Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To Breastfeed or to Bottle feed...Part One

When I was pregnant with my little bundle of joy, I thought for sure that I would breastfeed. I bought a nursing cover, nursing pads, nursing bras, and a pump. I envisioned myself holding my little love in my arms and nourishing him with what has been instilled in me as the best possible food for him. I'm a speech therapist to boot so of course I knew the benefits of this motherly nectar.
And then Zander was born and there was no milk. Our time in the hospital flew by and everyone kept sharing their stories of how long it took for their milk to come in. Most of my friends and family kept telling me to watch and see "you'll feel your boobs get really big and heavy." I felt completely comfortable that this was a natural process and that any day my milk would come in. Just to be on the safe side and receive any free information that I can, I asked the nurse for a lactation consult, which is when they explained that if I really wanted to nurse that I needed to keep trying and by no means ever, give him formula.
We went home and a day went by, no milk, two milk, three milk, I was starting to freak out. My little boy was freaking out too. My sister in law, came over to help me out the day after I got home and she realized that my little boy was starving and went and bought him some formula. She explained that it would just help to supplement while I was waiting for my milk to come in. I was so scared to give it to him after everyone was telling me not to. I gave him 1 ounce and I have never seen a happier baby. He sucked it down so fast and prompltly went to sleep. I started crying because I thought I had hurt my baby. I didn't understand why he wasn't crying anymore. I thought I had poisened him. My sister in law, said relax he's fat and happy right now. I decided that this was a one time thing and that I was going to stay on track with pushing the nursing.
In one day he was back to crying all the time, by the second day he was not latching, and by the third day he only had 2 wet diapers. I called the doctor and told them what was going on, they explained that I needed to keep trying to nurse, and again "DO NOT GIVE HIM FORMULA."
Everyone tried to help. My mother had people from her work calling me with ideas, like having a beer to relax (everyone kept telling me I was too anxious for my milk to come in) warm compresses, and herbal teas. All the while my boobs never felt full or seemed to get any bigger.
I kept calling and asking nurses and doctors and friends and family, "can I just give him some formula, I really don't think he's getting anything?" People kept telling me "no, your milk will never come in then." All I heard was keep trying, keep trying.
I remember one extremely difficult night. Zander was done latching and just pissed at me for not feeding him. I kept trying to nurse and he would clamp down with his little gums so hard and start screaming. We tried for 2 hours and I was crying, he was screaming. I called the hospital at like 2 am and I was screaming into the phone, Zander was crying in the background, and I finally found a nurse with sympathy. She said "mam, give your child some formula and go to bed." I couldn't believe this, I thought, this has to be a joke. I asked her if she was sure and explained how I had been told that he wouldn't nurse if I did that. She said "No, give him food, it's been a week hon' it might never come in."
I hung up the phone and pondered the thought, "No milk? what? she had to be crazy." I told Tyler what she said and he ran into the kitchen and made a bottle. My baby ate 1.5 ounces and fell to sleep so happy. In the morning I began trying to latch for 5 minutes each breast, and then giving him a bottle. I also decided at that point to make another lactation appointment because I still really wanted to breastfeed.
To Be Continued...


  1. Tammy, I am so glad you're posting this story. Like you, I really wanted to breastfeed and my milk came in fine. The problem was that my baby had such a difficult time feeding that we both became so frustrated. Luckily, everyone around me was so supportive of introducing formula. It REALLY bugs me that you did not have that experience. Once Mackenzie dropped to 5 lbs 2 oz, I decided that the most important thing was that my baby starting gaining weight so I introduced formula and I never looked back. Again, crazy how many similarities we've had.

  2. Wow Alyssa, you're right, we live parallel lives. People are so crazy about formula! I feel like Zander is growing so well and loving life on formula. Plus Tyler can help out, actually anyone can. So I say bring on the formula! I'm so happy to know you had a similar experience. Thank you for commenting.

  3. I'm glad you posted this. Isn't it strange how much guilt we mothers let ourselves feel over things we shouldn't feel bad about? I'm so glad that you know what to expect for your next baby (although, who knows, maybe your milk will come in next time). Zander is such a healthy, beautiful boy, and so lucky to have a mother who wants nothing but the best for him.

  4. I'm glad you posted, like everyone else, because as one of the psycho mothers who thought if I ever gave my child formula they would be emotionally scarred or turn out stupid, I've loosened up a bit. On the next kid, I just may supplement! I realize now babies don't care how they're fed as long as it's done and done the second they want it.

  5. Tammy, you and Zander are beautiful together. Happy baby and happy mother. Tyler adores him too. I'm glad that you trusted your motherly instincts and everything turned out well.
    We go through these trials and if we can reach out, with experience and compassion to another mother, we make a difference. Thank you for sharing your story and for trusting your own judgment. He is a delight and he is blessed to have you and Tyler as his parents.

  6. I hated that you had to go through this. It was such a traumatic time for you, and I felt so helpless talking to you on the phone. I hope you felt that your family was supportive of your decision. I know we were trying to be. We wanted whatever you wanted.

    The good news about going through trails like these is that it makes us trust our intuition even more. Going against the grain is never an easy thing to do, but sometimes it is the only right thing to do for your family. Given your situation, I'm sure the majority of parents would have done exactly the same thing. Like I've said before, parents should support each other in spite of our differences. Sadly, many times we are faced with judgment instead.

    You are a terrific mama, a beautiful woman, and I'm so glad you're my sister.