Adventures in Breastfeeding: Reflecting

1.28.2011
Now that I've had a few weeks of bottle feeding under my belt, I keep comparing it to nursing. I've found that there are definite benefits and drawbacks to each. For example - going out in public. Sure, Violet looks all sweet and snuggly in this photo:


But in reality she was grabbing the nursing cover and thrashing around the entire time we were trying to nurse. When she was a newborn nursing in public was no problem, but as she got older I felt like I was in a wrestling match. And although I became MUCH less self-conscious about nursing in public after my first few times doing it, call me crazy but I still didn't want to pull a Janet Jackson in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

On the other hand, I miss the convenience of nursing on-the-go. By the time we pack bottles, water, formula, and ice packs our diaper bag looks more bloated than Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me.
Of course, nursing tops helped with the whole Janet Jackson thing, but boy are they expensive! I was just too cheap to buy a nursing wardrobe, especially after paying for maternity clothing. I just ended up wearing a nursing tank under my shirt most of the time, but I'm so happy that I don't have to plan my outfits around how 'easy access' they are any more.

One thing that I found very ironic is the fact that the entire time I was breastfeeding I felt like I was doing the best thing I could do for Violet - I mean, it's the food that Mother Nature intended for babies, right? But besides the immunity benefits, it turns out that it wasn't really best for my baby. Now that we are no longer nursing, Violet is such happier, healthier little girl. To compare Violet on formula to Violet on breast milk is like comparing Jekyll and Hyde.

Despite my attempts at constant nursing and an extreme elimination diet Violet was still not getting enough to eat and was reacting to the food that she did get. We didn't realize it for so long because we had nothing to compare it to - she is our first baby and we figured that she was just extra fussy. How ridiculous would you feel going to your pediatrician to tell them that your baby is fussy and poops a lot? I mean, she's a BABY. That's what they DO.


So unbeknownst to us my poor girl needlessly dealt with constant pain, hunger, and lack of sleep for over seven months. Now thanks to a prescription formula called Elecare Infant she sleeps through the night, puts herself to sleep, and (unless she is tired or poopy) is happy most of the time. And although most people will tell you that they love breastfeeding because it's FREE, I can't add that to my list of pros as our formula is one hundred percent paid for by insurance. Don't get me wrong - would I rather my daughter be healthy and foot the bill myself for regular old formula? Of course - in a heartbeat! But we look for the upside wherever we can these days.

Things I DO miss about nursing - the snuggle time, the convenience, and oddly enough, time to myself. Violet wasn't ever one to gaze lovingly into my eyes while nursing. In fact, she pretty much completely ignored me after she latched on. So I used that time to catch up on email, browse through my blogroll, and get lost in the rabbit hole that is Etsy. Now that she sucks down a bottle in five minutes flat, those days are long gone. And although I haven't noticed any ill effects yet, I know I'm going to miss burning that extra five hundred calories a day. I haven't seen a gym in 18 months, but easily lost all of my baby weight plus some. And trust me, I had a decent amount of baby weight...


But the number one thing about bottle feeding? THE FREEDOM. The freedom to go where I want for as long as I want and eat what I want and drink what I want. Writing it down that way sounds really selfish, but everyone needs some time to themselves. Some babies will take a bottle of breastmilk so that mommy can have a girls' night out, but not my baby. So even if I would get the green light from Kev to leave the nest, I'd worry and I'd stress and I wouldn't enjoy myself at all anyway, so what was the point?

So I guess the real question is - would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Although in the end breast milk wasn't right for Violet, it IS a wonderful thing for most babies. My next baby will be breastfed and will hopefully not have the medical issues that poor V is dealing with. Will I eventually switch over to formula? Most likely yes. As a working mom it is one less stress that I will have to deal with. But until that point, we will nurse and we will nurse proudly. And although I've quoted it before, I will end with this quote from one of my favorite blogs - Becoming Sarah:

You just keep at it as long as you can, but remember: formula won’t kill your little girl and breast-milk won’t make her fly.

 xo, Lauren

I know this can be a controversial and touchy topic for many, so please keep all comments respectful and kind. 

