If you’re looking for a post that’s going to tell you that you SHOULD breastfeed, or attempt to make you feel guilty because you’re NOT going to or don’t want to breastfeed, you’re in the wrong place.
This is more a place for moms who are on the fence about breastfeeding, and quite possibly for moms who ARE breastfeeding and thinking everything I’m about to say but don’t because you have more tact than I do… which is probably a good thing.
As many of you reading already know, 16 years ago I gave birth to the most perfect baby ever. It’s hard to believe that baby now towers over me, talks about boys, wears makeup (occasionally) and is talking about college, but here we are. It is ALSO hard to believe that as I’m preparing one to be a junior in highschool, I’m also prepping for the 1st birthday of my second birth child.
When the first baby was born 16 years ago, it wasn’t a question. Formula was my only choice. Her father didn’t really have an opinion one way or anther, and I was going back to school and work 4 weeks after her birth so I never gave breastfeeding a second thought.
When my SO and I began discussing our wants and needs for this pregnancy/delivery/baby raising, breastfeeding was something that was important to my SO, not me. Quite honestly I found myself in a different place because of my age, my job, my goals, my belief systems, and past experiences. Truth be told, pregnancy was really rough on me, and my mental health had tanked in a LOT of ways so old memories crept up and forced me to deal with them again.
As we talked about breastfeeding or formula feeding, the memory of being molested as a little girl was brought front and center. This was the main reason I didn’t breastfeed with my first birth child, and the other factors I had going on in my life at the time just reinforced that I was making the right decision to formula feed. This time around was a bit different as many of the stressors and obligations I had 16 years ago were no longer an issue for me. I was done with college, I was going to work from home, my other kids are old enough to be (mostly) self sufficient. It really just came down to deciding if I could get over it and give it a shot.
Now, I want to make one thing VERY clear here…. My SO really wanted me to breastfeed. He was also aware of my childhood experiences, and the bullying that followed and how that had affected me throughout my life. He was also extremely aware of where my head was (and wasn’t) throughout this pregnancy and he was a champ. As much as he REALLY wanted me to do this, if I’d said I couldn’t do it, he would have been okay with it. AND, had he NOT been okay with it, I would not have EVER let him force me to do it and I’d probably be writing a blog on coparenting an infant with an ex. I don’t think ANYONE has the right to tell you to just get over it. My SO was always great about understanding that this was 50% HIS baby, but 100% MY body and as such, there were many things that I got the final say on.
Our final agreement is that I would try, but if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. If I could, then it was baby steps in timeframes… 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, etc…. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that almost eight months later I’d still be breastfeeding.
I have to admit moments after she was born she latched automatically. It was a really special moment that I will probably never forget. My SO got to help with the latch, and in that moment we were the only three people in the room. This bliss was only momentary, and I’m happy to share the ups and downs with you.
My situation: I am currently a stay at home mom. It wasn’t initially going to be this way, but it’s just easier right now for us.
Does it hurt? Initially no… a few days later it feels like someone is raking razor blades across your nipples and then they adjust and it doesn’t hurt at all. (At least until they get teeth, or so I’m told. We’re not there yet.) There were some days there that every time she latched I cried and said lots of bad words. But LITERALLY, that’s only a week, if that, or so. Nipple cream is your friend. It doesn’t last forever so don’t let that be the deciding factor.
Is it easy? Yes. You’ll figure out your system and you’ll be off and running. I had to watch videos on Youtube and read websites because I literally had not ONE clue how this all works, but a little research points you in the right direction, and Mother Nature will take care of the rest.
Is it convenient? For Me? Not in the slightest. I’m the only one that can feed the baby. I don’t pump because I don’t have time (more on this later), so literally every time the baby has to be fed I have to stop what I’m doing and feed her. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, sleeping, taking 37 seconds to myself, it all stops because nobody else has boobs with milk in them. If you don’t mind that, then breastfeeding is for you. If you have two teenagers, your mom, a husband AND a house, PLUS the baby, then you’re gonna make some concessions like taking a shower, brushing your teeth and sleep, or you’re going to want to make sure you have a good backup system to help out with your everyday routine that you will no longer have time for.
