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Melanie's Story

#MyStory #Pumping #Breastfeeding #Formula #BreastReduction


I had a breast reduction at age 20 (in 1999).

The surgeon was very clear with me that going through with the reduction would greatly reduce my chances for being able to breastfeed. I wasn't breastfed and I was certainly not concerned with that at age 20. I wanted my back to feel better and to not have bra strap marks digging into my shoulders anymore. After getting 3 lbs (~1.3KG) removed, I could finally wear size Small shirts and not look like a stripper!


Fast forward to 2012 and I was expecting my first child. I still didn't care much one way or the other about breastfeeding, but the "studies" and literature geared towards our educational/ socio-economic background was shoving it down my throat. Living in the US, there are many mixed messages about being pregnant and becoming a mother. The anti-choicers preach the sanctity of life of the embryo, but once it's born (because you have no fucking choice!) you're on your own! For reasons beyond my understanding, our government has politicized putting protections in place for pregnant women and new moms and there's very little support guaranteed for mothers who work outside the home.


When my daughter was born, my boobs were at least a G (I don't know how that translates to European/ Israeli sizes, but suffice it to say they were ginormous).


My milk did not "come in" as they say and trying to maneuver a boob that weighed as much as my daughter was challenging. I needed 4 additional hands to hold her safely and get my nipple in her mouth!

The nurses in the NICU (she didn't really need to be there, it just a "Cover Your Ass" situation) kept telling me to put my areola in her mouth. They had become big and dark enough that a small plane could have landed on them. As I told the nurse, "If I would let my husband near them, even he wouldn't be able to get it all in his mouth"!


In addition to not feeling strongly about breastfeeding, I also couldn't take the overnight responsibility on my own. My husband and I had always agreed that we would give her formula so he could share the overnight burden. She was always supplemented and even when I nursed her for 20+ minutes, she always took a bottle after. I tried pumping and could never pump more than an ounce after 30 minutes. It's like having a car in your driveway, but no gas! I went back to work after 10 weeks and quite attempting to nurse or pump by week 12.


When my son was born three years later, the hospital had really upped their "promotion" of breastfeeding. Nuggets like "every drop of breast milk you can give your baby is priceless" were spouted by the lactation consultants. Meanwhile, the nurses kept offering to feed him for me which I happily accepted. I informed all the medical professions at the hospital and the pediatrician's office that I believe in "sanity over exclusivity". The second time around, I felt much more self-assured and confident in sharing that belief because I knew my daughter has thrived. I even used off brand baby formula!


The idea of nipple confusion has always made me chuckle, and with my son, I really got a kick out of the recommendation to wait to give him a bottle. My son would suck on anything that looked like it would provide him with comfort or food! And when I stopped nursing at 9 weeks, he was just fine! I stopped pumping a few days later because I knew when I went back to work at 10 weeks that I'd have to start traveling. I just couldn't justify the costs/benefits of pumping in a disgusting Amtrak or airport bathroom to get an ounce of breast milk when the baby was drinking 30 ounces of formula!


I feel nothing but relief that I'm done nursing. Literally anyone that can hold a bottle can feed him. And it definitely takes a village, so I appreciate having extra hands. Even my 3 year old can hold the bottle while I run to the bathroom!

I also think it's a disservice and bullshit to tell women that nursing helps lose the baby weight faster!

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