Before Diego was born I had every intention of breast feeding him. I had pictures of sweet babies nursing peacefully at their mother’s breast. The reality is that breast feeding is hard. It’s a team effort with a team member that does not care about procedure, that does not care that your nipple is right there even as they scream bloody murder. It is many things, but simple it is not, at least at first and for some it never is at all.
In all my research I have come to learn several things about feeding babies. The first thing is that neither breast milk nor formula is an indicator of a good mother versus a bad mother. How we choose to feed our babies is deeply personal and rooted in many things. Breast feeding is a privilege. If I were a working mother I would not have done it for as long as I did. Formula feeding is also a privilege. It depends on your circumstance. Say you were in a remote area where the quality of water is poor and bottled water is out of reach then the breast is safer for a baby.
Diego was born via emergency c-section and I was so drugged up and miserable on magnesium sulfate afterwards that I was not allowed to see him again until well after twenty-four hours post surgery. He was in the NICU and I couldn’t see him much less hold him. Having had a c-section I didn’t get to have him on my chest right after he was born, I did not get to offer him my breast in the quiet hours after birth. I mourned this a little and I still wish I’d had that opportunity.
While I was in the hospital my blood pressure remained unstable and because he wasn’t rooming with me I wasn’t able to be at every feeding. For this reason he was bottle fed formula along with anything I could collect using the breast pump the hospital gave me. By the time I was able to attempt breast feeding Diego had been exclusively bottle fed for at least a week. This presented a problem because it is easier to get milk out of a bottle than a breast and in this case nipple confusion seems to be a misnomer because it’s more of nipple preference.
I was mildly successful in my attempts but for six months I mostly pumped then bottle fed. It was a difficult schedule to keep and proved to me that choosing to give him breast milk was a privilege. At six months he refused the breast altogether and a couple of weeks later I stopped producing milk. He is now exclusively formula fed and is enjoying solids as well.
Below is a picture of my mom feeding him breast milk while he was still in the NICU.