Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Apparently the breastfeeding rates in Rhode Island are slightly below the national average, so there is a movement to ban the free formula given out to new moms as they are discharged from the hospital. Ban the Bags is a site devoted to a movement to ban the giving out of sample bags and formula. 

I follow a blog, babygatorsden.com, which is written by a very intelligent and down to Earth woman, named Joanna. She is a bit crunchy, but isn't annoyingly crunchy. She has a lot of insightful things to say and I found out about this hot topic issue via her blog. I love the fact that Joanna can see both sides and is more curious about the issue than anything. Love people who are able to play the devil's advocate and play it well!

Given my experience with both breastfeeding AND formula feeding, I will take my place on my soapbox for the evening. As a mom who relied on formula to provide nourishment for my child, I find "ban" absurd. I gave birth thinking that I would nurse Bella 24-7, however I quickly learned that this wasn't the case. Much to my surprise, Bella did not take well to nursing and I struggled to feed my child. I worked tirelessly with lactation consultants and relied on my mommy friends for guidance. I was in the hospital for 72-hours and every 2-3 hours, I paged a lactation consultant to help guide me in breastfeeding. Bella was such a terrible nurser that even the lactation consultants were frustrated with her. Can you imagine such a teeny, tiny little baby causing so much frustration?!? Well, she did. One night I even asked the night nurse what to do. She told me she couldn't give me medical advice as to whether or not I should give Bella formula, but as a mother she felt I should satisfy Bella's appetite any way possible. I loved her for saying that. I left the hospital with nipple shields, a supplemental nursing system and an appointment with an in-home lactation consultant. Our first night home was miserable, as Bella refused to latch or would fall asleep a few minutes into nursing. She was starving and dehydrated and I was frustrated and confused. 

At her check up with the pediatrician the next morning, we were quickly called and informed that Bella was severely dehydrated and her bilirubin levels were dangerously high. And the reason for the dehydration and elevated bilirubin levels was because I was afraid to give her formula. Bella was admitted into the NICU and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I felt like a total failure as a mother and a woman because my child was sick due to my inability to nurse her. It took a scolding from a NICU nurse for me to realize that it was okay to feed Bella formula, just as long as she was being fed! Again, I worked with lactation consultants and learned that while Bella may not nurse, I could pump to provide her with some breast milk. After a few days of sun bathing, pumping Bella's little belly full of formula and breast milk and some TLC, she was discharged and we were on our own again. I pumped for many, many weeks to provide Bella with any amount of breast milk I could. The pumping eventually got in the way of my bonding with Bella and I could not keep up with Bella's appetite, so I resorted to exclusively formula feeding. 

I was provided with samples of formula when we left the NICU and by the pediatrician. If it hadn't been for those samples, Bella would have starved. I hadn't planned on formula feeding, so I was totally unprepared. I didn't have formula at home and I didn't have bottles either. If it weren't for the samples, Bella would have continued to starve. I would have been a terrible mother for not feeding my child! Was the decision to give Bella formula a difficult decision? Heck yes. But was it necessary to give Bella formula? Heck yes. 

I'm not pro-formula or pro-breastfeeding, but what I am avid about is doing what is BEST for your child.  If moms want to formula feed, then they will go out and buy formula. Not providing them with samples isn't going to persuade them to breast feed. What this movement does do, is create a greater divide between those who nurse and those who don't. It's unfortunate and women shouldn't be made to feel inferior for not breast feeding. That is all. 

All of this being said, I hope the bags aren't banned in Florida. I plan to nurse baby #2 and will give it my all to do so, BUT having a can or two of formula around the house wouldn't be a bad thing. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

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