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February 11, 2011

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Hey I was just trying to find some pro mum breastfeeding advice that wasn't written by a breastfeeding nazi! You hit the nail on the head well done! All advice should be pro mum when it comes to breastfeeding. Thanks

Thank you for your openness. Way to much guilt gets flung around---whether someone else is making you feel guilty, or you're just doing it to yourself---when you have a new baby.

Thank you for sharing.

I totally agree with this post and the sentiment to support moms whatever their choices. But the most telling statement in this post for me is, "The challenge I face as a mother is allowing myself to be an important part of the parent - child equation." Amen sister.

You rock, dude. Pro-mom, I love it!

Thank you for this post! My girls are older, 14 and 12, but this still hits home for me. I tried to BF with both of them, but it was so painful and so uncomfortable for me, that I went to bottle feeding. I had a horrible experience with my first and the lactation specialist that was supposed to be helping me. All these years later, I am made to feel guilty by BF moms who say I didn't try hard enough or that I was doing it wrong. I wish that moms would focus on the BIG picture instead of that one moment in a child's life.

Wow. Thanks to giving a name to this intense sadness I used to feel when breastfeeding both my babies. I was just talking about this with Evonne in San Fran. Too bad we didn't know you experienced it as well and knew what it was. Missed opportunity. I think I have to blog about it for Momfo. Can I link to your post here? Of to read more about dysmorphic milk ejection reflex.

You're my hero. Thanks for this.

As someone who cannot breastfeed despite a million tries of a million different things. I so appreciate the sensitivity and class of this post.

i was accosted at the national museum of american history here in dc yesterday, by a stalkerish older woman who seemed to hover as i was making a bottle and as i proceeded to feed my wee sweetie she said quite rudely, "oh...THAT must be why her cheeks are so FAT!".

i wish i could have made up some extreme medical condition that rendered me incapable of breast feeding to make her feel really bad. like being born without nipples or something...something very intensely personal and TMI (hopefully with graphics). nice post, kristin.

My "babies" are now 9 and 7 so this seems like such a distant memory, yet still hits me so hard.

I had always intended to breastfeed. My first was a c/sec. It was over 6 hours after his birth before I was finally able to hold him for the first time. By that time he had already been given a bottle of sugar water. Add to that he was born during a severe ice storm, on the weekend, so the LC was not available for 3 days. I had nipple issues... flat/inverted... not really sure what you call it, but nothing for the baby to latch onto. The nurses tried to help --- twisting and turning them --- all the while listening to my baby boy screaming to eat and me begging to give him a bottle. After long, failed attempts to produce a latch-able nipple, the nurses would give in to my plea to feed him a bottle. The lc finally visited us on the day we were to go home. She was so sick (fever, coughing) and spent about 10 minutes and sent me home with more apparatus than I would have ever imagined. Thankfully, I was also sent home with some formula bottles or else my boy would not have had a drop. I did "give up" and went to bottles and formula.

Two years later I vowed to REALLY try this time. We had a beautiful birth and my doula helped me get started. It seemed like my girl was latching on (although still had the same nipple issues) but not all the time. I was shown how to pump and "finger feed" with a syringe to avoid nipple confusion. Night #1 at home, she slept for 10 hours. I thought it was a dream, but the visit to the pediatrician sent us to the hospital for jaundice. I continued to pump and finger feed. Feedings took forever... 45 minutes for a syringe. Her bili levels were not improving after 2 days of being under the lights. I asked one of the doctors what she thought about me feeding her through the bottle --- kills me that I felt like I had to ask permission --- which she OK'd. After just two feedings her levels improved dramatically because she was eating more in less time. Next day we just waited for the OK from her pediatrician to go home. HIS first thing he says to me, "now that you've given her a bottle, breastfeeding is going to be that much more difficult". REALLY?? But, she's healthy now and can go home!!! I spent the next two weeks at home trying desparately to breast feed. I felt like I was either pumping or feeding. My toddler wasn't getting any of my attention. An LC came to visit and thankfully helped me feel like a good mom to bottle feed.

