or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Breastfeeding › Breastfeeding at any cost???
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Breastfeeding at any cost???

post #1 of 474
Thread Starter 
Dudes. I have seen many posts around here shaming and judging mamas for not breastfeeding, even when they state clearly that they are NOT able to breastfeed. Either there were just too many challenges and barriers at the start and the babes didn't latch, or mama is about to go over the edge emotionally.

Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?

Coz you know what, I don't. I really, really don't.

Now don't get me wrong, my 2.5 yr old is still nursing on demand, and I really value our breastfeeding relationship. It brings tears to my eyes imagining her weaning, or imagining not having been able to bf her at all.

But we had a super easy start, I didn't get cracked nipples, she latched easily, I had enough milk, she was a singleton, I didn't struggle much with depression. Easy peasy. Not everyone's situation is like that.

I mean, here in MDC-land everything is so straightforward: Breastfeed or die trying.

But IRL, many of my friends have tried hard to bf and been unsuccessful. One friend, they took the baby early due to her high bloodpressure, he wouldn't latch, she was up around the clock, waaaaay less sleep than even most mamas of newborns get, nursing, tube feeding him, pumping, recording. She saw lactation consultants and made an appt with Dr. Jack Newman. Her milk dried up, and that was that.

Another friend, her son was early too, and her nipples became so badly injured that every feed was excruciating. She kept going, and nursed him for six weeks!!! Yay!!! But then that was enough.

Wouldn't it suck for those women to come on this site and be told that they failed their babies?

Everybody behind the keyboard here is a person.
post #2 of 474
I just wanted to say thank you for saying this. My dd is 2-months old and we have had a horrific nursing battle (cracked/bleeding nipples, several rounds of thrush...dd has a somewhat problematic palate and I have Raynaud's syndrome). We're still nursing exclusively, but it has been horrible. To make matters worse, I was (am?) suffering from some depression and the nursing pain was making things far worse. I was so emotionally destroyed from the way that nursing was going that it was really preventing me from bonding properly with my dd. I started seeing a therapist, and I *think* (hope) we'll make it through.

But, I felt too embarrassed to post some of this on MDC. I know there are so many mamas here who have worked through worse pain, and I felt like I wasn't as good a mother as they were, that I wasn't trying hard enough, that the failure was all my fault. I spent so much time crying, not only over the way nursing was going, but even more at the thought of giving my dd formula--and wondering if I could ever show my face in AP circles again. I felt that if I gave my dd even one bottle of formula to provide myself with some relief, I would have to spend the rest of my life wondering if every cold or illness she got was my fault. I can't tell you how hard this was--and it made the bonding issues with my dd even worse. As I said, things have seemed a bit better in the past week or so and I'm trying to be optimistic. But I do feel that mothers here are sometimes shamed for their choices and I think that seeing and fearing that shame actually made my post-partum/nursing issues worse.
post #3 of 474
Thread Starter 
Wow, NYCVeg, how heartwrenching for you. I'm sorry. You have really gone the extra mile for your child, I have so much respect for that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCVeg
I was so emotionally destroyed from the way that nursing was going that it was really preventing me from bonding properly with my dd.
Yes!! My best friend tried hard to nurse her son (the one who was up around the clock), and the struggle definitely was preventing bonding. Of course she loved her son, but she felt like a crappy, inadequate mama, and was really distressed about the bf'ing challenges.

Quote:
But, I felt too embarrassed to post some of this on MDC. I know there are so many mamas here who have worked through worse pain, and I felt like I wasn't as good a mother as they were, that I wasn't trying hard enough, that the failure was all my fault.
My best friend felt this too, and felt like she didn't have a right to stop trying, no matter how much it was destroying her. She stopped coming to MDC after she made the agonizing decision to give up on nursing, and she felt embarrassed at playgroups when she would pull out a bottle.

I feel badly still because I dont' know if I contributed to her feeling badly. My daughter was 9 mos at the time, and bf for us was so easy. And when my friend would talk about wanting to give up, I mostly just encouraged her to keep going, towed the breastfeeding party line, so to speak.

Which at the time I felt was helpful, and I guess it would have been if breastfeeding had worked out for them. But she got to a breaking point, and made the difficult and courageous decision to preserve her mental health, her relationship with her child, and go to formula.

