These are my random musings. Hopefully they will be witty, insightful, and frequently updated.
Put your baby to the test!
Published on January 3, 2006 By singrdave In Parenting
Regarding the question of breast feeding your baby:

Do it.

Best for the child; bets for the mother. According to La Leche League, there are definite benefits for baby. They cite the book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" quite a bit, too:

Benefits for Baby
Chapter 18 of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, "The Superior Infant Food," documents the benefits of breastfeeding such as the antibodies in it to protect the baby from illness. For example, "Deaths from respiratory infections in artificially fed infants were 120 times greater than among breastfed babies" (THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, page 345). Breastfed babies have a decreased likelihood for allergies and dental caries. They also benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development as well as overall facial development. This means that people who were artificially fed may experience more trips to doctors and dentists.

Benefits for Mother
Chapter 19 of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, "How Breastfeeding Affects a Mother," describes some of the physical benefits of breastfeeding for the mother such as reduced rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The time saved for mother is immense also. As a breastfeeding mother, you can feed your baby even during stressful times such as when normal supplies of food and water are not available.

Even the formula manufacturers are on the side of breastfeeding:
From the Nestle' website...

Breastmilk is nature's most perfect food for your baby. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization of more than 53,000 physicians who specialize in caring for children, recommends breastmilk as the primary source of nutrition for baby's first year of life. Here are breastfeeding highlights:
1) Doctors agree breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for your baby because it's easy to digest, helps baby avoid food allergies and gives him protective antibodies to help fight off illness.
2) Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth. Make sure your health-care provider knows that you plan to breastfeed your baby. When you're admitted to the hospital, ask the labor and delivery room nurse to notify the nursery that you will be breastfeeding. Nurse your baby as soon after delivery as possible, preferably within the first hour after birth. Your baby benefits right away from the easy-to-digest proteins, vitamins, and minerals-as well as from protective antibodies-in colostrum, the yellowish, translucent fluid that your breasts secrete for the first two to three days. In addition to helping both of you adjust to breastfeeding, frequent and early nursing also helps increase your milk production and helps your baby have his first bowel movement.

The website lists seven total benefits of breastfeeding.

My wife is currently breastfeeding our six month old infant. He is thriving from breast milk, and my wife is very happy. This hasn't always been the case. We have four children and only two have been exclusively breast-fed. My oldest took to it like a champ. He wasn't weaned until about twelve or thirteen months old, when he was transitioned to solid food. To add to the complication, at the time my wife was working. She still was able to nurse our oldest son; we had it worked out pretty well. She was working nights, after I was home from my job. She'd nurse him before work, leaving a bottle of expressed milk in the fridge for me, and I would drive the baby to her on her lunch break (around 7 or 8 pm) and she'd nurse him while eating her dinner.

Our second son was premature, and did not develop the sucking reflex. He was not thriving at all, and in fact started to lose weight at around five months old. He was listless and hungry all the time. We were very concerned, and so we switched him over to formula. This was devastating to my wife, who felt she had failed as a mother. She felt betrayed by the child, as well, and it took a lot of soul-searching on her part to get over the breast-feeding issue. But when we saw our baby thriving and happy, gaining weight, laughing, smiling, and interacting, we knew it was the right thing to do.

Our third child lost interest in the breast at about five months. She was not underfed; she just simply refused it. She was very easily distracted by background noise (and with two older kids in the house, it was often), and would latch off and look around to see what was going on. We had to move her to the bottle in order for her to get enough food, and that transition was much less awkward because we'd already been through the trauma with our second son.

There is also the social side of breastfeeding in public, which is awkward, somewhat obvious, and may be offensive to some. To them I say poo. A pox on your house. My wife is doing what's best for our child. She's covered up; what do you care what she does underneath that baby blue blanket?

So any thoughts? Any stories out there about your own experiences? Breastfeeding good? Breastfeeding bad? How does one weigh the social and work implications of breastfeeding? Anyone out there just totally against breastfeeding? Or think it's just unfeasible?

Comments (Page 1)
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on Jan 03, 2006
on Jan 03, 2006
I breastfed both my kids for 18 months each. They went from that straight to a cup, no bottles, no mess! It was great. They also never sucked a pacifier so no breaking them from that.

I didn't mind it the first 12 months, but after that I got antsy to end it because I was to tied to them, couldn't go anywhere without them.

But I stuck with it until each was ready to be weaned, and each let me know when they were ready. (Not to say I'd have been doing it much longer than 18 months believe me!)
on Jan 03, 2006
I nursed all three of my boys and thought it was a wonderful experience. I wasn't going to nurse but my oldest sons pediatrician really encouraged me to try it. He told me that no matter if I only did it for a few weeks or a month my child would get many benefits from it. I am glad that I did try it and it worked great for us. I enjoyed that time with them. Of course, I was home with them so I didn't have to worry about pumping etc. I was definately always with them since they didn't take formula. Eventually they could have the juice bottles and I had a tiny bit of freedom.

