I am republishing this post below to include a link to a new article: Not celebrating world breastfeeding week. I continue to be a huge proponent of breast feeding. But continue to want women who can't do it or have trouble continuing, to not feel like they are not a good mother. I want to keep it real!
One of my MD friends sent me a link to the following article: Is Breast Always Best?
In a previous post, I admitted that after two babies who suffered from "failure to thrive" with breastfeeding, my husband and I decided, months before Hannah was born, that we would not allow the same thing to happen again. So when it quickly became evident that the same thing was happening with Hannah that happened with Elijah and Abigail, we decided to supplement with formula.
What has resulted has been an entirely different motherhood experience this time around. We believe that my milk expels very slowly. With Elijah and Abigail, I would feed for one hour on and one hour off all day long. They were not gaining any weight. (In fact, Elijah dropped to the 8th percentile. When we switched to formula, he went up to the 87th percentile within 10 days!)
I definitely believe that breast milk is best for babies. So does my husband who is a family medicine physician.
However, what I do not believe is that women need to feel shame when they cannot (or even if they choose to not) breastfeed. I had a friend admit to me recently that she found herself lying when asked whether she was breastfeeding or bottle-feeding due to shame and embarrassment. This is ridiculous!
Not that I blame her. When I bring out a bottle, I immediately feel judged. With Elijah and Abigail, I felt the need to explain. "I tried to breastfeed! But they weren't gaining weight, and we had to go to the bottle."
I loathe hearing women say to me, "You need to keep trying until it gets easier." That is just ... not ... true! For some women it is. But in my case, I tried everything. I also think that your experience is effected by the chemistry of your family at the time. If it is your first child, you might have the luxury or extra time or ability to pump and feed or sit on the couch all day and breastfeed.
But what if you, like me, have a 9 month old (Isaac) when you are dealing with breastfeeding concerns with your newborn (Elijah.) Or in the case of Abigail, I had two two-year-olds to watch while trying to breastfeed her. My family was better off with me bottle-feeding.
Written by an MD this article really, truly, honestly, said everything I have felt about breast feeding recently. I was especially "moved" by the following quotes:
"Let me be very clear: breastfeeding is an excellent choice for most mothers, and I applaud the many nurses, obstetricians, lactation consultants, pediatricians, and administrators who have worked to make it an integral part of prenatal, neonatal, and infant care. I am equally grateful for the policy-makers who advocate for breastfeeding support for mothers who return to the workforce. Despite my appreciation for the movement’s intention, I find myself appalled by some of its associated rhetoric. To quote Tina Fey, “Invented in the mid-1800s as a last-ditch option for orphans and underweight babies, packaged infant formula has since been perfected to be a complete and reliable source of stress and shame for mothers.”
"In a striking departure from the decades when formula was handed out routinely on labor and delivery wards, Michael Bloomberg’s Latch On NYC initiative now instructs staff to restrict access and track the distribution of formula, as well as to have any mother who uses it listen to a mandatory speech about why 'breast is best.' Every time I open a can of formula, I am faced with a warning label akin to that on a pack of cigarettes that states 'Breastfeeding is recommended. If you must use formula, we have one that is right for you.' The AAP handbook on newborn care states “breast milk is impossible to duplicate and the health benefits it offers invaluable.” The language is nuanced but damning, with the implication that a woman is elevating her own needs over those of her infant by deliberately choosing an inferior product. As with most issues, the online community is far less subtle; the blogosphere is full of web sites branding women who are unable or unwilling to breastfeed as unfit for motherhood."
The quote that stood out to me THE MOST in this article, had to do with post-partum depression and breastfeeding concerns:
A 2011 study of 2,586 breastfeeding women identified negative early breastfeeding experiences as key predictors of postpartum depression among new mothers and recommended screening women with breastfeeding difficulty for depressive symptoms.
After facing post-partum depression with both Sidge and Abigail, we decided that this time, we would be proactive in the depression battle. We made sure that I was not alone with the baby (or with all the kids) if at all possible. This way I would always feel like I had a teammate to tag out to. We would also make sure that I got more rest and that I did not feel that intense need to breastfeed that left me on the couch for hours and hours every day with a baby who still screamed when I took him/her off the breast and was not gaining weight on top of that.
The author continues:
"In our efforts to promote a medical culture that encourages the majority of women to breastfeed, obstetrician–gynecologists unfortunately may be isolating a silent minority who are unable to do so. In the months since my daughter’s birth, I have sought out literature on the topic of breastfeeding and have listened to the experiences of friends, family, and colleagues."
"There are doubtless individuals who feel that I just didn’t try hard enough, didn’t get enough support, or had to return to work too soon. Although it is difficult for me to evaluate these critiques objectively, I do observe that they all place the burden of guilt on the mother. After failing the depression screen at my 6-week postpartum visit, I was grateful for a sympathetic obstetrician who spent 45 minutes during a 10-minute appointment slot gently but firmly telling me to let it go. I was lucky to have a pragmatic pediatrician who reassured me that I was endangering neither my baby’s health nor her IQ and, perhaps most importantly, a compassionate partner who asked that I trust him to make the decision that I, through my guilt and self-blame, could not—that it was time to move on and that our baby was going to be fine."
Other blog articles on this topic that I have enjoyed: