Nearly 12 years ago I had my healthy, full term son with every intention to breastfeed exclusively. I was ready. When he was just a few hours old he had a low blood sugar, over the next 12 hours I would nurse, then the wonderful on nurses would cup feed, and on and on. No matter what we did he couldn't keep his blood sugar or temperature up and off to the nice he went. He spent 5 days, in that time I never had any engorgement etc. I kept nursing on demand, and topping off with a bottle. For the next 2 months at home I was a wreck. We made several visits to an LC. I took reglan, I would nurse for 15-20 minutes each side, top him off with formula in an SMS system then pump for 20 minutes each side. By the time I was done the process it would be time to start again. I was a mess, and finally decided in hysterical tears that I couldn't do it anymore and switched to bottles exclusively.
8 years ago baby number 2 was coming. I convinced myself that my problems with baby number one were due to the stress of his nicu stay, this time I was going to exclusively breastfeed. I spent hours researching breastfeeding, bought herbs, supplements and teas, I was ready. She came along, healthy, latched beautifully, we were home 24 hours after she was born. All seemed ok, except she nursed constantly, and fussed whenever she wasn't. I reached out to LC''s and support groups they all strongly encouraged breastfeeding, formula is evil, don't cave just persist! Finally my husband gave her some formula one night since she just never seemed ok, she sucked it down and I was worried. I made an appointment with an LC the next day, she wanted to do weighted feeding. At nearly 2 weeks old my girl was still under her birth weight. Weighted feeds showed she was getting about an ounce total from me. The LC was so concerned she handed me a bottle and didn't let us leave until my girl had eaten, and strongly suggested supplementing. Her evaluation of all factors was no matter what I did my breasts were not going to produce enough milk to feed a baby, ever. I cried, a lot. I had been starving my baby, and for what? Because I had let other people convince me that to be a good mom I must never give my child formula?
So with my second child I continued to breastfeed and formula feed until she was 7 months (I had some medical issues and the medication I was taking wasn't compatable). She nursed for comfort a lot, she was a clingy needy baby and what she needed was me. I stopped feeing guilty that she always needed a bottle to top off. She was healthy, happy, and growing.
So, I almost starved my baby. I spent months with my first baby stressed and crying. I was the recipient of dirty looks and snide comments when I gave my babies a bottle out in public. I was a failure to many. And for what? Having a body that didn't do what it was supposed to? I think breastfeeding is great, but the aggressive push at all costs has got to stop. Formula is a safe and healthy alternative for parents who can't or don't want to breastfeed. I am an intelligent woman, a nurse for goodness sake and the preassure to breastfeed led me to starve my second child and miss out on so much with my first. It's out of control!