And you know what, her son is beautiful, and well. He is 2 now, and they have a very attached relationship. She always bottle-nursed him, held him close while she fed him, and did AP - babywearing, co-sleeping, responding when he cried.

Yes I know breastmilk is healthier. But apart from that, I don't feel like my daughter got *anything* my friend's son did not.

And although I feed my daughter mainly healthy foods, she has had her fair share of ice cream and french fries. And I have a hard time believing that is not worse for her than formula would have been.
post #4 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?

Wouldn't it suck for those women to come on this site and be told that they failed their babies?
Those women who have truely tried to bf their children and exhausted all efforts toward establishing a bfing relationship should not feel unwelcome here. However, unfortunately those women are few. Unfortunately, I have heard from many women that they were unable to bf who only tried a few times with half-hearted effort. These women IMO should be told they denied their children their birthright of being BF and, in fact, have failed their babies.
post #5 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?

As someone who has... YES it is totally worth it!

But I try not to judge others when I don't know the full story. I know in my case, luck had a lot to do with my outcome. I mean don't get me wrong, I worked my tail off!

I have to say, I DO judge people (silently) who don't work as hard as hard as they could have, to breastfeed and, then try to use lame excuses.
post #6 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?
I'm not sure if this is a serious question, or if the question mark is merely rhetorical, but in a word: yes.

First, most people don't have to deal with the extreme difficulty you are describing (and that nycveg is experiencing). Second, many people think they do: bad hospital LC's and doctors have convinced them the barriers are insurmountable in cases where they are easily overcome.

Third, yes, babies need human milk. My moderately compromised mental health is less important than my baby's moderately compromised physical health, especially since I may endure months of emotional difficulty but my baby would have to endure a lifetime of compromised health.

Finally, nursing is important, but human milk is probably the most important part of that. Human milk is increasingly available--to not try to get that if in fact one cannot nurse (in the case of PPP or similar *very extreme* difficulty) is imho very problematic.

FTR, I had mild to moderate difficulty getting nursing started. A lot of frustration and worry and exhaustion, but very little physical pain. I doubt though, that I'd be nursing now if I'd listened to the conventional wisdom dispensed by the medical establishment that perpetuates a model where most women 'try' to nurse for a week or two--unless they think it might be hard.
post #7 of 474
I have met a lot of mums who said they couldn't breastfeed because they had no milk. But when I probe deeper, it often turns out that they didn't do their research, didn't try breastfeeding for longer than a few days, couldn't express any milk, and concluded that they couldn't breastfeed. I think those mums could have done better by their babies.

But I know there are plenty of other mums who reach a point where trying to breastfeed causes such physical and emotional stress that it detracts from, rather than adding to, the mother-child bond. In those cases, I think it's certainly better to go with formula -- better for the baby to have formula and a happy, relaxed mum, than breastmilk and a stressed out, tormented mum.

My baby's mouth was on the small side, so we had 6 weeks of sore, bleeding, scabby nipples. Every time she latched on I would be in agony, often screaming and sobbing. I dreaded nursing sessions. The one thing that kept me going was the thought that because our problem was caused by the smallness of her mouth, the pain would go away in time, as she got bigger. Had she passed the magical 4-6 week window without any reduction in the pain, I might well have switched to formula.
post #8 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by tie-dyed
First, most people don't have to deal with the extreme difficulty you are describing (and that nycveg is experiencing). Second, many people think they do: bad hospital LC's and doctors have convinced them the barriers are insurmountable in cases where they are easily overcome.
I think this is very true. But I think thismama's post didn't necessarily apply to "most people" (which I interpret to mean the many people I know who quit bfing in the first two weeks due to what I personally think of as "normal" difficulties--having a c/s, a bad but easily correctible latch, bad advice from a doctor or LC, etc.). I think the average MDC mama is very different from "most people"--does her research, doesn't trust everything a doctor says, is willing to go through a lot more than the average mom to establish bfing.

To me, thismama's post refers more to the people for whom weaning is truly heart-breaking but for whom the costs of bfing seem to outweigh the benefits. When I was so depressed and frustrated and sick of pain that I told my dd that I hated her (yes, I actually did this ), I knew that I had to get some counseling--but if my feelings of resentment toward her had continued (and I'm very vigilant about this--we've had five days straight of "good days", but I'm not sure we're out of the water yet), switching to formula might have been a better solution for me. I don't know that a bf baby whose mom is numb, frustrated, depressed and angry is truly better off than a ff baby whose mom can attach to her.
post #9 of 474
Subscribing.
post #10 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama

Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?

For me, it definitely was and still is. We went through so much, and I am so proud of myself for working through everything and then nursing through pregnancy, and hopefully tandem nursing soon.

But I would never judge another woman.

I was a bf peer support volunteer, and it was so great helping women, especially from the misinformation given by health care providers. That experience, more than anything else, has helped me be not judgmental.
post #11 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?
I can't answer since it didn't work out for me and DD. BUt I do think a great amount of effort is worth it. But I also think balance is in order. My DD had jaundice for 2 weeks and wouldn't latch on at birth. So I pumped and finger fed. She started BFig with a nipple shield at 3.5 weeks old. When she was 1.5 months old, we were diagnosed with thrush, which we battled for months. She went through multiple breast refusals for no obvious reasons. I cried all the time and was very depressed. By 4 months, she started feeding less and less at the breast and my milk supply dropped. She was always an impatient feeder, so this was unacceptable to her and she gradually stopped all BFing. I pumped to get my supply back up, but she never would go back to the breast, just screamed at me. She is not a cuddly type of baby and hated co-sleeping/skin to skin. SO I had limited options for trying to woo her back to the breast. I took a break from trying, then tried again and she would still just scream at the sight of my breast. She is now 8 months old and I am still EPing for her. I am sad about the loss of a BFing relationship, but we are both happier this way. I missed out on a lot of bonding time with DD because of our struggles. It is a lot of work to EP, finger-feed, etc. I am sad about missing out on some of that time that I can never get back. I think women need to find a balance. There is more to happiness and being a good mother and bonding with your child than BFing. In fact, being so obsessed with BFing delayed the formation of a bond because I was depressed and resented her/was angry with her because I knew she was capable of BFing but was choosing not to. In the end, DD is still getting mostly breastmilk (my supply isn't great and she is a chow hound). But it seems that some women even look down on EPing, which I don't understand. Don't they think I would rather be BFing? Instead I have to be tied to the pump, washing pump parts all the time, etc. And add to that constant plugged ducts, 3 cases of mastitis and several issues with plugged nipple pores.
post #12 of 474
Personally, I don't think I would have been willing to work that hard at breastfeeding. Pain and latch problems early on, sure, I would have worked through that. Issues like overactive letdown and oversupply, yes, I could have dealt with that. Basically, anything that one could improve with different breastfeeding management techniques, I would have done that.

But if I'd had low supply, I don't think I would have been willing to do things like pump after/between feedings, take herbs or drugs, etc. Yes, I would have continued to breastfeed, but I would also have supplemented.

Or if I'd been unable to get my daughter to latch on at all, I don't know how long I would have been willing to exclusively pump. I probably would have made it 3 months, I don't know if I'd have made it 6 if she still wouldn't latch on.

Things I value about breastfeeding include the lack of need for preparation/cleaning, the ease of travel, cost savings, etc. Sure, I think breastmilk is better for babies than formula. But many of those benefits are still there if you're a combination feeder, and any amount of breastmilk a child receives is better than none.

As mothers, I think we do need to take our emotional health into consideration. Yes, we need to challenge our limits. But when we find that the disadvantages of doing something outweigh the benefits, we also need to know when to cut ourselves some slack.
post #13 of 474
Thread Starter 
And you know what else? Don't advise people that they need to get to a milk bank, unless you know exactly what that entails, if it is even possible in their area, and are willing to help with the cost.
post #14 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama

Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?
Yes. I think that all humans deserve standard infant nutrition. That said, if a mom has really tried and it's not working, then they need to make their own decision.

-Angela
post #15 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
And you know what else? Don't advise people that they need to get to a milk bank, unless you know exactly what that entails, if it is even possible in their area, and are willing to help with the cost.
I disagree. Milk banks are a great resource that more moms should at least look into. If it's not feasible due to cost, then it's not feasible. But it costs nothing to ask.

-Angela
post #16 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
Do you really think that breastfeeding is SO important that it is worth enduring weeks and months of pain and frustration, exhaustion, and/or compromising one's mental health?
I think it's even more important.

