Breastfeeding is supposed to be natural. You know that women have done it since the beginning of mankind. It is done in third world countries. And around the world women are feeding at this exact second. But there is so much about breastfeeding that is hidden behind the curtain. It is masked by women talking about how much of a bonding experience it is, how wonderful it is, and how it is the right thing for baby. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, it has its perks, but there are so many not so warm and fuzzy aspects of it that no one tells you. So here it is; I am putting it out there.
The pre-game can make you or break you.
I had a poor experience with my first breastfeeding attempt, so this time around I met with a lactation nurse to calm my nerves and answer my questions. Yeah, yeah the classes are OK, but the one on one Q&A was way more effective. Don’t rely on the lactation nurses in the hospital. You will hate them. Between being tired, hormonal, confused, overwhelmed and did I mention tired?, nothing they say will make sense or be comforting. Seek outside help in advance.
You will make friends with your boobs.
Until I attempted breastfeeding, I can honestly said that I didn’t spend much time with my boobs. I mean, they were there and that was about it. But when you breastfeed, you have a much more intimate relationship with them. You get a little handsy. You now hold your boobs for hours a day when feeding, massage them frequently to keep the production flowing and rub your nipples with cream. Plus, you could compete with a topless dancer for logging how much time they are out and on display.
Breastfeeding is not free.
Yeah we have all heard that if nothing else, breastfeeding is free. I am here to tell you it is far from free. There is the pump, which is a necessity if you plan to go back to work or ever plan to attempt to leave the house. Then there are the storage supplies, sleeping bras, regular bras, the freezer bag thing to take with you, creams, and so on. Dropping $60 on one nursing bra made me realize just how expensive this endeavor is getting. Yeah, and don’t mention that you can get cheaper ones from Target, because when you have boobs, with a bra size in letters you didn’t know they made bras in, you can’t. Nope, not on their website either. We are talking about special order.
Your diet is similar to a drug addict.
Yep, you could take up residence in Colorado because of the amount of food scavenging that you do. Especially in the very beginning, exactly when hubby goes back to work, there is little time to actually make a meal. No, I am not talking about dinner. I am talking about breakfast and lunch, the ones you are solo on. Basically, if it can fit into your hand with out making too much of a mess without a plate and doesn’t have to be prepared in anyway, it is fair game and considered a meal. Things that fall into this category are king cake, string cheese, granola bars, apples and Cheese-Its. All are nowhere near the high protein diet that breastfeeding moms are supposed to consume. Um…sorry, dear baby, I can’t feed you because I am busy preparing protein doesn’t quite work.
This stuff stains.
No, breastfeeding itself does not stain, but Lanolin does. Lanolin is this magic cream that makes your nipples hate you just a bit less in the first couple of weeks. But in the large quantities that I was applying it, it became the nemesis of my pajamas. Which means that by the time I am finished breastfeeding, I will need to replace all of my pajamas and a few of my husband’s shirts that I have claimed with boobie stains. File this also under the breastfeeding is not free issue.
Breastfeeding is an individual sport.
Yes, I know that seems obvious, but after bottle feeding my first and it being a team sport, it sucks to be the only one getting up at night. You really realize it is all on you at about 3AM on the third night home from the hospital. Although, I may have wished so hard that my husband could just take a feeding or two that I am surprised he didn’t start lactating. Damn, where is my fairy godmother when you need her.
A blocked milk duct in your nipple is the female equivalent of getting kicked in the balls.
Yep it is. Every time the baby latches, it is like getting kicked. It is a sharp pain that paralyzes you for a second. The only difference is that you know you are going to experience the pain and you have to do it about every two hours. If childbirth wasn’t enough, this little gem keeps your boobs feeling just glorious.
Breastfeeding has a sense of humor.
You are brainwashed in the hospital not to give your baby a pacifier because they will have nipple confusion. So you become a human pacifier at the beck and call of baby at any time. Add in nipples that basically have been rubbed raw with sandpaper at the beginning, and it makes for a great time. On about your second night home from the hospital, when you are in the trenches of nipple pain and getting brave away from the lactation Nazis and you try a pacifier, you baby wont take it!!! Breastfeeding 1, Mommy 0
Modesty and breastfeeding don’t mix.
There are all these campaigns for acceptance of women breastfeeding in public. And, I know you lose modesty when you have a baby, but at some point you have to reclaim some of it. To each his own, because I couldn’t even imagine whipping my boob out in public to feed my child. Um no. And, no not even with a cover up because there are not enough hands to hold the baby, the boob and then negotiate the cover up in place. It’s too risky for a free show in my opinion. I’ll keep my boobs out of public places for my comfort and your comfort, no problem. I am barely comfortable feeding in my own home much less taking this show on the road.
Breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart.
Your boobs will hurt in ways you didn’t know were possible, and they will do things you didn’t know they could do. So you have to be up for it. But after bottle feeding my first and feeling like breastfeeding moms were nuts, I know now that they are. Being on the breastfeeding side of the fence, I know that breastfeeding moms are putting in a ton of work and the only reward is going to the pediatrician and seeing how much weight the baby has gained. It is a lot of pressure!
