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  • HyperHam 8:22 pm on June 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breastfeeding, formula feeding   

    It was Friday, and as most every other F… 

    It was Friday, and as most every other Friday, I was with my Yummy Mummy group at a cafe for some catching-up-on-the-sprogs time.  We all had our kids within a few weeks of each other, and at one of the two local hospitals, so it’s great to see where Alex will be in a fornight’s time or so based off of what other babies are up to.  We usually spend 3 hours or so catching up, and so everyone brings the usual bag of tricks for their kids (blankies, soft toys, diaper changes) as well as a meal.  And babies being what they are, at one point we were all feeding our children.

    Breast.

    Breast.

    Breast.

    Bottle.

    The woman’s eyes slanted into daggers as she saw my bottle from across the room.  A scowl spread across her face, reading the horrible truth – I was a Bad Mother for feeding my child crap in a can, versus from the font of Wisdom and Light that are my breasts.  You could see she debated herself for a moment about coming over and saying something, but time (or maybe a sense of self preservation, as I am a larger woman with a pink mohawk) stopped her from speaking out.  But I wish she would have.  I wish she would have come over so I could tell her

    • how I had breast reduction 10 years ago, slicing through many nerves and ducts as a trade off for having breasts that didn’t cause back spasms.
    • how I furiously researched bfar (Breast Feeding After Reduction) so that I could have the best chance possible for a bf relationship with my child.
    • how I had met with doctors to rule out tongue or lip tie, lactation counsellors for proper attachment, and various groups like La Leche League for moral support.
    • and how I had tried every wives tale and holistic approach known to man and internet to get my supply up, including but not limited to
    • Fenugreek, Brewer’s Yeast, Fennel tea, Raspberry leaf tea, Blessed thistle tincture, and the ungodly awful tasting Lactation Cookies.
    • Pumping furiously around the clock
    • Warm compressions
    • Massage which lead to a vice grip like lock on my breasts to squeeze every drop off
    • Nipple stimulation, warm showers, nursing in the bath
    • Recording my child’s cry and playing it back to stimulate let down (Editor’s note, don’t ever do this.  If you get 45 seconds when your newborn isn’t crying, don’t force yourself to listen to the Memorex version, you will go mad).
    • Thinking milky thoughts, which to this day I don’t really understand.  I tended to visualize a Niagara Falls of lactation.
    • And anything else that anyone else suggested.

    I would have liked to told her how I wasted so many precious moments of my child’s first months hating myself for being an inadequate woman and mother, and in my darker moments resenting my child for needing so much of what I could not give.  I would have liked to ask her if she also was judgemental about mothers cloth diapering versus using disposables, or pushing their children in a pram versus carrying them, or if she also inspected babies in the changing rooms to see who was circumcised or had been given inoculations and who hadn’t.  I would have liked to ask her if she spent as much time worried about her own kids as she did about the eating habits of mine.  But I didn’t.  And for me, and the lady with the dagger eyes, and I assure you the security staff at the cafe, this silent encounter was all for the best.

    There are names for women who go far past the concept of ‘Breast is Best’, and into the realm of  ‘If you feed your kid formula, you may as well accept they will end up retarded and a serial killer because of your poor parenting’.  I have heard Boob Nazi thrown about, as well as Breastapo.  I don’t like these names, because in my mind they trivialize the Holocaust, and that isn’t cool.  However, I have no problem calling them what they are: Self righteous bitches.

     

    So, to the self righteous bitch at Whole Foods last Friday who looked at me like I was Andrea Yates for daring to raise a Dr Brown’s bottle to my child’s lips:  I’m sorry I’m not like you.  I’m sorry my breasts don’t burst forth with the nectar of the Gods that is the Sacred Lactic Nourishment.  I’m sorry I had to work and fail to naturally feed my kid.  I am more sorry that you will ever understand.  But my tears over my inability to sate my child are over.  I am focused on caring for him the best I can.  If you are unwilling to give me the benefit of the doubt and look for more than 10 seconds and see that I love my child more than my own life, I am sorry for you.

     

    And if you ever, ever give me that sanctimonious look again, I will make you rue the day you ever turned eyes on me.

     

     
    • BF Veteran 10:16 pm on June 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Well, it's 26 years since I last gave a breast-feed to one of my children, and I do remember the relief of weaning that particular one at age almost 2years. Unlike you, dear hyper ham, I had no problem breastfeeding – it came naturally, I had lots of milk, easy peasy. Also no worries about bottles, sterilising, etc – when travelling or whatever as long as I was their with my magic boobs -baby was fine. I did know of course that there were other mums who didn't have it so easy and I felt sorry for them because it seemed a shame – I liked breast feeding and so did my babies – but reading your post has given me a whole new view of how distressing it can be and the spiral of self-negation a woman who wants to breastfeed but can't experiences.

