Definitely Not Earth Mother

Please excuse what is hopefully momentary venting.  I was born into a generation where most parents gave their babies formula.  The conventional wisdom was that science had created a perfect balance with the optimal level of nutrients that babies needed.  You could see how much your baby was eating, and they would sleep longer at night.  Then, the tide changed and in this generation “breast milk is beast.”  (it even says that on my freaking bottles!) 

Moreover, every random person on the street, upon finding out you have (or are having) a baby, feels the need to find out if you intend to nurse and then preach to you about how you must breast feed.  This is far worse than the random strangers in the supermarket who want to touch your belly.  I mean, for real? 

Well, I’m getting close to my wits end.  I knew 5 days into motherhood that nursing was not working out for both me and the baby.  But no worries, I had already invested in a top of the line pump, so I figured I would exclusively pump and that would be the solution.  I could see how much he was eating, and could pack meals for the road as needed.  

So, flash forward a couple of weeks and I find myself inching closer and closer to formula.  First, turns out Breastmilk ISN”T necessarily best because docs want us to supplement it with vitamins and iron (which he hates).  Second, I have a crazy large supply that means I’ve been engorged non stop.  Third, my treat for yesterday was a 101.6 fever and a trip to the hospital to treat a double breast infection.  Oh yes, and fourth, it turns out that I haven’t been using the proper equipment for breastmilk storage, and have been freezing more than a serving at a time, which means I’ll likely have to throw away the half freezer of stuff I’ve stored so far because defrosted milk allegedly has a 30 minute shelflife.  (Mommy Esq. knows all about this, right?)  This REALLY pisses me off because I forked serious money to sit through a bull shit propaganda breasfeeding class and they never discussed these critical storage issues.

Regardless of the propaganda, I never thought that I would exclusively breastfeed for the first year.  I thought if I could make it to 4 months, that would be plenty.  Then in the last couple of weeks, I thought it would be an accomplishment to make it to the 6 weeks follow up post-partum appointment.   Now I’m having a hard time seeing how I’ll last till then.

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9 Comments

  1. Gretchen said,

    January 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    It is crazy to me that this is all so complicated. I am sorry it has been so frustrating and confusing and I know you’ll make the best decision for you and Max. I was formula fed and I think I ended up pretty well! That’s crazy that a breastfeeding class wouldn’t give you all the info!

  2. Mommy, Esq. said,

    January 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I like your typo (“beast” instead of “breast”) because it is a total beast. I’m done with pumping (only 1x day). So each kid gets some BM at the first feeding – 1 bottle (Penny) and 1 BF (Ned). I was so tired of the stress. I love my kids MORE now that we don’t worry about BF or pumping. We play together (although don’t worry – they didn’t play until about 3 months old) and I’m not rushing to squeeze in pumping time. I highly recommend Nestle Good Start if you go with formula – doesn’t smell at all like formula. Plus I hear you on vitamins (although we put them in their bottles so it was easier) – not only was I taking them but they had to take them too. And now I can drink some and not feel guilty about it.

    A lot of people I know with oversupply pump BEFORE they BF. It is hard for a baby to BF on very engorged breasts. I did this for a while (skimmed off a couple of ounces on each side) before I did Ned’s first BF of the day. Also, a hospital grade pump is WAY better than Madela Pump N Style. Soooo worth renting (I use Madela Lactina). Also, limit when you pump (for your sanity) if you do continue pumping – only when he naps and you feel rested (nap if you are tired too) or just before bed. Don’t worry about middle of the night pumping. I think back to the 6 weeks of the baby nurse feeding the kids while I pumped and then had to THROW IT ALL OUT when it didn’t freeze well. Now I only keep a little in the fridge – lasts for 8 days (but Penny turns her nose up at about 4 days old).