14 comments:

  1. Alot of my pro's and con's match up with yours.
    Loved-
    the snuggles
    the convenience
    less bottles to wash (not the case once you pump at work though)

    Not so much:
    don't miss pumping at work AT ALL, lugging a pump around cleaning parts endlessly
    My son was a long nurser, until he was about 2 months old he would nurse for an hour at a time, so I don't miss that
    I also don't miss the engorgement and discomfort of missing/being late for a nursing pumping session

    You have it right though, you gotta do what works for you, your baby, and your family, whatever that may be.

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  2. I love that breastfeeding is free. It's been 5 months, most days I'm so "over" it and other days I want to keep going as long as I can.

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  3. My sister has been going through similar problems with her twins and she's also a newborn nurse at a hospital where they practically force mothers to breast feed. Doing what is best for YOU and YOUR BABIES in regards to breast feeding is the only answer. I've just been encouraging her with that fact, and I will send her to this post. Thanks for being honest and sharing with all of us out in blogland!

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  4. I'm a Mommy to-be and I have loved reading your blog. I applaud you for being so open about your experience and the health problems your daughter has had. I'm happy to hear that she is doing much better and you are doing better. If you have any negative comments, which I hope doesn't happen, just look at your baby girl and know you did the best for her! Violet is absolutely beautiful.

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  5. well said lauren (or written!)

    i have 3 kids. i breastfed the 1st till he was 11 mths, the 2nd till she was 9 mths & the last one till she was 7 mths. I had different experiences with all 3 but generally i let the baby guide me as to when to stop. i found with all of them that they just sort of stopped being interested in my milk :( they were all on 3 solid meals a day and just not satisfied with my supply (of course i could've done things to boost my supply).
    in the end... it was more convenient to switch to bottles - yep, sounds selfish but you know what? it was the right decision for me and my babies.
    just as your decision to switch to bottles was the right thing for violet - she is adorable by the way!- and i'm so pleased she's so much happier now.
    all the best,
    jo in aus

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  6. Great post, Lauren! I'm proud of you for looking on the bright side. While pregnant I told myself that I would try breastfeeding, but in the end, if it wasn't right for the baby or me I would move on and not stress. Turns out she nurses really well (she's 4 months now and she gets one bottle right before she goes to bed) but you are right, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything. I have 4 nursing tanks, I wear one literally every day (and a cardigan)..like you said, I will be psyched when I can finally wear whatever I want. I do like the ease of just "whipping them out" whenever she starts to fuss, but it is so stressful to leave the house and do stuff when you are always worrying about her next feeding. Now if I'm over at someone's house in the middle of the day, I don't lock myself in their bedroom and take an hour to nurse her, I just feed her a bottle in front of everyone and we enjoy their company. When we do stop nursing, I will definitely miss that snuggle time, but breastfeeding was way harder physically than I expected and I will not miss the back aches and wrist aches from sitting so long with her for hours upon hours every day for the first few months. I'm definitely glad and proud that I have nursed Maura for this long and we will see what happens next week once we start introducing rice cereal. But I also am proud of myself for willing to be flexible and go with the flow and do what seems best for me and her (which is a bottle alot of the time). In your case, I think this is probably going to work out great for you and Violet!!! You're a wonderful mama:)

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  7. I just had baby number two and am back in the world of breastfeeding.

    Love:
    1) The closeness
    2) It is so convenient not to be warming bottles in the middle of the night
    3) FREE!

    Could do without:
    1) Lack of freedom until baby learns to eat from a bottle
    2) Constantly wondering if something I'm eating is making her gas/reflux worse
    3) Nursing bras - does anyone make a comfortable one?!?! I can't stand the ones I have.

    Loved the quote from Becoming Sarah!

