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A Dad Weighs In on Breastfeeding

Yes, I’m a dad… and yes, I’m about to talk about breastfeeding. I realize I’m treading into dangerous territory. For a variety of reasons many of you reading this did not or could not feed your babies breast milk. The last thing in the world I want to do is make someone feel bad over choices they made in the past, or a situation in which perhaps they had no choice. That would be pointless.

That said, if it’s possible for a mother to breastfeed, I am a very strong advocate of that choice, versus giving formula to ones children. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but the evidence concerning the health benefits to a child at this point are overwhelming. Simply do a bit of research on breastfeeding online or read the many studies if you need more evidence.

young brunette mother breastfeeding her babyThe thing is, you probably either agree with me already… or are in the process of dropping me as a friend for having the nerve to write this. So why am I even posting this blog? I’m writing it because at least for those of you who agree breastfeeding is preferable to feeding a baby formula (if it’s an option), there is a conversation I’d like to have; and something I’d like you to do.

Here goes any lucrative sponsorships I might have been offered by infant formula companies… breastfeeding doesn’t have much of an advertising budget. What really bugs me is that hospitals are at least partly culpable in the adoption of unhealthy practices by new parents. When my little girl was born the nurses immediately started pushing  the use of formula to feed our baby.

Nestlé's Food for Infants Alphonse Maria Mucha PosterLooking back it makes me sick at heart I was too uneducated, too tired and too selfish to push back when the nurses sold me on feeding my baby the free formula they provided. The nurses and I are the ones who gave it to my girl, not my wife. She breastfed at the hospital, and when we got home we fed our girl breast milk, including pumped milk so I could help with feedings.

“Hospitals need to greatly improve practices to support mothers who want to breast-feed,” Dr. Thomas Frieden said last month in releasing a CDC report card on breast-feeding. It showed that less than 5 percent of U.S. infants are born in “baby-friendly” hospitals that fully support breast-feeding, and that 1 in 4 infants receive formula within hours of birth. I’m sad to say ours did.

shelves and shelves of baby formula at grocery storeA nationwide study of more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals and maternity centers published last year in the Journal of Human Lactation found that 91 percent sent new moms home with free formula in 2006-07. A smaller 2010 study of 1,239 hospitals suggests that the practice has decreased, although most — 72 percent — still offered formula. That study is being released Monday in October’s Pediatrics.

Up above, I said I wanted to start a conversation, and wanted to ask you to do something. Here’s the deal (very much like my blog about the conspiracy of silence surrounding miscarriages) I’d like you to be more open (yes, you guys, too!) to talking about breastfeeding. Get over your embarrassment and talk with your new parent friends. Help counter all those parenting magazine ads touting the health benefits of their latest DHA enhanced baby formula.

talking to new parents about breastfeedingAnd tell your hospitals who are taking in big “donations” from those formula companies that they need to start putting their patients’ (in this case the most innocent and helpless patients possible) needs ahead of corporate greed. You can probably tell I feel strongly about this. Let’s also continue this conversation in the comments. I know not everyone agrees, so let’s talk about it (respectfully).

Do you recommend breastfeeding to those who have that option? What is/was your personal experience with breastfeeding?

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  1. Bobbi Janay

    I completely agree, that hospitals decrease ones chances.

    1. Michael Schmid

      That was certainly the case with us. We had an “old school” nurse who convinced me my baby wasn’t getting enough food via breast feeding those first days, which I know now to be untrue. Plus, they’d been given “free” diaper bags and tons of samples to hand out to us.

  2. helen W

    Great post, I whole heartedly agree. I intended on breast feeding but was well aware of the horror stories about bad latch and painful nipples so I wasn’t going to put myself under pressure. Anyway thanks to an amazing midwife 5 mintes after little on was born he was latched on and 8 months later we are both still loving it!

    It’s free and it’s good for you both, what’s not to like!

    I will always be a strong supporter and encourage anyone who will listen to my ramblings!

    1. Michael Schmid

      It really must be frustrating and scary (and painful) for new moms who have trouble at first with the baby latching on. Almost every hospital has Lactation Consultants on staff these days. If you don’t have someone else to help you learn the technique ask for one right away, and as often as you need to. Thanks so much for your comment, Helen.