      Two things I would like to say: I now have a grandson. His mum breastfed for a few months and then because of her work commitments went over to the bottle. He was fine, loved his bottle, and for me it was a great big selfish boon because I could look after my darling little grandson and feed him and it had nothing to do with my breasts! And so could we all have goes at feeding him and it was a very bonding experience to all concerned. Having had a deep conviction that breast is best, I began to see that OK, breast is good, especially that first feed or so of colostrum, but bottle definitely has many advantages, including in terms of loving interaction and socialising. I also noticed it helped enormously in getting him settled into a good sleeping-feeding routine, which I never managed with my own long-term breast fed babies. That grandson is now a sturdy 5 year old, healthy as they come, secure and happy. Bottle feeding certainly didn't do him any harm – it was just one element – as is breastfeeding – of good parental nurturing.

      Secondly, I can understand how you feel about that Whole Foods lady but don't be too hard. We women are awfully hormonal and a bit loony when we first wake up on planet baby, and can get weird fixations. She may (a bit like me, I'm ashamed to say) have thought that women who choose bottle are putting their bodies before their babies or just making a less healthy choice. Mea culpa! And thank you for such an honest and enlightening post. Your baby is very lucky to have such a great mum!

      • HyperHam 6:29 am on June 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, BF Veteran. This lady would have blanched at the names I have called myself over being unable to nourish Weapon because I became SO fixated on this one specific part of parenting, and forgot about the totality of the situation, ie caring for my child in all his needs – love, cuddles, warmth, etc. I had a friend give birth a few weeks ago, and she is agonizing over milk not coming in on time, inability to feed properly, etc. I hope she remembers that while on a whole women are built to feed their kids, life isn't a matter of averages, it's a matter of individuals, and it is each person's individual job to do best for their individual child. 😀

  • HyperHam 3:17 pm on March 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breastfeeding, formula   

    Formula Feeding Sucks 

    Let me be the first to say, I use formula to top up. Due to a massive breast reduction and birth trauma, my child has had at least a little formula with my tiny boob output every single day of his life. So I am not yelling at people who choose to formula feed/have to formula feed. This rant is more for people who may be considering formula as an option versus a neccessity.

    If you can manage it, for the love of Thor, don’t.

    I’m not trying to dissuade you because I hate formula. Sure, it isn’t as organically good as breastmilk, but I feed my kid it, so I don’t see them as OMGTEHEVILZ. And I am not trying to dissuade you becauseI love breastfeeding, because frankly, I don’t. I am telling you this so you can walk in perfectly wide eyed to what the day to day life is like with formula feeding.

    Let me take you through a typical day. Baby cries, awake and hungry. My husband or I drag ourselves out of bed, and to the kitchen. No, not to the baby – to the kitchen. See, I have to get the kettle going to boil the water for the formula. Because powdered formula is not sterile, bacteria can be rife in the canisters, and so you have to add scalding water to the feed to kill said bacteria. Adding hot tap water won’t do the trick – it has to be boiled and slightly cooled. So while your child is screaming their hungry head off, you have to boil, slightly cool, measure water, measure formula, mix thoroughly, bottle, and get the nipple on. All half awake. YAY!

    Nutritonal side note: If your baby is lactose intolerant, whoooooo boy are you in for some fun, as formula is derived from cow’s milk. So, you can go for even more expensive low lactose formula, or soy, or if that doesn’t work, hypoallergenic formula, which costs well, Google ‘Hypoallergenic formula cost’ yourself. Bear in mind, your young baby will go through 1/2 to 1 container of feed a week. Enjoy!

    Now baby needs to eat bottle – while on the boob baby can relax, lay down, and slowly feed, when he is upright it’s like license to INHALE his food. And while the exceedingly expensive silicone teats on our very expensive bottles try their best to imitate the human nipple, it’s not the same, and baby takes in huge gulps of air with feed. Huge gulps of air equals gassy, angry baby. You will need to stop feeding several times to burp, which baby hates as he is OMGHUNGRYNOW. To be fair, breastfeeding causes a little gas as well, but not nearly as much as bottle if my mummy group is anything to go by. The breastfed babies have small calm burps, and the bottle feds have a helluva time getting all that gas out by the time it is all said and done.

