March for Babies

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Boobs vs Bottle and my Mothering Fears

I listen to the debates about breast feeding and let me say, people can be downright militant in their beliefs on this one.  I would love to say that it doesn't matter.  I was not breastfed and look how I turned out.  But, in my case, I think my argument doesn't hold water.  Let's look at this.
I was allergic to milk, breast milk, formula, even soy.  At the time they didn't have all the new fangled non-dairy, Frankenfood sort of formulas like they have now.  So, I went right to cereal. (GASP!  "Solids" right from the get go!)  Of course I would like to say that I turned out just fine regardless.  I no longer have any food sensitivities unless you include smelly pee after eating asparagus, but I think that is pretty much a universal thing.
However, did I turn out just fine?  Endometriosis which was diagnosed when I was 18.  Looking back I believe I suffered from this disease from my very first period when I was 10 years old.  Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which went un-managed for over a decade resulting in the irreparable damage to 90% of my thyroid gland.  Poly Cystic ovaries made it more difficult for me to conceive, added extra weight around my middle and hair to my face and belly.  These are all autoimmune system related are they not?  They say that breast feeding is supposed to support a healthy immune system.  I did not get that support. (Let us not forget the eczema, exercise induced asthma or seasonal allergies either.) I have been able to manage and finally understand the medical issues I am facing as an adult, but I do not know if any or all of them could have been avoided should I have been nursed as a baby.
This sounds like I am making a hardcore plug for the breast.  The truth is, I cannot answer the question, "Would breast milk have made a difference in my life?"  Therefore, I shall remain neutral on the subject.  I plan on nursing for a few simple reasons.  #1) It is one of those motherly things I would like to experience if I am able. #2) I know it is good for the baby (good as in, not bad for the baby, not as in, it is better than formula). #3) With the exception of the cost of the pump, it is cheaper than purchasing formula.
So, I will be attempting to breast feed.  I say attempting because, as was the case with my own mother, not everyone can do this.  I will give it my best shot.  I will talk to lactation consultants, I will even contact the LLL (GASP!) because they will have important information that may help me.  The militant opinions I will have to let wash over me and let it all go in one ear and out the other. 
My challenge will be getting Light Blue to take both breast AND bottle equally well by the time daycare starts at 8 weeks.  I have heard to introduce both right away.  I have heard only breast for the first three weeks.  I have heard that I am not the one to give the bottle since he/she will prefer the breast from me.  I know working mothers do this all the time.  The pumping and storing and planning ahead and bonding and fathers being able to help with feeding, etc.  I think that all of this is my biggest concern about the whole baby thing.  I am not worried about labor or C-sections or PPD.  I am worried that the stress of figuring all this out will diminish my supply. Oh yeah, and according to a book I am reading on the subject I have flat nipples.  They do not poke out when pinched, they sink in.  This is supposed to make it more difficult to both feed and pump. I am not tossing and turning at night worried, just concerned. 
If you asked me what my fears are in regards to motherhood in general they would be #1) pumping/working/nursing and #2) teenage daughters.  I do not know if I will have a son or daughter but Holy Christ has anyone seen the movie Thirteen? (Holly Hunter as the mother, fabulous true-life movie of the horrors of young teenage life.)  Oh my God what the Hell am I going to do when T's precious "Daddy's Girl" fantasy grows up to be an adolescent? *groan, shudder*
OK, got off track a bit.  19 week appointment this afternoon at which time we will schedule the big anatomy ultrasound and hopefully discover the answer to Light Blue's gender. 
Oh, and do not even get me started on the whole cloth vs. disposable thing.


TracyB said...

IME, we both breast fed and bottle fed. The boy actually ate from a bottle first, since he was in the NICU and had a diaphragmatic hernia when born. (V v long story, go visit my blog if you really want to hear about it...) Bottom line, he had no issues with the bottle. He had a few minor issues with latching on well - which all worked out after a week of me going half naked around the house so I could latch him on 24/7. Well, maybe not 24/7 but it sure seemed like it. We went on to six wonderful months of breastfeeding with an occassional chaser of bottle (at first, stored breast milk, then when that ran out, formula - gasp!!!) . Our boy had the best of both worlds. He just turned two and he has had one cold in those two years. No other ick. No need for antibiotics. I'm not saying this is related to his eating habits, just that it's our experience.

