Thursday, November 19, 2009

Breastfeeding: My Story, My Thoughts

I was cruising through a BlogFrog Community and there were all these discussions about breasts. Breastfeeding. What to call your breasts when you are nursing but have an inquisitive (and vocal!) toddler. Ladies, I think perhaps we are confused when we think men are fixated on them! 'Cause that was a lot of "girl talk" going on in there!

Here locally, our newspaper just carried an article about restaurants that are showing their support for breastfeeding mothers. They have a small window decal they can display identifying themselves as "breastaurants" - meaning they are supportive of breastfeeding mothers. It's primarily an awareness campaign, but I think it's a great idea! Not everyone agreed, however. I read some of the most uninformed comments ever in conjunction with this story, and was reminded of the one time someone made a comment to me as I nursed my son in a booth at a restaurant. I was asked to go into the restroom to feed J. I smiled politely, and told the woman (yes! it was a woman!) that I'd be glad to, so long as she would go ahead and grab her food and enjoy HER meal in the restroom with us!

I nursed with all three of my children, but not exclusively. J didn't receive formula until after 6 months old, but it was sooner with E & M. I had to work hard to nurse with J- he didn't latch for weeks. So, I pumped, and then bottle-fed the expressed milk. We just kept trying, and finally, one day, he and I got it figured out! After I returned to work, I would nurse in the morning and at night, as well as during my lunch hour (I got a full hour, so I'd eat in the car on my way to or from his daycare, and could spend 30 minutes or so with him then.) I pumped a couple of times a day, and I produced "enough milk for twins" according to our pediatrician, so we had a great supply available. He nursed until he was about 10 months old, when he went to sippy cups and made it very clear he was done with me and those bottles.

With E, one or the other of us was fighting an infection ALL the TIME! He got thrush. Then I got thrush. Then I had mastitis, coupled with horribly cracked nipples. Nursing was impossible, and pumping nearly so. Typically, what I was able to pump was not fit to give him because of the cracking and bleeding. Then, when he was about 5 months old, we learned we were expecting M, and I kind of threw in the towel. I felt horrible about it, but at the same time, I knew that I'd been beat that time around, and I was grateful for the time I was able to nurse.

When M was born, she came via emergency cesarean, and I really believe that had an impact in how my milk came in. I nursed her, but unlike with J, I never had sufficient milk production. I tried for a couple of months to improve my output, but had to supplement eventually. When she was probably 5 or 6 months old, my production stopped altogether, and she went to formula only.

I am glad that I fought to try to nurse my kids, but I won't lie- I felt a bit like a failure, especially with M. To go from over-productive with J to under with her was heartbreaking. And poor little E, we had so much trouble, and he ended up needing to have tubes in his ears before he was 2. At the end of the day, though, I did what was right for us. For my kids, and for me. For us, eventually, that was using bottles and formula. And even early on, we used bottles of expressed milk. My husband was able to help with feedings, my mom could help with feedings. I was able to return to work and still provide nutrition for my child. And at the end of the day, all I wanted was for my kids to be healthy and happy.

While I agree that nutritionally, breast milk is the ideal choice, not all mothers are able to nurse, and that does not make them bad moms. Not all mothers choose to nurse, and THAT does not make them bad moms. Moms who choose to not provide for their children? THOSE are bad moms. Mothers who intentionally abuse their children? Those are bad moms. Moms who rent out the use of their five-year old for sex? THOSE are bad moms.

And people who are offended by nursing moms? Well, frankly, they just suck. (Ha! Get it- suck? Yeah, it was bad, I know. And it was unintentional, but then it was there. You know?) Seriously, though, how can a person be offended by someone feeding a child? Are you less offended when that child screams endlessly because they are starving and their mother won't feed them? As I was reading the aforementioned article, the phrase "Whip It Out" was used more than once. Seriously? I've yet to come across a nursing mother who "whips it out" - first off, a milk-engorged breast is unlikely to be "whip-able", but beyond that, it's not a display, it's rearing our infant. We're focused on meeting our child's immediate need, not on trying to embarrass or attract you in some way. I assure you, oh offended person, we are not concerned with you!

So, what about you? Do you have any regrets about how you nourished your child? Thoughts about breastfeeding in public places? Do share!


