A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Politically Incorrect Breastfeeder

By Jean, Politically Incorrect Mother

I’ve earned the right to judge formula feeding mothers

Call me judgemental but reading on and on about how we aren’t allowed to judge mothers who feed their babies formula pisses me off. Obviously I don’t mean mothers who really truly genuinely can’t breastfeed or sometimes even ones who tried really really hard and eventually gave up. But if you didn’t try at all because you just didn’t want to, then I judge you. You’re knowingly not doing what’s best for your baby right from the start because there’s an easier way.

Well, guess what, mama? Babies aren’t supposed to be all about your convenience. Yes it is your choice but that doesn’t mean we have to pretend it’s equal to breastfeeding.

Breast is best.

That’s not up for debate, it’s just not. We know this for a fact.

I had to pump breastmilk because of a combination of circumstance and bad information and it’s ridiculous that society demands I pretend formula is just as good so no one gets their feelings hurt. Breastfeeding isn’t easy and I know this first-hand because I couldn’t do it. I think I could have if things went differently or I had more information… so here’s my story.

At 36 weeks pregnant, I found out my baby was frank breech and unless she turned around, it was unsafe to give birth vaginally. I was scheduled for a caesarean and very upset that I wasn’t going to have the natural birth I’d planned but I had to get over it in case baby didn’t turn.

Baby didn’t turn.  The countdown to my caesarean began and, as babies sometimes do, she had different plans. At about 1 a.m. of the big day, I went into labour. My contractions had no gradual increase over time, they began at five minutes apart. When we got to hospital I was given my options: I could have an emergency caesarean now or have some morphine to try to slow things down and have my caesarean at the time scheduled – 10 a.m. I was then given five minutes to decide.

I didn’t know what to say! I didn’t think I was going to experience labor, I hadn’t done any research on morphine. So I asked the doctors and nurses their opinions and they said a planned caesarean at day time was safer than an emergency one in the middle of the night. They said morphine wouldn’t affect bub.

So I went with their plan which I now think was a mistake. It worked on slowing down my contractions and I even had a little nap. We held out until the appointment, at which time, an emergency caesarean came up and I had to wait an extra hour or so anyway.

In a weird way, I enjoyed my contractions because I didn’t think I was going to experience them, but it was weird going through that all night knowing it was ending in a caesarean anyway. When the time finally came, everything went to plan but my newborn would not stay awake to feed for even a couple of minutes. I think my longest feed in the first few days was six minutes. I later learned this can be an effect of morphine. The midwives, meanwhile, kept telling me bub needed a good, long feed, without offering a solution to her falling asleep every thirty seconds. That was just problem number one.

Problem number two was short nipples on big boobs. One of the midwives kept kindly pointing out to me that my nipples were too short to trigger baby’s sucking reflex, without offering a solution to this. This same woman shoved her pinky in my baby’s mouth to stall her when I was trying to get into a good position which I later learned can cause nipple confusion.

For days, I couldn’t breastfeed my baby without help or without hand expressing into a syringe. I was told I couldn’t go home until I figured it out. A student midwife suggested a nipple shield about five times and was ignored until it was finally tried on my last day when someone else thought of it. Baby attached and actually fed fifteen minutes!

I got to go home but my baby couldn’t attach without a nipple shield and I was getting awful cracks. I spoke to a lactation consultant who informed me that they can cause more harm than good without offering a solution. What she should have told me was that I was using the wrong bloody size.

Problem number three was a high supply and heavy let down. The oversized nipple shield was filling up and causing too much milk to come out at once as well as getting too much air in it. Poor baby was incredibly gassy. A few weeks in, she would feed for five minutes and then scream in pain then feed for five more minutes then repeat. All. Day.

Maybe I’m a dumb idiot but I didn’t learn about nipple shield sizes for about another five months when bub was quite used to bottles, thank you very much. I wish I had known back then because I might not have ever had to pump. At the time I didn’t know what to do but I was determined to give my baby breastmilk.

Pumping breastmilk has been a hassle to say the least. I have to be on a schedule to ensure my milk production keeps up and I don’t get blocked ducts while feeding on demand separately. I’ve had mastitis more than once because of messing this up. I have to try to distract a grabby baby for half an hour several times a day while I’m attached to a milking machine and can’t move. I have to fit my errands and social life around my pumping schedule. I have to deal with washing and sterilising bottles. I have to make sure the milk doesn’t expire when it’s sitting out of the fridge and I have to get up and warm it in the middle of the night if baby wants a feed (luckily we’re past those days now). It’s kind of the worst of both worlds. Along the way, I’ve tried to breastfeed again and never gotten anywhere.

It’s not what I had in mind but it’s our reality and at least I can say I did everything I could to give my baby what’s best for her. I’m thankful for the fact that my supply is still intact and we’ve made it this far because I know some women never get enough from the pump whereas I’ve only had to supplement with formula a few times.

I don’t believe that every single woman can breastfeed or even pump but I think most can and they are giving up too easily. Constantly talking about how formula is an equally valid choice is not going to motivate anyone. That’s without even getting started on the ones who never try in the first place because they want the freedom and the convenience.

When it comes to breastfeeding, sometimes you have to really want to. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was going to make it and some days I wanted to give up but I would be damned if I didn’t try my best. So I don’t want to normalise formula feeding. I want to normalise breastfeeding and call formula what it should be – a last resort.

Jean is a proud housewife with much to say on things that you’re not
supposed to say anymore – like, hey, maybe traditional gender roles would
make us all happier, and, actually, having a baby isn’t that hard. Check
out her blog Politicallyincorrectmother.com