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Why breastfeeding is a touchy subject for some

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Why breastfeeding is a touchy subject for some

Postby Brenda N on Sat May 28, 2005 9:55 pm

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Postby barb on Sat May 28, 2005 10:22 pm

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Breasfeeding

Postby Mamma_Mia on Sat May 28, 2005 10:39 pm

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Postby Brenda N on Sat May 28, 2005 10:47 pm

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Postby lovebug on Sat May 28, 2005 11:08 pm

Thank you for sharing such a tender topic to your heart. I work with women who are learning to breastfeed so I can appreciate where you are coming from. It is painful to experience what you did. It is such an emotional time to be a new mom. There are so many people offering advice, suggestions and even being critical. And we are often sleep deprived, going through a major life change, and changing physically& emotionally, not to mention changes in our family structure and relationship with our partner.
There does seem to be a lot of support out there to breastfeed but actually we still have a long way to go.
Such as:
Women often get conflicting advice- this is a huge problem,
Women have often had little contact with others who breastfeed before we ourselves become mothers,
women dont often have moms or sisters who have experience with breastfeeding,
many husbands have never witnessed women breastfeeding, husbands also experience a sometimes tough adjustment period with new baby and yet he is usually the main support for his partner!
Babies are often- even in our supposed pro-breastfeeding sociey- given a supplement or glucose water in the hospital which is completely detrimental to establishing a breastfeeding relationship in those early days,
not to mention how so many babies are born with drugs in their systems that can make for a poor suck and a difficult breastfeeding start,
many women are still embarrased to pull out their breast to nurse their baby on cue in a public place,
women are time and time again not given enough encouragement to help them perservere through rough times,
our society doesnt make it very easy for women to work and breastfeed, and actually formula companies spend millions of dollars to market their product to us. Women still get samples of formula- an easy thing to fall back on when it is sitting in your cupboard. And then a woman who wanted to breastfeed is suddenly not making enough milk because supplementation has disrupted her "supply and demand" nature of producing breastmilk. It is a cascade of interventions that can undermine breastfeeding sometimes and so many women experience that cascade. And I could talk about the added breastfeeding difficulties a woman who experiences a csection can face. Our csection rate is larger than one out of four women! It should be less than five percent! But alas that is another discussion.
And even though it is recommended to breastfeed for a minimum of one year, many women do not. Why? There is something wrong with this picture. Women are not bad for this nor should they be made to feel bad- but there is something missing in our society that mothers dont do what our bodies want us to do after we give birth- breastfeed.
I could go on and on- I am very passionate about this subject. I guess my point is that there is so much work still to be done towards breastfeeding. Postpartum depression is so high in our culture and that is a sure sign that we are not doing enough to help women transition into motherhood.
And on top of this there is a a group of women who dont breastfeed their babies for a variety of reasons and feel guilty or sad about it. I ponder these questions; How do we help these women transition into motherhood? What can we do for them to help with their feelings of isolation? How do we help them not feel defensive and also to keep a pro-breastfeeding attitude?
You have raised an interesting topic and I am grateful to you for sharing your story. Thank you for raising mine and probably others awareness.
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Postby Brenda N on Sat May 28, 2005 11:30 pm

Yes, certainly there are still many barriers to breastfeeding. There are many barriers to so many aspects of women's health and breastfeeding is an important issue. And of course we all know it takes time to change a society and this issue has barely had much time. In my MIL's day breastfeeding was "out" - that's not so long ago. By the time I'm a grandmother it will have been "in" for a longer period and many men will have seen their mothers and sisters and friends bf'ing.

But if you are looking for a starting place I wonder if it helps to work on these issues with those who are not yet parents....once you are a tender new mom it hurts to get poked with these prickly issues. And sometimes one woman's passion overshadows another woman's pain.
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Postby wonderwoman on Sun May 29, 2005 6:28 am

Thanks for this Brenda! I too realize how hard it can be to breastfeed. The first day I brought DD#1 home from the hospital she refused to latch and my manual pump would not work for me. I called a LLL leader and she said she did not recommend pumping. WTF??? My baby won't latch and is screaming her head off, I was in tears and the LLL leader was asking me if I had ever seen a mother breastfeed her infant naked. Huh? I ended up having to give my DD formula for 1 day until the public health nurse came by with a pump that worked for me.

I had to pump for 3 weeks and finally got her latched. When she did latch...bleeding nipples, mastitis, mastitis, mastitis. Ugh! I must have cried every day for the first 3 months of my DD's life. I even cried for the first year when I told people about the "trauma" I went through. Yes for me it was VERY traumatic.

I was lucky enough to have plenty of milk to pump for my DD and was prepared to pump for a year if need be. Thank goodness she finally latched. I most certainly can understand why some women choose not to breastfeed after what I went through. I also understand that some women just plain old can't and thank goodness for formula when this happens.
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Postby Slacker Mum on Sun May 29, 2005 9:50 am

Great post Brenda - very articulate and thoughtful. :)
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Postby Annikki on Sun May 29, 2005 10:28 am

I had difficulties with breastfeeding. I just couldn't make enough milk and week after week of going to the breastfeeding clinic and them giving me tips that just didn't work. Not one health nurse suggested formula and here i was starving my baby. He soo skinny and cried all the time. I was breast feeding every hour and then I said enough was enough and i started supplimenting with formula. Life changed for the better. He was happy, I was happy and he gained 3 pounds in less then 3 weeks. At 6 months old, he weened himself from the breast.

I don't see it as a failure, I did the best I could for my child and I had to make that decision. I do miss breastfeeling and it's been almost a year, but i have no regret.