  3. Mumsy

    Excellent information as well as advice! Both about promoting and encouraging others to discuss the topic. As you know, my babies are grown. Both were born in Germany at a Military Hospital and as far as my feeble mind can remember, they did not force the issue of formula over breast milk. I definitely attempted to breast feed my oldest…however, after a month, she simply didn’t want it. In fact, she never drank more than 4 oz of milk and to this day, she is not a milk drinker. My son however was the opposite side of the coin. I highly commend you for broaching this “sensitive” topic and getting others involved. On a side note, you failed to mention the money that can be saved in the process. Formula is expensive! ~ Hugs to you & yours…M

    1. Michael Schmid

      Interesting and really good point about the money to be saved by breastfeeding over buying formula, M. Not everyone has the choice to breastfeed for various reason, but for those that can, it is not only the healthiest choice for ones baby, but it’s by far cheapest! The point of this post isn’t to make anyone feel bad if they didn’t or couldn’t breastfeed… I just want people to be informed better than I was…. and not to succumb to bad advice and “free” products from the hospital.

  4. YUMMommy

    Wow, my hospital experience with breastfeeding was completely different. Here breastfeeding was actually encouraged from my OB office to after my delivery. When I went into labor all of my nurses kept asking if I was going to breastfeed and were delighted when I said that I was. A few were even breastfeeding moms themselves and shared their stories with me.

    My hospital also provided free lactation assistance even after I left the hospital. I’m really glad that I didn’t have bad experiences or nurses pushing formula on me. It’s my personal belief that breastfeeding is the natural way God intended for us to feed our children. However, I don’t knock moms who choose formula.

    Breastfeeding can be time consuming and even down right stressful. But for me it has been worth it. I’m currently breastfeeding my second baby and I love every minute of it. The bond breastfeeding has created for us is amazing. And the bond I have with my first born is unbreakable. I know that breastfeeding helped with that.

    I would greatly recommend more moms and dads educate themselves on this topic and the options that are out there. You don’t just have to let the baby latch on. There’s pumping or even purchasing milk from a wet nurses and other companies approved by the FDA.

    Kudos to you for writing this post and bringing more awareness to a topic that is treated too much like a taboo in our society.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you, Kerry. That is exactly the kind of experience all moms should have. A supportive, no guilt, helpful experience from the OB to the Hospital to afterwards. In fairness, our hospital did provide a lactation consultant when I asked for one. And even the “old school” nurses I know were well meaning and meant to be helpful, but what they “knew” was outdated and not the best choice for our child. Hopefully most nurses would have given different advice, though the hospital sure pushed the “free” formula.

  5. Bill

    It’s interesting reading all these posts written lately about breast feeding and the formula industry as our experiences have been quite different.

    Both of my older kids were born in Australia. There the “Breast is Best” campaigns in the hospital are overwhelming. Because of health concerns and issues with my wife we choose to formula feed our oldest two, the oldest after 6-weeks and the next after 2-weeks of attempted breast feeding. We made that choice after weighing up the health of the entire family, not just the babies.

    Our third child was born in Canada and is now 5-months old and exclusively breast fed. We had the privilege of going with mid-wives, who have recently become publicly funded in Alberta, and we encouraged with breast feeding again. This time it worked…

    I think that it has to be a very private decision. The health of not just the baby, but also the health of the mother and overall family should be taken into account. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to say that you are wrong to do it one way or the other.

    Would I encourage friends to breast feed, yes. Would I think any less of them if they chose to formula feed though, no…

    1. Bill

      Sorry, I meant to say “health issues with my wife”, it didn’t really sound right as “issues with my wife”…

    2. Michael Schmid

      I think that it has to be a very private decision. The health of not just the baby, but also the health of the mother and overall family should be taken into account. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to say that you are wrong to do it one way or the other.

      Hey, Bill. Thanks so much for weighing in. I certainly hoped I didn’t come across as saying someone was wrong to do it one way or the other. Your points are well taken. Breastfeeding is not possible for everyone for a variety of reasons, and NO ONE should make them feel bad or guilty about it.

      My point was that in the US (though it’s improving) the support provided by hospitals has been sorely inadequate… and they really do push formula on parents who would make a different choice if they new all the facts (and as you point out have the option to breastfeed). Thanks again for your thoughts. I’m happy you shared and hope you drop by again.

      1. Bill

        Hi Michael. You in no way came across as saying that someone was wrong doing it one way or the other. I thought your article hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately though there are some out there who are ready to accuse people of borderline child abuse if they choose formula over the breast. But like I said, I certainly did not feel that with your post.

        (Have you thought of adding a Subscribe To Comments plugin so that people are notified of follow up comments? I found it helps keep the conversations going.)

        1. Michael Schmid

          Thanks, Bill. Oh, and also per your suggestion, I added a “Notify me of followup comments ” option. Great idea! I love the conversations we all have in the comments. It’s one of the best parts of blogging.

