Why I breastfeed: From Unapologetic Formula Feeder to Educated Nurser and it Only Took 13 Years!

Let me start this post by explaining that while I wish I had been able to breastfeed each of my children for at least the first year, I was not always as educated about the advantages of breastfeeding. I am not blaming anyone for my decision.  Not even the nurses that tried to help me in the hospital with Queen Sas.  I honestly feel like breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, and if more women felt supported, educated, and assisted through the early stages of a nursing relationship there would be more breastfeeding mothers!

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 1 (1998)
I gave birth and planned to breastfeed my Queen Sas. I tried to get her to latch on when they gave her to me 2 hours after her birth. How kind of the hospital staff to take my new infant and scrub all of the vag germs off of her before I got to spend any real time with her. Latching wasn’t going well so a nurse tried to help me. This nurse was not educated about breastfeeding, but surely grabbing my breast in one hand and the baby’s head in the other and ramming the two together like you are squashing a pb&j will make the baby eat correctly, right? Wrong. As the hours passed the frustration for both Queen Sas and me. She was hungry and screaming. I was tired and crying. At a loss for a solution I demanded they bring me formula so I could soothe my starving infant. She ate and was content. I left the hospital the next morning with my new bundle of joy and a cart full of formula.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 2 (2001)
I started out strong with my Big Man. I was going to make sure my son got breast milk! I had even figured out how I would avoid the whole idea of any grabby nurses with cold hands ramming my boob in to the baby’s unwilling mouth. I was going to exclusively pump milk for him. I had a good pump and a plan nothing could stop me now. After a quick labor, which was a pitocin induced, scheduled induction, I was the proud mommy of a bouncing baby boy. This time was different though because I left the hospital with a breast pump, a baby, and the best of intentions. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave with any more information about feeding my baby breast milk than I had when I birthed my daughter. I quickly got a plugged duct or an infection who knows as I never knew who to ask, and stopped pumping for Big Man after only a few days. I thought you had to stop feeding the baby if you had an infection. How wrong I was!

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 3 (2003)
I gave up. I had decided that I was just not cut out for breastfeeding. Not once did I attempt to nurse my Princess. Princess was born in March. By the time she was 12 days old she was admitted to the hospital with RSV. She was losing weight due to poor feeding. She has a spinal tap and antibiotics. The next three years were filled with illness for Princess. The poor kid caught every single bug that went around. Her immune system was shot probably because of the early use of antibiotics. Now at 8 she is allergic to amoxicillin. I will always wonder if my colostrum could have protected her.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 4 (2008)

I had a great start with Wee Man. I separated from the father of my first three children over a year before the pregnancy with Wee Man. I had a great support system at home. Big Daddy and I knew the importance of breast milk for the health of the baby. I think Princess’ early illnesses scared me straight! I was breastfeeding this kid if it killed me. Well, as it turned out after a stressful birth experience (read my birth story for more info) all it took to make me quit nursing him was hives at let down! I had never experienced hives. Wow! That is excruciating! At the time I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the hormones my body was releasing during milk ejection. I tried allergy meds but I am awful with medicine, and the kids were tired of mommy passing out on the couch in a Benadryl coma. Well, I think it was the fact that usually my boobs were hanging out and leaking all over the place because I was passing out while nursing the Wee Man. I was very sad when I decided the itching had won. Defeated and broken I gave my boy formula. I was glad that I had my tubes tied and would never have to revisit my failure to nurse a baby.

Why I breastfeed baby number 5 (2011)

I think my choice to have a homebirth had a lot to do with the success of my nursing relationship with Lady Bug.  First, when you are planning a homebirth with a midwife there is NEVER a question about how you will feed your baby.  The words; “are you planning to bottle feed or breastfeed?” were never spoken.  It is assumed that you will be breastfeeding.  Second the minute your baby is born he or she is placed on your chest!  There is no time lost with needless baths as in the hospital.  Your nursing relationship begins at the very moment of birth.

Since I LOVE lists I am going to break this down in to bulleted points that explain why I am breastfeeding my baby.

  • After 3 of my children having RSV and two of them being hospitalized with it, I wanted to give my baby’s immune system a fighting chance against respiratory infection.
  • I am broke.  Time, patience, and love I have in plentiful amounts. Money, not so much.  Breastfeeding is NOT free.  The things I mentioned before, my time and what not, are not worthless.  Breastfeeding is PRICELESS.  No one else can make the milk I am making for my baby. My budget does not have to suffer for my child te receive the perfect nutrition for her.
  • I really hate the smell of formula poop and spit up.  I also hate the stains. 
  • I am lazy!  I do not like washing and sterilizing bottles, nipples, and pacifiers.  I don’t feel like waking up in the middle of the night to mix formula or warm up my baby’s midnight snack.  I just roll over and pop a boob in her mouth and we are back in dreamland!
  • I CAN do this. 
  • I wanted to protect my daughter from questionable ingredients and potentially harmful additives.  I don’t trust what is being done to our foods these days.  My breast milk is organic and wonderful.  I guarantee there are no GMO’s in this stuff. 
  • I love myself enough to not accept my previous defeats as the end of the story.

I do wish I could have nursed all of my children.  I feel like education is the biggest ingredient I was lacking in my plan to feed them.  I just didn’t know what I was doing.  Breastfeeding my child has been the most rewarding experience of my life.  My chubby Lady Bug is a home-grown work of art.  Her skin is perfect.  Her poop doesn’t stink.  She is happy and secure.  I never have to worry about what she needs because I know that all she needs is me.  It is truly a beautiful thing!

I breastfeed because I can.  It is the right and normal thing to do.

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