Note: This post does contain pictures of a nursing baby. If this offends you then I’d recommend putting on some Netflix and carrying on!
Brace yourself! This isn’t another one of those blogs that goes on and on about how breastfeeding is the be all, end all of raising your new son or daughter. If you choose to nurse, awesome! If you choose to formula feed, right on! And if you choose to pump you straight up deserve a gold medal. We all have breastfeeding shoved in our faces on a pretty consistent basis as mothers and honestly I’m getting sick of it. It drives me crazy to hear uneducated harpies (#sorrynotsorry) pipe up in conversations, both IRL and online, with made up statistics and unhelpful admonishments. You know the ones that start with ‘Well only about 27% of women ACTUALLY have trouble producing enough’ and ‘Dark beer with help you up your supply!’? Yeah those… A note to those ladies: Quit selling your half-baked advice to fragile new mothers who think they’ve started off as a failure if they don’t take to nursing like a fish to water. You’re not helping anyone and really just seem to enjoy the sound of your own voice…
For V I pumped…and pumped…and pumped… so when I had A I knew there was no way in hell I could do that again. I set my goal to pump and try to transition to breast within three months or that kid was going to be getting his nutrients through whatever formula I could buy in bulk. As second time mom I felt empowered to make my own decision that would allow me to maintain a happy, healthy baby AND mother. So long as you have a full and sassy kid on your hands, however you choose to get there you’re doing the right thing.
Anyways as it turns out A was a champ. Switched to nursing like it was nothing and we settled into a great routine. I never had any mastitis, engorgement, blocked ducts, cracked nipples, etc. Honestly, and hate me if you want, it’s been awesome. But not because I’m providing that ‘Liquid Gold’ to my son. There are a host of other benefits that I’m revelling in, even at one year in. He’s still had a bottle of formula or two a week up until a year ’cause honestly Mom needs a break sometimes but let me fill you in. I’m a selfish breast-feeder. I do it more for my benefit honestly than his…and there are tons of upsides here. Check this out:
It’s free!! I didn’t have to pay to feed my kid for 6 months. I never even bought a nursing bra (giant waste of money…sports bras are a zillion times more comfortable and come in convenient 3 packs at Walmart). I did buy a cover and that was a mistake. Infants may be okay with cloth dangling on their face while they eat but try doing that with a 7-8 month old and see how fast it gets tossed on the floor.
I hate cleaning bottles with the passion of a thousand suns. Seriously. Have you ever tried to clean out a bottle with gooey, caked, congealed formula at the bottom. The smell alone could clear the room. Also you need to buy bottles, a sanitizer, dishwasher rack, bottle scrubber, drying rack and be prepared to give up half your counter space to the various feeding gadgets. A’s feeding source came attached directly to me so…win!
C) Laziness Pt. 2
I didn’t have to get up to prep bottles at 3am. I literally grabbed the baby, lifted up my shirt and went back to sleep. Feeding my infant went from a 30 min production in the middle of the night to a drowsy, 15 min snuggle. Have you ever stumbled downstairs at midnight, in the dark and tried to measure the correct water to formula ratio while half-awake? It blows.
D) Space Saver
When I packed the diaper bag for V I always had to make sure I had pumped milk, knew how long it would be out of the fridge, etc. It was stressful and took up too much space. Plus when bottles spilled all over the inside of the bag, wiping out diapers and clean outfits, it was enough to pull my hair out. This time, when I left the house all I had to do was make sure I had a change of clothes, wipes and enough diapers to get back home again. No fuss, no mess, no stress! My food supply was kind of obligated to come along with us.
Now there are definitely some downsides to nursing as well. I can tell you more people have seen my rack in the last year than have in my entire 30 years before that. It bothered me to start but honestly at this point it doesn’t even phase me. I’m not someone to push my nursing on anyone else though. If I’m not at home I’ll usually leave the room or set myself away from the group after asking the host if they’re okay with me breastfeeding. I don’t think the fact that I’m lucky enough to nurse my child means that I have to become a warrior for a cause. Breastfeeding is like religion, it’s a personal choice and doesn’t need to be rammed down anyone’s throat.
I’ve also seen the differing reactions from family, friends and strangers now that I’ve reached the year mark. Those who tipped their hat to me about what a great service I was doing my child at 4 months suddenly ask, ‘Oh, you’re STILL nursing?’ I should be clear here that I’m not still nursing because I believe in extended breastfeeding (and it’s totally cool if you do). I’m actually actively trying to wean but A still enjoys the comfort and snuggle in the morning and before bed, so it is what it is. I’m going to take the fact that we’ve gone from 5-6 times a day to 1-2 as a victory here and find comfort in the knowledge that we’ll stop before a) he can actively remember it and b) before he can verbally ask for it or start pulling down my shirt in public. No free peepshows courtesy of my toddler thanks!
In the interest of full disclosure, I did also have my days where I struggled with breastfeeding. Not because it was uncomfortable or hurt in any way. It was because I felt trapped. I’d literally be ‘touched-out’ by the end of the day and just want 30 mins of complete solitude where no-one was crawling all over me. I was A’s main source of nutrition so I couldn’t leave him for extended periods of time, go on a long weekend with my husband or even drink more than a glass or two of wine at a party or celebration. Also I’m not sure if I just have a slow metabolism or love food too much, but it’s also done absolutely zip for my post-pregnancy weight loss strategy. Those moms who say that they lost 50 lbs purely based on their boobs are full of crap.
Another load of baloney that mothers are fed is that your bond with your child isn’t as strong if you don’t breastfeed. Hooey. I never nursed V and I love both my boys just as fiercely. How your child eats isn’t the basis for love and anyone who tries to sell you that load of garbage is obviously dealing with some serious issues of their own. Smile, nod, and walk away slowly.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. Not as big as pumping honestly, having done both, but still a pretty big deal. I was very proud that I’d managed to stick it out for a full year and I decided to celebrate reaching my goal by having some nursing pictures taken. We never did newborn pictures with A, like we did with V, and I wanted to do something special and unique to celebrate getting through the first year happy and healthy. I’m lucky that we know a very talented photographer who had no qualms about capturing what ended up being a very sweet moment between mother and child. The pictures honestly brought tears to my eyes, not because I’m breastfeeding, but because you can see such a strong bond in the pictures, something that’s hard to find words for. I’ll treasure them forever.
So in the end, breastfeeding is awesome and not for all those reasons the crazy mothers will drill into you. There’s definitely an upside for you in there but if it’s not what you want, then do what keeps you and your child happy and healthy! Just in case no-one has told you lately, you’re doing a great job, enjoy a virtual high five from me!