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The irony of my tag…

Aww, I totally look like I'm going to eat him.

When I say “breastfeeding is magic” – part of that has to do with the fact that like many women, breastfeeding has been an insane challenge for me. There’s lots of things people do not tell you about being pregnant, or giving birth but in my mind what they don’t tell you about breastfeeding is basically criminal.My largest complaints can be summed up in a few short sentences, but I think the biggest crime that can be committed against a woman and child is this:

“If at first she doesn’t succeed, you give the mother a dirty look and tell her that she’s now got to switch to formula and can never breastfeed again.”

This is just such a lie, and such a crime to both mother and child. First off, many mothers, including myself, have large enough breasts/nipples that a newborn (a small one!) can’t possibly hope to latch properly. This is looked at by many nurses (not Lactation consultants…few hospitals have REAL ones!) as a fault of the mother or baby, and they will break a latch over and over and over trying to get “a good one” which is actually impossible to achieve. The baby starts losing weight rapidly, and soon will stop trying to latch at all. This is what happened to MY son, as I had been told the myth that no latch should ever hurt (btw, a good latch CAN hurt, especially if your let down is strong, the child is extra hungry, or you’re severely engorged) the nurses had me breaking one good latch after another in an effort to try and get him to take more breast into his mouth, which was simply impossible.

Finally, after a brutal night in the hospital, with my little man starving, crying and begging for food, the nurse threw her hands into the air, and gave me her final judgement: No milk. He’s getting formula!

But my breasts were SO full, and I was in SUCH pain, that she offered to get me a pump, if I could pay for the attachment (which I could not!). My explosion of tears and the milk that had been trickling out of my massively swollen breasts all night convinced her that torturing me further was cruel. So she gave me one. I started making so much milk, but was told over and over that a hospital grade pump was hundreds of dollars and that I was still destined to give formula to my little man.

Lucky for me, my doctor is also the chief of staff. She caught wind of what was happening, and put a social worker on the case and he discovered that there isn’t ANY support out there for a woman who has milk but don’t have the ability to make her child latch. Getting a pump rented? Pish. There’s formula for that! Who would pump every day, several times a day? Just mix up some formula. It’s so much faster! There’s a million places to get free formula, but not even ONE to get a pump rented, EVEN THOUGH IT’S CHEAPER! On the other hand, you also end up with unhelpful people saying – if you’re going to keep your milk, and you don’t want to use formula, you should fight with your baby before EVERY feeding by trying to put him on the breast, to make sure he’s still being forced to fear and loathe your breasts since they’re too big for him to drink from.

Yeah. I didn’t do any of that. I rented my pump (through some generous donations), I pump my breasts several times a day and I feed my child with a bottle. Because even if my tits aren’t perfect, my milk is still good food for him!

So that’s the reason why there’s irony in that tag.

Update: Now that my little man is 3 months, he’s big enough that sometimes, when he’s in the mood for it, I’ve put him to the breast to give him some comfort (he REALLY hates soothers) and he’s learned to latch all on his own. But he really still prefers to get his meals from a bottle – he much prefers the “complete” taste of mixed breast milk (there’s sugary watery milk at the start, fatty cream at the end) and doesn’t stay on long enough to ‘feed’. But here’s the rub – if I had listened to all those nurses, and if my doctor wasn’t such a nice woman, I would have had my milk dry up long before he was big enough to figure out latching for himself. He wouldn’t be as healthy, and I wouldn’t know the joy of seeing my little man get the best food he can.

All because Canada’s opinion of a woman pumping her breast milk to feed her child seems to be a joke.

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