You asked.
post #17 of 474
uh, considering I'm sitting here pumping for my 12 month old, and that I've had to pump pretty much every drop she's ever drank, except for what I've hand expressed, I guess I'd have to say, HELL YES, I think it's worth it.

anything that has the potential to dramatically affect my child's health positively is very worth it.

I've pumped more than a half ounce of blood, straight blood, out of my left breast on several occasions, had five bouts of mastitis, open sores on the areola, plugged ducts, blisters. I've sat hunched over a pump in hospitals, cars, at 3 am in my living room crying my eyes out from exhaustion and self pity and frustration wanting to quit more than I ever wanted to quit anything, ever.

But for the record? I don't judge mothers who have quit in the face of less daunting breastfeeding challenges- I judge a society that makes it so freaking hard to get the right info and the right support to keep going, I'm mad at people who call themselves medical professionals who fail at giving correct advice in the most basic situations.

I judge mothers who have all the info on bf'ing and still don't even TRY to nurse their child. Anyone else, I feel mad that they were misinformed, that they didn't have adequate support, that they got bad advice. That's what a lot of people in Lactivism are trying to do- counter the bad advice with good advice, make a bad or nonexistent nursing relationship into a successful one, because it's best for the health of the baby AND mother.
post #18 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by bri276
uh, considering I'm sitting here pumping for my 12 month old, and that I've had to pump pretty much every drop she's ever drank, except for what I've hand expressed, I guess I'd have to say, HELL YES, I think it's worth it.

anything that has the potential to dramatically affect my child's health positively is very worth it.

I've pumped more than a half ounce of blood, straight blood, out of my left breast on several occasions, had five bouts of mastitis, open sores on the areola, plugged ducts, blisters. I've sat hunched over a pump in hospitals, cars, at 3 am in my living room crying my eyes out from exhaustion and self pity and frustration wanting to quit more than I ever wanted to quit anything, ever.

post #19 of 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by bri276
But for the record? I don't judge mothers who have quit in the face of less daunting breastfeeding challenges- I judge a society that makes it so freaking hard to get the right info and the right support to keep going, I'm mad at people who call themselves medical professionals who fail at giving correct advice in the most basic situations.

I judge mothers who have all the info on bf'ing and still don't even TRY to nurse their child. Anyone else, I feel mad that they were misinformed, that they didn't have adequate support, that they got bad advice. That's what a lot of people in Lactivism are trying to do- counter the bad advice with good advice, make a bad or nonexistent nursing relationship into a successful one, because it's best for the health of the baby AND mother.
Thank you for spelling this out - this is just how I feel.

I was committed from my 2nd trimester of pregnancy (first-timer) to breastfeed, went to LLL meetings to meet other nursing mamas, made it a point to have my mom stay with us for the first two weeks, made sure my husband was on the same page, and then went through four long weeks of cracked, bleeding and really sore nipples just because I BELIEVED that it would get better (and be worth it).

And it DID get better, and it was worth every single minute.
post #20 of 474
In Sweden more than 50% of the infants are still breastfeeding at 6 months. In the U.S., only about 20% are still breastfeeding at 6 months. Clearly, the reasons for the difference is not that women are unable to breastfeed.

I haven’t seen a lot of shaming and judging. I’ve seen a lot of frustration that what women are calling an inability to breastfeed is really a lack of support and good information.

Certainly, there are many challenges and barriers, we live in a bottle feeding culture that is slow to adopt change.

I don’t believe that there are many people here are willing to decide for someone else how much exhaustion, pain and frustration is reasonable.

There are a lot of myths out there such as breastfeeding increasing the risk of depression.

I haven’t witnessed the “breastfeed or die trying” mentality here on MDC. Can’t say it doesn’t exist, either.

Perfect example, if Jack Newman wasn’t able to help, this is probably a case where the mom was unable to BF.

Many women, like your friend, jump through more hurdles than I would be willing to in order to breastfeed.

I just don’t see what you see, that people who don’t BF are not treated as people, that people generally accuse others of “failing their babies.”

The bottom line is people need support and good info in order to breastfeed. And yes breastfeeding is worth a considerable effort. But each mom needs to decide for herself what she is willing or capable of.

I don’t think many people here would question a mom who said, “I know there are risks if I don’t BF, but given my current circumstances/knowledge/support I’m not going to do it.”

Maybe I’m wrong.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Breastfeeding
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Breastfeeding › Breastfeeding at any cost???