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A Peace Accord in the Mommy Wars
June 16, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

You have all the best information and you have your personal breastfeeding goals, but somehow it just doesn't work out for you. You've been booby trapped!

We all know that breast is best "breastfeeding is nothing more than normal", and the Case Against Breastfeeding, but Best for Babes is determined to get the focus of baby feeding methods off of individual women and onto "the cultural & institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals."
posted by zorrine (86 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, there are an awful lot of women who are just unable to breastfeed, for the simple reason that they just don't produce enough milk. No amount of breaking down of cultural, institutional and other barriers has any impact on these mothers' biological inability to feed their babies effectively. A point lost on a lot of breastfeeding revivalists, worthy cause though it is, is that in many cases it's not a case of formula replacing a mother's milk; it's often a case of formula replacing the wet nurse, a role that pretty much died out in the West in the early 20th century.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:40 AM on June 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


You know, there are an awful lot of women who are just unable to breastfeed, for the simple reason that they just don't produce enough milk.

For biological reasons, I find it implausible that this can be more than a fairly small minority of cases. Do you have any numbers?
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ah, breastfeeding: one of those topics where otherwise nice people choose a position, dig in, and bring out the long knives at the slightest hint that there's another way that things could be done.

My wife and I have twins coming soon, and in a panel of parents that spoke for the class, there was a woman who had had a horrible time with breastfeeding. It was physical torture for her; many times she had to pierce her skin with a pin in order to let the milk flow.

She soldiered on and fed both twins, but her attitude about it was such grim determination, and she had such horrible memories from that time, that I can't help but think it would have been better for everyone involved if she hadn't felt so compelled to do it the "natural" way.
posted by gurple at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


You got one here DU. I got the gift of le boobies (38DD) and by god I thought those suckers were going to be awesome in that area. Nope. Produced 3oz max. The kid wanted to eat every 1.5-2 hours. The suckers never did work right.

And for all the OMG antibodies--I did try hard to breastfeed/pump and did so for 6 weeks and woomp there it is, RSV put him in the hospital requiring oxygen, steroids, etc. So much for the antibody promise.

And finally milk protein allergy. Nothing says time to stop when your kid is pooing blood.

Good times breastfeeding. Good times. Hello Allimentum.

I think this article is a reason why breastfeeding Nazi's piss me off. Let people do what they want and what's right for them. I tried it. It didn't work out.
posted by stormpooper at 11:55 AM on June 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


the wet nurse, a role that pretty much died out in the West in the early 20th century.

I'm sure there are some hippie-types out there somewhere working on reviving the role. Be on the lookout for a piece on the new "trend" in the NYTimes Style Section.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:57 AM on June 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


DU, I too am interested in numbers about this.

My wife felt tremendous pressure to breastfeed but after a couple of weeks it was clear it wasn't working. I do agree that breastfeeding is good and natural and has all sorts of benefits but when it's not working, it's not working. Using pins to help the flow is utterly insane.

It seems as though some people think that the goal is to breastfeed the baby where in fact the real goal is to have a healthy baby.
posted by redyaky at 12:03 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


damn, I read this the first time as "breastfeeding goats" and was expecting something much more interesting.
posted by luvcraft at 12:05 PM on June 16, 2010


Even if the rare mother who may not have enough milk to completely support her baby/s can still do a lot of things to continue a breastfeeding relationship; for instance, babies who are nursed are held for every feeding, for months or years. Personally, I have a very hard time being still and being with my babies (I'm ADD), so nursing my twins for 36 months was my way of making sure that I would be still and cuddle them for however much time every day (each mom's mileage/needs may vary). Plus breastmilk digests itself, so the baby is hungry & held more often than a baby who's tummy is working for hours on digesting formula -- formula fed babies go longer between feedings, but they're having less cuddles, and does that concern the parents or are they certain they'll make up the difference?
One of my best friends produced plenty of milk but it had no fat in it -- she was so attached to breastfeeding that she nursed the baby and then gave them formula (I think she may have even watered the formula down a bit) -- a hassle perhaps, but a compromise that made her happy, and her kids healthy.

And those are the kinds of things I wish people would talk about more -- the non-nutritional side effects of breast-feeding and how or if to make up for them, such the breast being a primary comfort (compared to a pacifier, etc) in times of infant despair, stuff like that. When my kids were younger, I had a lot of this on the tip of my tongue.
posted by MeiraV at 12:09 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Speaking of having all the best information, I had considered doing an FPP on this but I was the one who made the case against breast-feeding post from the more inside above and I didn't want to get the reputation as the guy who is weirdly interested in breast-feeding, but did you know that part of the health care reform law modified the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to nursing mothers, as well as a private place to express breast milk, for at least the first year of their babies’ lives? I think that is kind of cool right.
posted by ND¢ at 12:09 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


there was a woman who had had a horrible time with breastfeeding. It was physical torture for her; many times she had to pierce her skin with a pin in order to let the milk flow.

But it seems like this would be more a defect of the infant in question, who was clearly missing the traditional pin-like "breasting fang".
posted by Greg Nog at 12:09 PM on June 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


Breastfeeding isn't easy the first time around. On one hand I support those moms who tried it and prefer the bottle (different strokes for different folks) but for those who really want it to work, it would be nice if there was more education, more support, more encouragement and better preparation for what it's really like.

With my first one the first few weeks were tough. After that it got a lot easier, and my other two benefitted from my experience when it was their turn. My own daughter in turn had a rough several weeks but since she had access to lactation consultants plus a mom who'd been there and done that, she too was successful.

Yes, there are some women who for biological or other reasons cannot breastfeed or can only do it with extreme difficulty, but it's not that easy in the beginning to know if you are in that category or if perseverance will get you through.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:12 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


But it seems like this would be more a defect of the infant in question, who was clearly missing the traditional pin-like "breasting fang".

Are you saying that human babies don't have a proboscis? Good grief, who designed your species?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:12 PM on June 16, 2010


You’ve taken a childbirth preparation class, and think you are ready, but breastfeeding got only an hour tacked on at the end

Amen. As a birth partner, I felt very prepared for childbirth, but my wife and I were both very surprised at how difficult breastfeeding was.

Along with the difficulties of getting started (we had to supplement with formula for the first 4 weeks or so), my wife also had excruciating pain.

The good news is that after 6 weeks or so, it just sort of clicked, and my wife was able to breastfeed our daughter for a year and a half (my wife stopped by choice).

Ah, breastfeeding: one of those topics where otherwise nice people choose a position, dig in, and bring out the long knives at the slightest hint that there's another way that things could be done.

I dunno. I can see both sides pretty well. It seems clear that breastfeeding is generally better for babies (kids), but the complications are myriad, as are the individual circumstances.