  6. Vertigo B

    Amen, amen, amen.

    My son was jaundiced and I got static like you wouldn’t believe from a few of the nurses for keeping him out of the bili lights for too long because I insisted on breastfeeding. As if I was trying to make him ill by breastfeeding. It was difficult because of course I wanted to breastfeed, but I also wanted him to get better so we could get the hell out of there!

    Unfortunately, nurses can be a bit heavy-handed when dealing with new, tentative mothers. They can be pushy and make you feel like they know better, when in reality, it is your child and ultimately your choice.

    Anyway, I have NO problem with you writing about breastfeeding! You are completely entitled to your opinion!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you. Our little girl was mildly jaundiced as well. It is possible that inadequate feeding can increase this. The best way to decrease bilirubin levels (that cause jaundice) is increased feedings (8 – 12 a day) which will increase bowel movements, which will excrete the bilirubin. Work with a lactation professional to make sure that the baby is latched on the breast well, so that he/she can take in as much milk as needed. I’m NOT a medical professional, so seek help if you need it from someone who is.

  7. JDaniel4's Mom

    JDaniel was born with a tight tongue. I had to do tongue stretching exercises to get him ready to nurse for the first few weeks. It was so worth it.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I hadn’t heard of being born with “tight tongue”. It sounds like you did a great job getting him ready to nurse, and I’m so happy to hear he was able to. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing, D!

  8. LDRN

    I’m an L&D nurse. People today want instant results–milk flowing from breasts immediately after birth, a baby who latches beautifully, and a nurse who can be at the bedside constantly. Not realistic. I can believe the amount of new moms who haven’t even read one article about breastfeeding, and expect things to happen without practice and time…

    1. Michael Schmid

      Really good points. Any tips on resources moms (and dads) to be can use to help prepare? We went to several classes before the baby came, and they included breastfeeding, so we knew a lot… but as you say it takes time and practice. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Alex | Perfecting Dad

    We just had a child a little over a week ago and it was al breastfeeding all the time. Posters everywhere talking about how it was best for the baby. Since I’ve had 3 other children I can tell you it’s way more convenient. A lot less to carry and worry about. Baby’s hunger? Just latch.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hey, Alex. I’m glad to hear you were fortunate to have your baby at a breastfeeding friendly hospital. It also must be easier for parents who have been through it before. For me, the first time was a bit scary and when the nurse said I should give the baby formula to be sure she wasn’t hungry… well, put like that, what parent wants their brand new baby to be hungry. Of course now I know better. (See Shanna’s comment immediately below this for more great input on this). Thanks so much for dropping by and weighing in. Yes, it’s def more convenient if the mom has the baby with her, though pumping can be a pain in more than one way. Still we did it and I’m glad.

  10. Crazytwinmomma

    Thank you for this post! You hit the nail on the head with the hospitals pushing formula. The other thing that is a problem even in “baby friendly” hospitals is the medical establishment’s obsession with weight loss and amount of feeds. This leads to supplementing, pumping when mom should be resting and regaining her strength, and an assumption that supply is low because people don’t understand the process of lactogenesis. I have so many mom friends who say that their supply is poor bc they ONLY pump an ounce when baby only has a stomach capacity of a few teaspoons. They also assume that babies need to be supplemented “until their milk is in” which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    Part of the problem will not be fixed until more pediatricians are educated about breastfeeding. I speak from experience. I went through 4 yrs of medical school, 3 years pediatric residency, and 2 years of private practice knowing nothing more than “breast is best”. Then I had my twins and realized how much i did not know. Thank goodness I had to struggle with a small baby, latch issues, etc, because it made me realize how easy it is to quit. I believe that the most concerning statistic is not the number of moms who choose to formula feed. Most concerning is that out of women who WANT to breastfeed, only 43% last 6 months and only 22% make it to a year! There is a severe lack of support and education causing most of these moms to quit early.

    1. Michael Schmid

      There’s nothing I can add to what you said. THANK YOU for adding your expertise both professional and personal to this discussion. As a dad, I clearly am in no position to comment on how hard it can be, but from observation I’ve seen it can be quite rough. My wife continued to seek help when needed and stuck it out for well over 1.5 year. Anyone who’s reading this, please stop, and read Shana’s comment immediately above.

  11. Amanda

    I talk about breastfeeding at every chance I get! I will talk to the mailman about it, if he’ll listen.

    The hospital Lilah was born in is very pro-breastfeeding, so much so that people who decide to formula feed sometimes feel a bit judged and sometimes even put down. I don’t think it should be that way, but sometimes the pendulum has to swing too far in one direction to get it back to midline, you know what I mean?

