Guest Post: Is Breast Always Best?

Is Breastfeeding Always Best?

The topic of breastfeeding is always a hot one. I remember being pregnant with my first daughter and outwardly saying, “I’m not going to worry much about breastfeeding. If it works, great! If not, it’s no big deal.”

Little did I realize the emotional impact not being able to breastfeed my daughter would have on me psychologically. I simply could not get her to latch on. She would end up screaming and I would end up sobbing. My ideal just wasn’t meeting real life.

Why do medical professionals prefer breastfeeding? It’s what Mother Nature intended. It is easy and convenient—no need to pack bottles, formula, etc. Breast milk is easier for the baby to digest. More importantly, it provides the baby some extra immunity. The mother passes on antibodies for things she’s protected against to the baby. There are plenty of resources that talk about the benefits of breastfeeding. I’ll include this link: www.breastfeedingbasics.com/

So, yes, I’m on board with encouraging a mother to try breastfeeding first.

As a nurse, I’ve also seen breastfeeding not work and, in conjunction with your pediatrician, it might be worth having a conversation about stopping in these situations.

  1. The baby is not growing. Sometimes, as in my case, the mother and baby never get in a good rhythm. Or, the mother is simply not producing enough of a supply. In this case, it might be worth having a discussion with a lactation specialist for some extra pointers. Paramount is for the baby to stay hydrated. You can tell that your baby is hydrated if they are having a good amount of wet diapers. If your infant hasn’t peed in approximately eight hours, there may be a concern for dehydration. There are additional signs to look for that I won’t go into detail today but if you’re interested in this, leave a comment and I’ll do a special post just on that. Bottom line is the baby needs to be growing and gaining weight. If they can’t do this nursing, you’ll need to supplement or switch to formula.
  2. It doesn’t work for your lifestyle. I’m all about sacrificing for your child, but real life is real life. In the situation with my first daughter, I ended up having to pump the breast milk and give it to her via bottle. This was twice the work. Time spent pumping, then the actual feeding. I was blessed to be off work for about four months and had some extra breast milk frozen. Once I went back to work, I just couldn’t maintain that schedule anymore. I chose to do 50/50 breast milk and formula until my supply ran out and then we moved to formula.
  3. Medically you shouldn’t. There might be some situations where giving the baby your breast milk could endanger the child. If you’re taking illegal substances, or too much of legal ones (like alcohol)—these can be passed to your infant. If you’re on any medications and breastfeeding, you need to check with your physician to see if it would be passed through your breast milk and if so, is that a concern for the baby.

For me personally, women get enough pressure when it comes to breastfeeding. I do encourage it, yes. However, in my opinion, as long as your baby is happy, healthy and growing, I’m fine with breastfeeding, formula, or a combination of the two.

What are your thoughts about breastfeeding? Is there a situation where you had to stop?

Jordyn Redwood has served the pediatric population and their families for many years. She has five years of experience in the pediatric ICU and ten years of pediatric ER nursing which is the area she currently works. Jordyn also teaches CPR and advanced resuscitation courses.

Jordyn Redwood has served the pediatric population and their families for many years. She has five years of experience in the pediatric ICU and ten years of pediatric ER nursing which is the area she currently works. Jordyn also teaches CPR and advanced resuscitation courses.

Jordyn is also a suspense author. Her novel, Proof, will be published by Kregel June 1, 2012. She also hosts a medical blog for authors which you can find at www.jordynredwood.com.

 

Disclaimer: Remember, these posts are for education and discussion. If your child is sick and you think they require medical attention, take them to their pediatrician or local emergency department.

6 Comments

  1. Oh thank you so much for this one… With my first child I was so paranoid about breastfeeding. I knew the benefits and I was bound and determined to give my little girl the best possible start. She started off great but by 4 months it was a real struggle for both of us. I remember crying when my husband insisted on giving her her first formula bottle. I truly thought that I had failed as a mother. By 6 months I had to give up. With my 2nd it was a struggle of a different nature – he just wanted to be nursed constantly to the point I was exhausted and sore. We we did make it to my goal of 12 months with him.

    While going through all of this I remember a conversation I’d had with their pediatrician because they were both so small and both had so many challenges with nursing I asked if there was a chance I wasn’t producing a milk with a high enough calorie rate. He assured me that all milk was about the same calorie wise so that couldn’t be the issue. When one of my good friends ran into similar challenges she found out that calories were indeed the issue. We just ended up on the “skim milk” side of breastfeeding. I think it really is important to follow the cues that you and your baby are giving to know if it really is the right thing and how to make it work best.

    • Eliza,

      Sounds like you made a good and reasonable decision. You are absolutely right– following the baby’s cues is paramount.

      Happy, healthy, growing babies is the goal. Breastfeeding is not the only way to get that to happen. Women get enough pressure!

  2. Can I use some of the content from your site on mine? I will make sure to link back to it :)
    My blog is about Back Pain Relief.

  3. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

  4. I like the realism of your post. Thanks for sharing!

    I was so determined to breastfeed my first son – and I did, despite my Dr repeatedly asking me “do you think you should stop now?”. I had mastitis 8 times (and that was just the times that I required medication – there were plenty of other times I had blocked ducts but managed to clear them before the infection set in). I saw several lactation consultants, I researched, I tried all sorts of different techniques & “cures”. Nothing stopped the recurrent mastitis and blocked ducts – I was just prone to them. I breastfed him until he was 13 months, when he self-weaned.

    With my second son, I decided to stop after my first bout of mastitis. I didn’t want to battle the constant fear of getting sick again & trying to look after 2 kids while ill. I didn’t want to pump another baby full of antibiotics through my milk. My Dr was pleased with my decision; the lactation consultants & the clinic nurses were very understanding/supportive. But some other mothers were judgmental & I got a few lectures about “breast is best” :(

  5. As a doula and childbirth educator, I have seen clients who were very dedicated to breastfeeding have difficulties with latch or supply that truly made breastfeeding not the best choice. But I do wish we had more support for women in helping them to get breastfeeding working. In my area it has only been in the last couple of months that we’ve had an independent lactation consultant available–so if a woman’s pediatrician did not have a lactation consultant on staff (most don’t), and La Leche League couldn’t help her, then she really had no further resources for professional support.

    That said…breastfeeding is the method of feeding that GOD created, not “Mother Nature.”

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