I don't agree with the argument below, but I think she has some interesting points:

The Case Against Breastfeeding

Nice post about the "booby traps." Some of these are insidiously true, such as formula makers undermining your confidence with free samples everywhere and advertising that implies lmdba's contention above (of which I too would like to see some evidence).

Let people do what they want and what's right for them.

Amen part 2.

on preview:

My wife felt tremendous pressure to breastfeed but after a couple of weeks it was clear it wasn't working.

Anecdata, but my wife felt exactly the same way (perhaps with less stress or performance pressure). There were many, many times in the first 6 weeks when she considered quitting completely. Like I said, the pain was excruciating and she still wasn't producing enough to stop supplementing.

It was a tearful time. "If I'm dying of pain and she's still not eating enough, what is this all for?" was a familiar lament. But, as I said, after the 7th week or so, things FINALLY started clicking.

Do what you need to do, but based on my very limited experience, if you stick it out for the first two months, it can get better. Although my wife pumped at work for over a year (she hated that part of it), she is overjoyed that she was able to breastfeed for as long as she did, and I'm extremely proud of her. my2c.

Also, aside from the obvious lanolin, if you are REALLY in pain (my wife described it as shards of glass piercing her nipples) and it's not Thrush or another infection, there is a topical ointment that significantly relieved pain for my wife. It's a custom salve, but it is prescription and my wife still has some at home. MeFiMail me if you want info...
posted by mrgrimm at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding when my daughter was first born. I barely produced any milk and she was losing weight and bordering on dehydrated. We supplemented and I pumped and somehow I managed to get a supply going, but I know I was lucky and had a lot of support. We still supplement with formula in addition to what milk she gets from me and some days I really feel guilty about that, some days I'm ok with it.
I feel like this focus on the "booby traps" of breastfeeding takes the focus off of a woman's choice of breast or bottle and puts it more on the people who surround that woman and their knowledge and support of her choice (for example, the pediatrician who is only familiar with formula fed babies so gives advice about sleep to the breastfeeding mom).

Stormpooper, newborns tend to eat very frequently. My daughter sometimes wanted to eat every hour, sometimes she'd wait two or three hours. That's the kind of information that new moms don't get or they read a book about getting the baby on a schedule, which is not how babies work.

ThePinkSuperhero, there already are women on certain message boards and blogs lauding temporary wet nurses (the woman in China who fed six or some babies during that earthquake comes to mind).

I could go on all day about breastfeeding, so I'll just say that I think women deserve support for whatever choice they make, I just am hopeful that they have all of the information they need before they make that choice.
posted by zorrine at 12:16 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


There will never be a peace accord in the mommy wars.
posted by pinky at 12:20 PM on June 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Stormpooper -- I'm sorry you had the perfect storm of issues.

For the record, 1-3 oz is typical of a pumping session, via Kellymom.com. The baby is able to get a lot more out than a machine. I just wanted to put that out there because a lot of people (and doctors!!!!) believe that oz pumped = oz fed while nursing, and it just doesn't work that way. Seriously, for anecdata, I nursed twins but was never able to pump more than 4 oz unless I skipped a feeding (Woo! Was that a banner day! lol).

And my first got RSV exactly 4 weeks after I stopped breastfeeding him. and then went on to get 4 ear infections in 6 months. So I took that anecdata and decided to nurse the twins for as long as I wanted -- ended up being 36 months and they never got any ear infections or anything. But again, just my anecdata, other's MMV . . .
posted by MeiraV at 12:23 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


le morte de bea arthur: "You know, there are an awful lot of women who are just unable to breastfeed"

DU: "a fairly small minority of cases"

You could both be right. A small percentage of a large number of people can still be a large number of people.
posted by zippy at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


there is a topical ointment that significantly relieved pain for my wife. It's a custom salve, but it is prescription and my wife still has some at home.

Now see, why isn't that stuff OTC? In a just world, they'd hand you that, along with nipple shields, pads, and contact info for free round-the-clock lactation consulting when you leave the hospital.

If you think about it, it's astonishing that your average OB/doc knows so little about breastfeeding that you're forced to turn to freelance lactation consultants to get help (and hope they're actually any good).

This is an essential life function, but it's barely incorporated into medical care at all. Why don't we have highly-trained professionals and care available for this? You can get more help learning how to use your new artificial knee than you can learning how to use your breasts. Why is that?

Because formula is cheaper, so it became the default. And also because of the history of women-specific problems, like breastfeeding issues, being minimized and ignored in our healthcare system.

I think that there's some talking-past-each-other going on whenever this turns into a knifefest. Pretty much all of breastfeeding rights work nowadays is focused on institutional barriers--and yes, in the past, wet nurses (or more often, female relatives who were already nursing) were used to help get new mothers past breastfeeding issues. When many women shared a household/neighborhood, it wasn't so terrifying when you were having trouble; you could get another woman to feed your baby this session, and try again the next.

Now, there is too much concern about hygiene/disease (and yeah, squeamishness) for this to become widespread again, and that's a pity, because it's simple and sensible. But we don't live that communally anymore, so now we have breastmilk banks, pumps, and lactation consultants. I have seen a lot more consultants recommend tube systems too, that you can tape to the breast and deliver milk from a container but still require the baby to feed at the breast. That's a start, but really, we need to get some better science onto these problems.

Not to mention getting actual maternity leave so that moms could actually be home more than 6-12 weeks (if that) to establish breastfeeding/get past obstacles, I think we'd see real progress. I can't help but think the pressure to have the baby/get breastfeeding established/get them to take it pumped from a bottle has a lot to do with women giving up too. Managing all that in 6-12 weeks is a real miracle.
posted by emjaybee at 12:35 PM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Redykay--PINS? Someone told your wife to put pins in her nipples?

Hello infection.
posted by stormpooper at 12:47 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you MeiraV and emjaybee (and others, they're just the most recent commenters) for saying a lot of things that I'm thinking but don't want to post for fear of moderating my own post. If we got rid of so many of these barriers (uneducated doctors, lack of informed support, etc.), women who wanted to breastfeed for however long would be able to have a better go of it, rather than being discouraged from all sides. On the other hand, so many breastfeeding advocates have to take a step back and realize that sometimes women just can't continue through whatever negative aspect of breastfeeding it is that's making them consider switching to formula. If I didn't have my husband's support and help and if I wasn't able to stay at home to take care of my daughter, I would probably have switched to formula rather than keep trying. It wasn't easy and I don't know how I did it, and I don't think women who make different choices than I did should judged as bad moms.
posted by zorrine at 12:50 PM on June 16, 2010


But it seems like this would be more a defect of the infant in question, who was clearly missing the traditional pin-like "breasting fang".

