I was recently approached to promote a company's campaign supporting World Breastfeeding Week. I love the company and the brand, so initially I was like, "Hell yeah!" let's do it!
As I continued to read the campaign, themed "Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet", I started to question the ethics of Stork Post, (and more importantly, myself) getting behind the message.
Before you get upset, I want to add that I personally believe that breastfeeding is awesome. I bonded with my daughter in ways I never imagined during her feeds. And I also feel that there is a lot of science behind why breastfeeding is truly the best thing you can give your baby. I 100% agree with their message.
So what's the problem?
The problem, for me, is that society tells new mothers that "Breast is best" in ways that pretty much shames them for any other path. It doesn't matter if you didn't have a choice about your milk makers working or not, society just drives it you to breastfeed or else horrible things will happen.
I was a formula-fed baby, and I like to think I turned out okay. I was raised in an era were the reverse advice was normal. "Formula is better!" was the message of the day. Maternity leave and other parental benefits were minimal at the time and formula was the latest, greatest way to stay in the workforce. "Go female empowerment!" or something like that.
And now the message is breast milk only until 6 months minimum. And this is where I have issue.
I knew going into pregnancy that I had next to zero odds of successful breastfeeding. I had a breast reduction around 2003, and procedures at that time (and even today) severed the milk ducts and the nerves around the area. Not only was sensation in the area limited, but milk ducts rarely regrow. Still, I told myself that I was going to try, just in case.
So out comes my beautiful baby girl, and BAM she's on the boob. I had been at the hospital in labour for 6 days (another story for another day) and yet, all the exhaustion disappeared in that moment.
She latched! And I felt so proud to prove all the doctors, all of the internet advice, basically everyone wrong.
Fast forward to night two with a newborn (and oh man I have advice for parents about night two, but again, that's another story), and my girl hasn't peed much yet. If you've had a child you know this is key to being let go from the hospital, at least in Canada. No pee meant no milk.
How was that possible? We'd nurse precisely on the schedule the nurse gave us. She'd latch and nurse, then fall asleep. But, as it turns out, she was comfort sucking, and not much, if any, was coming out.
My reaction to this news surprised me even then. I had prepared for this for 9 months. Yet when I heard that my boobs weren't working, I completely broke down. I insisted on trying any method I could. The nurse even brought me a hospital grade pump to get things moving.
Hours passed. I got a few dribbles out, but not enough to keep my girl fed. When the nurse walked in with a bottle formula and a tiny hose, I still was resistant.
Yet I knew one thing, and this is what got me through it. I did everything I could to bring this baby into the world, and I'll do anything to keep her in it. She needed to eat. And, as you later hear about in another post, we were fully into night two and exhausted.
She took to the formula right away. The nurse taped the hose to my nipple she could continue at the breast for the bonding.
And so, with a happy, well-fed baby, we all finally got some sleep.
But that's not the end of my breastfeeding adventures...I'll continue with this story tomorrow.