My son did not eat until 23 hours after he was born.
He was my first child, and my mother (who’d adopted me at five weeks) didn’t have any more experience with newborns than I did, so we initially listened to the recovery ward nurses who said it wasn’t necessary for babies to eat within the first twenty-four hours of birth.
My son had some of the classic latching problems (which we would later overcome), but more importantly, I WAS NOT PRODUCING ANY BREASTMILK. I never produced any colostrum, and the milk did not start coming in normally until several days after the birth.
But the nurses assured me I would produce milk if I kept trying to latch him on. And so I did, even though it felt as if I were banging both our freaking heads again the wall.
When he was 10 hours old, I asked for formula. The nurses convinced me it was unnecessary, and to keep on trying to latch and/or pump. At 12 hours old, I asked again. A nurse instead came in to “coach” me. At this point, I was torn between “doing the right thing” (holding out to EBF) and doing what was “convenient for me” (feeding a starving baby).
Please keep in mind that I was new to all this, utterly-sleep deprived (I’d been averaging two hours a night for the past five days) and under the influence of oxycodone, yet still in a terrible amount of pain. I figured these nurses were the “experts,” and when they offered me a newborn pacifier to “soothe” (i.e. shut up) my hungry baby, I gladly accepted.
A few hours later (and after few more timid requests for formula), they sent in a lactation consultant who simply reiterated everything I’d already read in books. We agreed that I’d wait until he was 18 hours old before resorting to formula, which somehow turned into 20.
At 20 hours, I insisted upon feeding my baby formula. The nurses offered some excuse or another as to why the “breastfeeding-friendly formula” (Similac) wasn’t available at that particular moment in time. At 21 hours, I finally called my father in another state (my mom did not have her car) to go to the store and bring me some damned formula. He arrived with Similac about an hour later, but the nurse told me it wasn’t the *correct* Similac; unless I used the RTD version (which was supposedly the same consistency as breastmilk), I’d have no hope of ever breastfeeding my baby. (Keep in mind these people gave my kid a freakin’ pacifier!)
I’d finally had enough, and at 22 hours I told them to find me whatever the hell I was supposed to feed my baby or I was going to give him powdered Similac. It took my mother following up half an hour later, but at 23 hours old my baby was finally permitted to eat… a single ounce of formula. Any more, I was told, and my baby would get sick. :-\
Thankfully, my milk came in a few days later, and I was able to EBF my son for the next 8.5 months. But because of my experience, I never lost sight of the fact that while breast may be best, it isn’t everything. And there is seriously something wrong with anyone who would readily sacrifice their baby’s health (or overall well-being) for the sake of an ideology.