My son totally had that. I still have scars.
posted by not that girl at 12:57 PM on June 16, 2010


"If you think about it, it's astonishing that your average OB/doc knows so little about breastfeeding"

Oh, don't even get me started on this. Get the flu during pregnancy -- don't see your GP, see your OB. Get post-pardum depression -- don't see your OB (who's specialty is pregnancy & post-pardum), see your GP. You & the baby get thrush? You have to research it and then TELL your GP how to treat it and probably tell your pediatrician -- god forbid one of them should already be knowledgeable and willing treat BOTH of you.


Future moms considering breastfeeding: kellymom.com Bookmark it.
posted by MeiraV at 12:57 PM on June 16, 2010


Whatever. I was formula fed and have way fewer allergies and health problems than my boob fed cousins.
Also, now when I hold my friend's babies, I can tell if they are breastfed little buggers because they leave obscene drool stains on my shirt.



Seriously, though, I don't under stand why women aren't just "pro-choice" on this issue and leave it to the individual to decide what's best for their situation.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:59 PM on June 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


For those incredulous about the sticking-with-pins solution, this woman was doing this in order to work through milk blisters. Scroll down to "Treatment" to see this recommended.
posted by gurple at 1:01 PM on June 16, 2010


stormpooper - I was referring to something gurple had said.
posted by redyaky at 1:01 PM on June 16, 2010


Before I clicked the "more inside", I prayed this was going to be some sort of new wacky viral game, like Moms Icing Moms.

I'm so sad that I was wrong.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:06 PM on June 16, 2010


Seriously, though, I don't under stand why women aren't just "pro-choice" on this issue and leave it to the individual to decide what's best for their situation

Mostly I think women are activist about this issue because it seems to them that the information women get and the support they get are biased toward formula feeding. For instance: deliver a baby in the hospital and get a free diaper bag full of formula samples, bottles, and coupons! But there's no similar gift-pack of nipple pads and ointment and nursing pillow, or whatever a breastfeeding sample bag might look like. So women are trying to make individual decisions in an environment where they're not getting complete or balanced information.
posted by not that girl at 1:09 PM on June 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


We want you to know that we understand and that it’s not your fault! You didn’t fail, the system failed you! Most of you could have succeeded if it weren’t for the Booby Traps!

I really hate language like this. It's so backhanded and condescending. "It's not your fault that you're a failure!" There's never going to be a "peace accord" if we keep defining parenting choices in terms of success and failure.

I am all for encouraging mothers to breastfeed and providing better resources to make the process easier. I don't think ANYONE is against that. But the attitude that women who don't breastfeed somehow just need to know more or care more or try just a little harder...it's really, really off-putting.
posted by jrossi4r at 1:18 PM on June 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


But the attitude that women who don't breastfeed somehow just need to know more or care more or try just a little harder...it's really, really off-putting.

After I was unable to breastfeed my oldest son, I found an encouraging article on-line that was aimed at women with "breastfeeding failures." It was pretty good until a line that went something like, "Don't feel bad--some women just don't have a lot of stick-to-it-ive-ness."

Backhanded and condescending, indeed.
posted by not that girl at 1:22 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Delivering in Denmark is different. I tried feeding that first night (yeah, good luck with that considering the blood loss and lack of food in me to make food with) and felt bad when I caved at four in the morning and a nurse gave her formula for the very first feeding. The nurse said not to worry "it takes a few days for everyone". No diaper-pack or formulas were sent home with me, but the midwives showed me how the baby should latch on, and a few days later the "baby doctor" made her first of many house calls to check in on her weight and how the feeding was going. Imagine that, the baby nurse consulting me on everything from diapers to the changing tables, and on how to sit comfortably and how she should latch in my own home. "If there's nothing coming, drink a large glass of water, relax and try again". She watched in silence as my daughter latched and whispered to me "listen, now". We listened. Eons seemed to pass as my daughter tortured my nipples. Suddenly there was a distinct slurpy sound. "Ah, see that's the sound, she said, you're now feeding right." Later when I had blockage, the nurse came by and tipped me on how to release that with a hot shower and how to massage it loose. Worked like a charm.

As for not being able to feed enough, babies will demand more breast when they need to kick up milk production. I had a rough time catching up on the 3-month mark but soon she had me producing so much milk I could shoot it out like a steady wee jetstream. Hilarious.

Yes it's hard, especially if you have to go to work soon after the baby is born ( I worked at home and had the luxury of yanking my boobs out whenever we wanted to). No matter how many jetstreams i could shoot I could never get more than 1 oz in a bottle with a pump. But having a nurse help you with it at home certainly made it easier to stay with my choice of nursing, and I'm very glad it did.
posted by dabitch at 1:25 PM on June 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wow, dabitch. I clearly need to move to Denmark in the next couple months, before our twins arrive.
posted by gurple at 1:57 PM on June 16, 2010


Oh, and I wanted to say for the record; I was unable to breastfeed past 10 days because my (*&*&^ OB who did my c/section left some tissue behind but we didn't know it; that kept my milk from coming in, made me very sick and I hemorrhaged 10 days postpartum (that's when we realized what the deal was with no milk). After being taken off in an ambulance sure that I was dying and finally understanding why I'd felt so bad postpartum, I was so utterly defeated that fighting to breastfeed was just more than I could handle.

I wish my story were more unusual. And I strongly suspect that adding the stress of c/section recovery due to the skyrocketing c/s rate has a lot to do w/ problems in breastfeeding too.
posted by emjaybee at 1:58 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's times like these that being a gay man makes me happy. I'm off on gay man island throwing back a Cosmo and watching the volleys land from across the bay.
posted by msbutah at 1:59 PM on June 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's times like these that being a gay man makes me happy. I'm off on gay man island throwing back a Cosmo and watching the volleys land from across the bay.

A gay male couple I know just brought home a 2-year-old and soon will take custody of her newborn sister. Breastfeeding in adoption, usually with a supplementer, is a big movement these days, and I was tempted to ask them if they were going to try it. Why should they be exempt from the mommy wars just because they're both daddies?
posted by not that girl at 2:11 PM on June 16, 2010


My biggest problem is with the either/or way that the issue is presented. Even if your baby primarily drinks breast milk, if you supplement with formula at all a lot of lactation advocates consider that the hellish dark side and write you off.

When my daughter was born it took my milk almost 7 days to come in. I had to supplement, and I was very reluctant. My pediatrician told us to supplement and also said that in his 30 year career he had seen maybe 3 cases of "nipple confusion" which is one of the bugbears of the lactation folks.

My baby now, at 3 1/2 months, drinks milk directly from me and from bottles, and sometimes drinks formula. She was exclusively on breast milk for most of weeks 2-12. At 3 months she hit a growth spurt and my production simply doesn't seem able to increase to meet her needs. I am totally comfortable supplementing, although I am also talking with lactation consultants about ways to increase my supply. Some of which are utterly impossible (pump every hour for ten minutes).