    The biggest piece that is missing is public education. And support for nursing mothers – it’s extremely difficult for most mothers at first, and if you don’t have the right supports in place, it can be easy to turn to formula. Your baby appears to be starving and you just want her to get the nourishment she needs.

    I always tell friends who are pregnant with their first child that if they need help with breastfeeding, I want them to feel comfortable calling me at any time of day for support. I’d like to be there for them in the same way my sister was there for me in the early days, even though she lives on the other side of the continent.

    (Why do I always write novels when I comment on your blog???) 🙂

    1. Michael Schmid

      That’s super, Amanda. I suspect you help more people than you know. I agree that public education is much lacking. As for you writing novels when you comment on my blog, I love it. Thanks for your excellent input!

  12. Ryan

    Michael,

    We strongly believe in breastfeeding as well. We had to make sacrifices…especially my wife while breastfeeding our son. It’s my wife’s opinion that many mothers today are simply too selfish to inconvenience themselves to do what is best for their child. When it comes to making decisions like this, we need to think about 15 or 20 or 25 years down the road…will we feel like we did the VERY best that we could for our child? I personally don’t want to have a guilty conscience looking back and saying I didn’t do what was best for my child because I was (selfish, lazy, didn’t educate myself) ____________.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks for your thoughts, Ryan. I agree breastfeeding is best, but I also recognize for reasons other than ignorance or laziness some mothers cannot make this choice.

  13. Carri

    I had the complete opposite experience. My doctor, nurses and the hospital pushed breast feeding from the second I went to my first appointment. When I struggled with it, they made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough. I started to pump. I finally went to a psychiatrist to treat my PPD and was put on medication. I couldn’t pump anymore. At my son’s 6 week appointment, his doctor jumped all over me for not breast feeding.
    Trust me, I would have continued if I could, but that medication was the difference between my son having a mom and not.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Carri. You provide one of the many valid reasons someone might not be able to breastfeed. It was much better for you and the health of your child that you had your PPD treated. There are tradeoffs in every decision, and they are very personal to each family. I am arguing for getting more information out there, for more conversations, and where possible for more women making the choice (when they can) to breastfeed. Thanks so much for sharing, Carri.

  14. Amanda Austin

    I totally agree with this. It’s not that I want hospitals to force mothers into something they dont’ want to do or make them feel bad if they won’t/can’t, but to at least encourage them if they are interested and help them if they are having trouble. And for crying out loud, for them to NOT send Moms home with formula! There were times in the first three weeks when I was pumping and feeding my son because he wasn’t latching properly, and I thought to myself, I just want to give him formula and be done with it. If I would have had free formula in my pantry? I would have done it in a heartbeat. Luckily I didn’t get any at the hospital. They were really supportive, although they weren’t able to help me with my latch problem. I did, however, get several cans of free formula from getting on a mailing list somehow.

    The other day I saw pics of a friend who had just had her baby, she was in the hospital and feeding her a bottle of formula. The day before she had posted a status that said “formula and bottles are stocked!” I’m not judging her, just wondering what made her make that choice. Unfortunately I’m too chicken shit to ask.

    1. Michael Schmid

      It’s not that I want hospitals to force mothers into something they don’t’ want to do or make them feel bad if they won’t/can’t, but to at least encourage them if they are interested and help them if they are having trouble. And for crying out loud, for them to NOT send Moms home with formula!

      I couldn’t have said it better, Amanda. It’s a very personal choice, but it’s also one where there is overwhelming evidence in favor of one choice. If someone can, they should try. And as you say hospitals should not only help, but also not make it worse by handing out formula.

  15. Crazytwinmomma

    I think there is a big difference between “pushing” breastfeeding and supporting the moms. I am sorry you had that experience! Had they really been BFing friendly, they would have sat down with you, made a plan that worked for you and baby, and helped you understand the whole process in a way that didn’t make you feel like a failure. Had your doctor been supportive, they could have prescribed something for you to take for ppd that was safe to BF with. Had your pediatrician been supportive, they would have identified a problem before you quit and referred you to a LC or a LLL meeting. Then, if you still decided it wasn’t for you they should have respected your decision. As a ped myself, I will always encourage moms not to quit, but would never dream of attacking them for their choices after the fact!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Sounds like, as a Pediatrician, you handle it really well. Your patients are lucky to have a Dr who puts their needs first (it must sometimes be a challenging conversation sometimes) and it’s great you are so understanding and supportive, regardless. We are lucky to have a great Ped like you for our little girl. Thanks for your input. It means a lot. Have a super weekend.

