Stop telling women that it's easy. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 116 Old 10-10-2012, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I get a wee bit twitchy when formula vs. breast milk debates happen and women go on about how easy breastfeeding is, how much easier it is than formula feeding, and how easy it c/would be if you just did "x".  I'm not doing anything wrong.  It isn't easy.  Some women have difficult pregnancies, some have difficult births, and some have a difficult time nursing.  It seems people are free to discuss, complain about, and dissect the reasons for the first two, but talking about how difficult and unenjoyable it is to nurse is taboo.  Why? 

 

When I see my friends pour a little bit of powder into a little bit of water, shake it around, and feed their baby, I can't tell you how much I wish that were me.  Breastfeeding isn't easy.  Milk blebs aren't a blast.  Thrush for the fifth week in a row is not relaxing.  Mastitis?  Having your nipple bit repeatedly until you bleed?  Nope, that isn't enjoyable either.  I would take cleaning 10 bottles a day over the pain of any of the aforementioned issues.  So, no, breastfeeding isn't easy.  We can't all just casually feed in public, we can't all just nurse while we sleep, and we don't all have an easy breastfeeding journey.  Please, stop telling mothers this because when breastfeeding isn't easy for them, it is easy to quit. 

 

All of that to say, I do still nurse my baby because I know it is the best choice and I am physically able to nurse.  When I look at my toddler, who weaned at 2 years old, I do feel a sense of pride that we made it to two years.  I feel like we accomplished something.  I feel happy that he still enjoys breast milk from a cup and that he has a natural, albeit young, understanding that breasts are for nursing.  However, I can only truly appreciate the nursing relationship we had because it is over.

 

So, please, stop telling women how easy it is to breastfeed.  When someone is struggling, don't tell them how easy it is that they have a 24-hour milk bar, don't tell them how easy it is to learn how to nurse whilst sleeping, and don't tell them how time-consuming it would be to wash bottles.  Instead, sympathise and ask how you can help them.

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#2 of 116 Old 10-10-2012, 11:54 AM
 
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Amen!

 

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It would be great if we could all just stop assuming that our experience with pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting, life, you-name-it meant that we can predict what the experience of others will be. Less talking, more listening!


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#3 of 116 Old 10-21-2012, 02:08 PM
 
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Almost all women could breastfeed without significant difficulty. It's not normal or common to have blebs, bleeding nipples, or thrush. I breastfed for 10 years and I never had any problems. No plugged ducts, no low supply, no mastitis, no thrush, nothing.

 

Breastfeeding is easy. It feels good. If it isn't or it doesn't then you know something is wrong.

 

I've bottle fed other people's babies including my grandson. It is much harder to bottle feed and care for a child when you don't have magic breasts that calm the child.

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#4 of 116 Old 10-21-2012, 02:15 PM
 
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Seriously? It's also not normal to breastfeed your grandson? Does/Did your DIL know about that?


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#5 of 116 Old 10-21-2012, 02:58 PM
 
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I said I bottle fed my grandson. If I had milk I would breastfeed my grandson. It may not be normal in our culture for women to breastfeed other children but there is nothing wrong with a grandmother or aunt or even close friend breastfeeding your baby. It's good for the baby.


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#6 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 11:03 AM
 
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Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

Almost all women could breastfeed without significant difficulty. It's not normal or common to have blebs, bleeding nipples, or thrush. I breastfed for 10 years and I never had any problems. No plugged ducts, no low supply, no mastitis, no thrush, nothing.

 

Breastfeeding is easy. It feels good. If it isn't or it doesn't then you know something is wrong.

 

I've bottle fed other people's babies including my grandson. It is much harder to bottle feed and care for a child when you don't have magic breasts that calm the child.


It's awesome that you had such an easy and positive experience breastfeeding. Good for you!

 

I think you may have missed the OP's point. She is speaking to the kind of support needed by women who do experience breastfeeding struggles. It is not very helpful for someone to say to a woman who is struggling, "Well, it was easy for me, so something must be wrong with you." That just isn't experienced as compassionate or helpful by a woman who is having a hard time.


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#7 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 11:24 AM
 
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Breastfeeding was easy for me. But I completely understand how or why other women have troubles with it. I believe it takes a village to help a woman breastfeed. Honestly.