Too long; anyway, my point is that I think people like me should be encouraged. My daughter is getting the antibodies etc. from my milk, but she is also not hungry and thus is a) in a good mood all the time and b) gaining weight. But a lot of lactation activists (I might say most) consider my story a story of failure.

In regards to the significant number of people whose production is not enough for their babies-- it makes perfect sense to me, given the range of production on the other end. Some women make so much milk that they can fully stock a freezer AND feed a hungry infant. Make sense that some can barely (or not at all) keep up with a baby's demands.

And finally (can you tell this is a subject I think a lot about?) bottlefeeding does not preclude closeness and holding of the baby. My husband bottle feeds our daughter and he loves it. She's not a super cuddly type so bottle feeding gives him a good reason to keep a close cuddle on her!
posted by miss tea at 2:16 PM on June 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's never going to be a "peace accord" if we keep defining parenting choices in terms of success and failure.

I would like to favorite this infinity times.
posted by lexicakes at 2:17 PM on June 16, 2010


My biggest problem is with the either/or way that the issue is presented. Even if your baby primarily drinks breast milk, if you supplement with formula at all a lot of lactation advocates consider that the hellish dark side and write you off.

This too. I can't for the life of me figure out why exclusive breastfeeding is considered the only acceptable goal by so many lactivists. Shouldn't any amount of breastfeeding be encouraged?
posted by lexicakes at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]



For biological reasons, I find it implausible that this can be more than a fairly small minority of cases. Do you have any numbers?

In my mothers and babies group, of 12 of us, five tried to breastfeed and had to switch to formula due to low supply. Certainly not definitive, but according to other moms I have spoken with, that near-half with feeding problems is not uncommon.
posted by naturesgreatestmiracle at 2:21 PM on June 16, 2010


Shouldn't any amount of breastfeeding be encouraged?

You'd think, but I have had lactivists tell me that even a tiny amount of formula completely undoes the good that breastfeeding does. Something about properly "sealing the gut" and how formula interferes with it, and that's how you get allergies etc because proteins from food are able to pass through the wall.
posted by not that girl at 2:24 PM on June 16, 2010


My Irish ex mother in law told me to sit in a rocking chair every evening, drink a pint of Guinness and nurse the baby. It worked for her five kids and it worked for both of mine; however, I have an uneasy feeling that this technique has fallen out of favor.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:31 PM on June 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


DU: "For biological reasons, I find it implausible that this can be more than a fairly small minority of cases. Do you have any numbers?"

Presumably we're talking about how we've evolved to care for our young, but I guess I have two thoughts on that. The first is what historical infant mortality rates aren't all that flash, the second is: traditionally mothers have their first kid in their teens or so. I obviously have no figures, but presumably it's not impossible that from an evolutionary point of view mothers having their first kid much older (in comparison) may have lower supply. Certainly your percentage chance of all sorts of birth defects rise dramatically after 35, so, biologically, it seems the human body is less suited to having kids, and possible feeding them.

I'd personally like to read some of the original studies around breast feeding, I only ever seem to see them very broadly paraphrased in articles on the web. What percentage increase is there in the likelihood of the illnesses discussed, how about with 90% breast milk and the odd top up with formula? At what point does your kid being underfed become more of a problem than a 5% increase (or whatever) in their chance of asthma? (my next door neighbour had to be told reasonably strongly to try formula when her daughter hadn't regained birth weight after 6 weeks of desperately trying to breast feed, she just wasn't producing enough).
posted by markr at 2:48 PM on June 16, 2010


not that girl: "Mostly I think women are activist about this issue because it seems to them that the information women get and the support they get are biased toward formula feeding."

It couldn't be more different in Australian hospitals.
posted by markr at 2:52 PM on June 16, 2010


For anecdotal purposes, my wife was also unable to breastfeed. Our twins were 4 weeks premature and unable to latch on. From what I understand, this is quite common with preemies.

Previously on Metafilter.
posted by zarq at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2010


miss tea, you're obviously doing the right thing in both bottle and breast (for you guys). Our baby nurse said we could do this too, and no harm (such as the myth that babies can not latch on breast after using the bottle) comes from mixing the two, just a fat happy baby.

mygothlaundry, my Irish friend who had hers before me said that was exactly what she did to catch up on that production-jump at 3 and 6 months. "A pint, my wee one, and a few soaps back to back" was her date every night at the time. She told me to try it, but I only dared a non-alcoholic beer. Something about it seemed to work though.
posted by dabitch at 2:56 PM on June 16, 2010


Oh hang on, I didn't mean to make that sound as if I don't approve of the mixed bottle and breast thing, I think that is obviously the best solution, if one can nurse and the baby still needs some more food. Then yes, "cheat" when supply is low. Fat happy babies all around (and less stressed out parents).
posted by dabitch at 3:00 PM on June 16, 2010



Backhanded and condescending, indeed.


Exactly. When my first child was born, I didn't have any other mom-friends and relied on the internet for parenting advice (BAD idea). It took 3 months for the kid to make the boob-food connection, during which time I pumped and bottled every 90 minutes, round the clock, spend thousands on a lactation consultant and hospital grade pump, and suffered through a postpartum depression that had me convinced that I was physically a failure as a mother since I couldn't accomplish the most natural, basic duty of the job. Because the internet said so. Formula feeding was for shallow women who were unwilling to put forth the necessary devotion to raise a healthy child, and I might as well start feeding them Mountain Dew Code Red and signing them up for the emotionally detached short bus program if I wasn't willing to continue this process for the next two years.

And you know what? All the agony about breast/bottle, co-sleeping/ferberization, playpen/babysling, cloth/plastic, homemade/storebought food, doesn't appear to have made a damn bit of difference. When I look at my now-third grader and his classmates, there is no correlation between these decisions their parents made and the childrens' current health and happiness. None. Smartest kids in the class? Bottle-fed.

New parents are so impressionable, so convinced that every little decision could irrevocably fuck up this new small mammal that they spend a remarkable amount of time worrying over things that, after a few years, just won't matter. But it does distract them from realizing how hard parenting is going to get when said small mammals get more autonomous and willful.

And fuck anyone who plays on this insecurity, either from Nestle or La Leche. As if things weren't hard enough as it is.
posted by bibliowench at 3:09 PM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's something to be said about Guinness for all occasions -- this isn't the first time I've heard that bit of advice!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:32 PM on June 16, 2010


I had my baby at a Baby Friendly hospital. They were pretty cool. The nurses try to help the moms establish breastfeeding in practical ways, like encouraging on-cue nursing, explaining that the amount of milk you get from pumping isn't necessarily representative of you having some terrible supply problem, etc.

