Maternity Leave Guest Post: A Christmas Wish from a Preemie Mom

In honor of Christmas, I’m posting this great essay from FFF Lisa. I’m sure we all have our own wishes to add to this list, so feel free to share yours in the comments.  Hope you are all having a lovely holiday season!

– The FFF

I received my greatest gift in September of this year, a tiny baby girl.  She’s an impatient thing and decided to make her entrance eight weeks early.  I know I have everything I need or should want — my husband and I celebrate four years of marriage this month, my daughter is home and growing like a weed.  But, I’m greedy, so I still have a wish list.

I wish there was more research into premature birth and lactation. You can’t convince me it’s there now, when the information conflicts so much. And I wish that the research wasn’t just on a large scale, but that individual hospitals researched what they are doing. That LCs would follow up after patients go home and see how many were able to establish nursing and if they are happy with their breastfeeding situation. Maybe they need to introduce the breast earlier, use nipple shields more often, work on different holds and tips for nursing a baby that only weighs 4 lbs (much harder than it sounds!) Maybe if supply problems are common they need to do whatever they can from the very beginning to help — check flange fit, help with insurance and pump rental, maybe even starting with herbs right away.

I wish that lactivists would stop treating preemie moms like full term moms. I wish they would promote breastfeeding to new mothers and advocate for things like nursing in public and pumping at work, but they would stop vilifying formula.  I wish it was common knowledge that formula is FOOD, not a bunch of chemicals. I wish they would stop yelling how NICU doctors and nurses are sabotaging breastfeeding relationships by giving bottles and causing nipple confusion, and understand that the NICU is different. I wish they would understand that when your child is born months early, living in an incubator hooked up to machines, breastfeeding is not the ultimate end goal, LIVING is.  
I wish there was more support for exclusive pumpers.  Breastfeeding is promoted as a beautiful, natural thing, and when it’s not — when it means being hooked up to a milking machine 8-10 times a day — the support isn’t there.  Instead those mothers see reminders that pumped milk is second best.  I wish certain outspoken lactivist bloggers would stop acting like they know more than doctors and nurses. I wish they would listen when moms say they are having supply issues and understand that pump rental, herbs, and drugs can be expensive and aren’t guaranteed to work.  Sometimes choosing to spend the money on formula that will nourish the child is the best choice and I wish that were recognized, rather than women being told they didn’t try hard enough.
Wonder if Santa could make any of that happen?  I’ve been a good girl, I swear. 😉

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.

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11 thoughts on “Maternity Leave Guest Post: A Christmas Wish from a Preemie Mom

  1. Lactation consultants seem to really have a hard time when it comes to helping moms of premies and mom who pump full time. They go on and on about the importance of breastfeeding, but do very little to help make you successful. And the completely don't believe that low supply exists, which it obviously does. Not cool.

  2. Fantastic post! My son's godmother's daughter (whew!) was 5 weeks early, and tiny to boot — just under 5 lbs when she came home. She pumped for two months, but apparently the boob-to-baby ratio was too great for them to ever get a good latch.

    And this: I wish they would listen when moms say they are having supply issues and understand that pump rental, herbs, and drugs can be expensive and aren't guaranteed to work.

    Word. I fee like the entire parenting marketing/internet hivemind forgets that just because you have children doesn't mean that you can check the “financially stable” box. [/soapbox issue]

  3. Well said! I tried to Breastfeed both my children but ended up having to use formula in the end due to low supply among other issues. Lost a friend over it and still get funny looks when others see me use formula. I always felt I had to explain myself with my first child but with my second I just look back and say “is there a problem”? Hope Santa grants your wish!

  4. “breastfeeding is not the ultimate end goal, LIVING is”

    I love that line.

    Sometimes the forest gets lost for the trees. In the whole argument of breast/bottle – the end goal is a happy healthy baby. If you achieve that, regardless of the means, mission accomplished!

  5. I'm thankful that my daughter's NICU had amazing lactation consultants who were well-versed in pumping as well as the unique circumstances of nursing a preemie. Although ultimately nursing didn't work out, I was able to pump for 6 months and was very supported in that.

  6. Hear hear, I totally agree with you. Perhaps better understanding of preemie situations would lead to more compassion and get some of these people away from the “one size fits all” mindset of breastfeeding.

    Btw, glad to hear your LO is home and doing fine. My preemies didn't do NICU time, but they were small and needed to eat—-getting food into them for survival and good health was way more important than “nipple confusion” and anyone who can't see that is very blind indeed.

  7. I am so happy to find your blog. Just what I needed after weaning my 4 month old onto formula. My first son was born at 31 weeks and I encountered the issues you wrote about. It's because of formula that he is alive today. I did everything in my power to BF & pump for him and still I was made to feel guilty at every turn during our 9 week hospital stay. It took me TWO years to let go of the guilt I carried for not being able to breastfeed him. This time around is much different. My baby & I are much happier forumla feeding and I can finally ENJOY him rather than stress about all the BF issues we had. Thank you , thank you, thank you!! ~ Kim

  8. I admire the dear knowledge you offer to your articles. I can bookmark your weblog and have my youngsters take a look at up here generally. I’m reasonably positive they are going to learn quite a lot of new stuff here than anybody else!

  9. Thank you for writing this. In late October, I gave birth to my son at 31 weeks. The struggles I faced with supply were only magnified by a medical and LC staff that had NO IDEA how to promote breast feeding via the pump. While the fact may be my supply would never be enough, I have a lot of remorse, disappointment and downright anger about how they treated me … or should I say, didn't treat me, because they really had no idea what to do to promote pumping when my baby wasn't able to latch due to low birth weight, feeding tubes, needing to carefully measure how much food my baby was taking in, etc. Thank you for reminding me I was not alone in my struggles.

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