Sorry for such a long "comment". But thank you for a great post!!! Pro Mom all the way :)

Pro-mom here also,.. our kids get a big benefits in
breastfeeding.i support breastfeeding campaign.
great article.. thanks for sharing.

Miss Hawk, I wanted to let you know that I had the same situation. Instead of just milk, my breast milk was full of blood and was the color of prune juice. Kevin refused to drink it from bottle or breast and in the end, after no sleep for 4 days and a screaming baby, I dug out a can of formula.

Worked for us. He's a healthy, happy, intelligent 15 year old. Don't allow anyone to make you feel guilty for your choices as a parent-you need to do what works for you and your baby, and to hell with the rest of them.

Thank you so much for this post. My daughter is nearly 7 and I STILL let people occasionally guilt me over the fact that we had so many issues breastfeeding, to the point of not doing it. Regardless of the fact that she starved for 4 days with NOTHING TO EAT because no matter what she would not take the breast. Regardless of the blood coming out of my breasts that the Leche people said, "I've NEVER seen THAT before", or that I didn't stop crying for 2 weeks in our attempts. It was the best choice we made to ditch it altogether, and she turned into a happy, fed baby from the minute we stuck a bottle of formula in her mouth. I don't regret it one bit, but man the guilt people put on you those first few years when they hear you didn't b/f. Thank you! Your post is right on the money.

thank you for this post. i had all intentions of trying to breast feed when my son was born almost two years ago. after several day of attempting to breast feed and pump my milk never came in. two weeks after giving birth i became seriously ill and was in the hospital for 2 weeks and went on to a rehab center for two more. even with all that i went through and knowing why my body was unable to produce milk, i still ad people give me the guilt trip. i was told that my son would have several colds and his immunity would be nowhere near that of a breastfed baby. i am a well educated woman, but peer pressure is a b*tch! i am happy to say that at 21 months old my son has never been sicker than the little cold that everyone gets. he;s been talking since 9 months old and runs circles around my husband and I.

so again - i thank you for this. doing what is best for our babies is priority, not what society thinks is best! keep up the great work. i love reading your posts!

As a mom, expectant mother of #2, a Birth Doula and a Prenatal educator...THANK YOU FOR THIS! I have ALWAYS had the guilty feeling of not BF my daughter, even though i knew it wasnt for me, and she was/is the healthiest child of anyone i know! I dont think i will be bf #2 either, Its just a choice i made...but being an educator and a doula, i am almost forced to be pro-breastfeeding, but in my heart in pro mom...and you make the choice best for YOU and baby :) Mom needs to be happy and if you are feeling terrible each time you feed that little angel, then its time for a change...Moms always know what the best this is...and no one should tell them diferent :)

I really appreciate not only the title and the sentiment, but that you acknowledge that you have trouble with feeling like this for yourself. I'm the first person to support my friends who cannot bf for whatever reason, and yet I've struggled now with feeling like a failure with both of my boys when my supply became insufficient for them and I had to supplement. My older son is fine, so I know the younger one will be, too, but it's so hard not to feel guilty and bend myself over backwards in order to continue to bf him as much as possible. And I agree with the person who said above that it's too bad we have to pull out our boob resumes in order to say anything negative about this experience. I am jealous and admiring of women who've had a wonderful time of breastfeeding without any of the judgmental conga lines in their own heads (or everywhere around them, too).

Absolutely. Thank you. I nursed my 3 children for varying amounts of time. I also bottle fed. I did what worked for me, when it worked, because my children need a happy, healthy mom, too. I make it a point to be as encouraging to my friends and other mothers as I can be to do what works for THEM and THEIR child. That's all that matters.

I breastfed all 3 of my children for 12 months. I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

But, this post sums up my feelings about the Breast milk/formula debate. We should provide support and education (where requested or needed) and then support the mother in her choice.

done. Enough. Pro-mom, pro-parenting. No more, no less.

