Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It may be natural, but I'm not a natural

In Sunday's life section we published a story from the Associated Press about breastfeeding, which included the Centers for Disease Controls goals for 2010 -- getting 60 percent of women to breast-feed exclusively for the first three months and 25 percent through six months.
The story also talked about how many women turn to formula, citing that most do so because of it's ease of use.
Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. Studies show time and again how breastfed babies are sicker less often and are less likely to develop allergies.
But what if you can't breastfeed?
When Nathan was born last May I fully intended to nurse. And I tried. But after an entirely sleepless night followed by Nathan losing weight two days later, I began using the free can of Similac I was given at the hospital.
And for a month, I pumped breast milk. And barely got a thing.
Maybe I didn't pump enough, but I never had the symptoms of breasts full of milk. No engorgement, no leaking. So I fed my child formula.
I beat myself up about it for a while, until one day I was talking to my grandmother. Once she told me she couldn't breastfeed and my mother and her three siblings (who are all healthy as horses) were formula fed, the guilt fell away.
The story from the Associated Press reminded me again that the most important thing we do as mothers (and fathers) is do what is best for our children. And for me that choice was to ensure my child was getting something nutritious to eat.
I don't think feeding your child formula is the worst thing you can (and there are some out there who truly believe it is.) I could be doing much worse - like giving him sodas and tons of sugar. Or worse still, not feeding him at all.
Did anyone else face this dilemma as a new mom? I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to leave your comments, or if you like, e-mail me at allisonflynn@shelbystar.com.


Anonymous said...

Although my children are all grown now, I can relate! I did breastfeed all three of mine, but I had to stop very soon with the last one. He could not get enough milk, no matter how hard I tried-he wailed. And I am happy to report that he has been just as healthy as his sisters have been. I don't think the breastfeeding lasted over a week or so. I felt terribly guilty about it for a long time, which I later found out was foolish.

My worse experience was the very first time I missed a feeding. The old-timey manual pumps weren't all that great back then, so I ended up having to come back home anyway, to change my blouse!

As with everything else, there are pros and cons to breatfeeding, and not being able to is not the wrose thing and in fact, it's not even bad. I am glad you had that talk with your grandmother! Continuing to do something that's just not working out, only adds to the stress level, and young mothers have all of the stress they need already!

Mommy said...

As you know, I too was not a natural at nursing. I wonder if we may have been at a disadvantage because we had c-sections. Somewhere along the way I remember someone telling me that my body really didn't recognize the fact that I had given birth. I don't know if that's true, but it does somehow help me deal with feeling as if I failed Andrew somehow.

Of course, Andrew is obviously not suffering from being a formula-fed baby. I was formla-fed and I turned out okay too.

I almost wish breast feeding could be viewed as the mother's choice. Maybe it is most places, but I received a lot of slack from certain family members because I didn't breastfeed. Yes, some people feel that it's what best for a baby - heck, maybe I'm one of those people - but it's not always what works. What I think should be most important is that the baby is fed, period.

If I'm blessed with another baby, I will probably try to breastfeed again - but only if that's what I decide. Sometimes Mommy really does know best.

Allison Flynn said...

You could never tell by looking at Nathan -- most days he eats, eats, eats. Except today. Go figure - I guess that's what toddlers do!