Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Big Business of Breastfeeding

All throughout my induction at 8 months pregnant for preeclampsia, difficult labor and delivery, the second epidural I had to have (after the first came out), my son's stint in the pediatrics ward, the total of about a week my son and I spent in the hospital, there was only one time my husband got so frustrated he almost punched a member of the staff...

It was that uppity lactation consultant.

Here I was, just two days out of going through kidney failure, and this woman was in my face, jawing at me about football holds, and insisting I use a supplemental nursing system (running a wire of milk down your boob) to entice my premature, jaundiced son to eat from the source, instead of just pumping for him.

"He's going to get lazy drinking out of the bottle. You need to make him work for it."

Really, lady? You're attributing negative personality traits to my 3-day-old baby and telling me I need to toughen him up?

Long story short, we supplemented him with formula from the beginning (I could never pump enough) and he was switched over to formula completely by the time he was 3 months. Despite the anecdotal "facts" so often quoted about the superiority of breast milk, my son is tall, healthy, and developmentally advanced. (As was pointed out in this excellent paper, so many of these breastfeeding "facts" are in no way supported by medical literature.)

"Oh, but the formula makers are just greedy corporations motivated by money! And breastfeeding is free!"

Really? How much does a good nursing bra run you? Or breast pads? Lanolin for when your nipples have had enough and just start bleeding? Antibiotics for when your fever spikes 104 after developing mastitis (sucks so much)? Freezer storage bags? If you want any chance of having any free time for a little bit of a life of your own, you're going to have to pump sooner or later. And what the cheapest you can purchase a breast pump for, or even rent one?

How much is your time worth? How much is it worth for your body to be your own, to not have to worry about every drop of caffeine, or every ounce of food coloring?

I would have loved to been able to breastfeed my son, but it didn't work out. And I don't deserve to be judged as a selfish or less sacrificing mother because I didn't get to enjoy that aspect of motherhood.

And I really don't want to hear what selfless, baby-loving angels those lactation consultants are. I could be too for $70K a year.

It's nice to know that making new moms feel insecure is such a recession-proof industry.


Anonymous said...

You are great!

I too am sick of the uppity lactivists making the rest of us feel like we're not "real" mothers or that our children are doomed because we used that "evil poison" of formula !


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