Breastfeeding my children has always been the choice I wanted to make, I felt strongly about it and would not accept anything else. Then I struggled with my first born. I ended up stopping at 4 months and felt like a complete failure. I learned to accept that he and I both were not failing, I just didn’t have the support and resources or the knowledge and he just simply wanted to eat. Two kids later, classes, Facebook groups, friends, and a lot of trial and error, I finally feel content with my breastfeeding journey. However, I realize so many (myself included) still need support and to know the real truths about it.
Breastfeeding is HARD
As we welcome newborns into the world, our expectations don’t always match reality. The stress of everyday life, adjusting hormones, checking on baby 20x instead of trying to get rest, doctors visits, house guests, finding the number one product we bought isn’t working for our baby and searching for another top contender can all be too much. Then don’t forget to add in what positions to hold the baby for comfort for both mom and child, cracked nipples, what size shield to wear, to pump or to put directly to breast, outside “advice”; It all can make it that much more stressful. Breastfeeding is so hard, it is stressful, you question constantly if you make enough milk or remembering to eat yourself to be able to have the energy and calories needed to produce. It is constant work and it is a commitment.
2. My boobs HURT!
When milk comes in during the first few days to the first week, your boobs hurt. They grow so large and fill will all that precious milk, all while your nipples are adjusting to sucking and pulling. Nipples crack and bleed, even if you try to stay on top of it by using lanolin cream. Then there can be blockages in the milk ducts that are known to cause whole body pain for some and if not remedied can lead to mastitis. You hear a baby cry or think of your cute little one? Your boobs start a letdown and leak which can be uncomfortable. Your boobs are doing what they are supposed to do, but sometimes they just hurt and its better to be upfront about it instead of ending up completely blindsided and miserable if expecting any different.
3. It is lonely
While the older kids are off playing, people come visit, husband enjoys company… you go sneaking off to feed the baby or pump for a future feed. If you choose to feed around others, some people may become awkward and shy away from being uncomfortable or not knowing what is ‘acceptable’ while being near a breastfeeding woman. It feels like you are the only one who can provide and care for the baby while everyone carries on with their life, even if you are pumping for later this is something only you can do.
4. It is selfless and full of LOVE
Breastfeeding your baby, even when the world tells you it is easier to not is selfless. You create a bond with your child like no other, you provide natural nutrients, and fulfill the needs of your child by you alone. You may put up with nasty comments and stares from others, but you charge on because you know what is best for your child and your family. This is a pure form of love that you are showing your child. Your body is providing exactly what your baby needs exactly when they need it.
5. It is a choice
Obviously, there are options in feeding your child and each is your choice based on your needs and judgement. A healthy baby that is fed is what ultimately matters. There may be reasons you can not breastfeed or choose not to, and that is okay. But for those that do; support, community, and a helping hand can make the world of difference.
To those of you on your breastfeeding journey, however long or short that may be, or those wondering if it is the right choice to make for your family; you are seen and you are loved. Stand strong in taking care of your child in the way you see fit.