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They Are MY Boobs!

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: I knew it was going to be really hard for me to breastfeed, because I have inverted nipples. But I had every intention of giving it my best shot. I went through lactation training and learned to use the nipple guard (it's like a fake plastic nipple that gives your baby something to latch on to). After my baby came home from the hospital, I went to a lactation specialist who told me to offer the baby the nipple and then pump and bottle-feed.

woman's cleavage
Pumping is like a cruel form of torture, and I hated it. But I wanted what was best for my daughter. Then the pediatrician told me that my baby had lost a pound since birth; she was working too hard to breastfeed. She was burning too many calories (apparently, babies burn calories if they sneeze!). So I was to pump and bottle-feed her. That meant getting up nearly every hour in the middle of the night. One shift to pump; next shift to feed. I had to pump every three hours and she had to eat every three hours. I now knew why there was a car charger for the pump: I had to take it everywhere. 

After about eight weeks, I got an infection and was told to give up breastfeeding because I had to go into the hospital for a week. I was devastated, because I wanted to be able to do this for her. My husband was upset because, like everyone else, he knew "breast was best" and wanted her to have the best. We fought, and I felt guilty -- but finally decided to give it up. My job was to be a good, healthy mom, not a breastfeeder; if it was making me sick, then it wasn't worth it. After the agony of my milk drying up, I was happier and more rested than ever. 

Now I am pregnant again, and I told my husband I don't even want to bother trying to breastfeed. With two kids under 2, getting up every hour won't be feasible. I am diabetic and I get run down very easily. He got mad and told me he wanted me to at least pump for two months so our child would get the nutrients from the breast milk. They are my breasts. Why does he have a say? His argument? It's his baby, and he should get to decide what is best for his baby. 

So we were at an impasse. I expressed how hard it was and how much I hated pumping, how I couldn't even imagine being tethered to a pump and trying to take care of a newborn and a toddler. I was trying to do what was best for everyone. He explained that he wanted to build the baby's immunity with breast milk. It's my body and I have the final decision. He can't force me ... can he? Anyway, I said I would give it a shot, but said that if it was as taxing as before or compromised the quality of my mothering, I was going to give it up. He agreed, after saying that he would do it for me if he could. Easy to say when you know that you can't!


next: A Chat with Author and Mom Tess Gerritsen
22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Katie November 11, 2010, 6:10 AM

Wow, that’s intense. Though it is up to both of you to decide whats best for you’re baby it does your children no good if you are even more exhausted than the average new mom. If it didn’t work before there’s a chance it won’t work again. I say try it in the hospital and for a few days at home. If you and the baby don’t catch onto it then that’s okay. While there are nutrients in breastmilk you tell me one child who grows up to be less bonded with their parents because they were bottle fed, or who even remembers thinking “Damn,mom’s not giving me the boob, i’m going to hate her for life”

Rachel November 11, 2010, 6:31 AM

I’m so sorry you have to make this decision. I feel for you. I’d just say give it a shot, do your best, and then give it up the moment it begins to be a negative thing for you, the baby, or your other little one. Life is too short! Enjoy that baby!

Alison November 11, 2010, 6:32 AM

I went through a similar experience with my third child. It was so stressful, exhausting and painful I don’t remember enjoying my newborn in the first few weeks. Once I “gave up” I was able to relax and so was he.

I just wanted to give you some encouragement, though. I tried to breastfeed all three of my kids. The first lasted 3 months before she just started refusing the breast and nothing the lactation consultant did helped. But, with my second I had a great experience. He caught on quickly and nursed for 12 months. He loved it and so did I.

I guess what I am trying to convey is that it is possible you would have a completely different experience with your second. But, I agree that it is your choice and your husband should support you.

Christine November 11, 2010, 8:01 AM

They are your breast and I’m sorry he has no choice in the say. I know everyone says breast is best but all 3 of mine were bottle fed (breast w/ the first but milk stopped at 6 wks, tramuatic birth w/ the 2nd so no and the 3rd blood pressure meds made it dangerous to breast feed) and have turned out wonderful!! My DH has always said that it is my choice because I am the one doing it. He really enjoys helping me with the bottle feedings. It is not worth the stress and putting your health in danger because its “best for the baby”. I hope your DH has a change of heart and supports you 100% after all your the one carrying the baby and even though you two are “one flesh” its still your boobies =). BTW all mine have been born 11 mon apart for the first 2 and 2 yrs for the last 2 currently preggo w/ #4 so I know what your going through

tam November 11, 2010, 8:31 AM

There are other options, how about donated bm? Once you get over the knee jerk reaction and think about it, its best for all 3 of you! Check your local eatsonfeets chapter for prospective donors good luck.

Rebecca November 11, 2010, 8:37 AM

Tell your husband that if it is so important to him, he should look into male lactation. Then HE can deal with surging hormones and hours of pumping. ;)

KS November 11, 2010, 8:38 AM

Donated breast milk might be a good compromise. But have you consulted with a lactation consultant. There are (and I forget the exact name) little devices you can put on your nipples starting a bit before the child is born and it’s supposed to help draw out the nipple.

Also if this is so important for your husband he shouldn’t mind sharing the load. There should be no reason for you to be the only one getting up at night.

With two children there will have to be a work load compromise. f this is so important to him he should have no problem getting up for the late night feedings while your getting up for the late night pumping.

