On Feeding

* I've never made it through the whole Jurassic Park movie. I've probably seen most of it, in bits and pieces, but not all the way through.

Feeding babies is a hot topic. The breastfeed-until-they-start-kindergarten camp and the formula-is-the-best-thing-ever camp have been going at it for a long time, and most people fall somewhere in the middle- and are very adamant about their position. Most (all?) of my friends have had varying degrees of success breastfeeding, so I knew it's something I want to try.

I keep saying "try" because I know fewer moms who have breastfed and pumped after going back to work full time, so have fewer examples to point to. I'm being told by some that it isn't worth the hassle, and by others that I'll make it a year, if I'm determined to. And, I'm pretty determined. Why?
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend it. The AAP, in their statement on breastfeeding, say "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child." The WHO states, "Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond." It's not so common to see a nursing 1 or 2 year old, but I'm thankful my friends have made it that far with their babies, so I have good examples to follow.
  • It's best for my baby's immediate needs and long-term health. Breastfeeding will lower his chances (PDF) of being overweight. He'll have fewer ear and respiratory infections, and a lower risk of allergies, diabetes, cancer, and SIDS. I'll miss less work, because my baby will be healthier.
  • It will make me healthier, too. Breastfeeding will lower my risk of diabetes, breast & ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and postpartum depression. After birth, immediate nursing will lower my risk of excessive bleeding, and I'll lose baby weight faster. [LLLI article]
  • It's less expensive. Even with the cost of bottles, a high-quality breast pump, and milk storage, breastfeeding comes out ahead of formula. There's a good reason those cans of formula are kept behind the counter at some mega-stores- they're pricey! Infant formula is a big business, costing US parents $13 billion a year. As a bonus, the medical costs of a breastfed infant are about $200 less than a formula-fed infant for the first year. So, by breastfeeding, I'll save my own pocketbook, even if I'm not creating jobs for health care.
So, will I make it? I hope so. We're going to do what's best for our family, and I'm going to strive to breastfeed as long as we can. From what I've heard, getting started isn't easy, but once my boy & I get the hang of it, it will be so rewarding- and the bonding time will be extra-important, since we won't be together all day, every day. I'm thankful for all the support I'll have, and for the mom-friends I have that have gone before me. You ladies are awesome!


James Kubecki said...

1. Not from MY experience, but Shannon's - it's a joyous experience that she cherished with Haddon. (She wasn't able to with Atticus.)

2. Someone told me (not sure if it's true or not) that formula is pretty much the ONLY thing in GROCERY stores that is security-tagged.

3. I can't believe you've never seen all of Jurassic Park all the way through. That's just wrong.

Doug said...

Good on ya! I think it's great, because I really think it's so much better on so many levels to breast feed when it's at all possible. It's not as instinctual and automatic as one might think it would be, but you and your wee one will get the hang of it. I just hope you and Josh don't have to hunt down a lactation consultant at, like, 3 AM on New Year's Day because neither mom nor baby has the hang of it yet and both are getting incredibly frustrated and upset. That wasn't so much fun, but we all three got through it. :-) I'm confident you will too, and I hope it all goes smoothly for you!

alissa said...

really, i think the key to breastfeeding is one part commitment and one part patience as you both learn. you've already got the commitment part down, which is great. the rest if just finding out what you need to do to make it work.

feel free to call or email me, even if it's new years day. i'd be happy to help in any way i can. i can even come to your house if you need help.

pumping takes hard work, but it's not impossible. i'd recommend finding a support group (like La Leche League) and going a few times before the baby is born. they will have support and encouragement as well as tips for making pumping through the first year work. plus you will meet other working breastfeeding moms who will be facing the same challenges as you.

you can do it! it is 100% worth it.

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

I agree with Alissa about going to LLL before the baby's born. Of course, I think most of them meet during a weekday so that might not be an option for you.

My other recommendation is taking the pump to the hospital, just in case. (Sometimes they have you use the pump to draw things out to make it easier for Baby.)

Matt said...

On the subjects of nursing, how babies should lay when the sleep, etc., we read up and had our ideas of what was best, but we did subject ourselves to a bit of frustration when our kids didn't want to do what science had proven is most beneficial for the general population. We had to come to terms with the fact that you can't argue statistics with an infant. If they refuse to nurse or to sleep on their back, just keep in mind that your baby has his own unique constraints (database pun? maybe...) and you sometimes just have to roll with it.

I hope you do have the freedom to choose how you feed your baby... it sounds like you're doing the homework and are well-informed. But don't get discouraged if you have to fall back on a Plan B here and there.

Beth said...

I definitely feel that it's worthwhile to try to nurse while working. I went back to work 8 weeks after my baby was born, and worked until she was 8 months. I ended up nursing her until she was 18 months old.

There was definitely a learning curve figuring out how to pump and Maddie figuring out the bottle, but once we got the routine down it wasn't difficult at all. My work was great about letting me take time to pump, and I had a convenient spot in which to do it.

I recommend figuring out the pump and bottle before returning to work (if possible--every baby is different); it helped make the transition back to work easier for both of us.

Breastfeeding while working was so worth it, and if I had to do it all over again, I definitely would.

Doug said...

One further advantage of nursing: no recalls! :-)


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