[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/g3DWRhfNm4c" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
MC sent me this link, as a follow up to my post “Breastfeeding Reduces Anxiety in Children“. Apparently, breastfeeding creates anxiety in some mothers, thus they have chosen to feed their infants exclusively pumped breastmilk. Actually, I know of two women who have done this, and I applaud their commitment to giving their infants the best possible nutrition from the start.
One such mother, that has chosen to exclusively pump for her daughter, is Carrie Mehi, a lawyer from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Carrie explains her psychological struggle with breastfeeeding:
This is a part of my body that’s always been reserved for sexual activity, and I sort of assumed my brain would make whatever necessary adjustments it had to do to make [breastfeeding] not a completely creepy experience for me. I really don’t think we tried breastfeeding after the first day we left the hospital. I was not interested in having my sweet baby crying at my breast for one more minute. I just wanted her fed. [Breastfeeding] was an unpleasant sensation to me, and I thought, you know what, if I’m flinching, I might as well flinch to a machine instead of to my girl.
Dr. Ruth Lawrence, a professor of pediatrics and expert on breastfeeding at the University of Rochester explains the psychological struggle some women face when breastfeeding:
Some women do it because they can’t envision the baby suckling at their breast. I suspect it has to do with our whole modern attitude about the breast. It’s become such a sex object.
Personally, I have more of a psychological issue with being hooked up to a breast pump than allowing my babe to suckle at the breast. When I had to pump because my son had had open-heart surgery, I felt like a milk cow.
Why are so many women choosing to pump exclusively? Dr. Lawrence thinks women are not getting the support they need when they set out to nurse. This has been the experience of my sister and step sister-in-law, both of whom were discouraged by so-called “lactation experts”. A lactation nurse asked my sister if she had a plan if her new baby didn’t latch on, when my sister was pumping due to my niece’s hospitalization for jaundice. The baby was only three days old, and the nurse was telling my sister to give up. Thankfully, she did not. My step sister-in-law was told that she could not make enough milk by a lactation consultant before she ever left the hospital. She was only making colostrum at the time, and her milk had yet to come in. Thank goodness for the support of my midwives when my heartsick son had trouble taking to the breast!
Whatever choice a woman makes for delivering breastmilk to her child, the choice to breastfeed is important! It is not for me to judge the choices women make between the breast or the bottle; however, I do believe that the breast is better for the environment. Pumping involves using electricity for the pump, as well as for breastmilk storage and reheating. A majority of plastic baby bottles contain BPA.
If feeding from the breast is important to a new mother, my advice is to find the support you need, if you feel at all discouraged. Support is out there, you may just have to seek it. A local midwife or the La Leche League can help!
also a mom says
My son was not able to nurse from my breast even after we worked with a lactation consultant. It was related to his heart problems and the extra effort that breastfeeding requires on the part of the newborn. And so I pumped for several months. Would have much preferred nursing him.
Jennifer Lance says
My son also had trouble nursing because of his heart problems. He didn’t want to nurse the first three days, and it was touch and go whether he would need an iv at the hospital. Once my milk came in, he latched on pretty well, but it was hard for him to nurse. He had to stop and rest often. After his surgery, he was a completely different nurser, and it was only then I realized how hard nursing was for him. My midwives kept saying that it was a good think I was an experienced nurser already when I had him, or I probably would have had to pump too. Bottles are so much easier on heartsick kids, and I sometimes wonder if persisting with the breast was the best choice for my son before his surgery, but his cardiologist thought it was fine.
MC Milker says
Great add-on about the impact on the environment of pumps.
also a mom says
He was my first son and the hole in his heart did not close until he was 10 months old.
Jennifer Lance says
You are lucky your son’s hole closed on its own. My son’s VSD was patched, but he also had other issues with his tricuspid valve and pulmonary arteries. I really do think that breastmilk helped him thrive in spite of his heart. His docs were always amazed at how healthy he looked. I did pump in the hospital when he had his surgery. I would try to get him back on the breast, but he was too weak and would cry. The nurses would come running, and I would say it was just the breast making him cry. The few times he would latch on were glorious, as it brought him such comfort. The nurses would say he was using me as a pacifier, which was fine by me after what he had been through. As soon as we got home, he hungrily went back to the breast full time.