Jilly November 11, 2010, 8:42 AM

Three things to say…I wish you could enjoy it and be successful, it can be amazing! Second, with all your troubles, I do feel your husband is being a bit heavy handed, but…and here comes my third thing that I am sure I may get blasted for…..IT IS his child and he does have a say! Would you choose a religion, a school, a way of life for your child without agreement from your spouse on how you will raise the child? Men always get the short end of things here…let me explain….you did not get into this condition alone, so why do you get all the power, this a mutual deal. While I am not saying he vetos your control over your body in any way and I am fully aware of the sacrafice we women make to carry the child, this process must be mutual. What do I mean by that? Well, if he is insists on the breast and you don’t want to because of the strain, then by all means demand that he get his a#$ up and facilitate the process so you can be successful without compromise to the other children and yourself! He does have a say, but this is a partnership! No one, not man or woman should be strutting around handing out orders to be carried out by their subjects while they do nothing!

Robin November 11, 2010, 8:43 AM

I would recommend trying breastfeeding again while in the hospital with a lot of support. I had the same trouble with my first, he lost to much weight and became jaundice. I never got the proper let down so my supply just wasn’t there. I pumped for three months to supplement his formula. When my second one came along it just worked (with some help from lactation consultants) and kept working despite clogged ducts (oww) and a breast biopsy (OMG ooww!). So it could work for you this time around. =)

CarlinsMommy November 11, 2010, 9:04 AM

I so empathize with you. I don’t have inverted nipples, but I had a horrendous time learning to breastfeed my son given how premature he was. I agree with the ladies who encouraged you to give it another shot while in the hospital and with the support of lactation consultants (I will be forever grateful for my LC). As someone else said, there are nipple shields that are supposed to draw out your nipple, and I’ve also seen the Lasinoh Latch Assist cream….perhaps one or both of those could help?

Bottom line, though, is that yes, it’s your body. You have ‘veto power’ (that’s what my husband and I call the final say in a discussion). Your husband needs to understand that the first weeks are incredibly precious—if you’re spending that time struggling with breastfeeding, as both you and I did, it can really taint your memories of those precious weeks. Give it a try—I wish you all the luck in the world. :)

CarlinsMommy November 11, 2010, 9:05 AM

I so empathize with you. I don’t have inverted nipples, but I had a horrendous time learning to breastfeed my son given how premature he was. I agree with the ladies who encouraged you to give it another shot while in the hospital and with the support of lactation consultants (I will be forever grateful for my LC). As someone else said, there are nipple shields that are supposed to draw out your nipple, and I’ve also seen the Lasinoh Latch Assist cream….perhaps one or both of those could help?

Bottom line, though, is that yes, it’s your body. You have ‘veto power’ (that’s what my husband and I call the final say in a discussion). Your husband needs to understand that the first weeks are incredibly precious—if you’re spending that time struggling with breastfeeding, as both you and I did, it can really taint your memories of those precious weeks. Give it a try—I wish you all the luck in the world. :)

ss November 11, 2010, 10:10 AM

If nursing and/or pumping is going to be such a struggle then I agree you shouldn’t do it. If you want give it a try, then give it a try, but you’re absolutely right that it’s YOUR body. You reasons for not wanting to do it are valid. I think the pressure that’s on women to nurse these days has gone way too far. Some women (like you and me) have a very hard time with it and should not be made to feel guilty when it doesn’t work out.

I’ve heard that it can be easier the second time around so it’s possible you’ll have an easier time (I’m hoping I will, I’m pregnant with my second and made so little milk last time my son would have died without formula). The thing is, if you aren’t even up for trying it that’s your decision. Best of luck to you!

Anonymous November 11, 2010, 11:06 AM

But your husband CAN do it. You pump and go back to sleep, he feeds her and changes her and puts her back to bed. He can also help you set up the pump and bring you a snack and water to drink. Since you’re diabetic, he can monitor your diabetes for you and feed you.

I think your husband is being a jerk to the point of divorce, but if he seriously thinks this is necessary for his baby, let him put his money where his mouth is. If he’ll get up every two hours during the night for half an hour and then take over with the toddler during the day when he’s home from work, try it. He should do extra housework as well, since you’ll be spending all of your time pumping, feeding the baby, giving your toddler some love, and monitoring your diabetes. Maybe he could even take a couple of months of leave from work to stay home and support you while you breastfeed.

Also, if you’re going to do this, hire someone to help you. They can watch the toddler, do some housework, or help you sleep.

Maybe you and your husband should get some counseling on how to argue, too.

I have to say, I’m not sure why in the world you’re going along with your husband on this one. Your health matters, too. You tried it before and it didn’t work. You have diabetes. You ended up in the hospital. Breastfeeding benefits babies, but you have to weigh the benefits against potential harms to you. Your baby shouldn’t even come into the equation, but since your husband is being cruel about it, your baby is more likely to have problems and get sick if mom is in the hospital or if she’s exhausted and resentful and miserable or if she’s having problems with diabetes. Your first child even lost weight when you breastfed. This situation is a no-brainer for one of the times you praise God and pass the formula.

Tiffany November 11, 2010, 11:00 PM

I’m with Anonymous. If he wants to have a say in what the baby eats, then he is feeding him/her. And because his decision also affects your balance (ie. having to take the time to pump in lieu of MANY other things) he needs to chip in to help out with the other things.

I breastfeed because I enjoy and my son is a great latcher. But I would sooner give it up than have it jeopardize my bond with my baby and frankly, my marriage. I think you need to tell him just how it stresses you and that it stresses everything else including your marriage.

Leah November 16, 2010, 12:21 PM

That is crazy. My babies were all formula fed, never sick, slept straight through the night and were delights. They are now thriving kids/toddlers. Formula now is so close to breast milk the difference is neglible. Happy, healthy mom will result in a happy, healthy baby!!

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