My son was two months early, and both of us spent some time in our respective ICUs. Even with that happening, the nurses had a brisk, matter-of-fact attitude about breastfeeding that I really liked. Also, they had an entire office of lactation consultants you could call for information even after you left - which I did. It's very reassuring to hear someone who's seen it all declare your tiny baby's constant nursing "normal", not "evidence of your failure in vague-yet-terrible ways".
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:34 PM on June 16, 2010


Make sure your hospital is "Baby Friendly"

The “Baby Friendly” Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for lactation. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

They take the time to help.

http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/eng/index.html
posted by real_paris at 3:41 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just wrote an epic post post about why women don't breastfeed, how those choices do matter, and how formula can never replace the emotional benefits of breastfeeding.

On preview, I decided this was exactly the kind of condescending bullshit that justly annoys women who lovingly formula feed. So I will just write this instead:

Too many women today are faced with a slick marketing assault on one hand and a bunch of people who have mistaken a health care occupation for a Crusade on the other. Neither serve the women or their babies and I applaud individuals and organizations (and Baby Friendly hospitals) who are working to provide a rational, supportive third way.
posted by jeoc at 3:42 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


A close relative had a very hard time breastfeeding - the baby was super skinny and the mom was always in pain when feeding. She had gone through a series of breastfeeding classes with the local La Leche league group or equivalent, and their line was that breastfeeding should always be comfortable, and if it's not, you need to change your technique until it is.

In other words, if it hurts, it's the mom's fault.

Well, it's not always technique.

I wish that that particular local group was less stridently "breastfeed or bad" and more "hey, you know, sometimes it really doesn't work out, and you should be fine with bottle feeding if that happens." Would have been better for the mom and the kid.

posted by zippy at 3:57 PM on June 16, 2010


mygothlaundry: "My Irish ex mother in law told me to sit in a rocking chair every evening, drink a pint of Guinness and nurse the baby. It worked for her five kids and it worked for both of mine; however, I have an uneasy feeling that this technique has fallen out of favor."

This was my favorite piece of advice from my very not-Irish mother, and I share it with everyone I know. I dd it often with my first two - maybe not every night, but often - and will do it again when the next one arrives in January. Double-plus recommend.

I will say that breastfeeding came pretty easily to me; I had to deal with oversupply and the resulting upset baby (try putting your mouth around a fire hose and then having someone turn it on; you'll understand why the baby was upset), but never had an other major problems, and I nursed both of my kids each for over two years. If someone I know asks for help, I'll do whatever I can for them, but I'm never going to make them feel guilty if they decide to supplement or move to full formula-feeding.

I think a LOT of the "problems" we hear about have far more to do with the lack of support on so many levels, as other posters have outlined. Too-short maternity leave, poor education on the part of health-care providers about how breastfeeding works, scare or non-existent support systems for new parents or parents trying to care for older children while kicking off a nursing relationship with a newborn, etc, etc. all undermine breastfeeding. More support for families with new babies would make a huge difference in so many areas, not just this one.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:13 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mother was a la leche league leader for seventeen years; I grew up surrounded by nursing mothers, including nursing mothers who needed help solving nursing problems. My mother stayed with us for a week after my daughter was born, lending her invaluable assistance. I had many other friends who were nursing, and I live in a nursing-friendly part of the world, and I gave birth in a nursing-friendly hospital. I was an at-home parent who could nurse on demand without being chained to a pump, and I was fortunate enough to have an extremely plentiful milk supply.

You know what? It was still fucking hard. We did it, with only "normal" problems, until a week shy of my daughter's third birthday, and after about two or three months, it got a hell of a lot easier. But I had literally every single advantage available to me. How many women have never seen a baby put to the breast until their newborn is handed to them? How many women are turfed out with nothing but a tube of Lansinoh and the number of a lactation consultant or, worse, with nothing but a week's supply of free formula? My best friend's sister gave birth in a hospital where none of the nurses had ever even heard of the football hold, despite being all "lactation consultants"; it turns out that they were all graduates of a 3-week seminar put on by Similac. It is shameful.

But an essential part of helping to increase breastfeeding rates and durations in this country is to recognize that it is NEVER a woman's fault or problem, ever. Women are rational beings, and they make rational choices, and many women have rationally chosen to feed their babies formula. Would they make different choices under different circumstances, or with different information? Quite possibly. So would a lot of nursing mothers, frankly. Would it be better if we had circumstances and information distribution that maximized breastfeeding rates? In my opinion, definitely. But every woman is capable of making the best decision for her and her family given the tools and resources she has available, and nearly every woman has. It is nobody's place in the word to question her decisions.

(also, in my opinion, if your baby gets breastmilk? You're a nursing mother. Whether you're tandem-nursing twins, or supplementing with formula because you can pump enough at work for N-1 feedings, or exclusively pumping, or nursing only in the morning and at night, or pumping for an hour a day to give your baby a tablespoon of breastmilk because you had a breast reduction or hypoplastic breasts or what have you, or ANYTHING, you're a nursing mother.)

(Also also I hate the "breastfeeding should always be comfortable" line. Maybe in a perfect world, where everyone always grew up surrounded by a zillion women nursing and knows instinctively what a good latch looks like, sure. But I had a sensation that I would describe as "staple gun" for the first 10 days of my daughter's life every time she latched on, and a sensation that I would describe as "if anybody else was doing that to my nipple I would ask them to stop" for four months thereafter. And again, I had every single advantage.)
posted by KathrynT at 4:42 PM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sigh. three DAY seminar put on by similac, not three WEEK.
posted by KathrynT at 4:43 PM on June 16, 2010


The Breastfeeding Booby Traps article irritated me. The "system" didn't fail me. My body failed me, with an insufficient supply, twelve weeks of searing pain in on one side that never went away (with a correct latch) and postpartum depression that left me near suicidal.

And this was with a mother who breastfed, ample and adequate support from midwives, nurses, lactation consultants, total internet strangers (including metafilter threads) and my husband. Who hated to see how much I was struggling and told me it was OK to quit out of concern for my mental health and well being.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:46 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


My parenting/childbirth class instructor recommended a glass of wine "to help you relax." I was never super comfortable with nursing and the pump was just a horrible instrument of torture. But I stuck with it and she weaned herself at about 10 months. I was sad. I had planned to nurse her at least a year and perhaps even longer.

My biggest complaint about formula is that it is an unnecessary expense that even the poorest women in America pay for.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:48 PM on June 16, 2010


Now see, why isn't that stuff OTC? In a just world, they'd hand you that, along with nipple shields, pads, and contact info for free round-the-clock lactation consulting when you leave the hospital.