      1. Crazytwinmomma

        Thanks Michael! I don’t think I used to be so supportive. After I nursed my twins I had a much better understanding of what moms go through and I think that really changed the way I practice. I am always a mom first and a doctor second, so I think I approach things a little different than some.

        1. Michael Schmid

          Be that as it may. Thanks! 🙂

  16. Lyndsay Jenkinson

    Wow! I was stunned when I read this. In Ontario Canada the medical community is so pro- breastfeeding that it is frowned upon if you don’t try to breastfeed. There is a tone of pressure to choose breastfeeding here. While I did choose to breastfeed my child, I do think that it is a personal choice. Good for you for not being afraid to tackle thus subject.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I love Ontario for so many reasons (it was my family’s vacation destination for many years when I lived in NY) and now I can add one more reason. I’m so happy to hear your medical community is pro-breastfeeding. Sure it’s a personal choice, but at least we need to arm parents with the information they need to make the choice that’s right for them and their baby. Thanks so much for your comment, Lyndsay.

  17. Jenna

    Bravo to the dads and men for joining this conversation! Fathers and boyfriends can play a huge role in advocating for the new mama about breastfeeding while she still has labor brain. Yes, hospitals and the US healthcare system need to step up their game in terms of breastfeeding and infant and family health, but the first step to change is making sure all families to be and new families are armed with as many resources in order to make the most educated decisions about their new baby’s health.

    1. Michael Schmid

      You’re absolutely right. My wife and I took classes at the hospital before hand, so I knew how to help with breastfeeding (and of course bathing, diaper changing, etc.). I’d certainly encourage new parents to do that. And WE, those of us that have been through it need to talk to our friends who are about to have their first child. To be clear, we GUYS need to talk to our guy friends about how to be more supportive in all areas, including breastfeeding. I’m seeing a very positive shift with guys, but it may be partly based upon those that are my friends tending to be more like that anyway. I hope it’s broader than that and increasing.

  18. 'Becca

    Bravo! It’s so important for fathers to support breastfeeding. I am lucky to have fallen in love with a man who had been breastfed and had always seen it as the practical choice. Our hospital was pretty good, but when our son was being treated for jaundice they did pressure me to let him have some formula so I could sleep through a feeding time. Daniel backed me up on staying with baby until I was truly exhausted; then he said, “Let’s do the formula ONCE. I’ll give him the bottle while you sleep, and then I’ll sleep through his next feeding.” We did that, and when baby wanted only half the formula (he was making yucky faces, Daniel said!) he let him stop there. That was the ONLY ounce of formula our baby ever had…and those 5 hours of sleep let my milk come in early!

    We were given a quart of liquid Similac by the hospital. The first time we went to church after the birth, I put it in the food-bank donation basket and said a prayer for the baby who would NEED it. Mothers who aren’t able to breastfeed, and babies who aren’t able to be with their mothers, need support too.

    1. Michael Schmid

      We were given a quart of liquid Similac by the hospital. The first time we went to church after the birth, I put it in the food-bank donation basket and said a prayer for the baby who would NEED it. Mothers who aren’t able to breastfeed, and babies who aren’t able to be with their mothers, need support too.

      That’s great. As you say not everyone can breastfeed for many valid reasons. What I and most people are promoting is for those women who can, please try to do so for the sake of your children. I’m happy your hubby was so supportive. It wasn’t easy for my wife, but she pumped in addition to breastfeeding so I could take frozen milk (they have great ziplock type bags that work great for this), warm it in a pot of water and feed my baby, too. Great for daddy-baby bonding, and for mommy getting some rest. Thanks so much for your input, ‘Becca!

  19. Health Tips

    Breastfeeding is best recommended for babies than formula one. Breast milk contains complete nutrients as well as antibodies to fight against infection.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Absolutely. So many benefits if one is able.

  20. Moncler Kids

    Hi there! Wonderful stuff, do tell me when you post again something like this!

    1. Michael Schmid

      It may be a while before I write about breastfeeding again, but will do. LOL.

  21. Christina Drane

    I am a new mom, and last Nov when I had my baby I was dead-set on breastfeeding her. Unfortunately, I had a c-section at the last minute, and if others know about the recuperating time of the c-section, the nurses were foaming at the mouth to give my baby some formula. These nurses “knew” that I wouldn’t be up to breastfeeding her right away, so they tried to badger my husband into allowing my daughter to have formula. I adamantly refused the formula. The nurses fought me tooth and nail. I had to get a lactation consult to report them for harassing me about the use of formula. I point blank refused, complained, and fought them on giving my baby formula. I was able to get up, walking on my own within 3 hours of having a c-section, and I was able to go to the NICU to see her and feed her whenever I needed to.

