Short Version: I had another appointment, doppler scan, all fine, stopping clexane. I then embarked on research into breastfeeding. Includes book review for Breastfeeding Made Simple.

So I was standing in this shop the other day after my appointment.

Wait. Let me go back a bit. I had another appointment to do the doppler thingy and decide what we're going to do about this clexane business. Upshot - all the relevant blood vessels, placental structures, and associated bits and pieces (such as the amniotic fluid, kidneys, etc) look fine, so SOB suggested it might be time to wave the injections goodriddancebye and maybe transition to low-dose aspirin only, or maybe not, considering there's no discernable medical need for it in my case but it might make me feel less freaked out about stopping meds. Anyway, after much frantic googling I decided to go hands-free. I've just had my first medication-free twenty-four hours since... mid-July 07. I am nervous enough to keep having to sit down and do a kick count for reassurance, but the fact that I can sit down any time and do a kick count for reassurance is making this a tremendous amount easier than other parts of the process have been, so all in all I'm ok. But what was I talking about? Yes - after the appointment.

To celebrate, I dropped in to buy more baby stuff on the way home, just a couple of sheets, nothing fancy, except suddenly I found myself in conversation with a sales assistant on the subject of breast pumps. I wasn't actually in the market for a breast pump, and she thought that very cavalier of me. "If you want to breast feed, you need to buy a good-quality pump before the birth," she warned, sternly.

Now, I know this isn't true, on account of the fact that the practice of breastfeeding predates the invention of the breast pump by some hundreds upon thousands of years. Which isn't to say I'm convinced I'll never need a pump, or that I think it'll all come naturally if I just shut my eyes and really believe, but starting out on the assumption that a prenatally-purchased breast pump is the only way I'll ever achieve my goal when I don't, at this time, have any reason to think I'll be worse off than the average mother seems a little... whacky? I'm looking for a more appropriate word, but I can't find it. It sounds like someone trying to earn a nice commission off a $700 breast pump, is what it sounds like*.

In response, I decided to go out to a bookshop and buy a book on breastfeeding, because as we all know, if some biological process isn't working out for you it's probably just because you're ill-informed, as any Aunt Jane will attest. In any case, I was dismayed to find that the first two books I picked up both espoused the same opinion - that a prenatally-purchased breast pump is essential for successful breastfeeding. They also went on about how different types of pumps serve different purposes, but failed to say how you'd know which to buy ahead of time when you don't even know what your supply's going to be like yet. Both turned me off further by promptly following this with dire warnings about using a fail-safe method of contraception whilst breastfeeding, although, to be fair, we were planning to use the failsafe contraceptive method of not doing IVF, so perhaps I'm on their side with that one after all. Anyway, I ended up shelving both of these and instead buying Breastfeeding Made Simple, which I wish to review even though I haven't finished it yet.

First I'll say this: be careful with this book if you're going to beat yourself up in the event that, through no fault of your own, things don't work out. The authors do acknowledge that special situations can stuff things up - they even have a whole chapter on physical or health issues - but first you'll have to read about how much stupider and less healthy formula-fed babies become not to mention the importance of the breastfeeding act, as distinct from the milk itself, and to be honest I think they cross the line at some points and enter into the realms of breast-feeding hysteria**. And they needn't think I'm impressed by their constant quoting of studies, because I happen to know that you can find a study saying almost anything if you really look***. So whilst, yes, I'm on board with and motivated by the idea that breastfeeding is a good first choice - I already bought the book, didn't I? - I'm just not convinced that adding a little formula or a bottle here and there is going to cause the world to end, or the baby's head to spontaneously combust.

If you can get past that, however, the rest is good, common sense. I like the way they talk about the history of breast-feeding and the evolution of certain practices and myths. I like the little notes on comparative cultural and species practices. I like the way they explain the normal, mammalian physiology and how their advice stems from it - in short, the way they want you to understand breastfeeding, rather than just learning it by rote - and I like the way this flows naturally into the area of trouble-shooting. I love that they don't mention breast pumps until page 188****. And I love the fact that, despite being a US publication, they realise that most of the rest of the world uses the metric system. Because seriously, what the fuck is an ounce, anyway*****?

