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I read an article, I think on mothering.com about why breastfeeding is so riddled with problems in America, and the article proposed that because of formula being so commercialized, there are a couple generations of women for whom breastfeeding is just a weird concept. Even if they want to do it, they didn't grow up breastfed or seeing women breastfeed, so it's just not innate for them. I, in fact, was breastfed, and grew up in a breastfeeding friendly environment. As a young girl, I saw women breastfeeding and thought it was fascinating and cool. I'm having my baby any day now, and am looking forward to this wonderful new thing I'll be able to do.

I've read enough to know what kind of problems I may face, and I know a lactation counselor who I like and trust, and who I can call if I can't work them out for myself. I'm not going to let my baby starve, nor am I going to just give up and get a can of formula unless I genuinely need to. I have a good book on breastfeeding for reference, and I have some Lanisoh. Beyond all of this, I plan to approach it using my instinct first, and then start intellectualizing it if my instinct runs into hurdles. I'm homebirthing, so I'll have plenty of privacy to work it out. I won't have hospital people observing me and telling me how to do it (which I think, just knowing myself, would mess with my head, since I'm just not ready to have people I don't know scrutinizing my boobs, you know?). And most of all, I'm looking forward to it. It's a cool new thing to do, and I'm staying at home with my baby so it can be as much of my focus as it needs to.

So I'm ready. I'm ready to be successful, but willing to be humble if I'm not. My problem is, all I hear from people is about how hard it is, how many problems I will (not might, will) run into, and how exactly I should do it. Every which way I turn someone's talking all about it. DH just got off the phone with his nurse aunt, who herself has never had children but who has taken plenty of workshops on breastfeeding, and she told HIM a bunch of stuff I needed to know about breastfeeding, including very specific positions that were correct, certain specific ways to hold my nipple, and that I should beware of nipple nazis (she's referring to LLL here
. This is after the two times she's caught me on the phone and lectured me on all the same stuff, scoffing when I said I wanted to follow my instincts. The only one who says otherwise is my mom -- she said she just did it, and didn't have a problem. I'd like the chance for this to be my experience. I don't want to find myself sabotaged by all of these people's doubt and fear.

It's starting to feel like my breasts, which society has taught me are private parts, are suddenly everybody's business. I also feel like I'm being prepared to fail, rather than offered support in the even that I do have trouble. The thing that bothers me the most, though, is that I worry that all of this talk about how hard it is, how I WILL have problems, and what I should do WHEN I have those problems is going to get in my head and cause me to overthink it. I've been a victim of a lot of overthinking during my pregnancy. I really don't want to overthink breastfeeding.

I read an article by Robbie Davis-Floyd that related pregnancy and birth to a river in which salmon spawn. It works quite well when left alone, and then modern man comes in and builds a dam, and whoops! Now the salmon can't spawn. So modern man builds a fishery, which is clearly substandard, but which at least he can control. Her thought is that this control is not accidental, it's an intentional result of the cycle. I can't help but thinking the state of breastfeeding right now is similar, if not the same. Now, with the FDA on it's current kick, it's like breastfeeding is totally the property of the institution, not mothers and babies.

Does anyone have thoughts about this? Sorry I had to kind of write an essay about it. I posted it here instead of in the breastfeeding forum because it's really a philosophical dilemma for me at this point and part of the larger picture, "birth and beyond." If I do get engorged or have a bad latch I'll visit the breastfeeding forum.
 

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I know what you mean. It's not you that has the real problem with overthinking, though, it's our culture. And really, we make Problems out of things that are just life, constantly. Especially with breastfeeding. It might be uncomfortable at first. There might be a rocky adjustment period. But it's a new skill, and that's to be expected. Instead of thinking of it that way, we make it into a Problem which requires some kind of interventive Solution. And there the real troubles begin.

Your fishery example is right on. I gave birth at home and we figured out breastfeeding on our own. We both had a lot to learn--she'd never had to work to get nourishment before, after all, what a shock to have to work so hard for it! But we were doing fine. Then, the day my milk started to come in, my baby wasn't looking so great so we took her to the ER, and she ended up spending the night in the NICU. Even though I was having NO problems with breastfeeding, they were more than happy to "solve" all my "problems" in the hospital. The nurses all had mandates on how to hold her and how often to feed her and how often to switch sides. The lactation consultant was called in to inform me that I must feed no longer than 15 minutes on each side. And finally, because I refused to do like all the other NICU moms and pump and bottle feed, they were upset that they didn't know EXACTLY how many ounces she was getting at each feeding. This is a 9 lb baby we're talking about, who was screaming to be fed every hour and eating like mad and wetting diapers. This was no baby on the brink of starvation. So anyhow, they had this strange little ritual where she'd ask to be fed and they'd strip her, weigh her, dress her again, give her to me...I'd feed her then they'd strip her, weigh her again, calculate the difference, and declare whether or not it was a successful feeding. Gimme a break. But it made them feel better and it convinced them to discharge us so, whatever I guess.