My doctors and the woman at WIC were always very supportive of nursing. My in-laws were not. My son had eczema and they said it was because he was allergic to my milk. I think mainly they wanted to be able to take off with my son and since he was nursing they couldn't.

There were some embarassments such as leaking milk. The few times I nursed in public, I always covered up with a blanket. I think people that have a problem with nursing in public need to be educated especially since most nursing mothers I know are not flashing the world but are very discreet. I don't understand the people who think you should go find your baby on the toilet. Would they feed their baby on the toilet?
on Jan 03, 2006

I nursed Shea for 3 months and got mastitis twice.

I nursed Davey for 6 weeks and got mastitis that the doctor's failed to diagnose until my fever was 106 degrees and I was delirious.  I was very, very ill and stopped nursing under doctor's advice.

I didn't nurse Jake.  Apparently I have some milk ducts that don't empty properly, and the last infection I got scarred them enough to where they probably wouldn't empty at all...which would ensure mastitis would set in pretty rapidly.  So, under medical advice, I didn't nurse.  I missed it, and I also noticed that Jake got more colds and ear infections than his siblings.

I also noticed that I got more flack for not breastfeeding than I felt was necessary.  I wasn't not doing it because I didn't want to, I was not doing it becase it was detrimental (and very much so) to my health.  I was emotional enough after Jake's birth as it was, I didn't need other women (breastfeeding advocates) telling me that breastmilk was best for my baby and silently implying that I wasn't doing the best I could for him by not nursing.  I KNEW that; I simply wasn't able to nurse.

I'd have loved to have been able to nurse Jake.  There is nothing more natural than the act breastfeeding....and if I could do it all over again I'd give serious consideration to defying medical advice and nursing him anyway.

on Jan 03, 2006

I have seen a lot of that over the years. Breastfeeding moms vs bottle fed.

I don't think anyone disagrees that breast is best....but not everyone is in the position to be able to breast feed. I don't think new mom's need the guilt trip frankly. And I am sorry you had to endure it.

We could always go back to the "wet nurse" idea....imagine the things that would be said about that! Buwhahahwa...but if breast is best...wellllllllll???

I know with my first son I had so much milk I filled a deep freeze full of it....he would nurse until full but I still had tons of milk left over...and I didn't even have to pump it...he'd do his thing and it was like turning on a faucet! I just caught it with sterile bottles and froze it. When I weaned him I threw an entire freezer full of milk out.

Of course I didn't know about the breast milk banks back then, if they even existed.
on Jan 03, 2006
I agree that mom's who can't or choose not to breat feed should not be made to feel inferior. I think its great if it works for you. If it doesn't your child is not going to be hurt by being a bottle baby.

One of my daycare moms nurses and pumps and she cried when she had to start supplementing with formula. She felt like her body was betraying her by not producing enough milk. I told her she was a great mom and that it was very impressive that she is still nursing her while working full time. Her daughter is now almost 11 months and she still nurses twice a day with her mom.

I don't know what it is with moms and guilt but we seem to have more than our share even over things we can't control.
on Jan 03, 2006

She felt like her body was betraying her

That's how I felt too.  Like my body had done me wrong because I got infection after infection.

T: I was the same way.  My hubby nicknamed me 'The Dairy Queen' because I made enough to feed sextuplets and then some....the babies would start to nurse, I'd have that let-down reflex, and it was, as you said, like turning on a faucet.  It literally poured out.  I caught it too, and ended up using that stored milk once I could no longer nurse.

I felt so, so horrible about not being able to breastfeed.  I remember sitting in the hospital bed the day after Jake was born and just crying my eyes out because I couldn't nurse him.  The doctor was really sweet about it; told me not to worry, that some women simply aren't physically able to nurse and that there's no shame in bottle feeding...but I still felt awful about it.  I used to get very defensive about bottle feeding him; I'm sure I offended some people by being so snappy about it.  But, I DID feel criticized and made to feel like I wasn't a good mom because I wasn't doing the best thing for my child.  I even stayed away from mom and baby groups because of it.

on Jan 03, 2006
My Wife breast fed all 4 of ours, and none of them had any ear infections!  Breast feeding is the best (my mother did not breast feed any of us, and none of us had ear infections, so maybe it was just me genes).  Howeverm La Leche league are a bit extreme! We got hooked up with them as well, and they had some peculiar ideas!
on Jan 03, 2006
But, I DID feel criticized and made to feel like I wasn't a good mom because I wasn't doing the best thing for my child. I even stayed away from mom and baby groups because of it.

