Exclusively breastfeeding is cool and all, but please shut up.
Unless you never leave your baby’s side, the demands of pumping, maintaining supply, and monitoring a freezer stash is stressful if not annoying. Plus, it cuts deep when you have to leave an itty-bitty, nipple dependent baby to go to work, so we working moms need all the breaks they can get.
I think the biggest reason why I was able to reach my breastfeeding goal was being open to supplementing with formula. And I’m so sick of the misinformation.
It started and ended in the hospital for us, but for that entire year (+ 10 days) I was always ready and happy to have her caregiver offer formula alongside breastmilk, if necessary.
Unpopular opinion #1: breastfeeding is not hard
Everyone wants to say breastfeeding is hard. I will agree that some baby-mommy duos don’t take to it, but breastfeeding is not hard once you get established.
There’s a learning curve, yes, and there’s even more misinformation. There are a lot of factors that make it hard in the very beginning, but the most important is exhaustion.
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When I delivered my daughter via c-section, I was horrified. Not because I had a baby, and not because I had abdominal surgery; I thought it would be harder to breastfeed without all those pheromones you hear about with a vaginal birth.
NOTE: I’m a huge fan of natural birth, so the c-section was a huge disappointment for me. But if you haven’t seen The Business of Being Born, please watch it asap!
I knew I wanted to breastfeed for a few good reasons.
So even though we were both out of it (and I was reluctantly fed Oxycontin…. more on that in another post) I was determined to succeed.
My hospital must be in cahoots with the formula company
That’s pure mama bear skepticism, but I definitely did not receive the proper breastfeeding support in the hospital.
The tiniest bit of breastfeeding research will teach you that your milk “comes in” between day 2 and 5 after birth. In the time before that, it’s all colostrum aka barely there. The thing is baby doesn’t need much. The solution to make up for the limited supply is to feed almost constantly. I’m talking like whenever baby is awake, AT LEAST. It’s a ’round the clock job, and that’s kinda obvious.
So when the nurses told me on Day 2 “She’s not getting enough food, we need to give her formula”, I knew that there wasn’t much coming out of me and I obliged.
But why didn’t they tell me a newborn baby’s breastfeeding demands immediately post-op? It’s like they set me up for formula. I couldn’t help thinking about the $400+ I would spend on formula every month if this breastfeeding gig didn’t work out!
RELATED: The importance of Responsive Feeding
I’m not a professional, but my nurses and even the doctors acted shocked and concerned when my milk wasn’t immediately flowing out of me. And they get mad when we come spouting KellyMom logic. #shameless
Billirubin, Jaundice, and THE LIGHTS
One of the many things newborns are checked for in the hospital is their bilirubin levels. High levels are bad, low are good. They expel bilirubin through urine, so if they aren’t drinking/eating enough they don’t lower their levels and jaundice sets in.
I’m not here to freak you out but jaundice is bad. We want to avoid it! And if the baby doesn’t lower the levels on their own, it’s cool! They have a solution for that.
About 6 months before my baby was born, our friends had a son and opened my eyes to “the lights”. His bilirubin levels were treated with the lights, and after a couple days of that treatment (& no breastfeeding) he was completely anti-boob. Any breastfeeding goals she might have had were thwarted.
I was NOT about to follow in her footsteps. So when the nurses told me my baby’s bilirubin levels were “high”, I said POP A BOTTLE IN HER MOUTH.
Sacrificing our clean slate of exclusive breastfeeding became so unimportant to me because I knew there were bigger fish to fry. My focus was all about getting out of the hospital and away from the lights. I didn’t want to ruin my breastfeeding goals by being stubborn with them.
And luckily, I didn’t. My goal became “get away from the hospital” and we went home a day earlier than the doctors suggested.
Unpopular opinion #2: doctors aren’t worried about what’s best for you
Bring on the pitchforks, but hear me out. I’m not talking about all doctors, but when it comes to the baby-having kind they almost treat you like a hazard in baby’s life.
Granted I don’t have fancy degrees or initials after my name. I didn’t study pregnancy and childbirth unless you count reading blogs and watching documentaries! So I understand that doctors don’t trust my judgement. They know best.
Although my daughter’s well being was priority number one for everyone involved, I was building a lifelong relationship with her. And in my mind, that relationship started with breastfeeding.
So when I realized we weren’t all on the *same* page, I just shut up and gave into to supplementing with formula.
Thank you formula for my ability to breastfeed past a year
I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for that originally undesirable bottle or two, we never would’ve been able to avoid the lights and get busy feeding in the comfort of our home.
Even when I was pumping at work, just having some free formula on hand took the stress out of everything. I wasn’t worrying if my supply was up to par or if she would starve without me. After all, fed is best.
- Weaning off Supplemented Formula (KellyMom)
- Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Month Postpartum
- How to Find the Perfect Pumping Schedule for Work
- Pumping for a Breastfed Supplement
- How to Pump at Work with a Busy Schedule
- Preparing for your First Week Back to Work