I had a comment left on my last post regarding breastfeeding. I have to tell you that I am fully on the wagon for this topic. I support breastfeeding for as long as you possibly can stand it. My stories are that of frustration and disappointment in this area. I’ll tell you about my experiences and then a comment that may or may not draw some discussion.
Brianna: When my precious beautiful almost 4 year old was born I had it in my mind how things were going to be. I knew she’d cry. I knew she’d wake up a lot. I knew all about SIDS. What blindsided me was acid reflux. Personally, in hindsight, I think she was born about a week too early. I have a feeling that if she had stayed in my womb another week this digestive immaturity may have corrected itself. I feel that way because the reflux symptoms started within 36 hours of giving birth to her. I had just finished breastfeeding her and I laid her down in her cart. Remember, I am in the hospital for 4 days because of c-sections. I was there, not at home.
Anyway, I laid her down and then she started to scream. I got to her, picked her up, patted her back thinking there was a burp stuck in there, when all (and I mean all) of the breastmilk she had just consumed came shooting out of her mouth and all over me, her, the floor, and the side of the cart. I thought, “that was not spit up — she just vomited”. I called the nurse and from that moment on the battle began.
I was hooked up with a rented electric breast pump and told to give my poor bleeding nipples a break and start pumping. I was pumping for 20 minutes every hour and a half, then feeding her the pumped milk from a bottle (which took about another 15 to 20 minutes), then she’d fall asleep, then I’d fall asleep. I’d sleep for about a half an hour once I got settled and the cycle would start over. I was getting so little sleep I felt my knees give out sometimes when I would walk. I swear I could have fallen asleep standing.
The reflux was getting worse and sometimes she wouldn’t go to sleep after eating; she would just scream. It’s important for me to say here that I didn’t know it was reflux. I even called 911 one evening because she vomited so much while lying down after her bath that I thought she has aspirated. The EMT guys checked her and told me she was fine. It was so bad that I couldn’t allow the swing to have motion. I couldn’t put her in the bouncy seat. And I had to hold her upright for 20 to 30 minutes after every feeding. There went my sleep; 20 min to pump, 20 min to feed, 20 to hold upright, about 10 min left of real sleep once I got us both settled.
Finally and tearfully, I told my husband I couldn’t take it anymore and I was buying formula. That actually ended up being a great decision because the doctor who finally diagnosed her correctly told me I could start putting rice cereal in her bottles, which weighed the milk down, and kept her from projectile vomiting. He also prescribed her Zantac and the screaming stopped almost immediately. By the time she was 6 months old the reflux was gone. But she was a faaat baby. LOL! That rice made her chunk right up.
Jeremy: I actually went into labor with him. His c-section was scheduled, but he had other ideas. The day after I had him I called a lactation nurse into my room. He was killing my nipples. I was prepared for pain, but he was hurting me so badly I winced every time he latched on. She figured out he couldn’t stick his tongue out past his bottom lip. She told me I would have to latch him a special way in order to keep him from further killing my nipples. Yeeouch! Well after much practice and a lot of latching, unlatching, and relatching I got it down pat. He was doing great and growing right on track.
There was another problem though. Well two actually. One is that I produce so much milk that I could probably feed 3 babies at once and still have milk to spare. When my milk comes in (about 4 days after I have a baby) my boobs go from being a normal “B” cup to a “D”. Super sized porno boobs I call them. The pointer sisters. I get engorged if I’m not careful and I think I was on my way to mastitis with Jeremy too. Fine. After calling the La Leche League, I had to start this feeding pattern to keep Jeremy from choking during let down. He was choking and sputtering and it always happened when I felt my milk let down. If you’ve never breastfed, it’s a feeling of heaviness easing down into your breasts towards the nipple shortly after the baby latches and starts sucking. Let down for me happens fast. It’s more like dropping or plopping down. Anyway, I put up with all of that because I was so happy to finally be breastfeeding successfully. Yay!
Then the news. Jeremy had jaundice that was realized about 24 hours after he was born. The problem was it wasn’t getting better. It was getting worse. I can’t remember the low number, but I do know the pediatrician told me that if he got close to 20 he may be in jeopardy. When I took him to the hospital the day I realized he was lethargic and they tested his blood, he was at 17. Panic set in. His pediatrician told me to stop breastfeeding for 3 days, pump instead, throw away the milk, and then start breastfeeding him again after the 3 day break. I was in such emotional upheaval that I decided to just stop. I breastfed him for 6 weeks. His jaundice went away and by day 3 he was not yellow anymore. The whites of his eyes were finally white for the first time since the day after he was born.
I do plan to try again with this new baby. I even asked a friend of mine who has successfully breastfed twice to help me if I get to that point where I’m ready to quit. She agreed. I am hoping that the 3rd time is a charm. I would love to be formula free for once. That stuff is so expensive and how nice to be able to just latch the baby instead of mixing and such when on the go. Less to carry in the diaper bag too.
Now to the comment that might draw certain discussion.
I don’t believe my kids are any less intelligent or healthy. I don’t think their lack of breastmilk in the first 6 months did anything to rob them of whatever nutrients they supposedly needed from breastmilk. They are both smart. I’ve told you before that Jeremy is so smart he has me spoiled and there are days I forget he’s only two. Brianna is smart as a whip too — beyond her age level. Neither of them has ever had an ear infection. They have not been as sick as some of my friend’s kids who have been breastfed for 6+ months. They are fit, healthy, active, smart, and normal. I have friends who did breastfeed for a long time whose kids have had ear infection after ear infection, croup, high fevers (trips to the ER kind of high fever), and other things. Some have been sick more often than my kids have with colds and regular bugs that float around.
On that same token, my nieces and nephew who were formula fed from day 1 are all healthy, fit, smart, and normal too. No signs of any delays because of their diets.
So how important is it? Are we just being told that it’s oh so much better to breastfeed but it’s really just a theory? I say “a theory” because I have yet to see any proof. I have many, many babies in my life at any given time. Some have been breastfed, most haven’t. Put them side by side and you cannot tell a difference. Give them an intelligence test and again no difference (if there is it’s usu genetic b/c mom or dad is a moron, but that’s a different topic).
Truthfully, I think the formulas made today are so chock full of vitamins, minerals, and such that babies are fine either way. Heck, some babies can’t even drink their mother’s milk because they are lactose intolerant. Then they have to go on special formula. Right?
So what do you think?