    My advice to other mothers is that YOU have the right to say no to formula in the hospital. Don’t believe them when they say that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat because they are. Don’t believe them when they say your baby hasn’t wet enough diapers, your milk hasn’t come in yet, or whatever other excuse they use to guilt you into giving formula. Colostrum is the most vital milk your baby can get! Don’t get sucked into these nurses thinking they know more about your baby than you do. Find out from the doctor how your baby is doing. If the doctor is saying something you don’t understand, make sure you have them explain to you in great detail. Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions… this is your baby, and you can only do it right the first time. So make sure you get all answers you need before you leave the hospital, and stay in touch with lactation consultants.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you! You are absolutely 100% correct:

      My advice to other mothers is that YOU have the right to say no to formula in the hospital. Don’t believe them when they say that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat because they are. Don’t believe them when they say your baby hasn’t wet enough diapers, your milk hasn’t come in yet, or whatever other excuse they use to guilt you into giving formula. Colostrum is the most vital milk your baby can get! Don’t get sucked into these nurses thinking they know more about your baby than you do. Find out from the doctor how your baby is doing. If the doctor is saying something you don’t understand, make sure you have them explain to you in great detail. Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions… this is your baby, and you can only do it right the first time. So make sure you get all answers you need before you leave the hospital, and stay in touch with lactation consultants.

  22. Crazytwinmomma

    Christina, good for you for advocating for your baby! It is so hard to break ingrained habits! I was lucky enough to have my last C/S at a Baby Friendly hospital and what a difference! They had my husband do skin-to-skin with her in the OR as soon as she was dried off (they call it Kangaroo Care) and he held her that way until I was in recovery. Then I was able to do skin-to-skin and nurse right away. She only left my room for initial assessment/bath, her PKU/hep B and the daily weights. I nursed on demand and my milk was in by day 3! I wish more hospitals would get on board because it was so much better than my first delivery experience.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m so happy your experience so much better than many of ours. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. Christina Drane

    This was my first baby, and had I been more naive about this experience I would have believed some of these NICU nurses over my own gut feelings. However, I thank you Crazytwinmomma. I went to a breastfeeding class a week before I delivered, and it really educated me on how this process works. Had it not been for that class, I would have succumbed to the guilt they were putting me through. I stuck to my guns though. I have been breastfeeding since day 1, and my daughter is 11 months old now. Not once has she had to have formula. Not knocking those who have to use formula, but I had nurses that were on my side to help me get breastfeeding down, and I was able to get my milk in by 48-72 hours of delivery. I was pumping before and after feeding my baby for 2 days after having her, and I was lucky to get such great help!

    If you don’t like the nurses, ask for someone else. If you aren’t getting enough support, ask for more. It’s up to you to get what you need and want. Don’t wait for someone else to help you because sometimes these hospitals are just trying to get you in and out. The easier they can empty the bed the better for them. Even if it means they are giving your baby formula.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks again, Christina! So many of us went into this (even though we tried to educate ourselves) not sufficiently armed with the knowledge and more importantly the support of others.

  24. Courtney M

    I am actually breastfeeding as I type, so obviously I am for it! I always planned on breastfeeding and when I delivered my little guy in the hospital 4 1/2 months ago I don’t remember being asked my plans. A few minutes after he was born the nurses were having me give it a try. Nobody ever even mentioned the F word during my stay. I was given a small bag with various things upon discharge, this included a little formula (only about 4 or 8 ounces). I did like having a little on hand just in case I had any issues. I also enjoy breastfeeding because it is so cheap and convenient. I don’t need to wash and sterilize bottles, no listening to my baby scream while making a bottle, no need to remember to pack bottles and formula in the diaper bag (which I imagine take up a lot of space). I could go on and on. It was painful for the first two weeks or so, then it was fine. I do pump to have a supply in case I get sick or if I leave the baby home with my hubby while I go to the store. I figure I can also use the pumped milk to mix with rice and other foods when we introduce solids rather than mixing with formula as others do. I would not feed my baby any other way if able. I have been BFing fir 4 1/2 months and plan to continue as long as I can (probably til my boy is between 1-2 years, I don’t plan on being one of those women that BF a grade schooler!). Good luck to any women out there just starting out. It gets better and is so worth it! Sorry for any typos, I’m using my phone.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Courtney, thank you for sharing your experience and for providing encouragement to women. I hope anyone reading this will read through all of the thoughtful comments, as between you all there is so much collective wisdom here. Thank you, again!