If your delivering hospital offers a breastfeeding class, take it. We did, and the nurse who ran it was awesome. She gave us tons of material to get us over the rough spots and talked me through some of the worst of it. And she was cool when we started supplementing. Not at all militant.

You're starting out well - keep your open mind. You'll probably find a comfortable mix of hippie and modern.

Jen P said...

My SIL did both breast and bottle with expressing successfully for over a year. She started offering the bottle just after 3 weeks and began pumping using her a double mechanical pump at 2 weeks. She said it took her a good 6 weeks before she was confident with the machine and confident knowing she was going to get a good amount of milk but then again hers was a very good eater and a very, very good sleeper. She was quite well rested to boot.

I have tried pumping with an Avent Isis hand pump and the best I've EVER managed is 30 mls. Hand expressing I can get about 80mls in the morning. This is depressing. Go for the bigger, mechanical pumps with gentle petal pull. Seriously.

I think it's good that you understand your desires and you're going to work on it. Breastfeeding is really hard in the early days. I can see why mothers go to formula very quickly. Especially after a C-section or rough birth. I don't think there's anything more physically demanding than major surgery, trying to breastfeed AND looking after a high dependency creature.

I found LLL's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to be incredibly militant but a very, very good book. I take it with me everywhere. It has a lot of really good advice and it is supportive. Women are the best support system you can have. It is immensely powerful sitting in a room full of nursing mothers. It helps me recommit to my decision to extend nurse Sophie.

That said, and I'm ALL about Breastfeeding, Sophie will hopefully start a 'follow on' milk at 6 months because she consumes more than a Litre of breastmilk a day and is a very active little bugger and my body just can't keep up. It might be something to consider when your time comes as well.

And yes, the diapering. Got a good solid
'lecture' from my pg SIL about how they only intend to CD and how much WASTE we are contributing to the earth. I think she fails to realize all the implications of being an ass, but her time will come. I had the intention of CD'ing but with a reflux baby who still does.not.sleep I say shove it. We get a good German Nappy (AIR) sent to our home every month and it beats Huggies, Pampers, etc and with all the other trials of mothering I refuse to let POOP become an issue.

I had a dream last night little Blue was a girl and you named her something with an A. Like Avriel or something. Gavrielle maybe?

Anyways. Lots of luck to you. Sending love to you both.

ThreeBees said...

I have thought the same thing about breast milk -- if my mother had been more successful at breatfeeding would I be healthier? I don't know. . . I'm going to try and breast feed for at least 8 months -- I'm going to try to make it to a year because I recently read an article that mothers that breastfeed for a year are 25% less likely to develop Type II diabetes -- something to do with the increase calorie usage to make milk. Type II and Type I runs in my family so any thing I can do to help my odds is good.

But breast feeding is BIG where I work -- there are 5 new mom's all pumping and breast feeding and it is a big damn deal. Part of me feel a little peer pressure to keep feeding her for as long as I can. However, sometimes she bite me and I'm not sure I can do that when she has teeth!!

As far as cloth vs. disposable -- I chose cloth but everytime I try them on Seija she breaks out in a diaper rash -- she never gets diaper rash with disposable! This is totally opposite of what I expected! I think the fabric of the cloth irrates her skin (she had very dry/sensitive skin) but she does great with diaposables-- go figure!

Jessica said...

The breast bottle thing is a personnal choice that I can't comment on. But I can pass on a fact that has helped me stay ok with our situation. All they need is 4oz of breastmilk a day to get all of the necessary immunities etc.

About the flat/inverted nipple thing. It sounds to me that you have inverted nipples. Flat ones would come out when you do the test you did. There is unfortunately a big difference...
I found out the hard way that many hospital nurses and lcs don't really know how to handle that situation. I was manhandled a little then handed a breast shield and litterature about how to wean the babe after two weeks. It was a pamphlet. It didn't help...
There are ways to prep your breast ahead of time so that they are more 'alert' by the time light blue arrives. Ideally you would never use a shield (silicone type nipple that fits over your nipple and makes it easier to suck on). When you use a shield you have to pump right after feeding to make sure you get enough stimulation... you spend forever feeding/pumping. It's not so fun, and very demoralizing.

I would recommend calling the hospital and asking if they have an lc who is good at working with Inverted nipples and seeing her at least 4 weeks before your due date.

I pump what breastmilk Clara gets because she gave up on the breast early. We supplement with formula for the rest. I wish someone had told me that I had wonky nipples, but that I could do something about it.

Ok. I'll get off my soapbox now... lol. It's something I'm a little passionate about...

wessel said...

