Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nursing experiences

Mother in Israel posted about nursing and formula and I just couldn't keep my mouth shut about the topic. Here is my wonderful experience:

I gave birth to my son in N.Y. I was a new mother and didn't really have any friends who had just had kids. I got married young and way before all of my friends. I come from a family of two kids as does my hubby so our mothers didn't really have any practical and up to date advice to give. I knew that I wanted to nurse but although I read lots of stuff about it, I didn't really know what it entailed. I had a tremendously traumatic birth and recovery. Let's not get into that. My son wasn't even in my room with me. He was in the N.I.C.U. because he was breathing too quickly. I never got to hold him in the delivery room. I had to go to the N.I.C.U. every time I wanted to nurse. Never mind that I couldn't walk, it was far. I had to have someone wheel me in a wheelchair in order to nurse. In the hospital the lactation consultant came and gave me some good advice. She was very experienced and to this day I remember some of the things she told me. After I left the hospital my son stayed in the N.I.C.U. until he was 10 days old. I was pumping at home and every day we'd go to the hospital and place the milk in the fridge. I noticed that many times they weren't even looking for my milk because it was clearly labelled and nobody touched it. They automatically gave him the formula. I got really upset at the nurses every time it happened. I had a really hard time trying to get my son to latch on. I tried very hard but in the end, the only thing that worked was to put a bottle nipple over my own nipple and to nurse that way. He had gotten so used to the bottles in the hospital that he didn't want to nurse from me. I was very upset about this.

When we went home I decided that I couldn't continue like that. It was just too painful. I tried without the bottle nipple. We were really stubborn and both my mother and mother in law helped me and gave me the moral support that I needed. It took two months for us to get a good breastfeeding relationship down. In the end he nursed normally (without the bottle nipple). He loved nursing so much that when I went back to school, he didn't want to take a bottle. He was just 2.5 months at that point. It was funny how he changed so much-from the baby who didn't want anything other than a bottle to the nursing only from my mommy baby. I refused to give him formula. I refused to give him bottles when I didn't need to. That rocky start stayed etched in my mind. I pumped every day so he would have what to drink at the babysitter. We tried bottles and then sippy cups. Eventually he graduated to solids.

The funny thing is that he didn't have a high enough level of iron so we ended up having to give him formula so we could boost his iron. Cow's milk was causing the iron level to be low. I was still nursing but it wasn't doing enough for his iron. We would mix the formula for him in his cereal bowl and he'd have cornflakes with "milk".

With my daughter I set out from the beginning knowing I wouldn't make the same mistakes. I nursed her in the delivery room. I did rooming in -this birth was in Israel. She was with me all the time and there was nobody in the world who would give her a bottle. The lactation consultant at that hospital was even better. She enlightened me about so many things I didn't know before. She gave me the support and knowledge that I needed to nurse my daughter until age two. She never took a bottle. At 5 months I went back to work. She was already eating solids. She also learned how to drink from a cup with a straw. We had a spillproof cup and the babysitter loved that. She would drink the milk I pumped with the straw cup.

My newborn now also was nursed in the delivery room. Here I had a totally different experience. I gave birth erev Yom Kippur and the staff wasn't too lovely at the hospital. The babies were with us from 5 AM to 10 PM. Too bad if we wanted to rest. At night, when I'd go to feed my baby, I would hear tons of crying. It was terrible. Many of us didn't sleep because we refused to leave the babies with the nurses. I wrote that I didn't want any bottles and that I wanted to be woken up. Every time I tried to leave him at the nursery sleeping they'd refuse. They told me he cried too much and I should give him a bottle of formula. They told me he'd sleep longer and be happier and that I didn't have enough milk to give him since he was and is a very big boy. Well I remembered what lactation consultant number 2 told me. She told me that the first two or three days, until the milk comes in, you have culostrum (sp?) and that that's all the baby needs. Hashem provides the baby with exactly what he needs. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. This gave me such strength. I remembered what she had said and instead of arguing, I took my baby away from the nursery and stayed away from those nurses. All they wanted to do was feed everyone with formula and shut them up. It was horrible. I couldn't believe how many mothers were giving formula to their babies (as well as trying to nurse). There was one new mother there and she had no lactation consultant because it was YK. I tried to help her by my goodness. It's not my job. Why did the nurses keep ignoring her when she would ask for help?

I was very unimpressed with my past hospital stay. Thank goodness I know enough to not listen to those evil nurses. I feel very bad for all the new mothers who experienced that YK along with me.

My husband always says that all of the reasons for nursing are selfless (good for the baby) while all the reasons for formula are selfish (so you can go out, etc.) . I think people see how easy it is to shove a bottle in a baby's mouth so why do it the hard way. Why experience the pain of the first week of sore nipples? After doing so much nursing I can't imagine it any other way. I love nursing and wouldn't give it up for the world. That being said, I have a friend whose son wouldn't nurse-I don't know details. It's her sixth kid. He is 6 months old. She still pumps all day, although she also has to supplement. The kid refuses to nurse from her but will take her milk in a bottle. I think it's incredible that she does that. I have a very hard time relating to people who don't nurse or don't nurse for long periods of time. I just don't understand them or their point of view. Maybe one day their eyes will be open and they will see the beauty of nursing.


mother in israel said...

It's not a good idea to give birth on Yom Kippur! I gave birth to my last on a FRiday and encountered similar helpful nurses.
You complain that you want to rest without the baby, but I don't trust the nurses not to give formula, sign or not. I rest better knowing that my baby is calm and with me. Once I went to the LC's talk. She pointed out that all of the babies with their mothers in the room were quiet (about 30 babies) and next door, we heard the babies in the nursery screaming non-stop.
There are many selfish reasons for breastfeeding: No need to make up and wash bottles, saving money, delayed periods, and most of all, enjoyment.

Lady-Light said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog. How did you hear about it?

This subject of your post is very near and dear to my heart: I nursed 5 children for long periods, with opposition from my in-laws, and from my physicians. La Leche League (and my husband's support, although he, too, did not understand everything about nursing)was the only people to help me, and I became an active member of the League.

I am sending this post of yours to my son in Yerushalayim, who just became an abba, and his wonderful wife is nursing their son--in the face of some opposition, I believe, from the doctors/nurses (and maybe even her parents).
I am sure he will be interested (he also asked me to send him the La Leche League book, "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding!" How's that for a terrific father, eh?!) The book should be arriving in Israel this week, with a friend.

Israel is generally 20 years behind the progress of the U.S. in matters such as these.

I would love to have a dialogue with you if you have the time (don't know if I do, either!)Email me.

Lady-Light said...

Forgot to ask: would you consider adding my blog to your blogroll?

BB said...

LL, I don't even remember how I originally got to your blog but I've been lurking for a while. I'm flattered that you are sending this post to your son. I do feel that if he would like more info he should read Mother in Israel's blog. She's the nursing expert and the inspiration for the post on nursing. She and her commenters discuss everything one would want to know about the subject. He may find that more useful and helpful. Good luck to your daughter-in-law. I will try to add you to the blogroll but I'm new at this so I hope it works.

MiI, you speak truth as usual.