    I will say that Ned didn’t get to be a better BF until he was about 12 weeks old. It was a LONG 12 weeks. Penny never did well. I still have to supplement Ned after I BF him. It is a wonderful bond but you can bond by gazing lovingly in Max’s eyes/face as you feed him a bottle…

    P.S. When I told people about the freezing issue NO ONE BELIEVED ME, including LCs. It is a real thing though. I could smell and taste it. You can freeze more than 1 serving at a time – but when you defrost in the fridge – that’s what killed it for me. I don’t know if it would have been okay if I had gone straight from the freezer to the bottle. Hmm…I have a little left in the freezer. I might try it. If it turns out okay I’m going to SHOOT MYSELF for throwing away 300 ounces. Not really. I’m much more chill these days. 🙂

    Call me if you want to talk. I am SOOO happy to listen to you complain about BF, sleepless nights, you name it.

  3. jerseygirl77 said,

    January 15, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Forgive me if this sounds like a rant of my own, but this whole new guideline pushing vitamins on newborn babies sounds to me like something cooked up by BigPharma so that we have to purchase more of their products. My boys were both breast-only babies, I never gave them vitamins (flat-out told the pediatrician “no thanks”), and they are two healthy, robust children at or near the top of the height/weight percentiles. No vitamin supplement will ever substitute for a healthy diet- for children or adults. Ok, rant over.

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such troubles with the BFing/pumping. Although it would seem like it should be the most “natural” thing in the world, it truly is a learned skill. Collectively, we lost a lot of that knowledge when “science” declared that formula is better for babies than the milk God/Mother Nature/evolution provided to mamas. And it helps nothing when women are guilt-tripped or browbeaten or hounded about their choices- in either direction. (For every “breast is best” commando, there’s another “a little formula won’t hurt” buttinsky. Ugh.)

    I’m also sorry about the mastitis. Not fun at all. I hope you are feeling better by now! The engorgement phase will pass, I promise. The first 6 weeks after the baby is born, your body is ramping up its supply, and oversupply is common. The second 6 weeks, things start to level out and the engorgement will subside. You may be in luck as a high-volume producer doing exclusive pumping. Some women can get all the milk their babies needs in 3 pumping sessions a day, so you don’t have to feel tied to the pump all the time. As for your frozen milk, in what containers did you freeze it? And in what portions/amounts? You may not be totally hosed. Thawed breastmilk will keep for 24 hours in the fridge. If you ever have any questions, drop me a line anytime. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  4. almostima said,

    January 15, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks, Ladies! With your help, I’ve talked myself down from the ledge a bit. I froze my supply in regular ziplock bags. Now I’m a little worried about plastic leaching out. But the La Leche League website seemed to indicate that the main concern is that they’ll leak once thawed. Also, the 24 hr figure was backed up by LLL, so that seems more workable. I think at most I stored 8-10 ounces in a bag, so that should be usable within a day.

    My catch 22 with the oversupply is that while I COULD get away with pumping less in terms of amount Max needs, the engorgement is leading to infection, so I have to empty out often (which in turn stimulates more supply).

    You wanna know the shallowest part of it all? Got on the scale today, saw the number, and I was all “oh right, there’s another reason why I have to keep pumping.” 🙂

  5. Mommy, Esq. said,

    January 16, 2009 at 5:02 am

    I don’t understand the 24 hour figure you’re talking about. You mean once you thaw the bag you have to use it within 24 hrs? That’s true but you can freeze for months and if you pump and store in the fridge it is 8 days before it isn’t considered usable. Email me – mommy.bostonlaw.esq@gmail.com

    Sucks about oversupply that results in infections. I can’t say I had that issue – in fact I had undersupply issues (still do obviously). Make sure you stay away from oatmeal if you are oversupplying and don’t take fenugreek or drink mother’s milk tea (those all increase supply). Also, it takes about 6 weeks for your supply to regulate so you might have to keep the additional pumping until then – but try to pump just enough to relieve pressure (and prevent infection) and your body will regulate more quickly. Whatever happens know that Max just wants a happy mom who enjoys being with him. Many moms I know end up on formula just to be happier (even though “breast is best”, a sane mom is even better) and even though they may have some minor regrets they got over it. I know I’m happy with the compromises I made even though at the time it was so difficult to make them.