    Oh, and on bottles – they are wicked expensive. Their accessories (bottle warmers, canisters, sterilizers) are wicked expensive. Formula is wicked expensive (or rather is a minor expensive which adds up). See, you *can* get bottles for cheap, but they often have design flaws which create many other problems (such as massive gas from inflexible teats, bottles with plastic that cracks after a few sterilizations, etc). So to keep your baby (and your sanity) going strong, you have to shell out serious bucks on things which require (per manufacturer’s instructions) replacement every few months or so. And as a quick reminder: Newborns feed 8 -12 times a day. Even formula fed newborns feed at least 6 times a day, which means lots and lots of expensive bottles, and lots and lots of special cleaning and sterilization. All that cleaning and sterilization takes time, time you may find yourself short of with a new little one to look after.

    You know how new parents are all sleep deprived and tend to forget their own heads if they weren’t attached? God help you if you forget to bring formula/mix/spare bottle when you go out. While you can buy emergency supplies at some stores (single serving liquid formula), most convienence stores don’t carry quality stuff, so you now get to play the game of ‘Do I go home and get stuff, try to find something decent on the road, or drive pencils in my ears to stop the wailing from my kid who is starving right now?’. My my my, it is a fun game.

    So if you *can* breastfeed, honest to goodness try. Try as hard as you can, and don’t give up. And if you have given up before, try to get that supply back. Contact your hospital’s Lactation Consultant. Call your local LLL group. Find breastfeeding groups that meet in your area. Because believe you me, formula is not an easy way out – it is a pain in the altogether.

     
    • Mark 3:24 pm on March 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      • HyperHam 3:52 pm on March 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Most definately, and both have plusses and minuses (see my salvo on why breastfeeding sucks, a few posts back). Of course, considering hovering over your ‘name’ brings up a formula selling website, you can pretty much suck it.

      • Mags 4:59 pm on March 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        And some women don't have a choice…

    • Mags 4:58 pm on March 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      You don't need a special bottle warmer: we use a spare coffee cafeteire and the kettle. You don't need to make up formula fresh each time: we make up 24 hours' worth of feeds and reheat.

      If you think kit is a pain to remember now, wait till you start having to pack solids, snacks, water and milk…

    • Elizabeth 11:43 am on April 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Just FYI, to kill any bacteria in the powdered formula you have to boil it for several minutes. Boiling the water and dumping it in with the formula doesn't cut it. I think parent's just do this to make themselves feel better about feeding crap in a can.

  • HyperHam 11:37 am on February 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breastfeeding   

    Breastfeeding Sucks 

    Next in the Things That Suck series is breastfeeding.  When one thinks of breastfeeding, one can (if they have not experienced it) think of many things.  Wetnurses in the Tudor period, some old National Geographic magazine with boobs 4 feet long and kids hanging off them, movies featuring tranquil mothers stroking contended babies’ foreheads within a soft focus lens.  Like that crazy lady from Hand That Rocks the Cradle, or somesuch. 

    These images are not untrue.  But they are not the whole truth. 

    My whole truth (notice I did not say everyones – this is only my opinion) is that breastfeeding sucks.  New moms, take note:  BREASTFEEDING IS NOT SECOND NATURE.  You and your offspring will have to work, often times very very hard, to do it.  That is the first thing people won’t tell you – you will fail many many times at it.  There is a reason that typing in ‘breastfeeding’ to Amazon will yield at this typing 4348 products.  Books, nipple butter, cold/warm compresses, breast pads, milk bags, milk pumps, milk storage containers, instructional manuals, necklaces that your kid can hold while he feeds, special shirts, special bras, special pillows, you name it, it’s been made (and more than likely now resides in my home).  This breastfeeding game is a tough one – remember that. 

    And frankly, I feel no grand life force surge through me to my child when I breastfeed, no bond of love and universal harmony.  I generally am too tired at 4 in the morning to ponder life’s mysteries; I am trying not to fall asleep and smother my kid with my boob.  When I do gander at my kid, he is gnawing on my boobage, falling asleep halfway through, squirming, screaming, repeat ad naseum.  And the fun kicker is, newborns generally need to boobie feed every 2-3 hours or so.  That’s 8-12 feeds per 24 hour period.  Some kids feed fast and hard, and can be done in 20 mins.  Some can take an hour.  That means when you look at the clock from the little boobie nest you have made for yourself on the couch, you will be in that exact same position in 3 hours, whether your kid takes no time at all to feed, or takes all the time in the world.  Alex had to be formula supplemented from the get go (my first night was spent in the mommy ICU getting my blood transfusion, and it took a really long time for my milk to come in after the birth trauma), which the the Catch 22 of breastfeeding – to get your supply good and up, your kid has to feed all the time.  When you formula top up, the kid doesn’t feed as much, and your supply dips – which means you need more formula at the next feed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  When Alex was first born, his feeds (20 mins on each breast, nappy change, and a bottle) took 1.5 hours.  Now we’re down to an hour, but it still sucks ass to have to get the bottle ready while boobie feeding (or have my poor, also sleep deprived hubby do it while I am boobie feeding) and know you will be doing the same thing in 2.5 hours. 

