Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Perfect Storm

Someone used the words "a perfect storm for failure" the other day, and it got me thinking.
I have, for a long time, carried around a lot of guilt over not sticking it out and trying harder to breastfeed my eldest. Coupd I have tried harder? Yes. Could I have tried longer? Yes. Would the result have been any different? No.
The more I learn, the more I realize that my failure to breastfeed was predetermined, before my daughter was even born.
There. I said it.
It wasn't just the lack of good advice and a strong support system.
Would those have helped me overcome the failure for which I'd been set up? Possibly, but more so, knowing I was being set up wol dhave helped.
So what is this setting up to which I'm referring?
Induction with pitocin and an epidural.
What? How does that pertain to breastfeeding success rates?
Pitocin can and does lead to fluid retention. Fluid retention can, in this case, mean abnormal, painful, and unnatural engorgement.
Epidurals can lead to a weak sucking or suckling instinct in newborns. If a baby isn't nursing efficiently, that leads to more time at the breast telling your body to produce more milk, without that milk being consumed which leads to, drumroll please..... engorgement.
The fact that the lactation counselor at the hospital only gave me "how to get your milk to come in" advice, without saying "this is how you increase supply," probably didn't help much either.
But regardless of shoddy advice, the fact that no one said "hey, by the way, you need to know that what we are doing is likely to lead to painful engorgement and here's what to do," shows that you have to educate yourself ahead of time as best you can, and then you have to ask questions.
If you are planning to breastfeed, ask ask ask.
If your OB wants to give you something, ask not only what the immediate side effects are, but if there is anything you should be aware of later.
Ask, because by not knowing, it's easy to fall into the perfect storm for failure, and then spend the net ten years feeling twinges of guilt every time you're reminded how you "failed."
I need to stop saying I failed.
I didn't fail.
That's like saying someone failed because they had a common reaction to a medication, because more or less, that's a lot of what happened.
I didn't fail my daughter. Prevailing medical recommendations of the time, without proper information, failed us.

8 reflections:

Anonymous said...

quite interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

Melodie said...

I don't even feel like this is an appropriate post to "comment" on but I wanted to tell you I read it. For some reason I just felt like you might want to know. I don't know. Very beautiful post.

Anonymous said...


sunnymum said...

Just read your guest post at My Silly Monkeys and came by to visit. I didn't know about the pitocin in relation to breastfeeding, but that does explain some of the frustrations I had when I bf my first. Thanks for sharing.

saskia said...

I think breastfeeding your first can always be hard. I had a rough time with my first- and I grew up with a mama who nursed 10 kids, so it's just what "we" did. I think it's sad that us mamas beat ourselves up for past choices. It took me over 3 years to forgive a doctor and myself for an emergency c-section. I think we should just respect mothers, and ourselves for how we choose to birth our babies, and raise them. Though educate, educate, educate, cant' say enough. I'm nursing number 6- I'd have to say I'm an expert now. peace

Upstatemomof3 said...

I feel so blessed to have been in a position where breastfeeding came so easy fof Big Sister and I. But with Little Sister I had no help and no idea what to do. I was so sure I would able to do it. And no one knew what to say to me except that if I refused the bottle to her she would eventually do it. I did not like the idea of starving her and so I failed at it too. Could I have seen a lactation consultant? Sure and maybe I should have. But so many people just said refuse the bottle that I was turned off and afraid to ask for help. I am sad that I failed to nurse her. Sometimes I feel I did her a disservice. Sometimes I am sure I did the right thing. But I digress. My point is yes research, research, research.

Anonymous said...
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Nifty Nappy said...

so I admire you you know? you are a neat person and you tried! that is more than some out there! You are so right about educating ourselves too!

BTW I left something on my blog for you! Look for it!