That's so sad. But now you know that it takes a lot more than that to be a great mom and have great kids, right?
on Jan 03, 2006
But, I DID feel criticized and made to feel like I wasn't a good mom because I wasn't doing the best thing for my child. I even stayed away from mom and baby groups because of it.

Sadly, that sounds all too much like the same pressure put on mothers to have a "natural" childbirth. While my wife succeeded in giving birth to all five of ours without drugs to ease the pain, I made it clear to the doctors that, even with the birth plan in place, if she felt she needed the drugs, I wasn't going to stand in her way. She knows what kind of pain she's going through; I DON'T.

Breastfeeding is, of course, best. But it's not always possible, as dharma points out.
on Jan 03, 2006
We could always go back to the "wet nurse" idea... Of course I didn't know about the breast milk banks back then, if they even existed.

Sounds like you and Dharma could have qualified for the job!

But, I DID feel criticized and made to feel like I wasn't a good mom because I wasn't doing the best thing for my child. I even stayed away from mom and baby groups because of it.

Dr. Guy:
However, La Leche league are a bit extreme! We got hooked up with them as well, and they had some peculiar ideas!

See, I think that's wrong. The La Leche League and other mom groups are just nuts about it. They take breastfeeding to a powerful extreme. The peer pressure to breast feed is so unnecessary. You either want to or you don't. Or you can't, because admittedly the practice is very demanding. There's the constant balancing act between life and baby.

...all too much like the same pressure put on mothers to have a "natural" childbirth. ...Breastfeeding is, of course, best. But it's not always possible...

And it's important that you do what is best for you and the baby. Obviously with medical conditions, like mastitis, there are complications. But the breast is best!
on Jan 03, 2006
But now you know that it takes a lot more than that to be a great mom and have great kids, right?

Yes, I do. I know that just because you breastfed your child, does not mean that you are a fantastic mother. There's a lot more to it than that.

Sadly, that sounds all too much like the same pressure put on mothers to have a "natural" childbirth.

When I was Key Spouse, I dealt with a lot of women who were pregnant, usually with their first child. They read all the books and watched all the indormative videos and TV shows, and a lot of them had decided that a natural childbirth was the best way to go and that accepting medications when in labor was a cop-out. My advice? There are no medals for having an unmedicated birth. There isn't an awards ceremony, you don't get a certificate to hang on your wall, there isn't a podium to stand on whilst you receive your accolades. It's better, IMO to have a birth that is a pleasant memory then one that is a nightmare and puts you off ever having another child. I never got the opportunity to have an epidural for a vaginal delivery, but after giving birth to Davey sans medications the first thing I asked for when laboring with Jake was IV meds for pain.

Sounds like you and Dharma could have qualified for the job!

Oh heck yes. It was ridiculous, the amount of milk I was making. Those pads that you're supposed to put inside your bra when you're nursing were a joke; I ended up using sanitary pads - but soaked through them on a regular basis as well. Like I said, I was the Dairy Queen....and felt like a darn bovine sometimes, too!
on Jan 03, 2006
I hope that if I ever have kids that I'm able to breastfeed. I think it would really create a bond between mother and baby, and ANYTHING I can do to help keep my baby the healthiest it can be is good.

That being said, I don't think there's any shame in choosing not to breastfeed, either. Like K, some women just aren't able to do it, some women might think it's "gross" or whatever, too. I think you just have to do what's right for you and your family.

LOL...I have to tell you this, too...when I took my human development class in college we talked about breastfeeding alot and my professor told us she knew a woman who was still breastfeeding her SEVEN YEAR OLD daily. Just to "bond". That's a little extreme I think.
on Jan 03, 2006
Oh...and I *PLAN* on having an epidural. There's no way I'm going to be able to handle labor unless contractions are anything more than menstrual cramps. lol
on Jan 03, 2006
Breastfeeding IS best.

I'm a pretty strong advocate of breastfeeding (I actually wrote a long, detailed article on the benefits of breastfeeding a while back, haha). The health benefits for the child cannot be matched, despite advances in formula composition. Beyond that, it's so much less messy, it's more convenient, it makes you stop whatever you're doing and spend time with your infant, and you lose weight FAST! It's just one of the most wonderful, perfect things you can do for yourself and your child.

My youngest was breastfed until he was about a year and a half, and he's a hoss. He never had an ear infection, and he was very, very rarely sick. He was just chubby, healthy, and happy.

I don't think that women who can't breastfeed for medical reasons or whatever should feel guilty, but for women who can and simply choose not just seems very selfish to me. Breastfeeding IS best. Formula moms like to downplay that, but it's undeniable. It is the best form of nutrition for the baby, and the mechanics involved are important for the baby's development.

It's what our bodies are designed to do.
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