    Sidebar:  When they say new mothers nest, they don’t mean metaphorically.  Here is what I have surrounding me when I feed:  Bassinet, burp cloths/change of clothes for diaper blowouts, water bottle, cup of tea/hot cocoa, large cup with cool water to chill down formula bottle, snacks (fruit, chips, mini muffins), changing mat/diapers/wipes, baby meds (we just stared Gaviscon and Zantac, and whatever some of you may think about Big Pharm, that shit WORKS on infant reflux), a gazillion pillows to prop myself up on (yay episiotomy!), cell phone, house phone, remote, computer.  Yes, it does take up a lot of room.  Yes, it is annoyingly in the way.  Yes, you will need every single thing for every single feed, or you will go insane. 

    Want some delicious irony?  Your kid can be allergic to you.  Yes, YOU!  Your child can be allergic to your milk, or rather what is in it.  So you cut dairy, wheat, soy, brocolli, meat, peanut butter, oranges, any and every item the internet tells you could be setting your kid off.  And then your midwife looks at you like you’re an idiot and tells you that you need meat/wheat/etc to get your boob supply up.  Catch.  22. 

    This doesn’t even begin to touch the craziness of the more severe issues you can encounter.   These are some common horrors I have been lucky and have not experienced yet:   Your kid can have tongue tie, where the underside of his tongue needs to be severed to attach properly; you can have blocked ducts, where the milk gets lodged in your boob (very painful); you can get a yeast infection on your nipple (and his mouth); the hits just keep on coming. 

    We won’t even get into the politics of breastfeeding in public, boobiefeeding past the age of 1 or 2, etc.  The two times I’ve boobiefed (very modestly) have been fine with no complaints, and he’s only one month old.  We won’t begin to argue about formula versus boob.  Alex takes both for now, and will hopefully be solely boobage fed by the end of month 2. 

    So why do it?  There are moments I have no idea.  Yes, you get nutrients to the kid, and wonderful antibodies.  Yes, it helps tone up mummy’s body (uterus as well as burning calories).  Yes, it is natural.  And yes, I will fight tooth and nail to hit that 6 month mark even if I have to top up the whole time.  Cracked nipples, a sore back, long nights, feeling like a failure for having to top up, all of that is still worth it. 

    I tell you all this because I believe it will get better.  I tell you all this because I *have* to believe it.  I tell you this because if you are a mum, I want you to understand that I feel your pain.  I tell you this because if you’re not a mum, you may have more patience for the mums in your life (or the strangers you meet who happen to be mums). 

    I tell you this because it’s a crooked game, but it’s the only game in town. 

    …but it still sucks.  😉

     
    • Adam 12:17 pm on February 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It will get better – sounds corny or crass; but it's true. We were very lucky in that breastfeeding came with little struggle for us; however we know many mums who have found it hard or altogether impossible. You are not a failure for topping up. You are not a failure if you don't hit that six month mark. You are not a failure for even thinking of stopping or topping up. You are a mum and you are all the more amazing for it.

    • Kristi 12:56 pm on February 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I will e-mail you – this thing won't let me post long winded stuff. Boo!

    • Jill 2:06 pm on February 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It does get better. And while you may not get a surge of Mother Earth energy – you do get some quiet don't you. Once it settles down maybe you'll get some tiny endorphins too. I had a hard time at first but later I thought – how great that I have The Thing This Kid Wants Most in the World right with me at all times!! 🙂

    • Joe 12:14 pm on February 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      “Books, nipple butter, cold/warm compresses, breast pads, milk bags, milk pumps, milk storage containers, instructional manuals, necklaces that your kid can hold while he feeds, special shirts, special bras, special pillows, you name it…”

      The best thing about that laundry list is how many of those phrases can be slang for boobs.

    • suburp 12:57 am on March 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      you need to do what feels right for you. but i think you have a good attitude and you will get there. i also did not find it easy, my boy was unfocused, but demanding, i introduced the dummy at 2 1/2 months and added formula at 4 or so. but I made it to the magic 6 month for only milk and a year (yeah!) for daily feeds. I believe it gave him a good start, health wise. When he is sick now, he goes up to 40 degrees in one day and you can imagine how scary that would have been at any younger age ! O_O
      truth is though, i did not know at the time that there is an actual fierce breastfeeding ‘debate’ on the internet. let’s stay real for a moment. there is no ‘debate’ about how often you should change their nappies either. that’s not exactly fun either but there are certainly very different ways to deal with it as well, all around the globe. do what you can, do what’s right for your child. to me it sounds like you are doing perfectly well,
      all the 3 of you! x

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