If you were told there was one thing you could do to give your newly born baby immunities for up to 2 years of his life (or more) the fight future obesity, to help prevent him from getting diabetes, to prevent you from getting breast cancer, to keep his ear infections to none or very few in the first year of his life, that bottle-rot and rotten teeth would not occur, to give him the perfect nutrition, to keep him from getting diarrhea and rashes, to boost his IQ, and on the list goes...wouldn't people be lining up for this "wonder drug" or to get this "amazing vaccine"?
They would. They should. But, they aren't.
It's breastfeeding. The most natural, normal thing since the beginning of time. Yet, some "try" it, and even fewer stick with it. Yes, there are many reasons for that. But, I have to say this: As a parent, it's our job to sacrifice for our kids. You run out to get the driest diaper for their bums, the best clothes, all the vaccines so they stay healthy, search out the best day cares and schools and nannies...but the one thing that surpasses all that, parents (not just moms) toss aside as an inconvenience and figure formula is "just as good". It's not.
Now, I don't want to get into more controversy, because I know there really are women out there that have tried and not succeeded at nursing (I won't say failed, but they didn't fail their kids). And then there's the excuses. If you don't want to just say that. But, I laugh, cringe, sigh, and am even angry sometimes when I hear things from doctors, nurses and other medical "professionals" about formula being just as good and giving new moms reasons to not nurse. This is especially annoying when watching those baby stories, birth shows, etc. on tv.
"My milk didn't come in." Or some variation of, (wasn't coming in, took too long, etc.).
"I wasn't making enough."
"He was needing more than I could produce."
"I'm too small/big/something."
"He really only needs it the first few days." Or variation of time-week, month, 6 months, etc.
"He doesn't want to." (this is different from he isn't able to, which does truly happen.)
"He's getting too big/old for it."
"He needed formula to get rid of jaundice." (sigh, grr)
"I had to go back to work."
"I didn't get anything while pumping."
Again, there are true supply problems and true latching problems and other medical conditions that can prevent mom and baby from a happy nursing relationship. However, the reasons I just listed, are usually forms of excuses or outs for them. Number one rule while nursing: if it is happy for you AND baby, then continue. If mom isn't happy with it, then baby will feel that and it will become a struggle, possibly painful, and unhappy time for both.
And, really it's not the moms' fault. Especially, new moms. They're taken advantage of by doctors who wants fast, speed, results, charts, graphs, etc. They want to take control of the delivery by drugs and surgeries on their time, not what's best for mom and baby. They want to see measures of intake by baby and the output and ounces and cc's and ml and so on. They dislike that breast milk straight from the breast isn't measurable. (Okay, not all doctors are that way, but a lot are that I've seen.)
New moms are told that the baby MUST have formula to keep his temperature up, his weight up, his blood sugar, get rid of jaundice, etc. WRONG, wrong wrong. None of that is true. They told me that they would need to give Karter some formula in a dropper because his blood sugar was low. He wasn't even an hour old and hadn't even nursed yet. I didn't want it, but they said it was "hospital policy". Malarkey. (heard that lately?) Thanks to my big mouth mom they didn't and I nursed him and astonishingly his blood sugar immediately when to where it should be. Hmmm, who knew that breast milk and colostrum was so magical? It actually did what it was supposed to do! How about that?! And when his jaundice was still going strong at 8 weeks, I told them before they even suggested that I wasn't doing formula to "get rid of it". And it went away just fine.
There are real physical breast issues that some moms face, but in general, you're never too small, too big, too anything for baby. Sure when he first comes out his head might be half the size of the breast he's eating from, but that won't last long.
It kills me when, on tv, the moms say "I tried breastfeeding but my milk wasn't coming in, so now he gets formula." Did NO ONE educate these moms that milk doesn't come in for at least 3 days? That colostrum is all a baby needs the first few days? These nurses and doctors who are caring for mom and baby in the hospital for 2-3 days forgot to or failed to mention that? Sigh. It's supply and demand-if he needs it, it will be there. Very rarely do moms not make enough. Growth spurt? Baby nurses mores, tells mom's body to make more, baby satisfied.
Pumping is a whole different issue. Some are able to pump and get a lot, some pump and pump and get barely a drop. That is vastly different from what the baby takes in by mouth from the breast. Babies are way more efficient than any man-made, plastic pump. So, for those who have to go back to work (which I have done a few times) pumping is an option, but most hate the thought of it (hence the sacrifices, I was speaking of...). But, there are those who pump and get nothing, yet nursing baby is happy, so they do supplement during the day, etc.
This post isn't to bash moms who can't successfully breastfeed (or get baby breast milk one way or another). It isn't to criticize moms who choose not to. If that's what they choose, it's what they choose, and any guilt-inducing, bashing, or forcing just makes matters worse. It's to point out that as parents we make decisions for our children and the very first, and best one is either misguided, not explained, not discussed, not supported, misunderstood by new moms and their doctors, nurses, pediatricians. My experience was that I had already set my mind to breastfeeding at all costs and I read books and sites online about it as I prepared for it. But, sadly, I think it was just in passing that my OB asked what I was going to do, breast or bottle? The pediatrician may have asked at the initial pre-baby consult, but I don't remember. When I said 'breast', most medical professionals I dealt with just nodded and said "good." No one asked if I was taking a prep class, or had a book on it, or had the number of a lactation consultant, or anything. I think there was a pamphlet in the folder from the OB about it, but that was about it.
For every mom on the fence, or not realizing the greatness of breast milk, an experience (or non experience) like mine, would be easily influenced to choose formula. I know that in your head you're saying "wars, economy, statistics, numbers, unemployment, starving people in the streets losing their homes, and you're worried about education on breastfeeding?" Yes. I worry about other things too. But, I've seen what it can do. I've seen my boys barely get sick. I've seen my milk allergic baby thrive on it. I've seen and felt the bond with them. I've suffered pumping and not sharing feeding duties-especially at night. And there are days I groan "you want to eat again?" or just don't want to do it.
Statistics prove breastfed babies are healthier overall, now and in the future. Just as important as getting him in the "right" preschool, is beginning his nutrition and his life the best way. Something to think about. Something doctors and nurses and big companies who thrive on new moms' naivety and money should think about. But then again, they wouldn't be making the big bucks if no infants had multiple ear infections and tubes, or sucked down Similac by the gallon, would they?