  1. I've blogged about my experience nursing (it was one of my first posts, actually!), but I always love to talk about it anyway. I've nursed G for 14+ months now. Honestly, I never thought I'd *still* be doing it (only at night these days) at this point in her life, but I'm sorta addicted to it now. I don't want to quit because those 5 minutes (that's all it takes these days) is the only time all day when she'll be still and just snuggle with me! I know we'll stop soon-- probably imminently-- and that will be sad for me, but I know I've done a great job nourishing my daughter!

    As for people making rude comments, I've never had that problem in public. Now, I did have someone write a nasty comment about being "obsessed with my breasts" on that blog post I mentioned; my first though? Obviously, that reader had never nursed!


  2. I was unable to breastfeed any of my kids, I went from blocked milk ducts to not producing anything at all, it just wasn't going to happen. I tried with all 5, but failed with all of them. That being said, i wish I would have been able to breastfeed. I am one of those moms that wears my babies. I always had them swadled against me in a wrap. It was always odd to whip out a bottle and hold that to them instead of giving them my milk. But, it wasn't an option. i for one am not offended by public nursing, I mean a baby NEEDS to eat! I have never seen anyone "whip out" their breast, most mom's stay covered with a blanket or something anyway, but even if they aren't 100% covered, they are feeding their child, and to me that isd a beautiful thing. Our society has no problem with women wearing low cut blouses or see threw blouses. No problem with high cut shorts or even low cut jeans, but breast feeding is offensive? That seems a bit bassackwards to me!!!

  3. I have a very strong opinion on this as well. Of course, now that Kaitlan is 13 months, she doesn't need to nurse while we're out at dinner, but when she was smaller I had no problem "whipping it out". LOL! If my baby is hungry, I'm going to feed her. I have always heard of people, usually women, commenting to breastfeeding mothers to nurse their child in the restroom. I just dared someone to say that to me. As nice as I would like to be about it, I probably wouldn't have been. Now there was once that I decided to go ahead and nurse while we were waiting for our table and was covered. A man probably in his late 50's-early 60's asked his wife if I was putting the baby to sleep. She laughed and told him I was feeding her. I thought it was kind of cute but also showed how misinformed people are.

    I completely agree with Lyndi about the backwardsness(?). My kids are bombarded with ads of sexuality and crude jokes. They can't listen to the radio without hearing about how she "wants to take a ride on your disco stick." Or about birthday sex. Seriously?!

    BTW, I, for one, thought your "they suck" joke was hilarious!

  4. I nursed three out of my four kids. I was too young to understand the whole concept when my oldest was born, plus I was attending college full time. I tried to nurse my second born but when I returned to work full time (she was four mos) she rejected the breast and only wanted the bottle. I didn't have any problems with baby number 3. I nursed him until he was 12 1/2 mos. Currently I am nursing our fourth child who is 3 1/2 mos and loving every minute of it!

  5. It is sad that people even care. It is not like you are flashing the whole place. It is even sadder that we as moms feel as if we failed when breastfeeding doesn't go the way we hoped. I nursed exclusively for 6 months then my son had a ton of tummy issues and we thought he had some type of milk allergy or intolerance. We tried some soy formula, no change we ended up on the very expensive Nutramagin(sp?) but it worked and he was finally not pooping 1000 times a day. I do think people are becoming more supportive of the idea as well as places! Nordstrom is very nursing friendly and have special, nice rooms for it! Too bad people just wont mind their own business. And you know what too, bottle feeding mom gets nasty looks and rude comments too! You can never make everyone happy!

  6. Thank you for this post; it was such a relief and refreshing to read. My son was born via C-section and add to that medication previously taken for a pituitary condition prevented my milk from coming in. My milk just didn't come in, not sufficiently. I tried to nurse and even pumping. After 30 minutes of pumping, there may have been 2 ounces there, not enough to nourish a baby. By circumstance, I had to bottle feed and very early on. My greatest frustration was hearing from many experienced moms that I just needed to get the hang of it, pump more, etc. No, really, for some of us, the milk doesn't come in and you do feel like a failure...but it doesn't take a second thought to make the choice that is right for your child, and that is feeding him/her. I'm happy to report that I have a very happy and healthy 4 year old, top of the charts for height, 50th percentile for weight, and just skipped from pre-K to Kindergarten...and shhh...he was formula fed due to the experiences outlined.