I can't offer advice on most of this because I really don't know, but one thing I DO know is that babies are not stupid and they will always prefer the easy way out. The bottle is easy -- they hardly have to suck at all and the milk just pours right down their throat. The breast is hard -- they have to suck hard and work harder to get it. Based on that, I wouldn't recommend introducing both bottle and breast at the same time or your baby will develop a preference for the bottle because it is easier. Start with breast, and let your baby become competent at it before you then switch to bottle sometimes. He may fuss about going back to the breast after he has a taste of the easy life (that is what happened with me and my son), but eventually if you are patient, he will take both the bottle and breast equally well (most likely).

Also, remember that if things don't go according to plan, it is not the end of the world. A baby who gets used to the bottle in the NICU can still learn to breastfeed. It is just a matter of making choices which make things go more smoothly rather than choices that make things impossible.

Vacant Uterus said...

My only assvice about breast feeding is that if you're going to do it, stay in bed and do nothing for the first three days after you deliver. I have seen this make an enormous difference for my best friend. For some reason, doing a lot (slave woman getting back to the field) really hampers the whole process.

As for the whole diaper issue, I'm boycotting this blog if you use anything other than cloth. (only kidding!)

Cricket said...

Like you don't have enough to worry about, please worry about your nipples now.

I have several long posts on breasts. An aside at this one is about flattened nipples. Mine were the worst/nearly worst the LCs had seen.

BTW, I found no LC to be helpful. None, regardless of me attending breastfeeding classes and reading everything I could. The one in the hospital chastised me for not prepping my nipples; they were too soft. Well, weeks earlier I had successfully started the rough washcloth treatment and I was told my by midwife to stop. I wasn't a risk for preterm labor, but I stopped.

Conflicting data.

The LLL Womanly Art book is trash. There is about one paragraph of the entire book devoted to flattened/inverted nipples. (Yours are flattened.) It concludes that women who don't have enough marital breast play must have flattened nipples. In other words, it is something we are doing wrong to deserve this. Hogwash! It is developmental/genetic, and I talk a lot about that at my post. My mother and sister also have it. I don't think it is a husband thing.

Nothing worked for me, so I pumped for 7 months. My son has never been a good eater; only an eager eater could have pulled mine out. Regardless, I insisted on breastmilk for my son b/c of fear of him developing my many allergies and b/c of the breast cancer buffer it has. The first 2 were with a hospital pump, which worked better than the Pump N Style I used for 5 months.

One sincere pain I have with SIF is that I put so much into correcting my nipples for the next one. There is no next one, but my nipples generally go outward now, even 8 years later.

I remember knowing one mom who did use the nipple shield (it is like a cushy funnel and goes between the breast and baby) and she had a good breastfeeding relationship that corrected her nipples naturally. She'd used the shield for some time, then forgot one day and never looked back.

If I had to do it over again, I would have gotten my son used to a shield, then weaned him off of that, better than trying to transition from bottle to breast. Once they're used to the bottle (quick, effortless flow vs. breast requiring sucking and a let down a minute later), it is hard to change that - even if you pump and try to switch the baby on to a primed breast.

What a topic! I hope you find what works.

Cricket said...

One thing further - yup, I am obsessed with this. My breasts were not sexual objects until I corrected my nipples. When they poke out, pleasant nerves are exposed! Then let the marital (or non-marital, as I'm divirced) begin!

Jen P said...

I have one flat nipple. It's not inverted as I suspected before the advent of google images (I'm embarassed to admit that) but it's flat as anything.

I haven't used breast shields or anything of the like and instead, along with the guidance of my LC's hands, played with my nipple until it could become erect and just out just like my non-flat nipple.

Blue's blog becomes hidden secrets of the nipple extraction central today.

It is harder to feed sophie with my flat nipple and she prefers the more 'pert' nipple hands down. But if I squeeze it out for her first it works no problem. And she just slurps it in these days so she doesn't seem to mind anymore. She's lazy. =)

I still rate The Womanly Art as the best breastfeeding book on the market. I've looked at a lot and I only own that one. Parenting books I own at least 20. Says a lot from me.

Their website is good as is Kellymom needs a book. They rock.

Speak with an LC beforehand if you're worried or just to get some good info. Lansinoh, lansinoh, lansinoh.

I'm sure you don't want a lot of boobage assvice but I'm pretty passionate about boobfeeding.

Best wishes.