How is nursing in public? People look. You’ll notice it more in the beginning. By the time you make it to my point, you’re googling nursing t-shirts with people flipping the bird because you literally DO. NOT. CARE. You will pull a boob out in the middle of the cereal aisle in Walmart to quiet a screaming baby, regardless of how many old men, five year old children or baptist ladies are standing there, and you will keep right on moving with deciding between Cheerios and Fruit Loops. I promise.
How does your SO and other kids feel about it? My SO has done fine. He’s a help when I need a shoulder covered or don’t realize I haven’t put my clothes back on. The older kids have gotten used to it. It was weird at first, but they’re fine with it. I’m fairly discreet about it, so that probably helps.
Do you really bond? You do. It’s just different. I don’t feel any closer to Charlie than I do Grace, but it IS different. Ask me again when Charlie is 16 and I’ll tell you how it all turned out.
Biting/Pulling/Clawing: We don’t have teeth, and I’m not looking forward to that part. She DOES pull hair and she DOES claw. That part sucks. Trimming nails helps, but I woke up the other morning to having my nipple pinched. Welcome to co-sleeping with a seven month old.
Do I stockpile milk? Nope. Never even felt the need. I did a lot of reading on that thinking that I should do it, but then I ran across something that said if you’re stockpiling for daycare, remember that you only need enough to get through the FIRST DAY and that changed my whole mentality. I think the only time you need to worry about stockpiling is if you’re worried that your milk might dry up and you’ll have to formula feed before you’re ready. If it’s for daycare, remember you’ll pump that first day and that will give you then next days milk. Of course, pumping a few bottles ahead is never a bad thing which the few days I’ve sent her to daycare, has come in handy.
What pump do I use? Spectra 2. It’s awesome. I’ve never had one problem with it. I got it because it is able to suck clogs out. Or so it says… I’ve never actually had one, but just in case, I didn’t want to be stuck. If I got another one, I’d want the Spectra 9 hands free. I would probably pump more if I had that so that I could still be productive while pumping. The Spectra 2 keeps me tied to the chair, couch, or bed. At night it’s not so bad, but when you’re up moving, it sucks to have to go sit down for 25 minutes at a time when you have other things you need to finish.
Did you introduce solids or are you waiting? We started on solids at month 4. She wanted to eat. It was totally baby led. There are ALL SORTS of groups that will JUMP YOUR CASE for giving a baby solids before a year if you’re breastfeeding, but truly, I think it’s a personal choice. For us, if she wants to eat, she eats. If she doesn’t, I don’t worry about it because she’s breastfed. I know that she’s getting what she needs from me.
How long will I breastfeed? The goal now is one year. I have four and a half months left. There are days when I’m ready to throw the towel in because I just want to sleep for one damn night, or take a shower while someone else feeds the baby, or just finish one freakin’ thing without having to stop and nurse, but literally I blinked and my firstborn is ready to start driving. This too will be over before I know it. There are so many times when it just sucks. There are so many days when I look down at her and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. There are times I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a mom again and have this little moment before she realizes her dad is more fun, or she’d rather hang out with her friends.
Would I do it again? Yes. Absolutely.
Would I do it differently? Yes. Absolutely. I would have a handsfree pump in addition to my Spectra. I would exclusively breastfeed for some currently undetermined period of time and I would pump from that point on. Doing so would allow others to step up and help giving me the opportunity to take care of things that need to be done and take care of myself as well.
Overall. breastfeeding has been a great experience. It has definitely not been a bed of roses, but there was never anything so great as to deter me from trying it or that would make me stop. I say that to say that I think there’s a misconception that this is the most amazing, beautiful, simple, and natural thing a woman can do. For some, maybe that’s true, but for me, it’s not. I write this to the woman who feels overwhelmed by the pro-breastfeeding community and just isn’t sure she agrees or belongs, or the woman who isn’t sure she can do it. You CAN, and if you choose not to, THAT’S OKAY TOO.