I am not a Lactation Consultant (although my husband often says if I were to pursue a different career, an LC would definitely be the way to go). I don't have any professional training in the area (other than the one class I took at the hospital before Marie was born. Everyone MUST take a breastfeeding class pre-baby!). In fact, I haven't done a whole lot of my own reading or studying on the subject. BUT my experience qualifies me to give all new/soon-to-be mothers who happen across my blog some knowledgeable advice.
Be warned - my spiritual gift is prophecy with a side order of mercy. This is where I'm being merciful: I'm warning you that I will no longer be merciful following this warning.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, educate yourself! Why breastfeed? Figure it out for yourself! If you've studied up on the benefits of nursing and still decide you prefer to formula feed, stop reading. (I will throw in a little mercy here and not say what I would like to about the pre-baby decision to formula feed). I could go on forever about the necessity of nursing, but there are qualified specialists that can prove that better than I can. After learning what you need to know, decide how important it is to you. I decided that nursing was the only option for me. I decided this before I had any idea that nursing could possibly be difficult. But I made it a conviction, that conviction was seriously tested, and I passed.
So piece of advice #1 - Decide that breastfeeding is the ONLY option.
Breastfeeding is HARD. For some people, it's barely hard at all. For others, such as myself with my sweet Marie Love, it's NEARLY impossible. But it is possible. It is incredibly important that you understand that, while it's supposed to be natural, we live in a fallen world, so sometimes there seems there is nothing natural about it.
So piece of advice #2 - Be prepared for breastfeeding to not go as planned.
I strongly encourage anyone who only has one child or is expecting to become a new mom to do whatever it takes to make nursing work with the first baby!! If you don't work through nursing issues with your first, you'll more than likely have issues with the following babies and it'll be significantly harder to deal with them having an older child to raise at the same time.
So piece of advice #3 - Breastfeed your first child.
Now your child is born and you're doing the nursing thing, but the tiny child (that did not seem so tiny coming out of you!) is losing weight or not gaining weight as quickly as Dr. Quick Fix says he/she should be. This is the point that prompted me to write this post - a HUGE pet peeve at this point in my life. Do not supplement. I repeat, do NOT supplement. Just in case you didn't read that correctly
DO NOT SUPPLEMENT!!
Any lactation consultant will tell you that breastfed babies gain weight slower than formula fed babies. You want to know why? Well I'm going to tell you why anyway. Because breastfed babies are getting the amount God has intended while formula fed babies are getting FAT. Okay, because I can't completely ignore my secondary spiritual gift I must say that by no means are all formula fed babies fat. I'm just trying to make a point. The doctor says as you're leaving the hospital, "Your baby is not up to birth weight yet. He/She must not be eating enough. You need to feed him/her a couple ounces of formula after every feeding so that he/she gains weight as quickly as possible." I appreciate doctors and all, but the moment you hear your pediatrician say that or any variation of that - FIND A NEW PEDIATRICIAN.
When Jack was 8 days old he was still almost a pound under his birthweight (which put him at about 9lbs 12 ounces). He was being very sluggish and didn't seem interested in eating, so I brought him in to have him looked over. As it was a last minute appointment, I did not get my usual pediatrician (who is wonderful). The nurse weighed Jack before the doc came in and he was 9/10. While we were waiting for the doc, he was acting hungry so I nursed him for no more than 2 minutes. Then the doc came in and weight him again. He was 9/12. The doctor literally weighed him 3 times, then took off his diaper and weighed him again. He didn't believe that he had gained 2 ounces in 2 minutes of nursing. In spite of the fact that Jack had gained 2 ounces in 2 minutes, he told me to supplement! He decided that Jack gaining weight was more important than Jack getting the essential nutrients from nursing. Needless to say, I totally ignored his advice. Came in for a weight check the next day and Jack was up another 2 ounces. His sluggishness was caused by the ridiculous humidity and our lack of quality air conditioning.
The moment you start supplementing, you might as well say goodbye to nursing. Your body will learn to produce just the amount of milk your baby is eating from you. So after just a couple days of supplementing, your body will no longer produce enough milk for your child who has been eating too much. (And there is no pump out there that can keep your milk producing the way a baby will. You might be able to get away with it for a while, but it'll end long before you want it to).
So final piece of advice (for now) - DO NOT SUPPLEMENT.
Maybe I shouldn't be an LC. I'd probably make too many hormonal moms mad.
If you have any desire to know more about my breastfeeding story, I'd love to share.
In closing, please understand that none of this is directed toward anyone and is not meant to be offensive. I've gotten real frustrated lately with doctors pushing supplementing in spite of the importance of nursing. Instead of ranting just about that, I wanted to share some advice. I never think less of a woman who does what is best for her child and her family (which can mean not breastfeeding). The only woman I may think less of is the one who decides not to even attempt nursing at all. That, I think, is wrong.