Partly because I was goofy from blood loss after the birth, partly because I was in shock that my baby was in the hospital being poked by cardiologists, partly because I come from a breastfeeding family and I know better, and partly because I am damn frickin stubborn, I completely tuned all of it out other than to laugh at it. And I am so glad I was able to do that. Sounds like you know your stuff too. So tune the noise out. Breastfeeding is usually easy. Like any new skill it has a learning curve, but really, for the most part, for most people, it's easy once you get the hang of it. You just don't hear from those for whom it is easy because when it's easy, there's nothing to talk about!
 

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A visit to the local LLL's meetings is on my mental list of "things to do when pregnant". Then I know 5 mamas in the area who breastfeed/fed and my mother nursed me after a c-section birth where I got a bottle of sugar water in the hospital. I'm also going to read through the library's (rather extensive) collection of "how to breastfeed" books, but that's more because I love reading about stuff that interests me and those books probably have pictures of nursing babies
.
 

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Listen to your mother!!!

In my experience, people were more inclined to comment on the supposed "difficulties" of breastfeeding than they were on my decision to have a home birth, which surprised me. I agree with some of the others here that breastfeeding is instinctive, but I also agree with the Mothering article that our environment is so screwed up and formula-centric that our instincts sometimes get over-riden.

I think that one of the things most people don't recognize is how much what happens in your birth can affect your ability to breastfeed. The late, great Mary Kroeger wrote a wonderful book on this topic (The Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding: Protecting the Mother-Baby Continuum)

As a midwife I really, really have come to believe this. In 2 years at the birth center where I work, I can count on 1 hand the women who "had" to wean because of severe breastfeeding difficulties. (And all of those were hospital transfers with very intervention-intensive births and separation from babe afterwards). I can think of maybe 10-15more women who had to supplement at all for any reason. I think the fact that we don't drug women, we NEVER separate moms and babes after birth, and we project an air of confidence (backed up by an ability to troubleshoot with moms when problems do arise) make all the difference in the world.

I also have some experience in a birth center in Guatemala. Formula is simply not an option in that culture because of the financial burden and lack of clean water access in many of the villages. 100% of our clients were still breastfeeding at 6 weeks, and we never really dealt with sore nipples, engorgement, etc. This is anecdotal of course, but always struck me as very intriguing.

I had a home birth and am happy to say that I never had any problems other than about 12 hours of uncomfortable engorgement on the day my milk came in. I breastfed until DD self-weaned at 22 months while working 2 jobs. (One is a work-at-home job.) My daughter never drank a drop of formula. I of course had some baseline knowledge of breastfeeding, had a knowledgeable midwife to help me with the brief engorgement, and a very breastfeeding-friendly workplace (my birth center!). But I didn't grow up around breastfeeding and I was among the first in my peer group to have kids so I wasn't surrounded by my friends breastfeeding. It IS possible with a good attitude and good support and very little else (you do NOT need tons of gear to breastfeed.)

Babies were born to breastfeed! Problems do happen, but it is a rare case where formula really is the best or only way.

Many happy wishes for a joyous and safe birth and a satisfying nursing relationship with your babe!

-Amy
 

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I was totally unprepared in terms of support and info when I had my first child at 19 but I never considered bottles and formula for a few reasons.

I was living an itinerant life in Mexico and access to clean water, facilities for sterilising then heating the milk would be difficult to find sometimes. Carrying the darned tins would be hard as we were doing long distance bus journeys. The cost of the stuff was also something we couldn't really afford.

My mum had breastfed me and my sister, I knew lots of women who had breastfed as I was growing up and it honestly never occured to me that it would be a problem.

And I didn't fail. I didn't have any problems. I didn't have any advice - except from folk who couldn't believe a white girl was breastfeeding her child and that we must be poor (we were).

I went with my instinct and so did my ds and we managed just fine. I never had sore nipples and I fed him for a year here ther and everywhere to the horror of many people especially my Mexican SILs who were hardcore formula feeders.

I have since fed tow other children also without difficulty and will feed this one too. Now I know more I have met many wome who have needed help and supprot to feed their babies and they say I was lucky. Maybe I was or maybe some times it just happens and everything is OK.

