The Rights Of New Moms

Seriously, I find myself extremely frustrated sometimes. I’m sure other new moms can relate. I frequently am bombarded with questions from strangers regarding my choice of feeding method.
Unfortunately, what they don’t understand is that it really isn’t my choice.
To some extent, sure. I pumped for over two months. When I quit, it was because I was producing 1-2 oz a DAY. That’s it. At my peak, I was getting about 15 ounces a day. At most that was half of what Ollie ate in a day. (He’s a big dude, people!)
Some have made comments that I “must not have tried very hard” to breastfeed. OMG. There were tears, tears, and more tears. There were lactation consultants all over me all the time. We tried to deal with the inverted nipples, we tried to deal with the crappy production, we tried to deal with Ollie sucking three times and then screaming. He hated the breast from day one. We left the hospital still trying to breastfeed, and syringe feeding him what I pumped, too. (Which at that point was only about 2 ounces a day.) 36 hours after leaving, we were in the ER because he wouldn’t stop screaming, was running a fever, and hadn’t peed for most of the day. The nurses whipped out a bottle, gave him 4 ounces of formula, and his temp went down and he peed. Pretty simple – like the nurse said (the nurses were fantastic!), he just “needed some meat and potatoes”.
From there we kept trying. I tried to get him to latch on for the entire two and a half months that I pumped. It never worked. He screamed every time. I would cry. I would pump and cry. I would cry because I wasn’t producing. I would cry because it is SO HARD to pump and take care of a baby. Ollie is so demanding and high maintenence that he would scream the entire 15 minutes that I wasn’t paying attention to him because I was pumping. It was horrible. (Although now that I’ve dealt with it for a while, I’ve learned that sometimes Ollie just has to cry, because otherwise I would never be able to make him a bottle, eat my own food, or get dressed.)
So no, I don’t breastfeed. I did pump, which everyone seems to think is a cop out, but let me tell you, I’d much rather cuddle up and feed my baby at night than mix formula, hold him and a bottle, feed him, get him back to sleep, and then have to pump, too! It’s so frustrating though that perfect strangers in the store see me mixing up a bottle and feel the need to comment on my apparantly shitty parenting ability. You would think that I’m the worst mother in the world.
I’ve read the statistics. They say that babies that are breastfed are generally smarter. I think that has a lot to do with the moms. Why are babies not breastfed? Let’s examine.
  • Mom has to work. Some manage to pump, some can’t or don’t. Do you think that perhaps in this situation babies that are breastfed are probably smarter because they have more one on one time with their mom? I understand as well as anyone that it’s nearly impossible for one parent to work and the other to stay home full time – I work, too. I just happen to be lucky enough to be my own boss and be able to bring Ollie with me.
  • Mom simply can’t produce. In this case, I would like to see more detailed studies done. So mom can’t make breastmilk. How does she spend time with baby? Lots of learning activities? Is baby the only child in the household? You could get really specific.
  • Mom doesn’t want to breastfeed, because it seems “too hard”. Now no offense here. But if breastfeeding is too hard or time consuming, or you don’t want your baby attached to you all the time, do you really think you are going to be spending the time to teach baby and play with baby all day long?
  • Mom doesn’t want to breastfeed because she feels uncomfortable, etc. This goes back to the can’t produce. Seriously, who has any right to say that the baby is going to not be “as smart” just because mom is not comfortable?

When I went in for my six week appointment, the midwife’s nurse asked if I was breastfeeding. I felt bad – I feel bad. I feel like a failure, and every comment is like a stab in the heart. I told her I was pumping, and I must have sounded sheepish, because she turned to me and said “Joslyn, I’m not here to judge you. I’m a nurse for midwives. I’m a NURSE. And I can honestly tell you that I’m just not comfortable with the whole breastfeeding thing. I don’t plan on breastfeeding at all. I will pump, and do the best I can. But NO ONE has the right to judge your decision, or the decision any woman makes regarding how to feed their child.”


Now I’ve heard some people say “Women used to not have a choice. I don’t believe that you can’t produce enough milk. If you try, it will happen. Would you just have let your baby die?”

First of all, boy did I try. I took Fenugreek, I did “pumping vacations” where for 48 hours I pumped EVERY HOUR. I read and read and tried and tried. Trust me, if I could produce enough milk, it would have happened.

Secondly, have you heard of a wet nurse? Women throughout all of time have had problems breastfeeding. Wet nurses were then brought in for the job. (You can still get breastmilk from other moms, you know. It’s expensive, but it’s out there!) It’s not like this is something entirely new, or something totally unheard of.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is before you make a comment about a mom’s ability, which you have judged based on the fact that there’s a can of powder in her diaper bag, think carefully. Because that mom just might be me, and you just might end up with me bawling out in my car in the parking lot as soon as you walk away.


I leave you with a very important picture for me. At the height of my production, I did 5 ounces in one sitting. I was so proud, I took a picture of it. No, really.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Nov 12, 2008 @ 13:44:00

    I had the same thing happen. Carly would not take the breast, we tried, and cried. So then i was pumping and getting alot, so i thought no worries. Then one day i hardly got anything, and that’s how it stayed. not even an oz a day. I was so frustrated and felt like i should have been able to do more. it was hard, and it still sucks, but Carly and I are so much happier now that we don’t have to deal with it.


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