Friday, August 10, 2012

Breastfeeding vs. Formula

Anyone who's been reading this blog for the last [almost] two years or anyone who knows me, knows that breastfeeding was just not for me and Grant. I wanted to, I tried, I did it for a while...and I hated it. Every time. That is not an exaggeration by any stretch, it was awful. I can remember just one feeding that made me think "If it was like this everytime, I wouldn't mind this a bit". But, for the most part, when he was hungry I felt like I was raising a tiny piranha that was bent on my destruction. And I dreaded every feeding.

So, having said that I need to point out that I am not anti-breastfeeding. I think it's wonderful that there are mom's out there that are able to nurse their children and it works so well for them. And I know that every situation is different so it gives me hope that if we have another baby someday, I could try it again and it may work better for us.

What I am against is the constant guilt placed on mom's who can't or just simply decide not to breastfeed. It was the guilt placed on me starting in the hospital that kept me going when I so desperately wanted to quit. After trying and trying and failing and failing AND in my very emotional state feeling like a failure, I finally said "I really want to give him formula". I was told by a nurse that No, you don't want to do that because that's not what he needs. Instead of the rage that I feel now looking back at being treated like I couldn't make a decision, I felt guilty for wanting to quit. Guilty for feeling like I was doing wrong by my child. I cried so many times in the hospital out of sleep deprived frustration because it just wasn't working. Part of me wanted to leave the hospital so bad to get away from the opinionated, pushy nurses but part of me wanted to stay too. Because what happens when I get home and I have no one to ask for help and I can't do it?

Then I got home and it was working a tiny bit better because I was able to figure out what was better for me without the nurses hanging around telling me I was doing it wrong. But it was still terribly painful and every time I had the feeling of needing to quit. So the guilt continued. And I felt guilty confessing to my husband how badly I hated it and I felt like he'd be disappointed in me if I did. Like I was a bad mother. (For the record he never said or did anything that made me think he felt this way, it really was all in my guilt-ridden head.) I am no longer ashamed to say that I hated feeding my child. I even resented him some because of the pain. You should NEVER EVER feel that way. I was supposed to love holding him and spending that time with him because it was just for us. But I didn't. For how ever long he was attached to me, I knew it wasn't supposed to be that way [for us]. Afterwards when Grant would be all sleepy, I would cuddle with him, no longer in pain. I'd think about how great it was to be his Mama and then I'd feel bad for how much I hated nursing. And sometimes I'd cry some more.

I was told time and time again by our pediatrician that if we switched to formula full-time (because I did substitute it when I had to) then everything would be fine. She said the formula they make now is awesome and that she has plenty of patients who started on formula day one and that there is nothing wrong with it. My mother-in-law said the same thing, that she never nursed either of her children. And I knew it, I knew he would be fine if I switched...but there was guilt. And it was there when I finally did quit but I just couldn't do it anymore. I pumped for about two weeks after that but then quit that too. And you know what I realized? I loved feeding Grant a bottle. I loved his feedings from start to finished and the more I did that, the more that guilt subsided. My guilt ruined my 9 weeks of maternity leave and I so wish that things had been different. But you live an learn.

So, what's prompted this post? THIS ARTICLE about the mayor of NYC's breastfeeding iniaitive. No man should ever be allowed to implement something that they can never fully understand:

"Michael Bloomberg is now launching the Latch On NYC nursing iniaitive in early September, which will encourage hospitals to keep formula locked away so it will need to be signed out by nurses like medication.  Moms who want to formula-feed will still be able to, but they will first receive a talk outlining the benefits of nursing. The hope is that this voluntary program will promote breastfeeding as the default option and make it a bit harder to reach for formula."

Are you kidding me?? Mom's who choose to formula-feed have to sit through a talk? I can't even express how angry this makes me. And it makes me sad. Sad for any new mom giving birth in one of the NYC hospitals that are implementing this program. Because even if they go in there intending to breastfeed but maybe, like me, they just have a hard time and know it's not for them they will have so much guilt pressed on them by this program. It's disgusting to me that someone who can't ever know what he's doing to those women because he can't ever understand what an experience (either good or bad) like that feels like can put a program like this into effect. He shouldn't even be allowed to present to anyone in order get it underway. I guess I just need to be thankful that I don't live in NYC.

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