I am somewhat bewildered by this description of a breastfeeding experience, mainly because it is so opposite of my own & of other women I know who breastfeed. I however, do not discount your points! Currently, I am dreading weaning my daughter, I can't imagine not having those special times each day to cuddle & bond. She's had teeth since 5 months & only bit me once (my overly dramatic blood-curdling scream did the trick) and truly I had no issues with breastfeeding after 2 months. The beginning WAS a struggle, I had extremely sore cracked nipples, & even came down with an infection on one of my breasts which was even more painful. But after the 2nd month my nipples got used to it & it's been smooth sailing ever since! Since ive been working I already miss feedings & wish I could be there to do it. It's not a sacrifice, I desire it!

So yes, this description is strange to me.. But I had support & the advantage that my mother also breastfed & I have memories of her feeding my brothers still.. Many moms I know don't have family or friend support, & it's hard to do ANYTHING when you have neighsayers in your ear.

I would hope all mothers have the fulfilling & rewarding experience I did, and if they are struggling, SEEK HELP! and don't let anyone guilt you for your mothering skills whether you give them mom's milk or formula. Good luck mommies! :)

I think this is my favorite post of yours yet. Now I don't feel like a freak :) You learn something new everyday! Thank you!!

This is an awesome post. Thanks for saying it- from another long term breastfeeder who thinks it isn't worth it if it isn't working for the mom as well as the baby.

I never had symptoms as strong as I've seen described for DMER, but with both kids, once my period started again, I have a couple of days each cycle where I get really antsy when I'm breastfeeding. It is an odd sensation that I can't really describe. But once I figured out that it went with my cycle, I was able to work through it. For me, the pluses of the other 26 or so days per cycle make up for those two weird days. But no way would I judge a mom who thought differently.

Totally agree. And not only should there be room for people to bf or not to bf, but there are a lot of shades of grey in between, as well, most of which are not even addressed in most parenting books. There are a host of reasons behind decisions, and points along the path at which those decisions might be made. There are so many stories, and we just don't know how one mom came to choose to feed her child the way she does, so how can we sit in judgment on that?

For my part, I wanted to bf despite feeling a bit uncomfortable about it, but could not find a latch after weeks with my first, and resorted to pumping full-time instead. It was a compromise, but one that I felt okay with - I was happy to be able to feed her milk, as I had the supply, but not the way I wanted to ideally. Still? I frequently wished my bottles had BIG labels that said "Mom's Milk" on them or something to ward off those looks. Second time around, I started out with bfing, but the pain and soon the chomping made it unbearable, and I took the same path, because I felt the bonding progress I had made ebbing away with each feed once the biting started, and wanted to keep that precious part intact more than I wanted to deliver milk by breast instead of bottle. The decision was easier knowing that I could pump for the year and it was a compromise I already had made some degree of peace with.

You had me at the title.

I'm with Goddess in Progress- it's great to see rational discussion about this. But what sucks is that you ("you") have to justify how long you've breastfed to be able to address the negatives without being attacked. I wish we were all allowed to have opinions without pulling out our boobs' resumes.

Like Teresa, this is the second time I've heard about this today. I find it so fascinating. I have a newborn and would give my right arm to be able to breastfeed but I don't have enough supply. I killed myself with guilt. Felt like a failure. Blogged about it http://frogsinmyformula.blogspot.com/2011/01/milk-fairy-is-big-fat-slutbag.html. But I finally forgave myself and you know what? Formula fed babies are happy and full and fine. Dad gets to help with feedings. I get my body back. The world keeps turning.

I never experienced DMER but it sounds terrible. Great post.

Thank you. Exactly.

I'm a mom who just had baby #4 and was unable to breastfeed any of them. I wanted to. Oh! How I wanted to! But each time it got a little easier for me to accept the fact that I could not.

I've never left a link to my own blog in a comment before(and honestly, I don't even know if it's taboo to do or not) but just this week I wrote a short post about bottle-feeding that I think fits in well here.
(http://theiveyleague.com/2011/02/09/boob-free-bonding/)

Yep, and I've breastfed for 67 months and counting.

