I feel like I really went into breastfeeding with both eyes wide open. I knew it would probably hurt for a few weeks, I had steeled myself for cracked and bleeding nipples, thrush, nights of interrupted sleep, and a baby who would be glued to my side for the first part of her life. So the rest of this entry may seem a little “no DUH”, but I just have to get it out there.
1. Breastfeeding HURTS. I somehow miraculously managed to skip the whole cracked and bleeding thing, but ohmyfreakinggoodness if one duct manages to get clogged... And the only way to help soothe a throbbing boob is to forcefully massage the area that is already incredibly sensitive to touch?! Thankfully I’ve only had three incidences of clogged ducts, but that is MORE than enough for this lifetime, thank you VERY much. My sincerest condolences go out to those mamas who have clogged ducts and mastitis. It’s no joke.
2. Breastfeeding is NOT CONVENIENT. At least not for me. Everyone said “Oh! You won’t have to clean bottles!” (which is a lie if you plan on pumping) and “The milk’s always with you!” (which does you NO GOOD if you’re in a traffic jam and your infant is strapped down in the back seat behind you screaming bloody murder) and “It’s always the right temperature!” (... ok I can’t really argue with that one). Seriously, though, it is NOT easy for me to just whip out a boob any old place. They literally do not make nursing bras in my size, so I’d have to have one specially made (which I haven’t even brought myself to see how much that would cost), and even then, Tiny HATES being covered when she’s eating. Can you blame her, though? I would probably hate trying to eat while wearing a burkha. I’m not one of those mamas who feels comfortable “doing it” in public (more power to you if you are, though - no judgement here!), and you mamas who can wear your baby in a sling or carrier while feeding them... I can’t even picture how that would work, so you all basically kick butt.
3. I hate using a nipple shield (read: ball and chain). I know, I know, it’s really my own fault. I could work really hard to wean her off of using it. But she gets frustrated and screams, and I get frustrated and filled with anxiety (I’m not being dramatic - I can actually feel my blood pressure rising), so I haven’t done it. But even though it’s my own fault, I’m still going to complain about it.
4. I love my Tiny, but sometimes I HAVE to get away, and that’s SO HARD when she expects to be fed every three hours. Yes, having pumped bottles helps, but I still need to empty out every three hours or so. And yes, it helps that she’s on a bit of a schedule so I can plan my errands around her feeding times, but it’s not always predictable. Recently she’s been nursing for FOURTY-FIVE MINUTES instead of her usual twenty minutes sessions. That means I have 45 minutes of wake time until her next nap. What errands can I do in that short amount of time?
5. I am seriously OVER waking up drenched in sticky breast milk. Thankfully my body has started regulating its supply so this doesn’t happen as much. But after pregnancy, delivery and now having an infant, I feel like I’ve been covered in some sort of human fluid NON STOP for the past year.
6. I really don't feel that "extra special bonding" during our nursing sessions. I love my baby, and I love her just as much when I'm feeding her a pumped bottle at Peet's or I'm changing her diaper than when I am breastfeeding.
That said, I have to reiterate the fact that there are many, many benefits of breastfeeding an infant for as long as possible - I don’t think anyone can deny that. I do not, however, buy into the idea that “Breast is Best”. If it stresses the mama and/or the baby out, I see no reason to force the issue. We live in a day in age where there are other options, and I personally know several healthy, smart, beautiful formula-fed babies who are doing JUST FINE - thriving, in fact. I’ve been able to deal with my frustrations because I have a very adaptable baby, supportive husband, and I’ve been able to stay home so I could take my time. I also didn’t have a c-section scar making the process even more painful, and I haven’t had supply issues. So I will continue to breastfeed, despite the inconvenience. I’ve made it four months. If I can make it to six months, so much the better. The real challenge will be when she starts cutting teeth. That does NOT seem like a fun addition to my list of grievances about breastfeeding.