(please read the previous post to catch up.)
By the morning of our third day with our daughter, everything had changed. A well-fed newborn is a beautiful thing. Anyone who has seen what is commonly referred to as a "milk-drunk" child will know what I mean. We were discharged from the hospital the next day.
The formula was working. But I was still stubborn. I needed to get the boobs working. Whether it was to my way to please society or to defy science, I don't know, but in some ways, it was a little of both.
I pumped day and night. We were on a tight 2-hour rotation of me attempting to breastfeed, then my husband fed her formula while I pumped for half an hour, sometimes an hour. She'd go back to sleep for 2 hours and the cycle would repeat.
I had no frame of reference for what was the "right* amount of milk to pump. I was not getting much in the early days, but the fact I got any was a win. So it went that I rented an expensive hospital-grade pump, and practically slept in the armchair in 30-minute bursts every two hours. I wore my self out. Had my husband not been so supportive, I'm pretty sure my mental health would have failed me at this point.
Eventually, I was referred to a breastfeeding specialist. She told me that in 20 years of doing her specialty, she'd never had a breast reduction patient successfully breastfeed, so I shouldn't worry if it doesn't work out. Despite her profession, she too applauded the use of formula to "top-up" as it were.
She prescribed me domperidone, a drug that stimulates breast milk production but told me not to expect much difference than what I was already getting. (By the way, she already told me she'd never seen a breast-reduced mother get nearly as much as me so I was already ahead of the game).
The domperidone did its thing and eventually I was able to pump the equivalent of one bottle a day on average. Not a lot, but enough that I saw results.
So this brings me back to my ethics dilemma from part one.
I don't regret anything I did to get to the point I did with my breastfeeding. But I also definitely added more anxiety and exhaustion into my life.
I know I missed a lot those first few months. I became desensitized to my breasts being out while pumping. And I was always pumping. I had the double pump technique down pat so those ladies were in full view. My in-laws have even seen them now, so there's not much mystery anymore. Basically, more people than I can count have seen my breasts, that they don't really even feel like mine anymore. They just are another part of my body, completely desexualized. Heck, sometimes now I go braless because I really just don't care about propping the ladies up.
So, dear reader, this is my promotion for World Breastfeeding Week: if you want to breastfeed, there are a million reasons why it's awesome and totally healthy. But if you don't want to or you can't, that's cool too. Most of all, if you try and don't succeed, don't beat yourself up. You know what's best for your baby, and that is being FED. PERIOD. Get there however you need or want to. That, dear reader, is the healthiest.
Most of all, society will tell you what you should and shouldn't do throughout your entire parenting journey. Do your own research and make.informed decisions, knowing that your heart has the biggest say of all.
Do not be afraid to stand up to anyone who tells you that you are doing it wrong. Feed your baby. That's the important part.
And please lay off women who choose not to breastfeed. It may not have been a choice at all. And if it was, it's none of your business anyway.
Also, there is more to this week than just the surface thoughts of one mother. A mother who had access to free healthcare and maternity leave. In many countries this just isn't possible, and breast is the best way to go. Research the Nestle formula scandal and the more recent Chinese milk scandal. Get informed. Do what you you can not just fo your baby, but for your own health too.
*I welcome all points of view, however hateful and hurtful comments will be deleted*