 

While it did come easy to me, I had help, I had support. My mother and MIL breastfed so they were able to give me tips and ideas. Not everyone has that support system. Also, many women don't know what's normal when it comes to breastfeeding.  While pain in the beginning may be normal, for example, some mothers feel it couldn't possibly be so they stop.

 

I do applaud the OP for sticking through with it, especially for 2 yrs. Many women would have quit.  


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#8 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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I also had problems breastfeeding, but not as many as the OP. Kudos to you for sticking with it!!

My son's sixteen, now, and like most things, the memories of the difficulties faded. Hopefully you, too, will have that.

I think some of the "it's easy" talk is an attempt to encourage the mother to keep going. That kind of talk might backfire, however.
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#9 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 01:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

Almost all women could breastfeed without significant difficulty. It's not normal or common to have blebs, bleeding nipples, or thrush. I breastfed for 10 years and I never had any problems. No plugged ducts, no low supply, no mastitis, no thrush, nothing.

 

Breastfeeding is easy. It feels good. If it isn't or it doesn't then you know something is wrong.

 

I've bottle fed other people's babies including my grandson. It is much harder to bottle feed and care for a child when you don't have magic breasts that calm the child.

Almost all women? i would love to see those statistics, really. I'll echo what another reply said, when you don't take care in reading the purpose of the OP, you risk insulting and fueling the frustration of what was within the first post. And you're saying something very bold without sharing any factual proof of what you stated, which may further contribute to fueling frustration about struggles with breastfeeding. Out of seven of my friends who breastfed or attempted to breastfeed their children, only one of them breastfed without any struggles, like latch, mastitis, thrush, sore nipples, or a biting babe. So, in my experience, that would not make your reference of almost all women anything that false. Obviously, I don't set the standard for what is common, but neither should you be stating it.

 

Back to the OP, I struggled quite a bit with breastfeeding my little one. He struggled to latch for several weeks, which left me frequently attempting a good latch and also pumping to feed my baby and maintain my supply. We dealt with thrush, I had yeast in my breasts, sore nipples, mastitis, plugged ducts...the whole nine that can make breastfeeding feel more like torture than the enjoyable experience that I believe it should be and now know that it can be. I dealt with a lot of stress and anxiety after my little one was born, which I am certain contributed to my mastitis. Once I removed the source of stress from my life, I never had mastitis again. Stress plays a huge role in hindering any breastfeeding relationship. So take care to remove it, if you're dealing with struggles while breastfeeding. I have to again agree that nothing frustrated me more than when I heard things like, nothing is wrong, you're just struggling, which thank goodness wasn't but maybe twice. But hurtful words sink it differently than positive ones. I was beating myself up enough already. I did have a good support group and I am so thankful my little one and I are still going strong at 20 months of BFing, but my my my it was difficult. I commend you for sticking with and being an advocate for women who struggle. We need them. :)

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#10 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 03:22 PM
 
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Sometimes, breastfeeding is, actually, pretty easy. I never had significant issues of any kind, I come from a family where everyone does and always has including the 1950s and whatever, I had excellent support, and experienced friends. I was also encouraged to prepared myself by attending a class and reading a book and given relevant and needed supplies.

 

I also work full time and ebf + working has NOT been easy but it is doable with a lot of strict practices. Pumping is pretty horrible and I seriously look forward to lighting my pumps on fire when the time comes. And I have never, ever envied a woman using a bottle.

 

But I never, ever tell women it will be easy. I tell them to prepare so they know good and bad advice and I make housecalls and take emotional phone calls.

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#11 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 03:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

Almost all women could breastfeed without significant difficulty. It's not normal or common to have blebs, bleeding nipples, or thrush. I breastfed for 10 years and I never had any problems. No plugged ducts, no low supply, no mastitis, no thrush, nothing.

Breastfeeding is easy. It feels good. If it isn't or it doesn't then you know something is wrong.

I've bottle fed other people's babies including my grandson. It is much harder to bottle feed and care for a child when you don't have magic breasts that calm the child.


This kind of reply really isn't helpful - I have to ask though, did you even read the OP? It seems to me that you are saying everything she asked people not to.
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#12 of 116 Old 10-22-2012, 04:43 PM
 
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I think what she may be attempting to emphasize is the "if it hurts, there's something wrong and you need to get help" philosophy.

This subject is awkward for me. I remember the problems I had, and thinking anyone who said it was easy was crazy. With the passage of time, however, that seems trivial, and the advantages stand out more clearly. I'm even tempted to say that it was easy for me, too.