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Postby Brenda N on Sun May 29, 2005 10:44 am

Isn't it amazing what a difference it makes to give a starving baby formula? I remember feeling stupid and betrayed that no one had suggested it sooner - my first child was literally starving too. And funny thing is, a weak, starving baby is not a good bf'er either......nor is an exhausted mom who's been trying to placate a crying starving baby for days or weeks. Its a funny conundrum we are in now where people are not offered the help that is available because its possibly detrimental to the overall breastfeeding cause.

It seems to me that doctors, nurses, etc are majorly discouraged from giving information that doesnt further that cause. it means many are left in the cracks to find their own way. How sad.

I'm so glad you came through with no regrets. You are a smart momma! I wasn't that smart until my third child!
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Postby Sunnygirl on Sun May 29, 2005 11:22 am

Thank you so much for your post. I'm sure it will help countless women who for some reason or another (like me) had to go to formula long before they had planned to.

I found the prenatal classes really lacking in breastfeeding information - showing videos entitled "Breastfeeding is easy". A horrible way to set someone up to feel a failure.

I finally stopped seeing my LLL person because of the guilt she was heaping on me for supplementing my baby with formula while I pumped and desperately tried to BF. I knew that formula wasn't the same as breastmilk - we all do! We don't need to be told that by countless people who are not wearing our shoes.

Thank goodness for my CRD nurse who was so supportive of everything I tried and to a breastfeeding specialist in town that helped me to understand that there are some babies and moms who just aren't able to BF together. Not only for latch issues - but also for health issues - nerve damage - with pain into the shoulders and other parts of the body, and Raynaud's syndrome which is a constricting of blood vessels - causing pain.

I pumped for months - even that was painful - especially as I sobbed my heart out the entire time at the fact that I couldn't BF. Sometimes I think people forget that most mothers do want to do what is best for their babies and don't need to be reminded that they're not capable of it sometimes.

Anyway - gotta let my son have his turn typing now...
Last edited by Sunnygirl on Tue May 31, 2005 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sue on Sun May 29, 2005 1:29 pm

Wow - yes, I was reading the starting solids thread that went the b'feeding direction and felt many familiar feelings. Feelings that it seems from this thread, I am not alone in.

I was unable to breastfeed my daughter (now 2.5) past 3 months due to toe-curling, door kicking anguish that never really was diagnosed and definitely not solved. In the end, I think that it came down to dd having a hard suck, my being fair skinned, having Raynaud's Syndrome (who knew?), she being maybe tongue tied, and a hundred other things that all combined to the two of us not working as a nursing team. She gained amazingly, I had plenty of milk, but wore myself out trying to nurse successfully, sobbing my way through every single feeding (a lot with a newborn).

I had people tell me "just wait 2 weeks", some said "4 weeks", some said "nope, for me it was 8 weeks" - I would have gone through 6 months of agony had I known there was an end in sight, I truly would have.

Brenda said it best when she wrote that she still feels shaky going into it to any depth. This was a huge loss in my life and I still grieve it and have to turn away when I see other moms nursing. It was my goal, my plan, my full intention to breastfeed and I was devastated when I failed, gave up, whatever the term for it is.

Although my family and close friends and hubby were all totally supportive, it hurt like hell to reach out and buy that formula that we all are informed over and over is less than the best. I remember sobbing making up her first bottle...

Again, I had lots of support for my decision, as people closest to me had seen my struggles, my pain, my efforts, my going to everyone under the sun that might possibly have an answer. What DID NOT help and compounded my grief and guilt was some of the very things that people have already posted here of their experiences. Seeing the videos and reading the 'help' books that say "everyone can do it", "if it hurts, you must be doing something wrong", "it is natural and so works for everyone all of the time" and the list goes on. The CRD nurses did more harm than good, giving totally opposite advice that they should have. When I consulted a breastfeeding specialist, she said that they give her most of her business - I thought that was telling, and sad. I had a horrible experience with the only certified lactation consultant in town (won't name names) who told me that I was certain to get breast cancer because I was not going to nurse my baby til she was 2 years old. She told me that my little girl would most definitely be more sick and less intelligent if I chose to formula feed, since that is what "studies" have shown. She also said that she had never known a woman to quit breastfeeding... how would she know as I sure as hell never went back to let her know that I had quit! My own OB said to me "but, isn't the pain worth it?"

Anyways, it ended in my finally realizing that feeding one's baby was not just about the milk. It was the whole nursing experience and ours was just not causing any bond between us. I dreaded hearing her cry of hunger, I watched the clock, knowing that she would need/want feeding again in another hour, and I latched her on in so many positions in tears and frustration. Was formula feeding easy? Heck no, it is no fun trying to heat up a bottle in a restaurant, no fun experiencing dirty looks from people who jump to conclusions about why I was bottle feeding, no fun paying that amount of money for something that your body is "supposed to" produce, no fun hearing your little one cry while you waited for the bottle to heat up, or had to make more since you didn't guess at how hungry she was this time, etc.

But, do you know what? My little one is such a blessing, so healthy, bright, and so wonderful in so many ways. Do I regret the chance to nurse her until she weaned herself? Of course, that is a loss that has me crying at the computer right now. Will I try again if and when we have another baby? Yes, but I will be more prepared to turn to the second best alternative, that I know now is really not as evil as many sources make it out to be. I have learned a lot and can say that I have much more empathy and understanding toward other moms who are struggling with similar experiences.

Thanks Brenda for starting this post and thanks to all for making me feel safe enough to post my story. To all the mommies out there, you are the best :D
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Postby Brenda N on Sun May 29, 2005 6:39 pm

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Postby barb on Sun May 29, 2005 7:12 pm

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Postby Renaissance Mama on Sun May 29, 2005 7:45 pm

2 years, 2 days and 22 minutes between my 2 miracles.

Girlie one: on her way to 8!!
Girlie two: on her way to 6!!
Mummy: on her way to the pub...
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