When is breastfeeding just not worth it? If you'd asked me that question before I gave birth to my daughter, I'd have looked at you like you had two heads. "Breastfeeding," I'd have said, "is always worth it."
But here I am seven years postpartum, and as I sat reading the dangerous side effects of the pills moms are taking to try to increase their milk production just so they can breastfeed their babies, my thoughts were quite the opposite. When breastfeeding is bad for your health, Mom, it's not worth it.
The pills the article was talking about are Reglan and Domperidone, medicines that are supposed to help boost prolactin, the hormone that helps with breast milk production. But now doctors are saying the evidence that the pills actually do that is slim, and what's worse, the pills bring with them serious risk for moms. Domperidone isn't even approved by the FDA; so moms are taking a chance by bringing in questionable drug from out of the country. Then there's Reglan which can cause depression and carries the risk of irreversible facial muscle-spasm condition.
All this for something that "might, possibly" help you breastfeed?
Ladies, I feel how desperate you are to do something wonderful for your babies. But back away, I say. Back away now!
I say that as a mom who tried to breastfeed. I tried and I tried and I tried. And then I tried again.
The reasons for my eventual failure are many: low production, no access to lactation consultants, misinformation from a poorly trained maternity ward staff ... I could go on and on. But what really made me throw in the towel was realizing just how deep I'd fallen into the rabbit hole of postpartum depression.
I was on edge because I wanted to breastfeed, and I so badly wanted to get this right. I was frustrated because everything I did turned out wrong. I was crying. Constantly.
Breastfeeding was bad for my health. It was taking from my daughter the mother she needed and leaving an empty shell in her place, a sobbing, miserable, depressed shell.
Sadly in this whole war over bottle vs. breast, the thing that's gotten lost is that what is best for baby is really what's best for baby's mom. Yes, breast milk is ultimately better than formula, but only when producing it doesn't take such a toll on mom that she ceases to function as a good mother. Babies need healthy moms who are there to take the best care of them possible.
If you're taking a pill that presents serious health risks, you're risking your child not having that healthy mom there for them. You have to ask yourself which is more important: that your child has breast milk or that your child have you. Sometimes kids can get both, but sometimes they can't.
Have you attempted something risky to up your milk production? Have you felt "desperate" to breastfeed?
Image via e-MagineArt.com/Flickr