I have always felt that the hormonal responses to breastfeeding and no longer being pregnant really tied into PPD for me. With my second child when I quit breastfeeding it was like a veil was lifted and I felt so very different. Suddenly I was able to be the mom I wanted to be- involved and happier to be with my children. I love that you are pro-mom, because really we all need to be pro-mom, no matter what our choices are.

Thank you-great post, I appreciate all you do for us moms!

Oh my God! I totally had DMER. I just thought it was some weird hormonal thing and no one else I knew experienced it. It's good to know I'm not crazy.

Thank you.

I'm a breastfeeder--though I had a lot of trouble nursing my first son and felt terrible about my "failure." When I got things right the second time around, I became a bit of a breastfeeding snob for a while until I took a hard look around me and saw that 1) it's not a simple as deciding to breastfeed for a lot of women and 2) I knew plenty of awesome moms who were nursing not very much, not at all, in a different way than me, or for a much shorter time than I was, and guess what...they were still awesome moms and it was none of my business.

I still consider myself pro-breastfeeding in that I am in favor of helping moms who want to breastfeed figure it out, and cutting through some of the misinformation that can make it hard for women to do what is usually cheaper, often easier, and let's just be honest, usually healthier too (barring mental health issues on Mom's side.) But if you don't want to or can't? Who am I to judge that or second-guess you?

Unfortunately the loud, polarizing pro-breastfeeding voices just cause a division that makes it much more difficult for us to all be open and honest about the harder parts, which in turn makes it a lot hearder to get help and information to the women who really want it. It's counterproductive.

I BF my daughter for 8 months. During that time, I did suppliment her with formula when necessary. She was 10 pounds when she was born and it never seemed like she got enough. Despite being reassured constantly that my body would make exactly how much she needed, her body language would always tell me she was still hungry. I was giving her bottle at a restuarant one night and some random stranger (a man, no less) confronted me about not BF-ing her. When he walked away after his speech (we were all too shocked to tell him to shut up), I burst into tears.
Why do we always have to cut each other down to get our beliefs across?

Well said. It's sad that it feels so rare to read a post about breastfeeding that is so rational and well-centered.

I was so hell-bent and determined to breastfeed my twins. I had NO IDEA how high the deck was stacked against me (late-preemies, low birthweight, etc.), nor did I realize how poor and unrealistic the advice was that I got in the NICU. I beat myself up about it for 8 weeks before moving full-time to formula. It was the right decision at the time, and we were ultimately all happier and healthier. And yet, I beat myself up about it for months and months. With Baby3 due soon (less than 4 weeks OMG!), I'd be lying if it wasn't at the forefront. I admit that I'm putting pressure on myself to make it work this time, but I'd like to hope that I'm also realistic about what that means, and know when to say when....

But nothing could be more true - mom has to take care of herself if she's to have anything left to take care of her kids.

Having had so many problems BFing my daughter (we lasted 5 months) I've debated whether I'd even try to BF my next child at all.

When I look back on it, all I felt was resentment, anger, and frustration toward the whole process. I never once had those close, warm and fuzzy feelings during a nursing session. My daughter and I bonded, but nursing had very little to do with it because I was so wrapped up in trying to get my breasts to work "right" and trying to find an answer as to why they wouldn't.

(Don't get me started on the endocrinologist who, after being unable to come up with an explanation himself, lightly suggested I "just Google it.")

I have to think my next kid would benefit more from having a relaxed, rested and happy mama than from my 2-3 meager ounces of breastmilk a day. I still don't know exactly what I'll do with baby #2, but I know I don't want to spend as much emotional energy on it as I did with my first.

Definitely in the pro-mom camp here.