Yes there are genuinely more effective ways of latching and there are signs that babies are doing the right thing but I think that if you go with your instinct first then see how you go then ask for help if you think you need it you will be less anxious.

There are parallels here between those who have difficult labours and those whose babies are born seemingly easily and society's fixation with the difficulties and medical solutions to solve them. The medical solution to breastfeeding (which in itself has come to be seen as aproblem I think) is formula in the same way that epidural is the solution to pain in labour so why wouldn't everyone use it?
 

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This is not the first issue that you will run into like this. People give advice based on their own difficult experience. The more difficult their experience, the stronger they are about giving advice. It doesn't matter what the topic is - clothes, potty-training, cloth diapering, what time your child goes to bed, and on and on and on. The topic you're hearing about right now just happens to be breastfeeding. Ultimately, you are an individual and so is your child. What worked for someone else - whether it just worked or they had to struggle to find a solution - may or may not work for you. As a parent, you will always be getting a lot of irrelevant advice like this. People mean well, but they can drive you crazy too (as your aunt seems to be doing).

When I first became a mother, my attitude was to listen politely - after all, they might have a point. But I've gotten enough irrelevant advice that didn't have anything to do with my situation to where I ignore unsolicited advice. If I really want to know someone's opinion because I'm looking for options to consider in my situation, then I will ask. Other than that, I let what people say just go in one ear and right out the other.

Even now that I've been a parent of one child, my mother has asked me..."So with the next one, will you do X differently?" in regards to specific issues we have had. My stock answer is that I haven't even thought about it because chances are high that it won't even be an issue with the next child - something else we haven't even though of will be the issue - and thus how I will handle X with the next child is really kind of a moot point. You don't know what you're dealing with until it shows up, so why worry about the unknown? General preparedness is great...which is sounds like you've done. But you cannot worry about details in advance or you will just drive yourself crazy.

And again, breastfeeding is not the only issue you will go through this on. There will always be some issue like this that people are lecturing you about. I mean, they may have potty trained their child at 18 months and this is how they did it and your child is 20 months and you haven't even started pottytraining so they'll act like you're an idiot. They're actually the idiot for thinking what will work best for you and your child will be the same thing that worked for them, but you won't always think of that right away.

But I'll say it once more...learn to be strong in these situations now because this is only the beginning. You are the mother and this is your child. Any issues with this child may not be issues with your next child, even though they are both your children. Your aunt isn't the one who is going to be breastfeeding your child, therefore it is not her problem and thus her behavior is inappropriate. That may sound harsh, but you have to draw the line somewhere or you will drive yourself crazy as a parent.
 

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You are wise to home birth. I just had my second at home a few weeks ago. Breastfeeding went off without a hitch, aside from tender nipples and me being leaky
My first was born in the hospital and breastfeeding was a disaster for weeks. I was hooked up to IV fluids for 18 hours, resulting in engorgement so severe my son couldnt latch for a week. He was lethargic from the drugs I was given, got jaundiced, etc etc.... The nurses and LC's in the hospital were minimally helpful. DS had a tiny mouth and trouble opening his jaw all the way until we brought him to a chiropractor. The LC just didnt understand why hold baby, insert boob wasnt working in my situation
:
Listen to whatever people tell you, smile, then go on with the rest of your life. Its hard I think because we often feel like we have to do what others, especially "experts" tell us. I think your plan is a good one. Good luck with your baby and enjoy your home birth! ( It is wonderful
)
 

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Funny how you said your breasts are everybody's business (or something to that effect). I was taken aback when coworkers were asking if i was going to breastfeed. I don't socialize with them and thought it was unprofessional. None of their business. I ranked it right up there with questions (again, coworkers) about how much weight i've gained.
Anyway, trust your instincts. you know what you're doing for your baby, noone else can do it. They can give you advice, good, bad, unsolicited but let it slide. If it's your first you're getting plenty of it.
Sounds like you're more realistic about BF than I was. I thought, how hard can this be? put baby to boob, baby eats. I was in horrible pain for 6 weeks afterwards and didn't know why. Turns out I had a yeast infection and it totally didn't look like I did, plus DD didn't have anything. After we got that sorted out we were set and happily nursing away.
I went to a weekly breastfeeding support group and i believe that's what kept me going in the beginning. If you can find something like that, a group that you can relate to, it's very helpful.
 

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You seem to be in a very good position to to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship.
I believe that many women have unrealistic expectations. They do no reading or other preparation while pregnant and have no personal experience with other BFing mamas and expect BF to be "instinctual." They are completely shocked to learn about sore nipples and growth spurts. ("I must not be making enough milk, my dc wanted to eat all day long today!")

