Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Breastfeeding: At My Wit's End

From an article I read recently: Returning to work on a part-time or casual basis presents almost as much a barrier to breastfeeding for new mothers as working full-time, further fuelling the push for a national paid maternity leave scheme.

Funny how timely this piece of reporting is for yours truly. I mean funny in a heartbreaking way. This whole struggling to feed my baby thing is getting frankly ridiculous. See, I'm a problem solver by nature. If I can research my way out of a problem, train my way out of a problem, or butt heads with the problem, I'm golden. How have I approached breastfeeding? I've done the research -- I can rattle off holds, tricks for getting a good latch, and facts about breastfeeding. I've met with multiple lactation consultants and nurses. And Paloma and I have practiced, practiced, practiced.

Unfortunately, it feels like there's not a smidge of consensus to be found among breastfeeding advocates and educators. I've heard:

"You should always be supplementing with a bottle because she's not getting enough milk," from one LC, and "Never use a bottle, and maybe stop supplementing," from another.

"Paloma is a weak feeder" from one LC, and "Paloma seems to be a good strong feeder," from another.

"You want to hear those swallows" from one LC, and "It's okay if it doesn't seem like she's getting any milk because she's probably just nursing for comfort. Just keep an eye on her diapers," from another.

And so on and so forth...

So how does all this relate to the aforementioned article? If things continue like this, I could actually lose my job. The last lactation consultant I met with is an advocate of cluster feeding. If, according to her, Paloma is only nursing for tiny spans of time and sometimes it seems like she's not getting anything at all, that's okay because the frequency of her feedings will make up for it. That's what today was like, and the amount of work I got done was minimal.

Yes, I should be concentrating on my baby, work be damned, but it's a lot easier to concentrate on said baby when I don't have to worry about paying the bills. And with the job market being what it is I can guarantee you that there are scads of people lining up ready to do my job if I show the slightest sign of not being able to.


  1. If you feel strongly about having her at the breast the only way to be positive that she's eating enough is to weigh her before and after a feeding. Then you can see how much she's getting and have a proper report for your PED. If you're worried about your job..just pump for her and give it to her in the bottle. It doesn't mean you love her less if you bottle feed her versus breast feed, and given she's getting the breast milk either way she isn't losing out.

    If you go crazy with stress your milk will start to go, however, and that will only stress you out more and that, my friend, is no good for you or her.

  2. I sort of said it on my last comment, but really, there is no shame whatsoever in making the decision to bottle feed.

    You have tried your best, and it is NO reflection upon you and your abilities as a mother.

    I wrestled for YEARS with the guilt of having to bottle feed the Munchkin, and you know what? He is a supremely healthy, intelligent, loving, and well-adjusted little boy.

    All the guilt was from outside sources, and I finally learned to let it go.

    Agree with Audrey that if she's getting breastmilk, it truly doesn't matter how it's delivered.

  3. What's the reasoning against bottle feeding, anyway? I am not up on all the latest "this is what you have to do to have a perfect child" mommy-guilt-trips.

    Seems to my uneducated ass that as long as the baby is getting the (I guess it has to be breast) milk she needs and some cuddling-cooing while she's feeding, she should be fine, bottle or boob. It also seems to me that bottle feeding could allow Dad to be more in on the whole feeding/cuddling/bonding action. How am I wrong here?

    Just seems like all the (often conflicting) information out there is designed to make new moms feel damned if they do, damned if they don't.


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