Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nursing, why some moms choose formula...

I realize the topic I am about to launch upon is in many ways controversial. Although it shouldn't be, it's a personal choice, and the decision can go either way for different people. I pass no judgement on the choices of others, this is only my experiences:

As all parents do, we head into parenting intending to do everything "right". Achieving against all odds to accomplish what we must and provide for our children. There were three things that floated in my head as I was contemplating becoming a mother. #1 - I wanted to have a natural childbirth without an epidural. #2 - I wanted to nurse and #3 - I wanted to restrict her TV usage for at least the first couple years.

I can proudly declare that I was successful in #1, we had an epidural free delivery. Note I did not say a non medicated birth. I did accept SOME form of relief during labor, but I had held out against the epidural. Although, as it became time to bring E into the world, I did contemplate how wise a decision it had been to refuse the epidural. That being said, it was an accomplishment, and I was very proud of it.

I then moved promptly onto goal #2, nursing. E didn't want to eat most of the first day, and my downward spiral for nursing began around 11PM that night when one of the nurses was SHOCKED we had not achieved a good nurse, and said that the nurses in the nursery would be upset if E hadn't eaten and it was over 12 hours after her birth. I kept telling everyone that she just wasn't interested in eating yet. Alas, every nurse came into the room to "show me how to nurse" every one tried to show me with a screaming hysterical newborn. E wasn't having any of it, as I had told them, she wasn't ready. But they decided she must eat. "She has mucus in her tummy, if we feed her formula, she'll spit that up, and it will take the mucus with it, and then she'll be hungry and ready to nurse." So I conceded to let them feed her a little bit of formula. They brought me a bottle, and I tried to let her feed on this. She didn't want it. The nurse took E from me, and said she'd show me how to feed E. She tried to give E the bottle. She sucked a few times on the bottle. The nurse removed it from her mouth (and I couldn't have been more proud of E), she sat on the nurses lap for a second and then opened her mouth and spit it all out. The nurse tried several more times to show me how it was done, and several more times, E took a few sucks, and then spit it all out. I told them she didn't want it. But alas, they declared they would succeed in the nursery. They would take her there and THEY would get her to take some. It mortified me. I saw how they were showing her how to nurse in front of me, what would they do without me there to supervise? But they took her. I waited for several hours, she did not come back until after 2AM. And when they returned her, they declared, with such confidence that she had taken .5 an ounce, but that had been in .25 ounce increments. I wanted to laugh. Ok, so you're telling me she sucked on the bottle like two times twice, in the past 3 hours. I hoped they all felt better. Both E and I felt traumatized.

That was the beginning. And I have to say I think it set us both back a bit. It was a hard time getting E to nurse. But after some time, she did get the hang of it, and so did Mommy. It had been a victory of immense proportion. But alas, during my insecurity during the first days/weeks, I had pumped constantly, not wanting to loose my "supply". It was only when E was about a month old that I started thinking something was wrong. It was then I found out about 2 conditions that had otherwise been NEVER mentioned to me. Oversupply, and an Overactive Let Down. By pumping so much in the early days, and also obsessing about the time of nursing, I had contributed to the condition called Oversupply. In short... I had too much milk. I'd never heard this discussed, only endless amounts of moms finding out they didn't have enough. So Oversupply? Really? And to be the cherry on the ice cream was Overactive Let Down. In short, nursing was something akin to trying to drink out of a fire hose. I was drowning my baby in my Oversupply! Great!

We overcame that obstacle, we still deal with Overactive Let Down, she's gotten bigger, so maybe now I can compare it to drinking from a really strong garden hose, she gets annoyed with it sometimes, but most of the time can handle it. Just when I thought against all odds we were ready to consider this an easily won battle, we encountered our NEXT obstacle. Dairy.

Some mothers find out rather quickly, especially for formula fed babies, that the baby has a dairy intolerance. Unfortunately, for the most part. I don't like milk! However, I love cheese. So after a week when I had more than a couple cheese filled meals, I noticed that E seemed to be dealing with more gas than usual. I didn't see what the problem was. I'd ONLY eaten as follows:

Sunday: Split Pea Soup (milk in the recipe)
Monday: Split Pea Soup (milk in the recipe)
Tuesday: Chili with Cheese
Wednesday: Pork chop with Mac and Cheese
Thursday: appetizer of a huge serving of cheese and crackers, brie, cheddar, and horseradish cheddar, followed by... Chili

Really? I don't see how any of these things could have given her gas. *sigh*. Ok, I was starting to see perhaps, Dairy was NOT her friend. So I have since then given up dairy. No biggie... or is it? For the time being, I'm avoiding anything with a milk product in it. No butter on my bread, no pizza for dinner, I can't even have chicken wings, because no blue cheese dressing, or even ranch dressing. I can't have raviolis, or Parmesan on my pasta. No buttermilk biscuits, etc, etc, etc. Really when you start to think about it. Milk is in our diet places we don't think about endlessly!!! Don't worry, as if milk weren't enough, I'm also avoiding Chocolate and any vegetables known to cause gas.

Before anyone wants to point it out, there are actually a lot of cheese products that claim not to have lactose in them. And once we get things under control I will test them out, and check to see exactly what sets her off. All cheese? Some cheese? Milk? Yogurt? Ice Cream? We'll find out eventually. But for the time being, cold turkey, NOTHING.

So I have to say after my personal experiences with nursing, although I definitely feel as though it's worth it, I can TOTALLY tell after 3 months, why some moms choose formula!

So I still haven't had to address #3, TV. I can only hope that I hold out as strong as I did on #1, and #2, but I have to wonder, after months and months of no Pizza. Maybe TV isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. But we will see. As usual, I send moms the strength to make the right choice for them, the strength to ignore all the negativity presented by well meaning professionals, and the strength to be Ok when things don't go exactly as planned. And I did anyone see? Who dropped the pacifier?

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