I, like you, did a lot of reading while pregnant (after all, you do have 9mos advance warning!) and have a sis who has BF'd 6 kids. I had a natural childbirth and my dd latched well. We have an excellent BF relationship.

That said, I really did appreciate the latching tips from an LC (who I now consider a friend). And LLL is awesome!
 

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I felt the way you did about bfeeding. I didn't think there would be any problem at all. Two weeks after dd was born I was wondering how on earth we ever managed to survive as a species. fortunately I had excellent support.

some things will not go the way you expect. Some probably will. As long as you have an LC you can call, you'll be fine.
 

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You're fine. It's everyone else that's messed up.

I nursed (nurse) twins and all I ever did was read a book, and go to some LLL meetings while I was preggers (mostly to find out more about preemies and NICU in case mine were early).

I was already nursing them simultaneously before the lactation consultant ever got around to seeing me at the hospital.

Yeah, there's the normal challenges for everyone (and bigger challenges for others), but with education and support, you'll be able to figure it out as needed. No reason to obsess in advance.

Nipple Nazis? I never heard that one. My BIL calls LLL the breastfeeding cult.
 

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I think it helps that you've actually seen breastfeeding, especially when you were young and so now it's imprinted on you. I hadn't seen breastfeeding before I started, so it was really awkward... but I still did it! I hated hearing people say stuff like, "not all women can breastfeed," or, "some babies just never take to breastfeeding." HUH? What happened before bottles? I even had one guy say (I wasn't talking to him, he dropped in) "what if your milk just dries up?"

I didn't expect those problems to happen, but I also didn't expect what did happen. I really wish that The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding had a troubleshooting section. I totally didn't understand things like popping on and off, overactive letdown, and exactly how gassy babies get! Burping was something I'd only seen incorrectly done on TV. Luckily I had a very supportive post-partum doula and kellymom.com to get me on track. I never once wanted to quit, but it was very stressful that first week.

Don't listen to all the problems just like you don't listen to all the "complications" of childbirth. As in, you know what they are, but you don't dwell on them unless it actually happens. Have a great homebirth! Thanks to the fabulous support I've found online, it's the only kind of birth I know!
 

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The best advice I got was to pre-qualify my support system before birth so you're not scrambling to find resources in that sleep-deprived period when you just want to cry for no reason. LLL (go while still pregnant, it's great!), an LC you trust, a friendly ped or ND, post-partum doula, whatever. Tune out the a$$vice, just smile and nod and say "oh thanks so much, can i call you if i have questions after baby is here, i won't remember all this now." I've also found lots of help at kellymom.com and in online forums.

Unfortunately, things don't always come naturally. Not being discouraging, but making the point that obstacles can be overcome with determination and well selected support. We did not have the birth we planned by a mile (homebirth transfer + c-section for true fetal distress). Surprise #1: recovery plus no privacy in hospital. Surprise #2 was that my baby had tongue tie, and no ped would help us release it. It took a month of fighting about it to get in to see a ped ENT at Boston Childrens who helped us. In the meantime, my nipples cracked and bled because she physically couldn't latch correctly. We used a nipple shield, then weaned from it and re-learned latching after her surgery, then we got thrush. So the first 6 weeks were a wild freaking ride, to be sure. None of it was worth stopping over, obviously, although there were middle of the night moments where I did get why people quit. I was at the LC once a week for help and a pep talk.

Now, chances are that it will be the no-brainer it should be. If you have your own resources handy, you will be very well prepared if you do have questions. And those people bothering you will have to find a new topic, like "Are you STILL breastfeeding?"
 

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An acquaintance of mine has had a great deal of trouble with breastfeeding, and while she's still exclusively BFing her daughter, for several weeks, she was ready to throw in the towel and exclusively pump.

She thought it would be the easiest, most natural thing in the world, and it just wasn't.

I went into breastfeeding with the understanding that there's a steep learning curve and that after that, it's pretty smooth sailing. That's mostly been the case for us, thank goodness, but it *was* rough early on. I had cracked and bleeding nipples within hours of my daughter's birth because her top lip wasn't flanged quite enough.

Fortunately for me, breastfeeding wasn't so much a choice as a default. That's how babies eat, IMO, and we were going to get through it.

Now, I give expectant mothers my cell phone number and tell them to call me before they give up. I'm not an LC, but I can talk you down from crisis mode.
 

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All the advice - requested or otherwise - you're getting is preparing you and your partner to become parents. Naturally you will want to do things your own way and naturally people everywhere will have an opinion, which they will want to (and will) share with you. Sometimes you will agree with them, sometimes you won't.

Have fun working things out for yourself!
 
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