Thursday, 23 August 2012

Breast is best for some

Here we go, I have another bee in my bonnet today, and I'm fit to explode if I don't share it with you guys. For any gentleman readers, you may want to skip to another entry at this point because things are about to get very female if you understand me.

So I have just been stalking reading another lovely bloggers latest entry this afternoon, and in it she happened to mention that she is struggling to supply enough breast milk to keep her 6 week old son happy. She made one of the biggest errors I have ever found you can make around breast feeding fanatics young and old, she admitted that she is supplementing his feeds with formula. Once I saw this I skipped down to the bottom of the page to check her comments section, and sure enough snuggled amongst the congratulations and well wishes of other kind readers, there was one woman who had decided to take it upon herself to lecture this poor woman about the dangers of mixing formula milk with breast milk. Now given that this blogger is up to her fifth child, I'm sure she's perfectly aware that there are supposed risks associated with mixing milks, and doesn't need anyone, no matter how kind their intentions are to point this out to her.

I had a similar problem when Miss K was a baby. I discovered when we were rushed to hospital when she was 2 weeks old that along with the myriad of health problems she had accumulated over the past fortnight, she was also very dehydrated, and there was a problem with our feeding somewhere along the line. We had had problems with feeding from the get go. Because I have been "blessed" with a very ample chest, I always ran the risk of suffocating Miss K whenever I tried to feed her, and she also had problems latching on. Then with all the stress of my mother and my daughter both trying to die on the same day and spending the subsequent three weeks in hospital my milk supply started to dry up. In a desperate attempt to try and get the most milk for her that I could I started expressing the milk straight into a bottle so I could know exactly how much she was eating every day. We quickly found out that she was getting approximately 80ml less every feed than what she should be.

So finally after three very long and frustrating weeks of solely relying on my own milk, I finally bit the bullet and asked one of the nurses to bring me some formula. Well you would think that I had just announced I was going to let Miss K go off and live by herself in the wild for a month and see how she liked it. The nurse was so unimpressed with me she bought in an army of experts to try and dissuade me from supplementing her feeds with formula milk. Luckily for me, every staff member she bought in to see me took one look at my situation and realised I wasn't happy with having to make the decision, but I was doing it to keep my daughter alive, and told me to go ahead and supplement her feeds. I was glad to have all of the medical staff off my back, but it didn't stop the guilt that I wasn't able to feed my daughter the way you're meant to.

And that's the thing. Most first time mothers will start their pregnancies knowing that they will be breastfeeding their children. Everyone tells you how difficult it is going to be, but you never believe them. This is natural, this is how we are meant to feed our children, how can it be difficult? But it is difficult. Especially when you have two inexperienced people trying to figure out how to work these bloody milk bags, and one of those people can't do much else besides poop, sleep and make sucking motions with their mouth. You've had these giant pillows sitting in front of you for twenty odd years now, you've never really put much thought into their real purpose before you fell pregnant, and all of a sudden they become these huge unwieldy leaking weapons you can't control. And so on the horrible day where you realise you can't do this all on your own, you're not the perfect earth mother you always envisioned yourself to be when you dreamed about being a mum, and you've asked for the dreaded f word (formula you filthy minded people), the last thing you need is a lecture from someone about how you are going to give your baby nipple confusion.

So the next time you see a woman feeding her baby with a bottle, before you cluck your tongues in disapproval, milk Nazis, just think, it may not have been her first choice. Plus the baby is getting food so what else matters?
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