Through my reading so far, and putting the "motivational" scare tactics about the importance of breastfeeding firmly into perspective**, I have started to gain confidence that, if things don't work out the way we want them to, it won't be my fault. It won't be, for example, because I didn't purchase the right breast pump at the proper time. At the end of the day, that's exactly what I was after, and I couldn't really ask for more from any publication. I guess we'll just see how it all plays out in real life*.

*If you have assvice about feeding or other books, please feel free to comment. I'm not hostile to assvice, I just reserve the right to ignore it at my own peril.

**I don't want to frighten you off. Almost all of the book is quite sympathetic, they acknowledge and try to provide information on (and extra references for) specific problems, and the amazon reviews have people saying it helped them with their "breastfeeding baggage" and was "encouraging and empowering". It's just some of the stats they quote at the start about the importance of breast milk might be a bit hard on those who ultimately can't make it work.

***Actually, I am a bit impressed, just not as impressed as they seem to think I should be.

****The book is some 250 pages long. This is many more than the other books. The pages are also bigger and with smaller type. Mr Bea raised his eyebrows when he read the claim that it was "making things simple", but this sort of ground-up approach always takes a lot of space to put forwards. Anyway. I'm a geek. It fits.

*****Don't answer that. I don't feel like I should have to know.

P.S. New belly pic up. Email me if you're confused about where.


Rachel Inbar said...

An invitation to give breastfeeding assvice? How can I resist that...

My personal experience is that if you're consistent and persistent then you've done all you can. Meaning that if it works great & if it doesn't you don't have anything to beat yourself up about.

Once you've made your decision, totally ignore ANYONE who has anything to say that isn't supportive and make sure you're the one calling the shots. Ultimately you have to live with your choices, not anyone else.

I had completely different experiences & had to quit breastfeeding Abigail (no, I didn't actually have to quit. I could have gone on, but she no longer wanted my milk) at 4-1/2 months, because she was losing weight (it probably had to do with the change in the milk because I was pregnant with Nomi). I decided that rather than persist I would start weaning her right away & was done within a week. In retrospect, it was definitely the right decision.

And BTW, since neither I nor my 3 brothers were breastfed, I can't actually believe the long-term advantages of breast milk are as great as some people say they are...

No Minimom said...

Assvice: If you will be staying home with your little guy, just wait to get the breast pump. You may just need a (much cheaper) hand pump for the occasional night out. If you will be spending 2-3 days away from home a week, you might as well give in to the electric breast pump soon after he's born.

Other than that, you hit the nail on the head. Breastfeeding is great and I think everyone who can should at least try to do it. Then if you can't, for whatever reason: physical, emotional, etc, find an alternative that works for you.

Anyone who is not positive about supporting your choices for how you feed your child (unless you're feeding him whiskey and HoHos) deserves a swift kick in the ass. You are a smart mum and making educated decisions. No one should fault you for that!

Stephanie said...

Just getting caught up on your blog after a very busy week. Thanks for the book review and since I haven't taken my breast feeing class yet, I am so interestd in what you had to say plus reading the advice of your commenters. I did by a cheaper single breast pump to get me throught the first six plus weeks. Once I am back in MN my SIL has promised to give me her exspensive medela dual breast pump. at first I was grossed out to use someone elses pump, but she reassured me that i can get all new filters, tubing and the such. I am all about saving the $400 it would cost to buy one new.

Glad your pregnancy is progressing nicely!

Jess said...


If you are going to be home with baby, either wait to buy the pump OR buy a simple handheld one. I have the avent Isis (well, my best FRIEND has it, but I'm in posession of it right now) and it works fine. It's not hands-free, but I can put Ethan to one side and pump the other if need be. But honestly, I find it a hassle to give him a bottle most times anyhow, so it's a rare occasion (going out where I know I'll be needing one, or when I leave him with someone else) that I need a bottle anyhow. So it's not worth the big bucks. The Isis is under $100. Drastically under.

Make sure that they aren't feeding the baby formula bottles in the nursery at the hospital if you want to breastfeed. Sure, this seems like any idiot wouldn't do this if you said you wanted to breastfeed, but sometimes they still feed them friend had trouble with her supply and later asked the nurse why her baby wasn't hungry and she said, "oh, we just gave him a bottle while we had him in the nursery. We've been doing that." Gee, people, wonder why he wouldn't suck?!

