Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's Not Him - It's You

I've been pretty honest about my feelings on nursing.  Does it suck in the beginning? You betcha!  Did it get better for me?  Absolutely.

Until The Bean started teething, that is.

As his bottom teeth came in, little guy gave me a few good chomps. I developed the habit of nursing with one finger laying on my breast ready to shove into his mouth and pry those little choppers open.   After those first two teeth popped through it got better again.  Until the second set of teeth started coming through.  At that point, he was biting me so much I started pumping.  I do still nurse him once overnight, but otherwise I pump and we give him bottles.

At our 9-month visit we mentioned his biting to the pediatrician and immediately the doctor blamed it on a reduced milk supply.  This is the second time he's indicated problems with my milk supply.  The first time was months ago when The Bean went from sleeping through the night to waking up multiple times to nurse...something which Allison and I later figured out was a growth spurt.

Read: It wasn't my milk supply.

I've spoken to other moms who have had similar experiences with their peds.  Nursing problem?  Must be your milk supply.

As parents we are already under a lot of stress. We are pressured to live up to this ideal of a smiling mother preparing dinner with our left hand and vacuuming with our right while our little one swings from breast to breast happily sucking away. Please. And now we need to feel guilty about not producing enough milk every time there's a nursing problem?

Why is it that pediatricians automatically blame the milk supply?  Seemingly without even thinking about other potential reasons for an issue.

Let's examine our recent situation.

  • I've been nursing fine for 9-months.  
  • My kid has recently started teething and biting on everything he can shove into his mouth.
  • He's also recently started biting while nursing.
  • Reduced milk supply.  Natch.
Dear Doctor, Can I double-check your diploma, please?

The Bean and I brushing our teeth VERY early in the morning.


  1. I went through that twice with Jackson and it is not fun. Sometimes I thought he was going to rip my nipple off. LOL

    They do grow out of it. I told him no and if he did that, breastfeeding would be done. That seemed to work in the end. I still nurse at night at 2.5 years...believe me when I say that I understand all of the judgment and pressures for nursing. It's silly.

    Your comment system makes me log out, login, enter a confirmation code, log out, login and then finally posts...what's up with that?

  2. I feel your pain, regarding the "reduced milk supply" not the biting...yet!

    I was making more than enough for the twins in the first few months, but because Quinn wasn't latching well, I was bf'ing Teagan and pumping for Quinn. I was a cow! I couldn't bear to pump one more time so we'd give them about an ounce of formula each evening in their bedtime breast milk bottle. Anyways, the second I told any of the breastfeeding clinics that I was topping up with a bit of formula (only because my poor boobs needed a break), they'd push drugs on me and tell me that I had supply issues. They never listened!

    Anyways, you know your baby and your situation. Good work sticking to your guns on this one :)

  3. Such an important post about the Booby Traps that mothers face! I think it's so sad that such discussions with doctors lead mothers to believe their bodies aren't working properly or cause the end of nursing relationships.

    Good for you for knowing your body and knowing your baby!

    And I definitely feel your pain about nursing the biting toddler. This, too, shall pass is about the only thing I can tell you...

    I tweeted about your blog post!

  4. That's annoying that the doctors said that. Kim breastfed Erik and he bit her when he was teething too. They bite everything when they're teething so why would they think it's something else like your milk supply? Weird. The Bean is obviously a healthy kid who is growing just fine.

  5. agreed that the doctor's words were totally annoying and off base. hope you two can hang in there. the biting is no fun, but (for me, at least), it was a quick phase.

  6. everyone it seems has their own opinions on breastfeeding. and i think so many of these opinions lead woment to give up on it before giving it a good chance.

    my things has always been, well i know my body, it's my body.

    i did the same thing with the finger on the edge of her lips with my second one. my first one didn't get any teeth until she was almost two!!!

  7. Oh, I am so sorry! I would be very frustrated by that too. I wanted to nurse for so much longer than I did, but it truly was my milk supply that caused me to stop. When I went back to work, I tried to pump and could never get more than an ounce or two in a session. It was very upsetting.

  8. yikes. the low-supply freaking out at our house has been strictly, well, from our house. if the pediatrician had gotten in on it, i don't know what i would have done. it seems a natural part of my personality to blame myself (via my boobs, in this case) when things go wrong or even vary, but really, an outsider should have more sense.

    our bean only has teeth on the bottom. he got me a few times when they were new, but no intentional chomping yet. when top teeth emerge, however.... i am sore afeared.

  9. I'm glad to hear from so many people that the biting is just a phase. I nursed The Bean early this morning, even though he was wide awake (thank you daylight savings time) he didn't bite me so we may be in the clear until his next teeth start through.

    All of the pressures around breast feeding today are crazy. It's funny to juxtapose that with my parents. I was a formula baby and my parents have never questioned that. They looked at it more from the perspective of it not allowing one of the parents to have the experience of feeding the baby.

    When I was first struggling with the breastfeeding it was really nice having them here telling me that I could formula feed if I wanted to. Having someone give me that permission and knowing it was my choice to keep at the breastfeeding made a big difference to my mental state.

    @Holly - Nursing in the US feels like such a different situation. If I had to return to work as fast as most women there do, I'm sure I would have stopped nursing loong ago. As much as I feel the pressure to nurse can be unwarranted, I also feel that people in the US (and employers!) need to be more supportive and accommodating of nursing moms.