Before I even begin this post let me admit something: I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding. I appreciated what it did for my baby and the quality time it gave me with him and how convenient it was most of the time (and cheap!), but I wasn’t the fan of breastfeeding that I thought I was going to be. I think from all the info I had heard or read about I had the idea that it was all bonding and roses and I had no idea about the pain and pumping that came along with it. Yes, pain!
To help any new moms or moms-to-be who are about to embark on a breastfeeding journey, here are a few myths that society will have you believe but which aren’t strictly true:
Okay, so it technically is natural but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it all the time. If you imagine that you will be able to put your baby to your chest and he will magically know what to do, you will need to think again, I’m afraid. He will try his damndest, that’s for sure, and you’ll even be able to see him trying to fit your (entire) ginormous boob into his tiny mouth, but he’ll need a whole lot of help to actually be able to accomplish his milky goal.
As will you, which is not easy when your baby is screaming, you’re freaking out because you’re already failing as a mother and your boobs seem to cause more problems than solve them. My boobs became engorged the day after Baby J was born, so breastfeeding was a struggle from the very beginning. For the first two weeks I had to use warm face cloths, frozen cabbage leaves and a nipple puller (shudder) to try and get my milk out at the appropriate time ie not when I was sleeping or at the supermarket but when my baby was screaming.
You’d never think that sucking on a nipple would be such a challenge.
Which brings me to the next point. Any videos you may have seen or helpful instruction pamphlets you may have read on breastfeeding will make it look like it’s easy. It’s not. Even once you’ve managed to help your baby latch onto your nipple (and that can take a couple days. Days!), holding him so that he can feed effectively is no walk in the park. The midwives, nurses or lactation consultants will show you numerous positions you can use to try to hold your baby while still being comfortable, but it’s a constant battle.
You’ll lose weight
This, for me, was the most frustrating thing about breastfeeding. Or not really about breastfeeding but about people’s attitudes towards breastfeeding. Any comments that anyone made about how good I was looking was automatically attributed to breastfeeding. Now I understand that breastfeeding burns calories and blah blah blah, but when you are awake twenty-three hours a day, you are tired and hormotional, and it is natural to turn to big, milky cups of sweet coffee and pizza to get through the day.
Plus, all your well-meaning guests can be counted on to bring you biscuits and cake and it would be rude to say no, and you’re so tired you can’t even pick up a toothbrush let alone think about exercise – the only exercise you’re getting is walking around to try to get your little one to fall asleep. So you can see it’s not actually that easy to lose weight while you’re breastfeeding. And I’ll be happy for even an ounce of a compliment (because I know my tracksuit pants and greasy hair is not my best look) but just don’t make it a backhanded one.
Ok, this one’s a biggie. I can already hear the moms who have their 3-year-olds attached to their breasts shouting at me about the joys of breastfeeding and the relationships they are nurturing with their children, but I’m going to put it out there. I didn’t really enjoy it. Is that such a terrible thing to admit? I was almost never wearing clothes that were easy to feed in, my poor boobs were either freezing or sweating (it’s a sweaty business) and I didn’t particularly enjoy whipping my boobs out in public, so all in all not the #1 way to spend my time.
Then there was the whole ordeal of pumping. I will never get that sound out of my mind.
Breast is best
Again, haters gonna hate. For the most part, breastfeeding is, of course, best for your baby because of the colostrum, antibodies, and yes the bonding, but my point is this: there is nothing wrong with formula feeding, so stop hating on the formula moms. There are many reasons a mom can decide to formula feed instead of breastfeed or to wean from breast to formula, but it’s actually none of your business anyway.
I managed to stick to breastfeeding until Baby J was 9 months old. That was also when I found out I was pregnant with #2 and I was struggling to juggle work and pumping (my pumping skills leave a lot to be desired*) and I felt that it wasn’t worth it anymore. While I most certainly felt like a failure because I wasn’t able to reach the 1-year mark which was my goal, Baby J hasn’t complained once and actually seems to be a lot more excited to see his bottle than he ever was to see my boobs.
We’ll have to see how things go with #2.