Did you guys see my series on breastfeeding in World Moms Blog?
I’d love to know what you think and whether it resonates with your experiences.
The tl;dr of it is that I think that the reason so many women in Canada still don’t breastfeed despite astounding pressure to do so is that while we are constantly told TO breastfeed, we aren’t told HOW.
In fact, many women I speak to have been given incorrect advice by their nurses or doctors which actually sabotaged their attempt to breastfeed.
I have met several women trying to breastfeed who have turned to a bottle in the meantime, never having been warned by their doctor that a nipple could make the latch worse. One friend was told that she had poor supply and was given galactogogues, but no one explained to her that breastfeeding is a supply and demand system, so she went out and got a crate of formula. I have met women who thought it was supposed to be easy and natural, and no one warned them that it often isn’t.
If they want us to breastfeed, where is the support?
The friend who was given galactoguges never did reach full supply, but she continues to try to at least partially nurse her baby. Last night I saw her offer him the breast only for him to refuse it in lieu of the easier-to-drink bottle in her hand. I know how desperately she had wanted to breastfeed, and I felt so bad for her. No one talked to her about supplemental nursing systems. No one told her that some people just can’t produce much milk in a breast pump – that doesn’t mean that the milk isn’t in there.
No one helped her. They practically handed her a bottle at every pass. She laments the cost of formula, the fact that she couldn’t feed her baby “naturally” and remains grateful that she can nurse him at all, even occasionally.
We get lots of guilt but where is the help?
I was so frigging lucky.
Hi, I'm Natalie said:
Heh. I liked the articles… I think my story is pretty similar to yours, although I think I had a bit more “discomfort” *cough*excruciating pain*cough* than you got away with ;>) – and teeth at 12 months were a deal-breaker for me… I can’t imagine having to deal with ignorant doctors/nurses on top of all the other stress surrounding having a newborn!
My story: http://www.mommybyday.com/2010/07/breastfeeding-looking-back-part-i.html
I remember your problems lasted for months, whereas my latching issues resolved in weeks, it’s true – but forget not the STRAWBERRY MILK INCIDENT!
Once again I was lucky that that issue resolved in two or three weeks.
Yeah, whoever said breastfeeding is natural and easy LIED.
Erin B said:
I think in some perverse way, I succeeded because everyone told me it was hard. My mom told me it was painful the WHOLE TIME she breast fed (three months). The local Le Leche League talked about how hard it was to get a lactation consultant. The prenancy podcast I listened to was full of women who wanted to breast feed but gave up. For what ever reason, it just made me dig in my heals and (like you) and self educate. I read The Womanly Art. I attended LLL meetings for months before I delivered. I started asking for help as soon as my daughter was born and had every nurse on the ward help with the latch. One was good, the others were…. less helpful. I had the public health nurse to to watch. I used a rude word when mom offered to buy me formula. I was expecting it to be awful, but I was going to do it anyway.
Then it wasn’t as bad as I thought and I had lots of support in place to get me over the rough patches.
Good for you! I think that people need to hear that it’s hard, though – hard but doable. I also expected cracked nipples and all the rest of it.
Some people call us cynics. I just call us well prepared.
It never crossed my mind that breastfeeding would be hard, and it wasn’t.
I think women believe they will fail, so they do. A lot of them get the idea that they’ll fail from their healthcare providers, but others get them from their own mothers, sisters, and friends.
Watch, now my next one is going to be a bitch to feed.
Well, it did cross your mind because we discussed it before you had the baby. You saw how painful my first couple of weeks were, and we had a coworker with a baby who latched poorly too. Speaking as someone who has been through a bad latch, I assure you it didn’t take place because of my attitude.
I think the difference is that coming from families that supported breastfeeding, you and I were both determined that difficulties wouldn’t be insuperable. I think we both saw breastfeeding as doable. But for women coming from formula feeding backgrounds, they hit those hurdles and don’t know where to go from there, because there’s no one to help them over. You were lucky that your baby had a good latch, so you had no problems. But if he HAD had a bad latch, you would have overcome it, because you had that support network in place.
Even if breastfeeding had been effortless, I think a lot of support people sabotage breastfeeding without even knowing that they are doing it. The risks posed by even a single bottle of formula are commonly not known. Imagine if, a day or two after the birth, you had awoken from a nap only to be cheerfully informed by a misguided mother/husband/midwife that “he seemed hungry and I didn’t want to wake you, so I fed him some formula. He gobbled it right up and now he’s asleep again!”
Even without the presupposition of failure (which, I agree, is far too common) people have their breastfeeding sabotaged. It’s so sad.