I had to breastfeed my son. I HAD to. My husband is a Type 1 Diabetic and has Celiac Disease and everything I had read said I had to exclusively nurse or my baby’s chances of getting those diseases were much higher. The pediatrician said it was the easiest thing in the world. The only time he had seen it not work was when the mother was “doing it wrong.”
Then my baby came and I did it wrong. Or something was wrong because he wouldn’t latch on. The nurses in the hospital all had different opinions on the best way to nurse – the way that was guaranteed to work. It didn’t work.
“You’re starving him”
After weeks of struggling, a lactation consultant came to our house. She said I needed to pump and breastfeed every other hour. So every hour, 24 hours a day, I pumped or nursed. It didn’t work. My baby was losing too much weight.
“You’re starving him,” the pediatrician said. I was failing and the most basic thing a mother can do and it was killing us. That’s how I felt, that I was killing us. I hadn’t slept, I was alone.
After four weeks, I gave in and gave my baby a little bit of formula, but I felt so bad about it I stopped. By that point the lactation consultant that came to the house had given him a cold and at 5 weeks old he ended up the in hospital with bronchiolitis. For days, he lay in a tiny hospital crib with breathing tubes in his nose. For some reason, being in the hospital with him helped us and the nursing finally started to work and I could breast feed exclusively.
Is Formula So Bad?
Looking back, I have to wonder if all of that was worth it. There was so much pressure to nurse him. The message I got from books, the doctor, and the nurses was that I had to nurse or I was failing my son. I felt so alone but after talking to other moms I know I wasn’t. I’ve heard story after story of women who don’t produce enough milk and have to switch to formula.
Would it have been so bad to give him formula so I could get some sleep? Would my son have Type 1 Diabetes if I had given him a bottle? I don’t think so. My son is a wonderful, smart, and funny boy and I think he would have turned out that way even if I had given him formula.
Sign-up for DrGreene's Newsletter
About once a month we send updates with most popular content, childrens' health alerts and other information about raising healthy children. We will not share your email address and never spam.