Sunday, January 10, 2010

Breastfeeding help

There are certain issues within child-rearing (especially these early years) that can cause emotional arguments. I probably knew I would breastfeed before I became pregnant but it wasn't something I thought about frequently. And yet, it is something that is very important to me. Recently, I have been thinking about my relationship with breastfeeding because of a friend's current struggle.

For me, it is important to think about how I got to where I am today. And, I have a fascination with starting from the beginning. My biggest influence is my mom. She nursed all 3 of us for 2 years each (and my sister and I are 13 months a part so some that is two kids at once). My mom also stayed home with us and money was tight. But, it is not like I grew up hearing stories of breastfeeding or even seeing anyone doing it.

I really connected with my mom again when I became pregnant with H. When I found out I was pregnant, I was in the middle of my intense 13 month master education program. I was working, student-teaching, finishing classes and writing my research. But, I was also very sick, scared and excited. So I would talk to my mom all the time.

I also read everything I could. Even those, "What to expect when you are expecting" books (that for some reason so many people hate but I don't really mind them). I knew that breastfeeding could be hard. I knew that my baby and I would be learning together. But it was one of things that just made sense to me. If my body makes milk, I should give it to my baby. Design and function. I could careless about what people thought we should do. I had enough under my belt that I felt secure.

So H was born, I brought her to the breast immediately and the rest is history.
Ha! There is always more to a story (and sometimes there is less). I have a theory that my milk comes in quickly because of how much I try to nurse my babies but, that is just a theory. I know the help B gave me those first four weeks were invaluable as well. He changed all the diapers, let me sleep when I needed to and took the baby when she wouldn't nurse but was still crying. He rocks, but that is a whole other post.
After those initial weeks, I think breastfeeding is the easiest thing. It does mean I am in charge of feeding but it is for such a short amount of time (in terms of life span). Since I work full time, I also pump for my babies so it doesn't mean I am literally tied to my child either.

So here I am, baby number two. The beginning period was shorter (like the first 2 weeks were hard), I have over 100 ounces in the freezer, and we are coming up on nines months. For the most part, I don't really think about breastfeeding.

I reconnected with an old friend from High School who was pregnant this last time with me (her baby is 7 weeks younger). I love sharing any insight I have about parenting and she has lots of questions. In the beginning of her breastfeeding journey, I feel like I talked her off the edge of quitting breastfeeding. She was having normal issues: feeling like her baby was not getting enough milk and being sleep deprived. And, I knew breastfeeding was important to her. After she got through her rough patch she called to tell me how thankful she was for my help.

For the last two months her baby has been losing weight. Not huge amounts but still worrisome. At the pediatricians last week, they said she needed to use formula.
I am in no way anti-formula. But, I don't understand how there is something magically in formula to make him start gaining weight. And, as always, breastfeeding her son is important to her.
I had offered her some of my milk before. I have extra and I understand how important this is to her. Yesterday, she called to tell me how much food he had ate. She wants to come by for some of my milk. If he doesn't start gaining after two weeks of more food and extra milk, she will give him formula.
She said she feels like a failure.
She told me, "You know you would too if you had to give your baby formula."
And, I hope I wouldn't. I see how hard she is trying, I see how much energy she is putting into this. I have so much respect for how hard she is trying to make this work.
Should she have given formula sooner?
I don't think that is a fair questions. When you want to breastfeed, giving formula can be the beginning of the end of that relationship. Milk production is all about supply and demand.
Can a baby have both?
I have a huge problem with this all or nothing approach that it seems people sometimes view the world.
But I tend to like to view the world on more of a spectrum bases anyways.
I am not sure how to end this post.
And it has taken me a long time to write this too.
I am sure I will have more ideas about this topic and will of course update about her situation.

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