Well, I'm not qualified to agree or disagree there. I can tell you what's on the prescription, though:

C-MIC/NYST/IBU/MUPIR/BETAM OINT

The only words I recognized are ibuprofen and ointment. ;)

If you think about it, it's astonishing that your average OB/doc knows so little about breastfeeding that you're forced to turn to freelance lactation consultants to get help (and hope they're actually any good).

This is an essential life function, but it's barely incorporated into medical care at all. Why don't we have highly-trained professionals and care available for this? You can get more help learning how to use your new artificial knee than you can learning how to use your breasts. Why is that?


To be fair, my wife had the option of meeting a breastfeeding consultant in the hospital, and then one later referred through our pediatrician. Our pediatrician also made a house call after the birth and was very helpful.

The baby was latching fine, she wasn't getting enough milk, it hurt like hell, and she wanted to feed every hour. It was rough for a while. 7-9 weeks in it just got easier, but honestly still painful. My wife used that ointment less and less but still used it occasionally later.

The prescription also says "Use Sparingly" so I don't think it's the kind of thing you should use without seeing a doctor first, fwiw.

As KathrynT explains well, it's just fucking hard. So is labor. And parenting.

Do I sound tired?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:55 PM on June 16, 2010


Redykay--PINS? Someone told your wife to put pins in her nipples?

I believe Cleopatra initiated the practice.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:29 PM on June 16, 2010


When my kids were younger, I had a lot of this on the tip of my tongue.

Truly you, also, received the gift of le boobies.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:30 PM on June 16, 2010


I kind of feel like I should point out that, despite the anecdotes that have been shared here, there is no scientific evidence that drinking beer helps milk supply. In fact, there is some evidence that babies actually consume less milk right after the mother consumes alcohol. Also, the alcohol can be transferred to the baby in the milk, so it's really not a good idea to nurse right after having a beer. I've heard it recommended that you wait 1-2 hours to nurse.
posted by lexicakes at 5:51 PM on June 16, 2010


more like booby-tapped, amirite?
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:59 PM on June 16, 2010


For biological reasons, I find it implausible that this can be more than a fairly small minority of cases. Do you have any numbers?

If biology were smart about those kinds of things, it seems like childbirth wouldn't hurt or be even potentially fatal... All that matters with breast-feeding is that the kid somehow gets some nutrients, and in a communal sort of society, a co-nursing/ wet nursing scenario is common enough.
posted by mdn at 6:22 PM on June 16, 2010


For biological reasons, I find it implausible that [the number of women who are unable to breastfeed] can be more than a fairly small minority of cases. Do you have any numbers?

Something to consider: even if it's only a "small minority of cases," if you happen to be one of those women, it doesn't bloody matter how many other women there are like you. All that matters is that you are not able to do something, and there is a point at which it should be acceptable for you to stop beating your head against the wall and concentrate on enjoying your child, even if you use a damn bottle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:07 PM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Late to the party but here goes.

I have 3 kids plus one on the way. I can't breastfeed. Well, I could (in fact, I think I'd be great at it, I mean look at these boobs!) but doing so would put my children's health at a significant risk for a host of problems. Healthy children are more important to me than society's pressure to feed my children in a certain way.

I have lived with a solid 5 years of listening to people tell me, both directly an indirectly, that breast is best and I am a bad mom who is harming her children by not breastfeeding. When people question my choices, I answer differently depending on my relationship to that person. The easiest 'out' is to say that I just can't. This sets off the pro-breastfeeding camp like nothing else. If I told them the real reason they would back off in no time, but it's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. I'm guessing that women who say they can't breastfeed for whatever reason are glossing over any number of reasons that are none of the asker's business.

Also, in response to a post above that I am too lazy to find and link to: My children did not suffer from a lack of being held or snuggled due to being breastfed. Not only did I/do I attachment parent w/o breastfeeding, my children got to/get to be snuggled by and develop a significant bond with their father and other important family members.

...

Also a question: Environment, diet, and other factors are playing a large role in increased cancer and other health problems. Would it not be plausible that it is also playing a role in a decreased milk supply in some women? People always seem to play the "women have been breastfeeding for millions of years and never had a problem" card when someone mentions low-supply but maybe this is actually a thing. Just a thought.
posted by Abbril at 8:38 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I kind of feel like I should point out that, despite the anecdotes that have been shared here, there is no scientific evidence that drinking beer helps milk supply.

What about oatmeal?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:04 PM on June 16, 2010


I'm torn here. On the one hand, I'm very sympathetic to the post-partum depression and pain issues discussed openly by women upthread. On the other hand, I'm deeply disturbed by what formula companies like Nestle do to market themselves, particularly in the third world. Are there readily-available brands of formula that don't carry this ethical tarnish?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:22 PM on June 16, 2010


Yep, lexicakes makes a good point about the alcohol. Why I think the beer trick works: It's a drink that one drinks slowly to relax. Might be some boost of B-vitamins as well, but the alcohol-free that I drank did the same thing, I sat, chilled out, had a slow beer and in a relaxed state I could then nurse for the night, when my daughter wanted a lot of milk before sleeping X hours straight. She'd nurse for at least one CSI show without catching her breath at night.

Free beer isn't that great so whenever I had troubles later I tricked myself into believing it was the bubbles, and replaced the beer with nice italian bubbly mineral water and drank one of those slowly.
posted by dabitch at 12:23 AM on June 17, 2010


But every woman is capable of making the best decision for her and her family given the tools and resources she has available, and nearly every woman has.

Yes, we are and we do so I am incredulous that we are still talking about this.

Seriously, though, I don't under stand why women aren't just "pro-choice" on this issue and leave it to the individual to decide what's best for their situation.

Yes, yes, and yes again. Why is it that motherhood has become a competition??
posted by blessedlyndie at 2:28 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is it that motherhood has become a competition??

A friend of mine, who is prone to saying very wise things, once listened to me rant about a diva in a cast I was working with by saying, "you know the reason prima donnas are the way they are? It's because they're really insecure."

I can't help but think that this isn't an insecurity thing as well - people who are so insecure about their own choices that they can only feel comfortable if everyone else around them is doing the same thing, so they press everyone around to make the same choice they did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:10 AM on June 17, 2010


l33tpolicywonk: buying formula to supplement (if you wanted to breastfeed 100%, as we very much did) is often making the best of a bad situation. The only formula I could find that I felt halfway okay about was this kind. They claim they are the only kind without BPA lining in the can, too.

(you do pay more for this - their cans are smaller than Similac, and cost more per oz.)
posted by pinky at 4:28 AM on June 17, 2010


blessedlyndie: Yes, yes, and yes again. Why is it that motherhood has become a competition??

Because we have realms of people who feel that any decision that doesn't mirror theirs degrades their decision?

