I have a baby! Also people are being mean to me (breastfeeding)

16 Oct

This is clearly not a usual Baking and Math post (neither will show up here) but I owe a post and I’m not operating on a ton of sleep right now so here’s a real fast update.  This baby was born last Tuesday, 10/7, at 7:11 a.m. and he’s great.


justbabySome not so great things: he was a bit jaundiced-looking so we had to keep taking him back to get blood drawn to find out if we had to stick him under UV lights.  It’s difficult to transport newborn babies, especially if you don’t own a car.  But he’s fine now so that’s great.  Other not so great thing: breastfeeding him hurt like hell, to the point where I’d be crying in pain.  On Sunday, after doing our blood test, I thought I’d feed him before we got in the car and headed home.  So I tried, and then I started screaming in pain (this pain was a slow ramp up over the course of the first week of his life).  Luckily we were already in the hospital, so we thought the nurses/lactation consultant could help.

Some background if you have not had a child lately: something we call the Breastfeeding Propaganda Machine has been in full force for several years, with slogans like “Breast is best” and “A mother’s breast is where a baby belongs” printed on posters, and unhelpful breastfeeding classes where they say things like “breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right.”  Also doctors, nurses, lactation consultants (that’s a full time job!), and other parents who are ready to pile on the guilt with said slogans and facts: mother’s milk gives baby necessary antibodies, promotes closeness, helps mom lose weight, is the correct choice.

I find the BPM incredibly insensitive to the many mothers out there who a) can’t for some physical/emotional reason breastfeed, b) don’t have the time to breastfeed because they need to work, or c) have their own reasons for not breastfeeding.  Theoretically I have bodily autonomy and don’t need to justify my personal decisions as to what I do with my body to other people, but I guess that’s not true.

Things that were said during our conversation (keep in mind I am sobbing in pain at this point) (Sarcastic responses in parentheses):

“Hmmm this shouldn’t be hurting you this much.” (Thanks.)

“Breastmilk is the perfect mix for your baby.” (Great.)

After telling her we’d been supplementing because his weight had decreased too much the first week: “Oh, well, if it’s medically necessary then that’s a good reason to supplement.”  (Oh, thanks for your judgment I really needed that.  Because it’s your right to judge whether my reasons for supplementing are legitimate or not.)

My husband was boiling mad at this point.  We left and the lactation consultant lady literally followed us down the hallway and kept saying unhelpful things to us.  We wish that she and the nurses had been more patient/mother-friendly.

For the record, despite my acknowledgment of the BPM and us joking for weeks that if we didn’t breastfeed our baby would grow up stupid and ugly, I still protested when my husband very reasonably suggested supplementing with formula after I’d had another hour-long feeding session of our constantly screaming, not-sleeping, weight-losing baby.  Because I’d internalized the BPM messages, I felt frustrated, guilty, and ashamed that I couldn’t provide my baby with thebest.”  I wanted to keep trying to exclusively breastfeed him even though all signs pointed to it not working.  Once we started supplementing, he slept!  And didn’t constantly scream!  And everything got better and was amazing!  But it still took me days to get over my hang-ups (I’m still getting over them, honestly) that I wasn’t good enough for my baby.  I wanted to push through the pain and do everything for my baby, feeling that if I didn’t breastfeed, I was a bad mother.

If you know me personally, that last paragraph should sound pretty out of character.  I pride myself on being confident, not giving a damn what other people think of me, and also being quite difficult to offend/affect emotionally (unless you’re my husband or mom).  But I’d listened to the BPM for too long, and it hurt my family.  Thank goodness I have a reasonable husband who talked me down to supplementing and pumping until I was in less pain.

Anyways, these were some disjointed thoughts on what’s happened to me over the past week and a half or so.  If I had more sleep/was operating at more of my usual intellectual level I’d add commentary to the following links, but I’ll just leave them here:

A woman who can’t physically breastfeed and the absurdity of the BPM trying to get her to

Fantastic well-researched article saying that medical literature isn’t as strong as the BPM says

Everything you do to baby affects the family- breastfeeding might not be the best choice for the family

Pro breastmilk- basically we don’t understand it yet but it’s still good




4 Responses to “I have a baby! Also people are being mean to me (breastfeeding)”

  1. bf October 17, 2014 at 2:56 am #

    First things first: congratulations to you and your husband from a regular reader! I’ll wait patiently for maths and baking to resume while you’re busy with your new family member.

    Second, I’m so sorry to read that the pressure on new mothers changes in kind but not in style. I nursed my three kids exclusively because, just like you did, I chose what best fit me and my family, and like you I was lucky to have a very supportive husband, and managed to do so despite crazily incompetent advice from maternity ward nurses.

    I’m glad to hear your baby is now gaining weight as he should. My best wishes for you all, and be strong because this may be the first time in which you have to fight for what’s best for him (and you) but it almost surely won’t be the last.

    • yenergy October 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

      Thanks very much for commenting and I appreciate meeting readers! Also it’s great to hear from moms that this stupid pressure thing isn’t just me. My adviser said that the AAP changes its mind a lot (e.g. it used to be all pro-formula anti-breastmilk), and following my intuition is the right thing to do, like you did

  2. Rebecca C. October 20, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Wow, first of all, congratulations! Your baby is adorable and I hope you don’t let this get you down. Please continue to do what you think is best for you & your family, rather than what everyone tells you is best! Reading this suddenly reminded me of an article I came across a year or so ago – I was bored and quite frankly, astonished that people actually feed their babies a random person’s breast milk because they were so invested in the “breast is best” campaign, so I decided to read the comments, which was the first time I heard about the pressure mothers face about this whole breastmilk issue.


    It’s really sad to know that a few decades ago it was the exact opposite; my mom was a midwife/RN in Taiwan and she said they always told mothers to supplement with formula or even just use it to avoid undernourished/underweight babies (of course also because the formula companies make plenty of money), plus I know they used to shame breastfeeding mothers.


  1. Happy 3rd birthday, blog! | Baking and Math - November 26, 2015

    […] still stand by my breastfeeding post (in case you were wondering, I did end up breastfeeding for several months and loving it, and […]

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