yourself if it is worth it to have less stress and worry about your supply, your quality of supply, your own diet, etc…. or is it worth it to have a happy and healthy baby who is still getting what they need? <—– this is what I need to ask and tell myself because it is what it is and my kid is better now that she is on said (expensive as all get out) hypoallergenic formula.
But I digress…. many people will have opinions on this.
“You should have tried harder”
“You should have kept on the good fight”
“Breast is best even if you have to supplement”
…even when your kid is in pain? Prolly not.
So here it is, in black and white, folks… we are all doing the best we can by our kids and trying to keep them happy and healthy and giving them the best foot forward we can. Everyone has choices to make and those choices are personal and may be painful but logical. You don’t know someone else’s reasons behind why they do what they might do…. so try not to judge them (especially if you don’t have any children of your own, but we will discuss that later)