A comment on breast milk.

20 02 2012

The original plan was this post to be about what factors to consider when using formula to feed your baby, but I feel that my last post was misunderstood by some and I would like to clarify some things.

I am sorry if my post about breastfeeding made you uncomfortable, it was never my intention to glorify breastfeeding, to make mothers that formula feed be uncomfortable of to imply that they are not good mothers. Each of the posts I write is more about data based on scientific studies than anything else, it is not about feelings, it is not about moral goodness, and I do my best for this to show through the blog. This is a blog about health and environment, and each post is aimed to those two topics.

I know how it goes when you have a new baby: your breasts are too big, the baby’s mouth too small, the nurse tells you it should not hurt, so you must be doing something wrong, which makes you feel terrible. Your baby is too sleepy and does not want to nurse, starts loosing weight (most likely because you had an IV, but most of the medical field still refuses to acknowledge this fact) and the nurse tells you to supplement.  You are sent home with some free formula “for you to supplement if you need to”, which you use because the nurses told you to, and then you have a very hard time reaching your full supply. Plus soon you hit the first growth spurt, your baby wants to feed all day, you are afraid you do not have enough milk, your nipples are in pain, you send your husband to pick up some more formula and then you really never achieve full production. Soon you have to go back to work and are so tired and still trying to breast feed the baby, but it is not working, so you just decide that bottle feeding is not that bad after all and that your baby will be fine.

And your baby will. This does not make you a bad mother at all! You do what you need to do to make things work for you and your family. Also, this does not mean that breast milk is not the best when it comes to nutrition, antibodies, osteoporosis, breast cancer, diabetes type 1 and environment. Those are just facts which have been published in scientific and medical journals. Those facts have nothing to do with feelings, with emotions and with making life work. And listing those facts so a future mother can decide what she wants to go for was my only intention when I wrote about breast milk being the best.

I had a very hard time when breast feeding my baby, and I might write about that some day so other struggling mothers realize that they are not alone and maybe I can share what I did to make it work. I know it is hard, and I know that had I chosen to bottle feed my baby when it seemed the only option I would not be a bad mother, just a mother making things work for the three of us.




9 responses

20 02 2012

So I am a father not a Mom, but I can speak from a father’s view point. All the facts you have stated are medically documented, and are listed as medical/scientific facts. Sadly I also know for a fact that there are mothers out there who try really hard to breast feed, but for whatever reasons they never even begin to produce milk. Not sure what causes this, but it does happen. And of course some babies are born lactose intolerant and need a Soy based formula. I would like to thank you for bringing many of these facts to the forefront, and not being judgemental. If there are those who were offended by something you have written or posted, then I believe perhaps they misread what you were relating due to their own feelings on the subject. I would like to encourage everyone to please keep an open mind when reading what someone else is relating whether it be medical based facts, or their own opinions. Remember you choose to read this, no one has forced you to.

20 02 2012
Christine M

You have some valid points.

You are wrong on others. I breastfed my son for 18 months. He was not lactose intolerant; the was allergic to milk. I eliminated the products from my diet and he was fine. Even the many pediatricians chose not to believe this, that he was allergic to milk. One thought it was lactose intolerance, which is completely different from a milk allergy.

Second, no mother fails to produce enough milk. The problem is that no one tells her to keep feeding to bring up supply; feeding on demand is the natural way to do it. It is how we survived as a species. I thought I had low supply but my baby was in the 90 percentiles for the first 6 months breastfeeding solely. I pumped only a few ounces at a time when I tried but that is enough if you are feeding baby when he is hungry, as on demand is defined.

20 02 2012

Many mothers have a very hard time bring their supply up and I wish there was more real support out there for us. Thank you for chipping in, Eric! It is always refreshing to get a guy’s comment 🙂

20 02 2012
Christine M

I can’t believe you got backlash about a positive breast-feeding post. You shouldn’t feel bad about expressing your feelings. People will always judge your or disagree with you no matter the subject. That is what makes us human.

Without a doubt BREASTFEEDING is BEST. The problem is a society that does not nurture it or encourage breastfeeding from birth. Why does nearly every hospital give you a “sample” of formula? It is big business; no one pays to have a breastfeeding pack of information or encouragement.

20 02 2012

I didn’t take it so much as a backlash, I took it as some people felt uncomfortable maybe because they’ve been judged one time too many. And that is not my intention, I am in nobody else’s shoes, so I don’t know what they have done to make it work or not, and I don’t know how much they can take. You are very right about the breast feeding kit! My hospital was super breast feeding friendly, at least the staff was, but I still got a ‘free’ formula pack, and we almost fell in the trick of supplementing with that one brand of formula for months to come! But we finally pulled it through. It was tough, it was not nice or happy, but we made it work. I had a lot of support though.

20 02 2012
Christine M

I thought our nurses were nice as well until I learned myself how to encourage a good latch in order to avoid my baby’s lips being totally chapped. The nurser kindly offered me a tiny tube of lanolin…which I later saw on my hospital bill!

I also used the formula samples on the few times I went out. I only later learned that my baby was milk allergic and stopped it completely.

21 02 2012

I don’t think that you need to write a post explaining yourself because you wrote about the benefits of breast milk. If someone is offended by the facts that breast milk is best, then I think they are feeling guilty for not breastfeeding and that is not your fault. Your comment about babies being fine if they are formula fed is not completely accurate. They might be okay, but formula increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, there is a risk of death due to a rare bacteria sometimes found in infant formula that can be fatal to newborns, and infant formula increases the risk of childhood cancers. I’m not saying anyone is a bad mother if they have trouble with breastfeeding, but those are the facts. Guilt doesn’t change those facts and I feel that mothers who really gave it their best effort should not be too hard on themselves if they supplement or do not continue to breastfeed.

21 02 2012

I feel that some people have been treated unfairly and are defensive not without reason, heck! I have been criticized or ‘warned’ for the most insignificant things you can think of. So I can understand other mothers feeling defensive about this, it is a touchy issue sometimes. I like to remind people that most of us that were born in the 70’s were either heavily supplemented or exclusively formula fed… my mother even fed me cow milk! and most of us are just fine, healthy adults, relatively intelligent college graduates that made it just fine.
We do know breast milk is better, formula is not the better choice, but I think some studies (like the ones talking about IQ) extrapolate conclusions a little too much.

21 02 2012

I feel very sad that you felt the need to type this post… 😦 It really says a lot about society.. Moms who feel “guilty” about not breastfeeding…. Get over it! If you feel that guilty that you need to comment on breastfeeding posts.. you clearly need help.

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