If you try, and it doesn't work, it's not your fault. Sometimes it just doesn't. Ava was 100% formula fed and she's FINE. Really. But it does save a hunk of change to be able to breastfeed, and I do think there are def some benefits. So good luck!! But don't buy that expensive pump yet! :)

You look fabulous, btw. Holy boobs, batman! :)

Anonymous said...

The only thing I can offer assvice on is how many millilitres in an ounce, so I will just keep my mouth shut (or fingers from typing?)!

Congrats on being med-free.

The Town Criers said...

Well, we all know my breastfeeding story so... But I will say that you can rent a hospital grade pump here in America and they are better than anything you will buy. Depending on how long you pump and how often, it may be cheaper to rent it than own it.

And kick anyone in the boobs who tries to make you feel badly about any choice.

Congratulations on becoming needle-free.

Geohde said...

I think breastfeeding is important and to be encouraged, but the BF Nazis scare the crap outta me. Too much emotion gets drawn into the whole thing,


TeamWinks said...

Yaaay for being unmedicated! How strange that must feel!

I have lost the link to the site. Any way you can email it to me? or my main one if you have it.

Nearlydawn said...

Congrats on ditching the needles! Woo Hoo! Feels good, no?

I have pump advice from our hospital's lactation department...

I took our hospital's breastfeeding class, and the lactation consultant there said, "Ladies, PLEASE wait to buy a breast pump." She went on to say that you don't need it the minute you are out of the hospital. Also, it is the ONE thing that you cannot return to the store, even if you do not use it. They aren't allowed to take it back (I haven't checked into that, but it sounds about right).

She suggested that if you really, really cannot leave the hospital without knowing you have a pump then renting one from the hospital for a month is the way to go.

BTW, this lady's dept at the hospital SELLS breast pumps, so it would have been in her best interest to push them on us during the class. So, it sounded to me like she was offering true advice, not assvice. :)

Hope that's worth something!

Mands said...

Glad to hear you're dumping the Clexane.

Why did you go onto it in the first place? I only ask because my doc mentioned it in my last appt.

Betty M said...

Hi - I'm new to your blog. Congratulations on ditching the clexane.
Assvice - I found this book fab - . Lots of pictures and lots of troubleshooting. In fact mainly trouble shooting which I think is a pretty realistic take on b/feeding for many (or even most) women. And try and borrow a pump before buying. I found a hospital grade electric double pump next to useless and it made me feel like a cow in a milking shed but an Avent cheapie handheld was really good.

Beagle said...

Just wanted to say that your post title REALLY would make a great title to an IF/ART book!

Good Luck with the BF research.

Pamela Jeanne said...

I've had the pleasure of listening to not one but three breasts pumps whirring in my office (during the one of 20 babies born to colleagues in my office since I joined some seven years ago -- yeah and we only employee 25 people -- a few are going on number three). The first was in the large stall of the rest room in our building and the second was in the storage room with a big sign posted on the front, "Please Do Not Disturb" ... you can BET I won't. In each case I had to use tremendous restraint not to do my best imitation of a cow moo'ing. Those pumps look just like the ones hooked up to udders ... the old fashioned way is much less jarring.

Aurelia said...

Jack Newman's book is great because he's a Doc and a breastfeeding guru and when he talks about comparing formula and breastmilk, he uses scientific evidence to back up his articles, and not just the gushy earth mom stuff.

I like the earth mom stuff sometimes, but science that backs them up would be nice. He also has a website and videos. Which are damn helpful when you can't figure out stuff from pictures at 3 am.

As for the books and the so-called bfing nazis? I really hate that term and most of it comes from the whole US problem. Most books are US based as is the multibillion dollar formula industry and most bloggers you read, sooo you will see and hear a very strident message on both sides.

Like for example, here in Canada my local pharmacy took the powdered formula off the shelves and only allows it to be bought after strict instructions from the pharmacists, because there have been multiple cases of sick babies from adding too much water (kidney damage), or too much powder (brain damage). In the US there would be a huge lawsuit and libel allegations flying from the formula company because they can. Not a peep out of them here, because Health Canada is breastfeeding friendly and so is most of the government. They know they'd get their corporate butts kicked and the media would be filled with tragic pictures of sick babies.

So please ignore most of the US wars. As for the hospital, check out their attitudes during the tour. Do they have classes? A clinic? Do they have nurses that are lactation consultants?

Don't worry about the pump. You can rent after if need be, but also you can test different ones out sometimes in the clinics. They sterilize them after each mom so it's safe, but you can really get an idea of what you prefer and need then.

