Yes, another bo0b-related musing. I spend a pretty reasonable chunk of each day on breastmilk-related activities so its on my mind I guess. I've mentioned before that supply has been a major issue for me since going back to work. I'm just not an effective pump-er. When I first noticed the drop, I reached out to the lactation consultant for advice, and she pointed me to a couple of websites that I found less than helpful (to put it nicely). In fact, I found some of the advice (ASSvice?) misguided and harmful.
The most egregious issue I have is with the dogma of "send only what you pump" when leaving your child with a care provider. In fact, there are whole posts dedicated to the "dangers of the freezer stash", urging mothers to never break into it to make up for the demand>supply issue. I get the logic of supply and demand---if you pump 10 oz, and you send 15, your child will be satisfied and not demand the extra 5 oz later, and your breasts will never be stimulated to supply additional milk. It makes sense in theory. But lets play out the real-life scenario...
Your child wants 15 oz. You only pump 10, so you send 10 oz to daycare with him the next day. Your child is hungry. He cries & fusses. The care providers have their hands tied and do not have access to what he needs to soothe him. You hear at the end of the day "Mom, baby was hungry all day. He needs more milk. He cried all day long."
You cannot rationalize to your 3 month old infant that he needs to be patient until the evening so that you can ramp up your milk production! Hungry babies cry! And care providers that are not empowered to care for your child appropriately will be (rightfully) frustrated. You will feel (even more) terrible dropping your baby off at daycare or leaving him with a nanny when you know he's going to be hungry and miserable and the providers are giving you the stinkeye looking at those measly little inadequate bottles. It is a lose lose lose situation. Yes, it is supposed to be temporary but how long might it take? Several days potentially, to repeat anytime you experience a drop in supply or your baby undergoes a growth spurt and increased requirements. Recipe for miserable & anxious mother, stressing over every single drop of breastmilk you do or don't produce.
Then there is the other aspect of these logistics: you are at work all day. So the extra milk your baby is demanding? Will be demanded when you are home. At night. Not sleeping. This day-night reversal thing is heralded as "breastfeeding dynamics in action!" But you need to work all day, now on no sleep (which by the way, is bad for milk production).
Never fear, though, there is a post on "dealing with night feedings". The advice? Co-sleep. Yup. That is all.
Now I'm all about convenience-related co-sleeping. Any time L is going through a wake-y phase, he ends up in bed, because it simply is easier for me. But many parents I know are uncomfortable with co-sleeping for a myriad of perfectly good reasons, or they quite simply don't wanna.
I don't think "just co-sleep" is empowering or encouraging advice for a tired mother who is struggling with breastfeeding and working. It implies that if a mother wants to successfully breastfeed, she should co-sleep, which is simply not the case. I strongly believe that the association of breastfeeding as an "attachment parenting" behavior is working against the goal of increasing breastfeeding in this country. There needs to be more advice out there on successful breastfeeding for all kinds of sleeping arrangements, working situations, and parenting styles. I know it is possible, some of the women I know that breastfed for >1 year worked full-time outside the home, sleep-trained their babies at 6 months of age and NEVER co-slept. They traveled without their children. They judiciously employed the freezer stash for various reasons and used other ways to boost their supply. Or some combination thereof. I want to read about THOSE experiences, too.
I hope my breastfeeding posts don't come across as anti-breastfeeding. I think it is a wonderful experience and I am so glad I have been able to pull it off these past 6 months with L. I encourage every new mother to try to breastfeed. I just think that in the zealousness to promote "exclusive" breastfeeding, the sources we go to for help are losing sight of reality and practicality. They are giving advice that, frankly, may be discouraging women off from continuing down what is admittedly already a difficult path. Hungry, screamy baby miserable at daycare & up all night, while I pump 8 times a day and take 50 pills to boost my supply? No thanks, I'm working on emptying out my freezer stash. I need room for the processed chicken nuggets & dye-filled popsicles I'm feeding my 2 year old anyways ;)