When I made the decision to breastfeed, I started my research with my mom. I asked her every question that came to mind, assured that she would be able to point me in the right direction with her years of wisdom and background as an RN. Imagine my surprise when she told me that she was only able to breastfeed me for about six weeks and then I was exclusively formula-fed after that. Now, my mother is very supportive of me breastfeeding so I knew there was more to the story than that.
After a few more questions, I learned that my mom had never really seen it done and didn’t have anyone to ask for reference. I was a sleepy baby and would often fall asleep at the breast, causing around-the-clock nursing sessions. I also had colic, making those short six weeks of maternity leave a barrel of fun! She’s told me stories of pacing the house from 8pm-2am because the moment she stopped moving, I would scream. Oh, and let’s throw in recovery from a pretty serious c-section because a colicky baby who won’t breastfeed isn’t quite enough! My father, while extremely doting and family-oriented, hadn’t the first clue about breastfeeding. Formula-feeding me allowed him to help out and preserve my poor mother’s sanity.
A few nights ago I asked my husband whether or not he was breastfed. The only thing he could tell me is that he had to have goat’s milk which sounded suspect so I called his mom for the real scoop. After chatting with her, I learned that she tried to breastfeed him in the hospital during their three day stay. However, she too told me she had no support, that the nurses weren’t that knowledgeable about breastfeeding and that she had difficulty getting him to nurse. Soon after, she made the switch to formula only to find out that he was unable to tolerate it. After a few bouts of projectile vomiting, they discovered that his little digestive system wasn’t fully developed (it sounded like he had GERD) and once she switched to a lactose-free formula, he was a happy baby. (I'm not quite sure where he got that goat’s milk story from.)
In both cases, neither of them really knew what they were doing and there wasn’t anyone available to show them the ropes. With no encouragement or resources readily available, coupled with the culturally accepted belief that formula is practically identical to breastmilk, it’s no wonder that both ladies made the switch early in their babies’ lives.
These days, there are countless web articles, videos, support groups, books and conferences all designed to set you up for success in breastfeeding. We now know that breastmilk is far and away superior to formula and I’m confident that when my daughter gets here, we’ll be able to face and conquer whatever challenges we may encounter!