Jendeis said...

Back in the days of sunlight and rainbows (read: before we knew about our IF), I was reading a lot of pregnancy books. One of them that I thought was good was Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gayle Pryor, since I planned to continue working after the baby came. My SIL likes the La Leche League's book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

MrsSpock said...

I have The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Pure and Simple from La Leche League. I plan on BF and definitely think the medical establishment needs to support and encourage it. That said, there are a percentage of women who will do everything "right" and the milk will not flow. Most of the women in my maternal line have hooters that never responded to pregnancy and never made milk. My mother desperately wanted to BF, pumped and pumped, and only obtained one drop. She's still bothered about how her fellow nurses blew her off when she said she wasn't making anything. So formula it was, and we're all fine, with IQs over 130. Here in the US, crappy maternity benefits and public attitude can still make BF difficult for a woman.

I'm not planning on working more than 3 4-hr shifts a week, and I plan on using a hand-held to store up for those few times away. No need for a giant $400 milking machine.

Angie said...

I read through your comments first. I ditto Jess and rachel inbar. Consistency and persistence are key. I almost quite BFing about 1,000 times the first couple of weeks, but after sticking with it I am thrilled to report that we've been BFing for almost 4 months now. It's hard, but if you're willing to work, it can be the best experience of your life. Or at least that's how I feel. GL to you!

GLouise said...

I never did BF, (ha haa), but did a lot of research on it (again, haaaa).
It seems that pumping can actually be counterproductive at times, b/c you will never pump as efficiently as the baby feeds. So...I will echo the others' advice. Don't worry about the pump just yet, or get an inexpensive hand pump at first.

Oh, and could you please email me the other site? I seem to have lost it (prayingmiraclebaby at yahoo)


Liza said...

The only thing I would add to the many helpful comments here is that no matter how much you learn before, your body will go through a hard learning curve during the first few weeks of BF.

Get several packages of "gel pads" to cool and soothe your nips during that time, so you don't wind up giving up because it hurts. Your local LLL leaders may also be able to help (for free), if you have significant pain.

IME, after the first month it becomes much easier, and even a lovely bonding experience with your little one.

kate said...

I think that your reaction to the sales clerk was spot on. She was trying to get a big fat commission.

And while books are great for getting more than one side of the story, some do smack of "Aunt Jane"-ism at times. I see tons of great advice shared here in your comments. My general opinion is that you should go with the flow and do what works for you and tell everyone else who disagrees with you to *stuff it*! If you end up needing a breast pump, as with anything, it can be sent for once the baby is born. Or can you rent them from the hospital there?

I started writing this comment because I wanted to say CONGRATS on being done with your medicine, and to agree with your reaction, but instead got sideswiped by the anti-American-breastfeeding-book-writer commenter. Dang. Just when I wasn't expecting it. I have to stop myself from being a complete snarky asshole.

Let me just say that I was not aware that debate about breastfeeding was a "US war". So sorry. The decision to cease breastfeeding when it does not work is not distinct to the US, and thus, I would imagine that discussion over such is not distinct to the US.

Jen said...

Book recommendations: For basic info, So That's What They're For by Janet Tamaro(which I don't remember as being too overzealous), for detailed info if you have problems, Dr. Sears Breastfeeding Book and my favorite (though it's a memoir, not a practical guide) How My Breasts Saved the World: Misadventures of a Nursing Mother by Lisa Shapiro (she had a lot of difficulty, but stuck with it). The last of the three is very funny and my biggest recommendation (again, though, it's not a how-to).

What helped me the most: Taking a class called Prenatal Preparation for Breastfeeding (before the baby was born, obvious by the "prenatal" part of the title) at the hospital where I delivered.

Good luck!

Lut C. said...

Ah well, I believe you read what happened to my attempts at BF.
Lots and lots of effort, lots and lots of support from an LC did not get my supply up anywhere near what I needed.

I can only wonder if things would have gone better if the hospital would have given me a pump to use from day one.
Oh, and if you need to pump to get supply going, you're going to want to rent a hospital-grade double pump. 15 min both breasts in one go, or handpump 30 min one at a time? Repeat every 3 hours.

By the way, I've found hand-pumping inbearably slow. To speed things up I'd use the handpump to start things up, and then continue by hand.

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