jueves, 17 de diciembre de 2015

Four Ounces of Sanity

I´m not a fan of extremists.  Or extremes, one way or another.

However, I have a newborn.  He doesn´t share my distain for extremism.

Because, let me tell you, this kid would be happy to hang on the boob ALL DAY.  And, for those who know newborns, you know that when I say all day, I mean all night, too.  It´s all the same around here, lately.

Now, there are plenty out there who get a little militant about breastfeeding.  Plenty of moms swear up and down that a bottle will NEVER touch their baby´s lips.  They happily feed their children around the clock, a lactating frenzy.  They eat with maximum production in mind.  They´ll even pump between latch-ons, stocking away "liquid gold".

If you are one of those moms, I congratulate you.  To be honest, I´d like to be you.

But I´m not.

I do believe in breastfeeding.  Having breastfed my other children, I know that pulling out the boob is much easier than heating a bottle.

And it´s free.  Can´t say enough about that.  

But during these first two weeks, breastfeeding can be really, really hard.

After all, when a mom is beginning to breastfeed, she is also:

  • recovering from giving birth.  Depending on one´s experience, there may have been a bit of trauma involved.  So while the mother is dealing with the pain of recovering from her C-section, an episiotomy, or simply pushing another person´s head out of her body, she is simultaneously subjecting her sensitive nipples to being mangled every couple of hours.  

  • really, really, really, really, really tired.  

  • Hormonally out-of-whack, which often means that one´s emotions are all over the place.  

So if you are like me, and your child has been on the boob for five hours straight, and you´re about to throw him across the room BECAUSE he´s been on the boob for five hours, I´ve got a secret.  

It´s OK to give him a bottle.  

It´s even OK to give him a bottle of formula.  It´s not necessary to pump it out.  

Because, let´s face it--if the kid has been sucking for five hours, the tatas probably have not had a chance to replenish themselves and he probably isn´t getting much of anything anyway.  

My first child was born a little small, so the doctor suggested supplementing with formula.  Let me tell you, she sucked down bottle after bottle in the hospital.  While I did successfully breastfeed her, every bottle I gave her in those first few weeks felt like a symbol of my failure.   

My second baby didn´t touch a bottle at the hospital.  I was determined that he was going to be the perfect, breastfed-only baby. Then we brought him home.  He screamed for the first 24 hours.  I finally caved in and called the pharmacy so they could deliver some formula to our house.  I gave him the bottle and he finally fell asleep.  

Blessed relief!  

Yes, breastmilk is best for our babies.  I try to give mine as much as I possibly can.

But when he sucks away for hours at a time, I am done.  Those four ounces of magic might just be why I make it through those first six weeks on the upside of sane.*

Of course, if one does want to continue to breastfeed, take it easy--one or two bottles a day, max.  (Unless you kid is crazy, of course.)  Just keep in mind that if nothing comes out of the boobies for 24-48 hours, the magic will end.  The girls won´t work until baby has a sibling.

But if the baby has 4 ounces once or twice a day, no harm, no foul.

After a few weeks (or months, in my daughter´s case) both of my older children were exclusively breastfed.  In a few weeks, this baby will be, too.  But I´ll let him decide.

Watching me feed one of my babies the fake stuff, my mom told me in her saddest, most wistful voice, "I wish someone had told me I could haven given you a bottle now and then."

I´m passing on the secret.  Ain´t no shame.


*This is in NO WAY a condemnation of those who´ve suffered post-partum depression.  That´s a whole different ball of wax.  There´s no shame in that, either, but do what you have to do to get through it.  And that´s the bitch about depression--it makes one not want to do anything to get through it.  Huge red flag right there.  Don´t blow it off.  

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