Breast is best. Right dads?

breastThe old saying Breast is Best is still a big catchphrase today in modern parenting. If you haven’t been to an Antenatal class and you are trying to figure out if it’s worthwhile – just stop thinking and get your butt along to one! The class is a little awkward to begin with but by the third class you start to make some connections with the other new parents. We learned a little bit, but mostly nothing we didn’t already know. The BIG bonus of these classes is post-labour. We have made some great friends through it, and because we are all going through the same challenges we tend to reach out frequently.  For the lads, that means consuming beer and sharing dad jokes. Lisa and the girls all message each other on a little FB message group – it has been golden during the tough times (and yes, we aren’t perfect parents smelling of roses, every now and then there’s a splash of fertiliser).

Feeding was a key element of one of the classes. However, they asked all the Dads to go to another room and think about how we can nurture our wives (or something warm and fuzzy like that). Honestly – I wonder why we weren’t included? Seriously though. What they don’t tell you is that as a Dad – you are the first responder to those feeding emergencies. The sweet granny hosting the feeding class isn’t standing by my bed at every hour on the hour ready to help with this new art of Boob-nutrition. You are the one helping your darling wife and new little cherub learn to feed. Let’s face it – the 2 day old human has no clue and is on a steep learning curve, not to mention your wife has never breastfed so she’s no expert either. Who’s the first person they look to – yep, silly old Dad. So – you learn how to squeeze, poke, prod, massage …yes boys, Im talking about your wife’s mammaries. But all of this action isn’t in the least bit romantic or fun! It’s serious business.

Now – to be fair to the New Zealand system, you are assigned a midwife from the moment you find out you are in the family way. Well actually, it’s more of a mad dash to find a midwife as you pick one from a website – Find Your Midwife. It’s kind of like Tinder for Midwife finding lol.

Your wife (and you, if you aren’t a dead beat dad) visit this midwife throughout the pregnancy regularly. She is also there to deliver the baby and visits almost every day for weeks after the birth. The midwife is a great resource when you are stuck or lost. Our poor midwife got bombarded with a million questions from me – the over-excited newbie Dad.

So, our little Finn, was not overly keen to do things the natural way. It just wasn’t working like the books said it would. Breastfeeding was hard for Lisa – lads we just don’t get it, but it’s a mom thing and we need to just support our darlings through this. Lisa tried so hard to make it work for Finn but it was just not happening and the little guy wanted more fodder. And seriously, more and more people talk about breastfeeding just not working for them now that we openly discuss it. However the midwives are anti-formula up to the 6 week mark. It’s like we are a total failure if we feed our babies formula. Yet I talked to a friend in the USA who said the nurses made up a bottle of formula within hours of the birth as the baby wasn’t feeding properly. I think we would have saved ourselves a lot of stress and anxiety had we been given the option. We were looked down upon and told it was dangerous to feed the baby formula. That’s where this new term “donor milk” popped up. We had no idea what it was. In a nutshell – some moms produce too much milk and have an excess. So they pump the excess into sterilised bags or bottles then freeze the milk. The milk then goes to a milk bank and is distributed to those who need it.

Dad Preparing Baby BottlesNow we have to be honest and admit this was a really hard decision. We were comforted to know that the milk donors go through some very thorough screening and testing to ensure they are healthy. However, it was still an emotional rollercoaster for us to give Finn donor milk. Looking back – it was a good decision. But we also would have went to formula a lot sooner had we not been rookie parents. About 6 weeks in – we shifted to Formula. It was the best decision we made. Finn was finally getting enough milk and was much more settled. Now, is Breast really Best? I think not. The best thing is whatever is best for mum and baby. Don’t let ANYONE tell you otherwise.

Breast is best, so we were told. New Zealand has a service called “Plunket”. It’s a government funded organisation and is one of the major providers of child health services. They offer free classes for new moms to attend as well. So Lisa rocked along to one of the classes only to be looked down upon from the group as she was not breast feeding. It was absolutely terrible behaviour – and the person doing the “shunning” was the old lady from Plunket who was hosting the classes. To me, this was beyond ridiculous. How on earth could she think this behaviour is acceptable? We have a perfectly happy and healthy baby who receives nothing but love and affection. The old girl clearly had her own fair share of issues. She also received an official complaint from the protective dad and hubby (silly old me) and in turn received some free training on how to relate to other people in general. What a twit!

So I say to all new parents out there… feed your baby what you can. Ensure they get what they need and that doesn’t necessarily mean breast milk. Let the haters hate. You will do the right thing for your baby to ensure things don’t go tits up. (my dad jokes are bad, right!?)

Keep on being awesome.

James

Founder, ModernDad.guru