I left my new mother's group early on. In spite of not having any family and no friends, I left the group specifically designed for new mums with babies around the same age to find a bit of support because the very last catchup I went to I felt so incredibly ostracised. I was the only one still exclusively breastfeeding you see (at three months) - when asked what formula I use I replied none and it went downhill from there. Because I obviously didn't have any problems breastfeeding (I did). Well, if I did have problems, they weren't 'real' problems then (...thanks?). Don't I know how much better my life would be if I gave her formula? They get to go out at night! They get to drink! Their babies sleep through (which was a lie since they'd previously been talking about how sleep deprived they are). Don't I know formula is just as good, see their baby is fine? I'm just a sanctimonious martyr. None of which was said to my face mind you, it was just said about 'those crazy breastfeeding fanatics'. Of which there were none in the room, none they'd personally met, none they had personally dealt with. But apparently they're everywhere. But in that room it was seven women trying to convince me that not only was formula just as good as breastmilk but that I was doing myself (and hence baby anachronism) a disservice by breastfeeding her. Because it's so hard and I'm such an idiot for persevering through the pain and through the early days. I'm one of 'those' women.

I left. I called my mum and cried. I called my local breastfeeding group and joined their little club because at least there, no-one gives me a lecture about how I should stop doing what works for me in order to make them feel better about their decisions and choices. As a note, they also have never been negative about baby anachronism receiving formula while in hospital, or bottles afterwards. They've never insisted that a child should starve rather than receive formula. They've never given shit to any number of the women doing combined feeding. Yet, somehow, they're the bad guys?

Yes it's hard. I was relatively lucky - for all the issues I had, I also had complete and unwavering support from my friends and family. I didn't have anyone I care about telling me I should give my child formula to make her sleep, or so they can feed her, or because my milk isn't enough, or because my milk is no good, or that feeding often is a bad sign, or that I should put my baby on a schedule. As surrounded as women are by bottle feeding imagery and by people who always have to pipe up with the 'I was formula fed and I'm a genius' or 'my kid is a genius' or 'my cousins were breastfed and are all sickly idiots', I had support where I needed it most - at home and from the medical professionals around me.

zippy: A close relative had a very hard time breastfeeding - the baby was super skinny and the mom was always in pain when feeding. She had gone through a series of breastfeeding classes with the local La Leche league group or equivalent, and their line was that breastfeeding should always be comfortable, and if it's not, you need to change your technique until it is.

In other words, if it hurts, it's the mom's fault.


What, so the newborn will sit up and change positions? They'll tuck a pillow under their head just right? Or should mum not change anything and just grimace through the pain and tears? Each baby and breast is different - I fed baby anachronism laying down for about four months. That sure as fuck doesn't get shown on TV, or in breastfeeding guides (mostly) and it rarely features in discussions. But it was the most reliably pain free latch and the deepest latch and I could also settle down and watch a few episodes of whatever. That's what 'change your technique' is.

This is what frustrates me about these discussions - no matter what anyone says, someone twists it. If it hurts, change what you're doing somehow becomes 'it's all YOUR FAULT'. The other option, not changing a thing, becomes 'grit your teeth and bear it' territory. Suggestions to take a break and pump give rise to torture allusions (not entirely unfoundedly). Yet if no advice is offered, it's neglect and no-one caring.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:48 AM on June 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


I feel ya, geek.

Getting back to the posted article. I think there is something in the idea that maybe our society just isn't supportive enough to ensure the best chance of breastfeeding. There are so many variables involved it is hard to say whether it is our modern environment or our modern culture that is making breastfeeding more difficult than in the past. Maybe our medical advances have increased our health and the health of our children and maybe our medical advances have led to more artificial barriers in breastfeeding.

Certainly all the taboos about public breastfeeding isn't helping any, because it turns the natural act of breastfeeding into a private, arcane ritual seldom seen by anyone outside of new mommies. How many young women find the whole idea distasteful because it seems like a hassle and a struggle? Never in history has The Breast been more of a sexual organ and less of a source of newborn nutrition.*

Things I do feel strongly about:

1) We need to stop being so judgmental about each other, childbirth and caring for infants are stressful enough.

2) Baby formula should not just be another product on the market, heavily promoted in order to increase sales and profits.

3) There should be long term studies following bottle-fed vs. breast-fed as to cholesterol levels, obesity levels, early-onset Alzheimer's, and IQ levels. It would be great if we could all make decisions based on the best information available.

*How easy is it to nurse with implants? Is it even possible?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:13 AM on June 17, 2010


(ME)Seriously, though, I don't under stand why women aren't just "pro-choice" on this issue and leave it to the individual to decide what's best for their situation

Mostly I think women are activist about this issue because it seems to them that the information women get and the support they get are biased toward formula feeding. For instance: deliver a baby in the hospital and get a free diaper bag full of formula samples, bottles, and coupons! But there's no similar gift-pack of nipple pads and ointment and nursing pillow, or whatever a breastfeeding sample bag might look like. So women are trying to make individual decisions in an environment where they're not getting complete or balanced information.


I agree that it is beneficial and at this time necessary for breastfeeding advocates to disperse information about breastfeeding to women who might otherwise have no idea how or why to do it. BUT they do need to realize that even with all the information about formula AND breastfeeding, women should be free to choose what they want to do in their situation. for my mother, she chose to formula feed because she had to go back to work quickly or else we would have had no place to live.
Breastfeeding activists should take a page from the book of abortion activists - we are not going to force anyone to have an abortion, but incase you are faced with such a decision, here is accurate information and know that you DO have a choice, and all options in the choice are correct and right for YOU.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:22 AM on June 17, 2010


Every time I read a thread like this I get depressed. I come out of it thinking how much some women must be threatened by other people's choices, and how incredibly insecure they must be.

FWIW, I was one of the lucky ones. I had maybe one day of breastfeeding pain, when my daughter was about 10 days old. She latched easily, right from the start, right on the delivery table (I believe one of the nurses commented on the fact that she lunged for my boob). But if it hadn't have worked out we wouldn't have had a problem moving to formula. The kid weaned herself right about 13 months onto animal milk. But anyway the main reason we are glad that breastfeeding was easy? Formula is fucking expensive.
posted by gaspode at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2010


I'm another one of the lucky ones, gaspode. I don't want to gloat, but I think it's important for there to be both messages out there: breastfeeding might be hard for you and there are lactation consultants out there if you need help, but also breastfeeding might be easy for you and you shouldn't fret about it ahead of time.

When I was pregnant with my first I'd read so much information on-line about how difficult it was going to be breastfeeding, I was dreading it. But it turned out to be a piece of cake with both my kids. My firstborn put on a pound a week, that's how good we were at it. moo

> formula is cheaper

Huh? Even if the parents need help from an LC, a few hours (or several hours) of their time is going to be cheaper than artificial breastmilk, in the long run.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:01 AM on June 17, 2010


I fed baby anachronism laying down for about four months. That sure as fuck doesn't get shown on TV, or in breastfeeding guides (mostly) and it rarely features in discussions.

