Make The Choice

Since the new year there have been tons of news stories about breast feeding vs. formula and which is the best option. New York City’s mayor has even gotten in on the debate and some hospitals rush to put a baby on formula. I know not all hospitals are like that and are very pro breast milk. People fromm both sides of the debate are stating their opinions and the whys behind them.

I knew as soon as I foundout we were pregnant I was going to do everything in my power to breast feed. Costs alone make it a smart choice while you’re still adjusting to a smaller family incame than when both ‘C’ and I were working full time. It also is supposed to have many health benefits and immunity boosters so I figured why not.

Little Miss came into this world in a blaze or drama, worry and doctor administered drugs. Due to all these factors it wasn’t until she was nearly 3 hours old that I was able to open my eyes let alone hold her. She was also nearly 4 weeks early. We had latching problems from the get go. Over the next 2 weeks we visited the breast feeding clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital 4 times after we were discharged. Things were starting to get better, we still had to pump sometimes because her jaw wasn’t strong enough but she was on the breast maybe 50% of her feeds.

Then we ended up at the Hospital for Sick Children for a week with Little Miss in an oxygen box for most of it. She couldn’t be taken out with her breathing nearly stopping and her oxygen levels becoming dangerously low. After that we were strictly bottle feeding her breast milk. I had to pump in the beginning every 4 hours for a total of 6 times a day to establish a solid milk supply. It was inconvient and sometimes very uncomfortable. Unlike breast feeding you can’t just bring a pump into bed with you like you do a baby. You have to sit up and then wash and sterilize it all as well as store the milk. It’s a process.

Since that hospital visit 6 months ago I’ve kept it up now only pumping 5 times a day and come september probably will drop another. As we slowly introduced food I don’t need to make as much. As I said early it can be very inconvient but at times was fairly handy. I always knew how much she was getting and never had to guess, which was especially important for the first few weeks post hospital but also meant I always knew when I needed to do it and could work my schedule around it in the early days since how many places do you really go with a sickly newborn, right?

My pumps have all been travel friendly and I’ve taken them with me to friends houses and all the way to Ottawa. Last week my friend ‘S’ who I mentioned lost her son at 23 weeks after 12 minutes of fighting to breathe had to go back to Sunnybrook Hospital for a Biopsy on her cervix. Little Miss and I went with her so she wasn’t alone before or after. It was a small proceedure before the actual removal next month. Since she was feeling up to it and didn’t want to go home we decided to go to the Eaton Centre and wonder around as well as do lunch and a bit of baby shower shopping. I had brought the pump in case something like that was what we decided to do.

The Eaton Centre has been undergoing massive renovations over the last few years including a new modernized food court with new washrooms. Just outside the entrance to the women’s washroom is a nursing room with an externally locked door you have to buzzed into. Now, I fully understand and appreciate this, it protects women who are feeling vulnrable from prying eyes and gives them a quiet and calm place to settle a child for feeding. I had to pump while we were there. It was time and Little Miss needed more milk. I had two choices; use a handicapped stall in a busy dirtier washroom or go into the Nursing room where there’s a cleaner environment and more privacy. I decided of course on the NUrsing room, or how else would I be able to give my daughter a fresh bottle knowing it had been pumped in a toilet stall.

I buzzed at the door and was asked where my child was. They obviously have a camera watching the door. I calmly told them she was with her aunt in the food court and I needed to pump. The man at the other end told me ‘No, you must have a child and need to breast feed.’ A fair enough reply when you think about it until I said she can’t latch and I pump to give her milk and had to do so then. I still got a ‘No.’ I don’t normally threaten people and still don’t threaten the gaurd, I just said he didn’t want the public fallout from when I called the news stations and told them he, his company and the Eaton Centre were discriminating against a mother for trying to feed her child. Mean I know, but effective. I was quickly allowed in and went into a private room within the Nursing area to pump. No one was bothered and I got to give Little Miss fresh milk.

In a world where breast feeding is constantly stated as being the best choice and if you can’t do it directly pumping is the next best choice why are people, both men and women so negative against it? People give me strange looks when they find out and ask why I haven’t just switched to formula or I get treated differently when I say I still need the same basic treatment somewhere in order to pump as a mother does to feed. Why in a time where women have the option of pumping to still provide breast milk if the baby can’t or won’t latch are we treating them liek lesser beings? Do you know how hard it is and how dedicated you have to be to do it full time for more then a few days/weeks? It’s literally blood, sweat and tears at times and I would like to think somewhere someday people will stand up and say ‘Good job for trying’. It isn’t easy and people shouldn’t be making it any harder on them for making that choice and choosing to stick with it.

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