Oh, thank you sooooo much for writing this! I live in France which seems to be home to many "breastfeeding Nazis" (a term I don't like but I'm too exhausted to find a substitute). When my elder daughter was born at 35.5 weeks, very low birth weight, chronic hypoglycaemia and my milk never came in (and boy, did I try... 4 weeks of utter hell), I "supplemented" with formula and GOT SHOUTED AT by the LC for "ruining" my daughter and her future. That was over 9 years ago and I still feel some of the guilt, every time she gets a cold or cough. It's crazy the pressure mothers are put under/put themselves under... I gave up the BF with Carla after 4 weeks because her paediatrician said basically what you just wrote: she'd be happier with a bottle of formula and a happy, sane mother than an "empty" breast and an exhausted, neurotic mother. I gave up overnight and never looked back. Carla is now 9, happy, healthy, bright and beautiful. She seems to have some kind of allergy-induced asthma (and I'm sure it's "my fault", even now) but is pretty healthy. Her little sister was also BF only for 4 weeks, but I don't have the same guilt with her.
Thanks for being "pro-mom" - it's exactly what new mothers need, rather than the eternal (and eternally stupid) pro-BF vs pro-formula argument!

This is a great post. I want to smack some of the "pro-breastfeeding" people upside the head sometimes because they don't realize how hurtful their words can be. I know women who tried the damnedest and finally had to quit so they could do things like have a thriving baby, or be able to take the medication that they needed. It just bugs me because I don't think they realize that they are scaring away the people that could use support instead of really benefiting their cause. It is why I am very cautious about how I talk about my experience, even though it was overall a good one. I was lucky, damn lucky, to be able to have breastfed my daughter for 18 months. But I never want anyone to feel they have to live up to that to get my acceptance or support.

<3 this!
I'm the mom who breast fed 4 of my 5 babies for almost forever. I'm the NICU nurse who is literally setting up newly delivered mommas up with a pumping schedule so I can feed their tiny miracles drops of liquid gold and literally peeing my pants with delight when I get to help a growing preemie and mom breastfeed for the very first time...usually weeks after delivery. So imagine the shock when I decided not to breastfeed my 5th, for a whole lot of reasons. Even more shocking when I supported my 1st born's decision to stop breastfeeding her 3 week old daughter because it was so painful and difficult for the both of them.
I wholly believe in all the awesomeness of breastfeeding for mom and baby but ultimately I believe in happy, healthy, thriving mommies and babies.
Beautiful as always, Kristen!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

very well said.

I never knew it had a name! You and I have talked about it before, but I didn't realize it was a clinical response. I just knew that in those early breastfeeding weeks, I didn't want Kyle out of my sight due to the sheer panic I felt as soon as the baby latched on.

(Um, moms-to-be, especially my friend Tara, don't panic at the mere mention of my panic, okay?)

Pro-mom, indeed. Trust in your own judgment, abilities, and circumstances.

Oh my goodness! I never this type of disorder existed! I have always been pro-mom but NOW it has purpose in terms of breast feeding!

My momma breastfed only one of her babies..and only for 3 months. (me) and she hated it. I breastfed my 1st for 3 months & hated it. My 2nd for 10months til he insisted on being weaned. (TOTALLY bizarre but true), and my 3rd for about 21 months & loved it.

It all depends on the individual
Mother and child & we should let each individual make the choices that work for them without judging.

Ah, friend.

You know I still have such complicated feelings about the troubles I had with The Boy. I had to fight, tooth and nail, (pumps and supplements,) scratching and clawing to get to a cut-off time that didn't hurt me to think about. It still DID kind of hurt me to think about it, though. So, I just stopped thinking about it because, really, what good was it doing me?

The activists in any camp are in the extreme. I'm more comfortable here, in the middle, with all this good company.
xo

Thank you so much for writing this. I had postpartum OCD. As I always say, the fact that my boobs didn't have ounce markers on them was enough to drive me over the edge. I didn't know how much my milk son was getting. I didn't know if I was doing it right. Breastfeeding gave me anxiety attacks. And all of the other symptoms of postpartum OCD had me ready to shoot myself in the guest bedroom. Literally. So I appreciate you saying this. I quit. And it helped my sanity to some extent. Not that everyone with PPD or a related illness should quit. For some, it's the one thing that makes them feel sane. No more judgment! So glad you jumped into this discussion.