  25. Courtney M

    Also wanted to say good job to the supportive dads out there. It is definitely a help to have a supportive partner when times get tough.

    I just finished reading all the posts. An excellent resource for breastfeeding is KellyMom.com. It has answered many questions for me and was recommended by a lactation consultant for times when they are not available.

    1. Michael Schmid

      While I personally feel it’s a dads responsibility to be informed and advocate for his wife and child, and as such my first instinct isn’t really to pat them on the back for doing what is basically a dad’s job (protecting his family). I do recognize many dads don’t do this; and you’re right, the one’s who do should get some kudos. Thanks. Also, I’ve added a hyperlink to your recommended resource in your comment (above this one) so people can just click to go straight there. Thanks so much!

      1. shannon

        Hey Michael,

        Breastfeeding is a great option, I agree. You’ll never find me weighing in with friends unless asked, though. There are too many built-in guilts that come with parenting; I won’t be found adding more. In general, people are doing their very best.

        I love that you said we shouldn’t be patting dads on the back for doing what they SHOULD be doing. I wonder if you’ve given any thought to how it makes women feel when men puff out their chests and say, “It’s my job to protect the family.”

        We’re not helpless or incapable. It’s our job, too. I’m guessing you know and believe that. Let your words reflect it.

        Way to be brave and talk about the hard stuff. Tip of my hat to you.

        1. Michael Schmid

          I wonder if you’ve given any thought to how it makes women feel when men puff out their chests and say, “It’s my job to protect the family.”

          We’re not helpless or incapable. It’s our job, too. I’m guessing you know and believe that. Let your words reflect it.

          That’s a really good point, and while I like to think of myself as at least somewhat evolved, I’m sure that’s come out of my mouth. Not as a means to get out of diaper changes, etc, of course.

          Thanks so much for the kind words, and for dropping by, Shannon.

  26. Scott aka This Daddys Blog

    Awesome. I love that other dads get involved in this. I sometimes get too involved in this and I think I dont handle it in the right way. Im a all in for breastfeeding dad. My wife is a strong advocate for this also.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Good for you, Scott! As I said in a reply to another comment, I may be old fashioned, but I believe it’s the dad’s job to protect his family… and educating himself and helping his wife and children with this is one of the important ways. Thanks for your comment!

  27. Roberto

    I love the article. I salute to Dads that participate on this things. Just for the love for his family.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Roberto. It’s part of our job description as dads. 🙂

  28. Lisa @ The Splattered Apron

    I’m so sorry for the experience you had in the hospital! We were very lucky–the hospital where we delivered our baby was very supportive of breastfeeding. We took our breastfeeding class there and lactation consultants stopped by a couple of times during our stay to make sure we were doing well with it and answer any questions and provided a free phone service after discharge that I took advantage of several times. I told my L&D nurse that I wanted to nurse the baby as soon after birth as possible. She was completely on board. I don’t think anyone even mentioned formula to us during the two days we were in the hospital! 9.5 months later, my daughter and I are still going strong with breastfeeding and plan to go to at least a year, if not a little longer. I’m a working mom which means that I have to pump more than nurse her, but to me it is completely worth it. My husband is also a big supporter of breastfeeding and without him it would have been so much harder in the beginning.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m so happy to hear of your positive experience at the hospital, and of your husband’s support. I do see changes happening, with many more breastfeeding-friendly hospitals. The last thing in the world I want is make someone feel bad over choices they made in the past, or a situation in which they had no choice… but if it’s possible for a mother to breastfeed (and pump so husbands can help), I am a very strong advocate of that choice. Thanks so much for weighing in, Lisa!

  29. Amanda

    I agree that many hospitals push formula, but some go the complete opposite and have started not providing any formula to those who want / need it. I think overall, there is a lack of educated options to the moms.

    My son received formula once when in the hospital. I was planning a natural birth and had to have an emergency c-section. Because I was not using any drugs/pain killers, I was put under general anesthesia for the procedure and was not awake when my son was born. Unfortunately, my son was born under weight and taken to the NICU and I woke up in recovery and was unable to get down to see him until about 10 hours after he was born. He was fed one 2 oz bottle of formula prior to the nurses in the NICU being made aware that I wanted to try to exclusively breast feed. I’m not mad at their decision because I know they had my son’s best interests in mind, and I had not had the chance to let the NICU nurses know my wishes. Thankfully they were very supportive of my decision and the lactation consultants showed me how to pump in my room and everything was labeled and sent to the NICU to feed my son what I pumped. Due to his stay in the NICU and my recovery, I wasn’t able to feed him every time, but at least he was getting my breast milk. Thankfully, he was released after 5 days in the NICU and he is a happy, healthy 5 month old and we are still going strong with breast feeding. My husband also had plenty of opportunities to feed our son from the pumped milk, so it’s been a good experience for all.