Both sides need to respect the other. We are all mothers, trying to do what is best for our children.
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#13 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 03:53 AM
 
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I would say that most people who say breastfeeding is easy actually mean: hang in there, give it another try, don't give up, there is a light at the end of the tunnel...

 

If a woman who knows nothing about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding sees a mom pouring a bit of powder into a bit of water and handing baby to dh to be fed, there is a good chance she would say: wow, this IS easy! Why in the world would I breastfeed?

 

I've had my fair share of plugged ducts, mastitis (dk was drawing blood), but if a doubtful mom (or mom-to-be) asked me, I would say: breastfeeding is easy! Give it a try! Or: give it another day! It will get easier! And you know, when I see a toddler throwing himself on the ground and having a fit, while I can just whip my boob and calm dd down in a second I secretly think: this is easy. (I hope no one jumps on me, I realize there are breastfed toddlers who throw tantrums, but for us, breastfeeding makes a world of a difference.)

 

I think it's good to look at the intention behind the words, I can honestly say that I haven't met anyone saying breastfeeding is easy just to brag, but more as an encouragement.
 


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#14 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 06:32 AM
 
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Perhaps "it gets easier" is much better to say than "its easy"!

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#15 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 08:10 AM
 
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Oh gosh...I do sometimes tell people that breastfeeding was easy *for me* because I want to counteract some of the horror stories that people hear that may make them hesitant to even try breastfeeding or to give up with the first problem.  A pregnant first time mom asked on facebook for baby advice and all the moms were posting about cracked and bleeding nipples, assuring her that it will absolutely positively hurt, etc.  I wanted to share my "easy" experience to at least let her know that it was possible! I do try to be sensitive to others who didn't have such an easy time by emphasizing this was just my experience, but it is hard to share that without making at least some people mad.

 

I'm sorry you have had such a rough experience and I can see how hearing that it is easy makes you want to scream.  I have the utmost respect for you for continuing to nurse your baby through all of your nursing struggles-you are amazing!


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#16 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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I totally understand the OP is stating. I had good advice from other Moms, they told me the first few months would be difficult, but once you get the hang of things it's easier than washing bottles and almost forgetting baby's lunch at home.
I remember nursing my 2 week old, still having trouble, and watching other new parents make a bottle for their baby, and I just said to them "wow, that's so easy!" and I told them how hard breast feeding was. I remember the bleeding, cracking nipples, the toe curling pain for the first 15 or so seconds my son would nurse. Those were the extent of the troubles that I experienced and I still thought it was hard. I can't imagine having mastitis and everything else the OP experienced on top.
Now that I think about it, I have told someone that it is easy, but I was out of the water at that point. It WAS easy for me! I did however say that the first few months are hard. But I would say how worth it, it is to stick with it through those tough times. Not only for it being easy, but for the baby.

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#17 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 09:09 AM
 
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I would say that most people who say breastfeeding is easy actually mean: hang in there, give it another try, don't give up, there is a light at the end of the tunnel...

 


 

And if that's what you mean to say, than I think it's best to just use those words. Because I think saying "breastfeeding is easy" conveys something else, that perhaps is not intended. It's a question of finding words that match your intention.

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#18 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wasn't really posting this as a "poor me" or "aren't I wonderful?", but I thank those of you who were compassionate and even complimentary.  It is nice to hear since it isn't something I ever discuss.  I know there are a ton of us out there who struggle through breastfeeding, hating it, and doing it anyway.  I hope others who struggle find the support they need.

 

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Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

Almost all women could breastfeed without significant difficulty. It's not normal or common to have blebs, bleeding nipples, or thrush. I breastfed for 10 years and I never had any problems. No plugged ducts, no low supply, no mastitis, no thrush, nothing.

 

Breastfeeding is easy. It feels good. If it isn't or it doesn't then you know something is wrong.

 

I've bottle fed other people's babies including my grandson. It is much harder to bottle feed and care for a child when you don't have magic breasts that calm the child.

 

Considering the level of intelligence and formal education of my LC, I'll trust her that I'm not doing anything wrong.

 

You may gain something from listening to people.  It is a shame to think this is what people hear if they are looking for support; it does nothing to win people for your cause.

 

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I think you may have missed the OP's point. She is speaking to the kind of support needed by women who do experience breastfeeding struggles. It is not very helpful for someone to say to a woman who is struggling, "Well, it was easy for me, so something must be wrong with you." That just isn't experienced as compassionate or helpful by a woman who is having a hard time.

