I wish I could say, to breastfeed or not to breastfeed is the question of the moment, but unfortunately it seems the issue has moved into an all out battle amongst mommy-hood clans, formula vs. breast, which is best? To be honest, I have no interest in getting all up in arms over the issue, because these arms are busy holding a very happy, but very hungry baby boy. I dare say if a woman cares enough to make it known how strongly she feels about her choices in feeding her child, than it seems silly to think that she isn’t making the decision that is the absolute best for her and her situation. So whether or not you choose the breast I wonder, why can’t we breastfeed and still get along with those who don’t? No need for a breastfeeding controversy.
Why can’t we choose to breastfeed and still get along with those who don’t chose breastfeeding?
I am a supporter of breastfeeding but in no way, shape, or form is my goal to pass judgement or claim that my decision is the right decision for everyone else. This is just my thoughts and a very honest look at my experience breastfeeding in hopes that it might help you make the right decision for yourself.
Making the decision to breastfeed
I never really thought twice about whether or not I would breastfeed when I became pregnant with my son, it was just automatically part of my plans. I’m always prone to pick options that I feel have the most health benefits, that I have the most direct control over, and when it comes to nutrition, the purest form or ingredient.
There’s a lot of talk about breastfeeding being the most “natural” option, and therefore assumed to be the best option. It’s important to realize that what is natural for one woman is not always the most natural for another. While it is completely natural for your body to produce that colostrum close to your due date, realizing you’re leaking into your favorite (and probably only one that fits at that point) bra can come as somewhat of a shock. And whether you dabbled in bra stuffing at an earlier age or not, keeping those breast pads in place you’ll most likely soak through during the first months after delivery is going to be an adjustment.
Women whose mother or family members did not breastfeed are more likely to be uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding. But we should also realize that women choose not to breastfeed for many reasons and whether you agree or not it shouldn’t affect the way we support one another.
Is breastfeeding painful?
In short, yes, it can be painful at first. But the pain does not last, if it does you may need to revisit proper latch procedures and make sure you have the right breastfeeding essentials. I’ll be honest I was in the doctors office crying at my son’s two week appointment because he was hungry and I literally didn’t know if I could bare feeding him again my nipples were so sore. I wanted to throw in the towel that day but I am so glad I stuck with it. I practice on demand feeding and during that time my son was eating sometimes every 30 minutes.
The first amazing thing my pediatrician did for me was smile and tell me what a wonderful job I was doing. Right along with the chapped and bleeding nipples were some pretty beat up feelings of inadequacy. When I finally fully realized that I am the sole provider of nourishment for my precious baby, I was overwhelmed. I was emotionally and physically drained.
I can’t stress enough how important emotional support can be during this time, (and nipple cream, and heating pads, those were a life saver). My pediatrician recommended pumping to give myself a break. That way his father also had a chance to bottle feed him which also gave me some much needed rest time. Introducing a bottle early on in breastfeeding can sometimes lead to nipple confusion but my son, the avid eater that he is, never had a problem.
I’ve said it before, we need to dispel the notion that something natural equals easy. Although my son was born the world’s smartest genius (I’m sure yours was too) he was learning the whole feeding thing right along side me. With time, babies get better at feeding and latching on. I think around the 3-4 month mark is when everything started smoothing out for me. With exception to some teething incidents (ow), feeding my son is painless for me now.
Breastfeeding for the modest mamma
Listen, I am not the “naked type,” by which I mean I have never been comfortable just hanging out nude around people, mother, sisters, gal friends included. But there is something that happens after breastfeeding for awhile, after having a boob out so often on demand. The anxiety that a screaming baby imbues far outweighs that of an exposed nipple. I have gotten to the point where I have to remember other people are present.
Going out in public with your little one requires quite a bit of breastfeeding gear and planning. It only took me one time wearing a complicated dress in public and having to figure out how to breastfeed without getting completely naked to make me realize that the travel and feeding thing takes some getting used to. But really that isn’t so different from having to have formula prepared and toting a tiny little human around on their own schedule of pooping, peeing, sleeping, and feeding.
I wish there wasn’t such a fuss over breastfeeding in public. As desensitized as we are to a boob here or there on TV you’d think we’d have move past seeing a small glimpse of one in public for the pure intentions of nursing a child. Siiiiiiggggghhh…..(stuffy society I’m giving you the side eye). If all the energy that was expended into fighting it out over formula or breast was channeled into making positive changes in society maybe we’d actually get somewhere. If we all focused together to make sure women had positive support in their jobs and in public, how beautiful could that be? Whether you are breastfeeding or pulling out a formula bottle in public, it can be stressful. Onlookers are not always the kindest audience to a fussy, hungry baby.
Is breastfeeding worth the stress?
Abso-friggin-lutely. I believe in the special health qualities of breastfeeding. While you can adequately meet the needs of your baby by formula feeding if you choose to, you are missing out on one very important benefits package for someone, and that’s you. One of the reasons I support breastfeeding is that despite the challenges it can bring, the rewards for myself have far surpassed them. I think it is an important experience for the mother. Believing this does not discount the fact that there are incredible amounts of other rewarding and important aspects to participate in if you choose to formula feed.
Breastfeeding is an intimate learning experience between mother and child. Pregnancy of course does this in a way too, but breastfeeding has given me a certain new confidence about my body, in a completely non-sexualized fashion. It has become a very peaceful part of my life, and nothing calms by son faster and more effectively than breastfeeding. One of my friends who had a baby several months ahead of me was telling me how much she loved and missed the experience of breastfeeding while I was still pregnant. I remember thinking it odd that she would actually miss it . I can completely relate now that I’ve actually experienced it first hand.
My original goal was to breastfeed for six months, I thought surely I would be ready to wean at this point. Yet the six month mark has come and gone and I barely noticed, and I could not imagine making the switch at this point. The bottom line, whatever your choice, mothers should be supporting each other because there are more than enough other things we have to worry about. Regardless, I just want you to know, like that Playtex 2-inch strap brazier you won’t admit you’ve fallen in love with, I support you fully and unpretentiously in your decision to breastfeed or not to breastfeed.
Feel free to share your thoughts on breastfeeding in the comments below.