    1. Michael Schmid

      It sounds like your hospital made the right call, and it’s great they did what they could to support her wishes when that was possible. Bet your son is huge now. So great your husband’s helped out with the expressed milk. As tired as I was, I’d not have traded those early morning feeding with pumped milk for anything. 🙂

  30. Heather Przybyla

    Hi Michael! Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I am currently breastfeeding my youngest and breastfed my oldest until she was 14 months, and self weaned.
    When I had my oldest, both my husband and i knew that I would breastfeed our daughter. We had a heck of a time being able to breastfeed due to me having a partially detached placenta and the birth control my doctor put me on. It was extremely hard to find help, through lots of research online I was able to find help, but had it not been for the internet I don’t know what I would have done.
    Things got a lot easier when my youngest was born. I am proud to say that she was exclusively breastfed until she was 8 months old. My oldest even “breastfeeds” her baby dolls. 😉

    1. Michael Schmid

      Wow. You can certainly feel good for how hard you worked on that for the sake of your kids. Glad the last was easier. Love that your son breastfeeds your daughter’s baby dolls. 🙂

  31. Poekitten

    I breastfed my baby in the hospital. She was fed formula without my permission when she dropped to 14% of her birth weight, something I hated but had no control over at the time. She had formula a handful of times once coming home BUT I have successfully breastfed her for a year. She shows no signs of stopping wanting Mama milk anytime soon:)

    I think that we hold up breastfeeding as the best thing we can do for our babies but then we don’t support moms in this. Moms get formula pushed on them; when they as doctors for help when they are having issues we are told to use formula. When moms breastfeed in public, we are told to cover up or go nurse in the bathroom. It has to stop if we really want what is best for our kids. And moms need to be supported, no matter how long they want to breastfeed! Also, it’s so much harder to continue breastfeeding once a mom returns to work, so extended maternity leave would be helpful too! Or at least make it easier to pump at work, more than there is now.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you for your comment, Poe. I know from the comments above that some hospitals and doctors are doing better in the US, but we’ve a way to go. Apparently in at least some countries there’s more support for the mother and breastfeeding.

  32. stuckinindiana

    LOVE this post!! I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding when at all possible. I realize that some women are unable to do so… and that it’s a personal choice for each mom. In my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the costs. I live in a small mid-western town. I’m so grateful that BOTH of our hospitals are proponents of breastfeeding & have local support groups for moms & babies.
    http://stuck-in-indiana.blogspot.com/

    1. Michael Schmid

      It sounds like more and more hospitals are becoming breastfeeding friendly, if not strong advocates. Most have lactation specialists on staff, and it’s totally worth working with them if you’re having issues with the baby latching on, pain, etc. But as you say, for a variety of reasons, it’s not possible for everyone, and no one should make someone feel bad about something outside their control. Have a great afternoon!

  33. sarah

    I love that you wrote this, how you wrote this (no shaming but very pro-BF) and how you encourage others to learn and advocate. I breastfed 3 kids for longer than average, and was blessed that they have never had any formula – but I was also lucky to have the support of my DH, both our moms, and an amazing La Leche League group.
    People underestimate the importance of Dad’s support for breastfeeding – it is one of the major factors in BF success, and IMO this is one of the crucial aspects of parenting – what can be more important than feeding your baby?
    So few people realize how common formula intolerance is, and how expensive the formula can be – until it is too late to breastfeed, and you are paying $2000/mo for prescription formula for a baby who has suffered badly from not being able to digest artificial feeding, when you could’ve provided this baby with the perfect food, for free.
    Not sure if you’re aware of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, based on recommendations from Unicef and WHO – I think it is a good start on changing what happens right after birth.
    https://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/about-us/baby-friendly-hospital-initiative
    Blessings to you and your family

    1. Michael Schmid

      Not sure if you’re aware of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, based on recommendations from Unicef and WHO – I think it is a good start on changing what happens right after birth.

      https://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/about-us/baby-friendly-hospital-initiative

      Thanks, Sarah. Yes, I’m told a dad’s support can definitely help. And as you point out good support by the hospital, in my opinion, is also huge. I had not heard of this baby friendly hospital initiative, but it sounds like a good idea. I note that quite a few of our Texas Health Resource affiliated hospitals are on the list, which is encouraging. I hope your summer went great, and wish you and yours many blessings for the rest of this year and beyond.

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