    I also disagree with Lori on vitamins – just b/c her kids were healthy w/o doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics – we listen to them for “breast is best” and food guidelines, etc. If you trust your pediatrician do what you are comfortable with. I did give them vitamins but now don’t have to b/c they are getting 19 ounces of formula a day.

  6. Mommy, Esq. said,

    January 16, 2009 at 5:05 am

    P.S. Good luck – I swear that the first 12 weeks are by far the worst. I really have noticed that my kids are much easier in month 4. Promise. Just think of it as a really long trial…

  7. Theresa said,

    January 16, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Forgive my ignorance, but why would a breast fed baby need extra vitamins? As long as the mother has a healthy diet, shouldn’t the baby be getting exactly what he needs?

  8. almostima said,

    January 16, 2009 at 11:06 am

    A healthy diet doesn’t seem to be enough. In my case, the c section and long labor caused both of us to be anemic, so he needed iron. Also, it is very hard to get sufficient vitamin A and D through diet alone. Not to mention this schedule doesn’t allow for the ideal in nutrition.

  9. jerseygirl77 said,

    January 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    The 24 hour figure is from LLL. Whether the milk was in the fridge 8 hours or 8 days and then frozen, once thawed it has to be used within 24 hours. Although that is a really conservative guideline, and anecdotal evidence suggests the milk will stay good for more than 24 hours/survive re-freezing/etc., there is no formal research to back it up. Boobs don’t have the same R&D budgets as Nestle or Proctor & Gamble. 😉 I think you’ll be fine with the milk in ziplock baggies, but going forward, I’d go ahead and get some milk storage bags.

    With regard to the mastitis, one thing you can be doing is taking a daily lecithin supplement. This will help prevent the clogged milk ducts that can lead to infection. When you pump, periodically change the position of the flanges on your breasts, instead of always having them straight up and down. That will help mimic nursing a baby in different positions, and will help you more adequately empty all the ducts to prevent plugs. Also, if you’re not already… while you are pumping, massage your breasts, always moving towards the nipple. Massage with long, sweeping strokes from the collarbone all the way down, and the armpit all the way across. Over time, you’ll be able to cut back on and space out your pumping sessions. If you want to get down to a 3x a day regimen, choose the times of day you want as your “main” pumping sessions, where you pump until you can’t get another single drop. Then pump as needed in between, just enough to relieve the pressure/prevent infection. That way you will “train” your body to produce milk at certain times of day and soon you won’t be so full between your main pumping sessions. Does that make sense?

    Vitamins: Iron can definitely be a concern, and if blood test indicates anemia, and iron supplements are warranted, I’m all for it. Theresa is absolutely right about other vitamins however. The recommendation to give all babies vitamin supplements is all of… 3 months old? If someone would point me in the direction of the clinical research demonstrating an alarming trend in rickets, scurvy, beriberi, what-have-you, I would really like to educate myself. In the absence of that, the research I’ve read indicates that a mom who eats healthy foods and continues taking her prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding will supply all the nutrition her baby needs until *at least* 6 months of age. (The AAP itself admits that babies DON’T need supplementation of vitamins A or C, which is the usual “Tri-Vi-Sol” combination, along with vitamin D. http://www.aap.org/family/vitdpatients.htm) Vitamin D has been a minor issue recently, but primarily for dark-skinned people and/or people in the upper latitudes where they get relatively fewer hours of sunshine, particularly in winter. If breastfed babies are vitamin D deficient, it’s often because their MOMS are vitamin D deficient. And the research indicates that the deficiency in both mother and baby may be successfully treated by supplementing the mom. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15585800?dopt=Abstract) Also check out this link for more info: http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/vitamins/vitamin-d.html

    Almostima, based on some of the dishes you’ve posted about in this blog, I’d say you are getting a pretty well-balanced diet. (Kudos!) I mean, as long as your other 2 meals a day aren’t Krispy Kremes and Big Macs. hahaha! Sorry to write such a novel…


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