I am always so happy to see articles anywhere about the benefits of breastfeeding. Excellent point about the environmental benefit of breastfeeding. I was only able to breastfeed because a wonderful lactation nurse from WIC came to my home for 10 days after the birth of my child to help us start out properly.
Kendra Holliday says
It annoys me that our society is so freaked out over the female nipple. Sure we can have our sexy fun with breasts, but hey, can’t our children borrow them for a little while for something a little more important than eye candy and bedroom playthings? Gosh I sound like a prude here – I assure you I’m not. I just think we should reprioritize our feelings on female fatty chest tissue. Moms should be able to nourish their kids without feeling creeped out.
Believe me, I’ve had loads of fun with my 34B’s, but I was so glad to be able to use my breasts for what they were intended – to breastfeed my daughter for one year. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
My son was born by C-section. I really wanted to breastfeed but because of the trama from the C-section to both myself and my son we got off to a rough start. He would play with my nipple as if it were a pacifier and that soothed him, but he wouldn’t actually suck. So he wasn’t eating.
I got lucky because there was a close friend of the family who happens to be a lactation consultant came and helped me. She provided the SNS to me for free and helped us through until my son was feeding properly and here I am at 10 monthes still breastfeeding (though he eats other foods now and breast feeds a lot less then at the begginning).
I’m not posting this to make a point or try to make anyone feel bad.
Really the point is is that, I got lucky is all. I never could have afforded the advice of a lactation consultant nor did I know who to ask for help. If our friend hadn’t come in and helped us, I never would have breastfed. I would have pumped and fed my son through a bottle and that’s just how it would have had to be.
I don’t understand the debate and why people attack each other. Some people chose to breastfeed and it works out. Some people choose not to breastfeed and use formula. Some people want to breastfeed and try and for one reason or another it doesn’t work and they either pump or use formula.
The fact is is that we all do what’s best for our own children. There are many different ways to feed a baby and somehow we’ve all survived.
Research shows breastfeeding benefits babies with heart problems.
From “Breastfeeding Special Care Babies” by Sandra Land, Second Edition 2002,pg 168 in section 6.4 Breastfeeding the baby with breathing and heart problems:
“Evidence suggests that breastfeeding is less stressful to preterm babies than bottle-feeding, and that temperature and oxygen levels also remain more stable throughout breastfeeding. This is partly because a baby who breastfeeds can pace his own feeding, in time and quantity, whereas with bottle-feeding, it is the person giving the feed who may influence the pace, in a number of direct ways (e.g. gently shaking the bottle when the baby stops sucking, or making the hole in the teat bigger). A breastfed baby is held close to his mother’s breast , with its familiar scents, taste and sounds. All of these factors are an advantage for a baby compromised by respiratory or heart problems, and who needs to conserve his energy.”
Since babies aren’t as well oxygenated with bottle-feeding, the baby with a cardiac problem won’t do as well with a bottle. Yes, the milk pours in freely, but there’s considerable stress – and oxygen desaturation – involved in trying to handle it. I’d certainly *start* at breast and see what happened. Start with normal and adjust only as needed.
One baby with a rather serious heart defect was *carried continuously and had continuous access to the breast*, where he could eat small, frequent meals to tolerance. His doctors said they’d never seen a baby with that defect do that well.
Jennifer Lance says
LactLady, thanks for your comment. My son was born with a congenital heart defect (TOF), and even though breastfeeding was hard for him at first, I really felt it was a huge benefit. I still remember the surgeon on rounds after his surgery saying he looked “outstanding”, and I really think it was because he was back on the breast only four hours after open heart surgery.
I realize this article is now almost a year old, but I just came across it and figured I’d add in a different perspective.
One scenario in which exclusive pumping may be the only option for breastfeeding is when a woman has been sexually assaulted. This is the case for me, unfortunately. My thoughts of the breast being sexual arent caused by our media’s/society’s obsession with sex, but more or less my own inability to see them otherwise. When I was pregnant I decided early on that I wanted to breastfeed my daughter, but after learning that the sensation can be uncomfortable and almost sexual for some women, I decided that I would try to exclusively pump as an alternative. This way I can cope with the psychological issues I have without worrying about resenting my child or resorting to formula-feeding.
Jennifer Lance says
Natalie, thanks for sharing your experience. That is a perspective I had not considered. I am sorry for your past experience, and I hope motherhood has blessed you.