Best for Babes is calling for women to share their “Booby Traps” – stories of being set up to fail at breastfeeding. They will present these stories to the Surgeon General and the media to try to illustrate the setbacks and hurdles women face when they want to breastfeed.
Here are mine:
C-section and delayed breastfeeding
I was medically induced due to pre-eclampsia and ended up with an emergency c-section. I had awful edema (swelling) and compromised liver and kidney functions, and was put on magnesium sulfate and did not get an opportunity to breastfeed my baby for several hours after he was born.
Scare tactics from a brusque LC
The last Lactation Consultant I saw in the hospital was downright awful and used scare tactics to make me doubt my own ability to feed my child. I knew babies lost weight after delivery, and I also knew that their elimination habits are somewhat unpredictable very early on. The LC tried to scare me (into making milk? not sure what her objective was) regarding his weight loss, which was well within the normal range, and since I was pumped full of fluids during and after labor, his initial weight may have been artificially high. She also tried to scare me regarding his lack of dirty diapers after an initial few (also pretty normal).
I was only discharged from the hospital after I agreed to take the baby in for a weight check the next day. We were both healthy, recovering, and he was breastfeeding reasonably fine. I repeat: I was told I would have to spend another (expensive! unnecessary!) night in the hospital so they could monitor his DIAPER OUTPUT, or I could go home and then commit to keeping an LC appointment the next day to weigh him. No contest – I went home.
The LC I saw the next day seemed confused why I was there, since he was clearly gaining tons of weight and eating fine. Which I knew already, but was bullied into not trusting my body.
Nipple shields and other accessories
Wesley was not keen on opening his mouth very wide to nurse, which made nursing very painful. I was advised to use a shield to help him latch. I was not told that it might damage my supply (it didn’t, fortunately) and I was not told how to wean him off it, or even that I SHOULD wean him off it.
Consequently, I had to figure out for myself how to wean him off the shield, and just as we were almost down to not needing it, he received his 2 month vaccinations and refused to eat without the shield and we were back to square one. He still uses it today (at 9.5 months old), as I’ve been unsuccessful in attempting to wean off the shield since then – he simply doesn’t recognize my boob as food unless the shield is present.
I was also sent home with formula, empty plastic bottles (presumably for pumping, but they are Similac branded), a syringe and tube system for feeding, sugar water, and a Medela Special Needs Feeder (like a giant syringe with a nipple on the end). For what purpose? I have no idea. I found it incredibly wasteful. A special needs feeder? HE WAS BREASTFEEDING FINE. I am not sure what kind of special needs she thought he might develop whereupon I might need to use that, but sending me home with all that junk irks me, even now.
Being sent home with formula
This one in particular really infuriates me. The LC (the crap one, from point #1) clearly observed my baby successfully breastfeeding and receiving milk. Why pack my bag full of “just in case” formula as I’m leaving?
To make matters worse, it was the super-expensive Nutramigen kind, which means that if I did choose to supplement, I would have used that brand and been hesitant to switch unless my baby obviously didn’t tolerate it. If I’d done that, I’d be out FAR more money than if I had been sent home with the one of the normal varieties. Or none at all, which should have been the case.
On the other hand, I am incredibly fortunate for several reasons:
- My mom is a Labor & Delivery nurse, and successfully breastfed three babies. She showed me how to use my pump. Daniel’s mom successfully breastfed four babies. Daniel was incredibly supportive and helpful, especially in the early days of figuring it all out. My family, extended family, and in-laws are very breastfeeding supportive.
- My workplace has been very good at accommodating my pumping needs. They installed window blinds in a conference room so I could use it to pump, and do not make a fuss about my pumping breaks.
- I respond well to the pump. A friend of mine is only able to pump if her baby is nursing on the opposite breast – she doesn’t experience the let-down reflex otherwise and is unable to pump any milk. I’ve never had a problem with let-down for the pump and I know how lucky that is.
- I was good about trusting my instincts and not letting the crazy hysteric LC get to me. I think many other people in those situations would have given in and just used the formula to get her off their backs. Daniel still occasionally brings up how insane she was.
Clearly, there are significant hurdles to successful breastfeeding for new mothers. I mean, look at my list! And I would consider myself a success story! Think of all the other things that can go wrong – unsupportive family, pediatrician, husband, hospital; misinformation regarding cluster feedings and how often day-old babies need to eat (and how much); nurses recommending formula to resolve jaundice; the list goes on.
Do you have any stories of Booby Traps? Best for Babes is looking to receive as many stories as possible.