Breastfeeding balancing act
Is he supposed to eat this much? It was the first question I asked my pediatrician on the first visit with her after my son was born. It was also the question I asked just about anyone else who cared to listen to me lament about the ferocious appetite of my little one.
I was breastfeeding and attempting to feed my son on demand. He was eating so much all I could manage in between feedings was using the bathroom and maybe taking a shower.
The routine worked something like this: I’d start to feed my son. He’d fall asleep before finishing, so I’d have to wake him up. By the time I roused him, he’d continue and then I’d finish off with a burp. The whole process would take about an hour. Within 30 minutes, he’d be hungry again – since most newborns feed every two hours.
I was a feeding machine. I was also sleep deprived and in general, freaking out a bit about my new responsibility as a mom.
I began to re-think the breastfeeding thing.
I asked people who had breastfed and they told me my reality for the next few weeks would be pretty much dictated by my son’s appetite. “It’s just the way it is,” they’d say.
I felt trapped until the day I went to my doctor for a check up. I had a knot in my breast and was worried. She checked me and told me it was nothing but a clogged milk duct. I was supposed to use warm compresses and if I wanted to rest a while feed from one breast and give the baby some formula.
Hold up! Formula? That’s okay, I asked?
She assured me she’d done it while breastfeeding her baby and he’d turned out just fine and even managed to retain his love for the breast.
At my next pediatrician visit I asked my doctor about supplementing. She too said it was fine.
Next stop the grocery store.
For the next few days I continued to breastfeed and I even pumped some bottles. But every now and then I’d slip in a bottle of formula. It gave me a chance to breathe. And it allowed me to have a glass of wine or two on a particularly stressful day.
My little guy gobbled the formula up just the same. And when it was time to nurse he clung to me with his same ravenous nature as before.
When I talk to moms who breastfeed “exclusively” I get the disapproving looks. “You supplement?” they say.
Yep, sure do.
And I’m not alone. There’s even some debate these days about whether breastfeeding is truly the best for our babes. I’m not doubting that anything nature engineered wouldn’t be best. But I’m just saying in this maze of motherhood, we’ve got to find avenues that work not only for baby but for mom as well.
For me that means breast and bottle feeding.
I think more moms would breastfeed if they knew that it’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. Because the truth is some breast milk is better than none.
At just shy of three months, my son is growing leaps and bounds. He’s smiling, cooing and holding up his head. He’s a bit of a standout at his pediatrician’s office. Some might attribute that to the fact that he is breastfed, but I think it’s got more to do with the fact that his mommy is comfortable in her own skin and rested enough to give him lots of attention and love.
-- Nicole Hutcheson, Times new mom