I totally agree. I heard someone say snottily yesterday, "I promised myself that I would never let a drop of formula touch my child's lips." Guess what lady? You probably just made a bunch of moms in the room feel like shit. Because I supplemented with formula, you are a better mom than me?

Everyone's situation, story, baby, and boobs are different. Breastfeeding and formula are not one-size fits all. And once a woman finds what works - she should be supported. No matter what.


So well said. I come upon so many women in their first pregnancies that are afraid to discuss the subject for fear of being "judged" one way or the other. I can see it in their eyes when talking about what they are preparing for when baby arrives. So many are concerned with whether what they are doing or planning is the "right thing"...and I just keep responding that truly the right thing is doing what is best for the baby AND them. It's not mutually exclusive although societal pressures still seem to focus on one alternative as superior, whether it's breastfeeding or sleep "training" or working at home (I don't consider it "staying at home") or working out of the house.

Every baby is different and every mother is different and the more we can find ways to be supportive and agree on that basis the better off all our kids will be.

As a soon-to-be mom, I LOVED reading this post. It felt that as soon as I got pregnant, I was inducted into the club of 'mommy-judging'.

Whether you're going natural birth or not, choosing to breastfeed or not, having your baby in a hospital or not, other women seem to have no problem telling you what they think about your decisions or quick to share horror stories. I'm with you and wish we could all just agree on being pro-mom. It just seems much easier and healthier that way.

I just said on Twitter that I wasn't reading any more BF/Formula posts...however I had to make an exception for you.

Thank you for this Kristen. I think it's something everyone needs to hear.

I'll be quite honest, I wasn't able to BF my oldest and I did feel horribly guilty. Because I felt like I'd failed her in some way. With my younger two though? I choose not too. That was my choice. I am a good mother. I have an amazing connection with my children. I have three happy, healthy, smart children. I don't regret my choices.

I am pro-mom.

Thank you for saying this, you have no idea.

There are only about 5 other women in the world with my disease, Cystinosis, who have been able to bring children into this world. I gave birth to my daughter last February. I was desperate to breastfeed. I went against medical advice to breastfeed. I needed to get back on a critical medical for my body, Cystagon, but it is not safe to take during pregnancy, or breastfeeding. Nonetheless, I wanted to try it for 6 weeks. To make a long story short, my milk never fully came in and I was not able to, it was devastating and I STILL carry around the guilt.

Yes. Bravo. THANK YOU.

I struggled with severe PPD while nursing, in addition to just having a terrible time of it (ravaged nips, low production, possibly DMER, which I hadn't heard of). I finally gave up with Jasper after months of beating myself up and compromising my own physical and mental health in order to do what I felt was best. It wasn't until I realized that it was more important to my babies' well-being that I be healthy and sane that I was able to make that choice. (I wrote about it here - http://herbadmother.com/2009/10/shame-and-the-mom-a-boob-story/ - had complicated feelings about it. Still do.)

I'm with you. Pro-MOM.

My kids are 12 and 8. To this day I cannot write about my experiences. I have no idea where my 8 yo got the idea, but every once in a while he'd ask me again how long I BF each of them: 1 month, 2 weeks. To him, that's almost like proof that I love him less than his older brother. My eyes are stinging just typing these things out. I will stop here. Although I am not from "the camp" that you were expecting firestorms from, I just want to thank you for saying this.

Yup. I nursed rom 9/04 to 6/10. There is so much pressure on so many fronts that at the end of the day (and start, and middle and on and on) we have to do what has the broadest good. Not according to anyone but those of us living it.

Because it's about the living, not the "doing it perfectly."

Oh yeah, and I totally agree. In general, we all need to be pro-mom. Be supportive of everyone's situations, instead of making people feel bad for their choices.

This is the second blog I've read today about this. And I had never even heard of it until today.

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