 

Thank you, I agree.

 

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I think what she may be attempting to emphasize is the "if it hurts, there's something wrong and you need to get help" philosophy.
This subject is awkward for me. I remember the problems I had, and thinking anyone who said it was easy was crazy. With the passage of time, however, that seems trivial, and the advantages stand out more clearly. I'm even tempted to say that it was easy for me, too.
Both sides need to respect the other. We are all mothers, trying to do what is best for our children.

 

I can certainly understand how that happens and though I don't imagine I will ever feel that way about breastfeeding, I have experienced it with other motherhood-related situations (i.e. potty training).

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#19 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 09:44 AM
 
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And if that's what you mean to say, than I think it's best to just use those words. Because I think saying "breastfeeding is easy" conveys something else, that perhaps is not intended. It's a question of finding words that match your intention.


I know. But sometimes we just blurt out something that`s meant to be compassionate but is not interpreted that way.

 

I once read a thread on the adoption forum about what *not* to say to adoptive parents. Or a thread on parenting multiples about what *not* to say to those parents. I would have said half of those things with the best intentions. bag.gif


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#20 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 12:43 PM
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Breastfeeding isn't easy. It's hard work.  Even if you have no challenges at all, you are still making all the nutrition for another human. Add any difficulty on top of that and it gets exponentially harder.

 

Perhaps what we should be focused on is that it is worth the work.  It's hard sometimes, or it's easy sometimes, but it is worth it.

 

To dismiss someone's struggle as "if it isn't easy, something's wrong" is bad news.  While it may be factually true, it is not helpful.  I knew when my dd started clicking and getting gassy when she was 2 week old that something was wrong - that didn't make the following two weeks of LC appts, dr appts, sore nipples, tongue & lip tie clip, forking over $700 when all was said and done, worrying about weight gain, making sure the clips didn't reattach, working on latch, etc etc etc any flipping easier.  Knowing something is wrong doesn't lessen the stress or it being wrong.

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#21 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 01:54 PM
 
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Perhaps what we should be focused on is that it is worth the work.  It's hard sometimes, or it's easy sometimes, but it is worth it.

 

 

just what i was about to say, i struggled to feed twins, not because i had any one issues, i really didn't, i was blessed with amazing supply and healthy babies, but yet we pumped and cried and struggled for 6 months before we got it down, and now at nearly 2 we have other struggles, things change all the time. i have asked myself a thousand times why it is this way or that. but i have never asked myself if i should be doing it.

 

 

at some point for nearly everyone it can be hard, if your lucky it gets easier, thru out it all it is WORTH IT!


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#22 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 02:46 PM
 
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i only know one person who nursed without any problems at all. Everyone Else know had at least one issue.

 

Initially formula was not invented to supplant breastfeeding but because so many moms who had nursing issues were feeding their babies crap like raw milk with e.coil in it, bread mixed in wine or babies just died.

 

Nursing is hard.

 

I am glad I did it but I have many issues from sensitive skin to cracked nipples, from mastitis to thrush. I would never say it is easy and it is especially not easy for moms who work outside home. But yes, no one can;t complain about that either because "We all can stay home if we do not buy expensive cars or clothes"

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#23 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 02:53 PM
 
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I've heard that formula was invented to do something with the overabundant cows' milk supply; and it was created to replace breastmilk for women working in factories during the war.
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#24 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 03:09 PM
 
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I had nursing issues with my first. It was a lot of work - and it was not easy.  I have never been so drained and tired (I was on a never ending schedule of trying to feed, failing, giving EBM in a bottle and then pumping.)  It ended as he aged and we got decent help (which took a number of tries with different LC to get) and he went on to nurse easily for the next 2 years.  But the first 6 weeks - not easy.  I remember literally chucking a book that spoke on how breastfeeding is easy, natural and blissful across the room.

 

My daughters nursed easily from day one.  Go figure.

 

I think what is most helpful is honesty - when breastfeeding is going well it is fairly easy for some of us, if it is not going well it might be one of the more difficult you ever do, and you might need help.  

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#25 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 03:36 PM
 
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My first child I desperately wanted to breastfeed... and couldn't.  Long story, but let's just leave it at that.  I had no milk for him.  None at all.  (Found out later it was medical issues... whatever.)  I had the breastfeeding advocates tsk tsk at me and make faces because apparently "I just didn't try hard enough, and did I try this, that..." etc.  We ended up formula feeding him and life went on.

