17 May 2009

Fascinating Article

Altantic Monthly Article on Breastfeeding

I remain constantly torn about breastfeeding. Don't get me wrong - I love breastfeeding in the abstract. And I also have loved it in reality with both of my children. Sometimes. And I would almost always come down on the hippie-granola side of things when discussing whether a woman should be able to breastfeed in public, etc. (which is no longer a very hippie-granola thing to say).

But. As I prepare to bring baby number three into the world, I revisit breastfeeding with all of its massive psychological and logistical consequences on one's life.

When I had Ada Brooks, i was determined to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible. And I did - for about two months. When one reads "exclusively breastfeed" - one thinks it means, and it is in fact meant by most authors, as feeding a baby exclusively from the breast. But what it meant for Ada Brooks and me was some other type of exclusivity. It meant that what we did, exclusively, for the first 8 weeks of her life, was to nurse. She would nurse for thirty minutes and then fall asleep and thirty minutes later wake up starving. and screaming. So, for about 12 hours out of each day, i had a child attached to my breast. My doctor finally encouraged me to pump to see how much milk i was making - the measly 1/2 of an ounce explained why ada brooks did her own version of exclusively nursing. She was gaining weight, alright, but only because she ate more often than fruit flies. Soon after this discovery, while i was still exclusively breastfeeding because I could not take the guilt of formula, I came down with Mastitis.

Which is obviously a result of the fall. My body temperature skyrocketed to 105 degrees fahrenheit. And my breasts which had already become the size of, in Paul's words, circus boobs, became the consistency of, in my words, gross body builder woman non-bosoms. I was banned from nursing until my temperature came below 101 - and by that time, my measly milk supply had dried up. I gave Ada Brooks a bottle and she slept for six hours. The decision to quit nursing with her had been taken out of my hands completely - I didn't have any more milk to give.

With Eason, I went into nursing a big proponent of supplementing with formula. For the non infant familiar, this is the idea of nursing for some of the baby's food needs and relying on a bottle for the rest of them. The percentage of each - breast and bottle - can be anything - one feeding a day of one, the rest of the other - or half and half. Either way, it worked. I had a marvelous nursing experience with Eason because I wasn't feeling pressure to account for all of his calories. But, I went back to work, full time, when he was six weeks old, so my supplementing with breast milk didn't last long after that. If I get into all of my feelings about going back to work 6 weeks into his life, we'll be here ALL DAY.

With this baby who'll make an appearance in the next 44 days or so (even allowing for the Forster Baby timeline), I'm going to be home, full time, for at least the first 12 months of his or her life. This will obviously inform my breastfeeding choices. And the fact is that neither Ada Brooks's nor Eason's breastfeeding experience was ideal in my view. But, Ada has never had an ear infection, is not obese, has no known allergies, is quite bonded to me, and is not suffering in the IQ department. Eason on the other hand has had two surgeries to deal with Ear and Sinus issues and has most certainly inherited his father's propensity for allergies. But other than that, he's doing okay.

I do think this artcle, linked above, is interesting. I don't agree with all of her points, but I do think it is a needed voice - trying to point out that breastmilk is not Gold - it is great stuff - and I agree that it cannot be reduced to the chemical compounds in breastmilk - it is not just the stuff, but the experience of breastfeeding that makes it so great.

So, I'm entering the feeding of Baby3 with this position on breastfeeding: I'd like to feed exclusively breast milk for as long as possible, but if i deem that i need formula assistance so that my marriage or my relationships with my other children don't suffer much, then I'll embrace that (organic, dha and rha enhanced) man made stuff with gratitude. Hopefully I'll still be able to nurse much longer than with either of my other two children. We'll see.

And hopefully I'll know that God is really the one who is going to take care of them -if we are good stewards of our children, His creations, and of ourselves, He's promised to honor that.

1 comment:

  1. This stresses me out. It is so much to think about. AND my boobs hurt thinking about mastitis.