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  8. I completely understand. I have a 3 month old that has been on Neocate the past month and he's a totally different guy. Lucky you the insurance pays for it though, I tried. In the end, breastfeeding landed my kiddo with the "failing to thrive" label and that was too much for me to deal with. I went a week with a dairy, wheat, etc free diet and I could still instantly tell when I gave him pumped milk again a week later. The hypoallergenic/elemental formula made a world of difference. I'm thankful we live in an age where we have such a thing and my little guy didn't just continue to lose weight. In the end we just have to do what's best for them.

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  9. I loved this post (which I read while pumping away at my desk)!

    Things I love about Breastfeeding:
    1) Snuggling with my baby
    2) Convenient - can "whip it out" at any moment, don't have to heat it up/mix it, don't have to wash bottles!
    3) FREE
    4) In the beginning I felt like it was the only time that I could just be with my baby and bond and escape visitors
    5) I find it amazing (as does my husband) that my body has sustained not only myself but my baby for 5 months
    6) Losing baby weight quickly!
    7) Not being too concerned if I have another piece of dessert :)

    Things I dislike
    1) Not being able to wear whatever I want - case in point at christmas I wore the dress I wanted to wear and I ended up in the church bathroom with it hiked up around my neck to feed my baby
    2) Nursing bras are U-G-L-Y
    3) PUMPING. I hate pumping SO much and washing all the parts.
    4) Not having total freedom - Even though my baby never had issues switching between bottle and breast, I still feel that I have to pump if I give her a bottle (refer back to #3 on this list!)
    5) Worrying (probably neurotically so) about supply issues
    6) I feel like I often have to defend our choice to breastfeed as in, "you're STILL breastfeeding her?!" (my baby will be 5 months old next week).

    Wow. That was sort of cathartic!

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  10. this is such a sore topic for me, so if my comment is a bit emotional, please forgive. i didn't have enough milk for my kid and thankfully we realized this after about 1.5 weeks. I knew from before she was born that I was going to pump and give her my milk in a bottle. Once we realized that I was not making enough, it was easy to supplement with formula.

    Before anyone says that milk supply is something you can adjust, let me tell you, thanks but no thanks. I've done endless research on the topic, talked to a nutritionist, etc, (stayed away from nursing fanatics, they give me the creeps)its all in the hormones and not so much in how long you let your kid nurse for. I believe spending 14 hour a day on the couch with her attached to my breast was enough to realize its not from the lack of trying. I was brought to a nervous breakdown by someone saying that I was a bad mother for not taking hormones to make more milk. We try our best to eat organic, so it made no sense to supplement with hormones when I was doing my best to avoid them in my nutrition.

    Having said all that, I pumped up until the milk dried up (3.5 months). Hated the pumping. Really hated it. BUT, continued until the last drop (pumped as often as she would have nursed). Because she was never hungry we had a "schedule" where I knew +/- 20 min when she would want to eat again, she slept through the night at 3 months, she never cried, parents got some sleep, she always fell asleep on her own and was always the happiest baby on the planet. Effectionate from day 1, I never missed cuddling because she was always up for it.

    I'm not going to go into the "freedom" aspect of bottle feeding, as I think you very well covered it.
    Thank you for writing the post, as many mothers feel guilty for not loving breast feeding 100% (and some who just cannot).
    Breastfeeding is not the 100% the best option for every single mother and baby out there. People who promote otherwise should think twice before putting so much pressure on new mothers. I will know better the next time around. I'm just afraid that emotional trauma and guilt will never really go away.

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  11. The most difficult part a breast feeding, for me, was not really being sure that he was taking enough milk. You have to take a long term view of it. If they're not grumpy and they put on weight they are presumably getting enough but, I wanted to know immediately that all was OK and, found it hard to be comfortable because I didn't.

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  12. The most difficult part a breast feeding, for me, was not really being sure that he was taking enough milk. You have to take a long term view of it. If they're not grumpy and they put on weight they are presumably getting enough but, I wanted to know immediately that all was OK and, found it hard to be comfortable because I didn't.

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  13. Wow what an interesting post, thanks!

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