You're sorta right about that one. They'll demonstrate 13 variations on the football hold, but forget to tell you, "Hey, you know you could lie down and do this?" Um ...

Neither the lactation consultant at the hospital nor the one referred by our pediatrician mentioned lying down. Our childbirth class instructor, who we've stayed friends with, gave my wife the tip. At about 3-4 months. :|

I also agree about the "if it hurts, you're doing it wrong." It always hurt my wife. It just hurt a little less and a little less after a while.

Certainly all the taboos about public breastfeeding isn't helping any, because it turns the natural act of breastfeeding into a private, arcane ritual seldom seen by anyone outside of new mommies.

Honestly, I think this one is still a huge factor, at least in most of the U.S. The fear of nipples is ridiculous.

Getting back to the posted article. I think there is something in the idea that maybe our society just isn't supportive enough to ensure the best chance of breastfeeding.

Yeah, I think that's sorta the point of the main article:
Most of your friends didn’t breastfeed, or maybe you are the first in your group to have a baby, so you have no peer group to turn to for support, questions and inspiration. If your friends did breastfeed, they had an unnecessarily difficult time because of all the barriers, so they tell you horror stories that scare you, without digging into the root causes of their suffering, or they disapprove if you breastfeed in public. – Cultural Booby Trap!
Or read geek anachronism's account above.

Also, it's too easy and probably wrong for me to say this, since I will never be in the position of breastfeeder, but fuck schedules for the first 3 months. Feed your baby when she/he wants it. Your life will be MUCH easier (unless, of course, breastfeeding is painful, then you're screwed).

And if your baby is latching and drinking fine but not gaining weight, I would say supplement and don't worry. Be careful, but the kinds of bottles/nipples available these days help avoid nursing confusion. justmy2centsasadad
posted by mrgrimm at 9:06 AM on June 17, 2010


When I was pregnant with my first I'd read so much information on-line about how difficult it was going to be breastfeeding, I was dreading it. But it turned out to be a piece of cake with both my kids.

Perhaps much of it has to do with expectations. You were expecting it to be very difficult and were surprised. We were expecting to be the lucky ones like you and were surprised in the other direction.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:09 AM on June 17, 2010


True, that's part of it. But I really didn't have any problems: no pain, no gear needed other than nursing pads, and the only problem I had was overactive letdown -- which really isn't much of a problem, once you get past the "oh my God I shot the TV" aspect of it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:16 AM on June 17, 2010


All of these anecdotes of moms feeling threatened by other moms' choices makes me want to just give everyone a hug. Seriously, women are making choices in a very turbulent and emotional time of their life. They don't need to be judged for what works for their family. On the other hand, I really do feel for women who made a choice and then find out that one piece of information or whatever that, had they known it, would have led to their making a different choice. I don't remember who mentioned the position change upthread, but that was one of the things that really helped me (changing from cradle hold to football hold). What if a woman just doesn't know about different positioning or what have you and finds out later that it could have helped her? I feel like many women might fault the mom for not knowing, but wouldn't it be so much easier for everyone if we realized that we don't all know 100% of what there is to know?

What's difficult for me, and this might be what other moms are having difficulty with as well, is that I read a comment or post and relate that to how I made my decision which makes me rethink everything I've done parenting-wise up until now. I rethink, then start second guessing myself, which makes me either defensive or want to proselytize about how what I've been doing is so great. I guess what I'm saying is with something so emotional and personal as parenting choices, it's really hard to remember that it's not all about me.
posted by zorrine at 10:01 AM on June 17, 2010


*How easy is it to nurse with implants? Is it even possible?

Most women can breastfeed after having implants. The implant generally doesn't interfere with the process.

However, prior to doing so women really should find out whether their implant type has any record of post-insertion complications, and contact their surgeon to find out the implant's manufacturer, type and date of manufacture.

Regarding safety, leaking saline implants are not a problem. However, it's probably a good idea to speak to a doctor about whether leaking silicone could possibly harm a baby. At least one study indicated that infants who breastfed from moms with silicone implants showed no sign of increased esophageal problems... but confirming if there are any risks would still be a good idea.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


to add to the "arcane ritual" aspect -- I fed my daughter anywhere I happened to be when she wanted to eat, without a blanket or cover, for years. If I was in someone else's home or out with people I didn't know particularly well, I would say "Hey, is it going to bother you if I feed my kid?" (Reactions were, universally, "What? No, why would it?") When I was sitting on an airplane next to a stranger, I told him "Hey, fair warning -- I'm going to be feeding this kid all through takeoff and landing, so if that's the kind of thing that might make you uncomfortable, now is probably a good time to ask the flight attendant if you can switch seats." Etc.

I did this for a bunch of reasons. I'm not going to lie and say that my own laziness wasn't a factor. But also, I wanted to do my part to help normalize breastfeeding, to be the person demonstrating normal nursing of a baby in the public eye. I didn't wave my boobs around or anything, I just, you know. . . fed her. Like it was a perfectly normal thing that people should be expecting to see when they see a woman out with a baby. Because it is.
posted by KathrynT at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Formula companies market like crazy. I have no idea how, but they got my information and think that I had a baby, and now I get formula coupons constantly and I got two huge powdered formula cans in the mail about a week after my "due date".

If anyone in NYC wants them, let me know.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:30 AM on June 18, 2010


ifds, what brand? I know someone who is due next month who might be able to use them, depending on the brand.
posted by zarq at 10:33 AM on June 18, 2010


Ah ha! I called it!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:39 AM on June 24, 2010


People have been doing milk share stuff for a while. Hop on to mothering.com and (I guess) it'll blow your mind. Breastmilk is valuable. People want it. Other people are kind enough to donate it.

Formula isn't exactly cheap or sterile, either. Milk sharing makes sense.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2010


internet fraud detective squad, station number 9: People have been doing milk share stuff for a while. Hop on to mothering.com and (I guess) it'll blow your mind. Breastmilk is valuable. People want it. Other people are kind enough to donate it

I just donated my freezer stash to a woman in my playgroup who is having trouble keeping up with her child's needs while pumping at work. Otherwise it was going to go down the sink because we're moving. Previously I pumped most nights to send milk to a woman in my home city because she has supply issues. I'd have no problem with cross-nursing either.

I'm disease and drug free. I had spare milk. It makes sense (as long as you're comfortable with it - in some cultures there is a definite issue with it as it create relationships between the donor and the child, and some people just don't like the idea).
posted by geek anachronism at 5:22 PM on June 24, 2010


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