 

My second child, I again wanted to breast feed.  This time it went by the book.  It was a bit painful in the beginning and I got mastitis a few times, but it WAS easy for me that time.  Easier than formula, I guess.  So... sometimes it IS easy.  Sometimes.

 

So what was different between child #1 and child #2?  Was it me?  Was I better or more special ten months after my first child was born?  No.  Did I "learn" more?  No.  It was luck.  Yep, I said it.  LUCK.  Not skill.  Not "educating myself."  It wasn't a lactation consultant who saved the day, nor a pump, nor any herbs.  It was sheer freaking luck.

 

I will never judge a woman for feeding her kid in whatever way she does.  We will never know the whole story.  We will never know the issues she faces, even she might not face them consciously, they might be buried in her brain somewhere.  She might be working with no time to pump, she might be a sexual abuse survivor, she might have unsupportive family, she might just be really tired and burnt out, she might have hormone imbalances... WHATEVER.

 

I *congratulate* women who make nursing a goal and stick to it and put effort into it, in the same way I congratulate someone who runs a marathon.  Is everyone a natural athlete?  No.  Are some people?  Yes.  Again... that is luck.  You can have all the effort in the world and if you have exercise induced asthma (like me) your chances of running that marathon are pretty freaking slim.  Whereas you might LOVE running and with minimal effort you can totally run it.  But if you're NOT the natural athlete/breastfeeder/whatever, if you WANT to overcome the odds... good on you.  Awesome. I'll give you a cookie.  :)  But if not?   Eh.  Put your effort somewhere else... and don't let other people get you down.

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#26 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 05:56 PM
 
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This kind of reply really isn't helpful - I have to ask though, did you even read the OP? It seems to me that you are saying everything she asked people not to.

 

Yep. And where exactly are you getting your information, FIBJ? 


"We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect."
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#27 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 05:58 PM
 
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I've heard that formula was invented to do something with the overabundant cows' milk supply; and it was created to replace breastmilk for women working in factories during the war.

What war? Formula was "invented" (made commercially available) in the late 1800's. In the time of WWI most people were using raw milk because there had been mass contamination of formula on the shelves. Then, in the 1920's (after WWI) women began using evaporated milk formulas. By WWII, commercially available infant formula (even Similac) had been on the market for a good 15 years. 

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#28 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 06:04 PM
 
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I found breastfeeding to range from incredibly difficult to pretty easy, depending on which child it was, how old they were, how I felt, etc. 

 

I feel like one of the single biggest disservices we can do as proponents of breastfeeding is to say that it's easy, that it's natural, and that you're doing it wrong if it isn't.  Sometimes, the problems aren't a matter of something that you've done wrong, which can be fixed.  Sometimes, a child's mouth doesn't match a mother's nipple shape very well.  Sometimes, production isn't matched with demand, and sometimes, the emotional impact of breastfeeding isn't something which can be overcome.  We can tell moms that if they are having a problem, please as if there's something we can do to help, because a lot of issues can be worked on, but to sit there and rant over and over that it's easy is insulting to other women, inaccurate, and offensive.
 


Busy, hectic, HAPPY single mom to 3 awesome kiddos jumpers.gif DD1 (10) DS (8) DD2 (6)

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#29 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 08:01 PM
 
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Almost all women could breastfeed without significant difficulty. It's not normal or common to have blebs, bleeding nipples, or thrush. I breastfed for 10 years and I never had any problems. No plugged ducts, no low supply, no mastitis, no thrush, nothing.

Breastfeeding is easy. It feels good. If it isn't or it doesn't then you know something is wrong.

I've bottle fed other people's babies including my grandson. It is much harder to bottle feed and care for a child when you don't have magic breasts that calm the child.

This post is really offensive following the original post. Just so you know, telling people their boob issues are not normal, then following it up with your lack of those same problems is rude, and the reverse of helpful.

I'm in agony every time I breastfeed my twins, and your post in no way improved my breast feeding experience. At least the lactation consultants who also didn't help, by the way, tried to improve things.
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#30 of 116 Old 10-23-2012, 08:30 PM
 
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OP - I want to say good job for breastfeeding and preserving through the pain. You deserve to be commended and encouraged.

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2

DD Seraphina born at home on 2/21/2012! 

"Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one."
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