I felt the same way for the first six weeks.. afterwards it became a routine and I was lucky that it was smooth sailing from there. Baby even weaned off slowly at 20 months old. Oh yes, I was working fulltime doing 9hour days and pumping at work every two hours. My second will be born this summer and I hope to have the same luck with him!!
Breast feeding is hard. And terrible at times. I shed many tears over milk supply, birth weight, pumping schedule, weight gain, and — oh the pain! I nursed for 22 months between my two, so I survived and it got easier.
Silly for some posters to say that this post should only be written with helpful “resources” and la leche league cites. pro-BF resources are not lacking, but honesty about the experience can be. In any case, that wasn’t the point of this article.
And as to free- ha! I remember how many trips we had to make to the nursing supply store. People told us we should get a lactation consultant in advance, but I thought I’d be someone who didn’t need it. I did need it, and was so glad we went- but once they tll you what specially shaped pump parts you need, in addition to mothers milk pills, nursing pads, gel pads for sore nipples…. It definitely adds up.
Thanks for this article, although breast feeding years are past me, I enjoyed reading it and the humor and flashback moments.
This is always a touchy subject based on individuals. I must say that things these days sees to be overcomplicated for no reason. I don’t remember it being that way.
I guest when you think about the real reason and mission which is to have healthy babies, nothing else matters.
All of these gizmos and things seem to get in the way. Hell think of women in 3rd worlds, they make it work (what if you didn’t have all the gizmos). I think I paid $40 for a pump from walmart while in the military but stopped breast feeding after 3 months…
My favorite the breast shield because your baby won’t latch properly so your delivery nurse says here let’s try this to get the baby fed. Then when the lactation nurse tells you it is bad & you will fail in 3 wks because of the shield sorry sister month 3 & still feeding my baby boy. Sorry my nipples are a little small.
I would add that, although I breastfed five months, I wish I’d quit sooner, because no one told me that it seemed to keep the swelling hormones of late pregnancy in my body the whole time. I had joint pain and just a general feeling of mastitis coming on, 99.9 degree fever and mild aches, at ALL times, even when I clearly did not have mastitis. And anyone who tells you you lose more weight breastfeeding is lying. I couldn’t exercise in any rigorous manner when I was aching and swollen and 40 pounds heavier than normal that I couldn’t lose after giving birth. Granted, I did gain an ungodly 70 pounds, and I’m a very small woman usually whose body went berserk with all that added weight, and I also had an emergency c-section, but breastfeeding hurt me. I don’t mean it hurt my breasts or nipples. I mean it kept me swollen and achy for 5 months. Within a week of stopping, I was 90% better and began losing weight very rapidly. It may be best for the baby, but it is NOT always best for the mother. And anyone who tells you to suffer that way and sacrifice your health for your baby to have breast milk is misguided and misogynistic, and there were a couple who did tell me that. I would have done it for a month, because it was a GREAT experience I wouldn’t trade and great for my baby, but there is NO NEED to do it 5 months if it’s hurting your health.
I wish I had known that lanolin stained. Thanks for including that. I’ve ruined a lot of shirts. Yes, the problem can be avoided by using nursing pads, but that would require wearing a bra…something I don’t do a lot why breast pumping…my baby is in the Nicu so no actual breastfeeding for me.
Yet another negative and disappointing post on NOMB regarding breastfeeding. I believe your points could have been done with a much less negative tone. How about keeping positive? After being up with kids all night-last thing I need to see is negativity.
Your advice on the lactation consultant/nurse in the hospital is spot on. My daughter had a severe tongue tie(I had no clue what that was) and breastfeeding was HORRIBLE at first-blisters and all. But randomly another nurse just happened to drop the term tongue tie. We got my baby fixed when she was 5 days old. I never looked backed. Breastfeeding became way easier. It’s a far more common problem than I think what presented. My husband thinks it’s a conspiracy because if the tongue ties get fixed lactation consultants don’t get as much work.
This is so disheartening to see the 3 very negative and rude comments on this post. I loved this article, as I lov most of the NOMB stories. I couldn’t breastfeed my first baby, she just wouldn’t do it. I pumped for 5 months until my body just wouldn’t produce anymore so she had formula supplementation at 2 months. My second baby was a “perfect latch” and breastfed for 6 months until again my body couldn’t keep up. Two completely different experiences and they are both perfect. I had difficulties with both experience but they both kept my babies fed which is the most important part. I don’t know why moms feel the need to judge or belittle any effort we other moms are doing! Thanks for your perspective!
I know this is an old post but I am still really confused how some commenters had so drastically misinterpreted the tone and point of this article. We need way more articles like this out there about breastfeeding. I really wish I had come across more articles like this one when doing research about breastfeeding ahead of giving birth, as it probably would have saved me from feeling like a terrible failure when breastfeeding didn’t turn out to be some easy, intuitive, painless thing that a lot of the literature out there suggests it will be. Kudos to you, Linzy, for injecting a little humor and a lot of truth into a subject that is often whitewashed over with positivity for some mysterious reason.