I have been lucky to be able to breast feed both of my babies. I know that not all women are able to do so for a variety of reasons. I also know that the social pressure and the "breast is best" motto has really got to hurt when you are unable to do so... and are unable to afford the high cost of donor milk (20-35k per year). Mommy guilt sucks. Mommy guilt also sucks, big time, if you don't WANT to breastfeed... which is the category that I fall into. I struggle daily with my desire to wean/supplement with formula and my guilt around giving my kids what's "best" and taking for granted something that other mothers would love to be able to do. But please, hear me out. Here's what I have heard (and continue to hear) about the positives of breast feeding... and my take on the situation:
"Breast is best"/Breast milk is better for your child than formula -- I'm not going to argue to the science here. Breast milk has been shown time and time again to have more health benefits, both short and long term, than formula does. However, that being said, my children are not going to be mutated, fat, stupid and lazy if they are given formula. Jacob and I were both formula-fed babies, and we are both well-adjusted, intelligent adults living very happy lives.
Breastfeeding is convenient. HAHAHAHA. This one, in my mind, is truly laughable. Yes, it may be easier to whip out a boob than to put water in a bottle and mix it up with some formula, you don't have to carry as much around in your diaper bag and you don't have to do any sort of pre-planning in terms of feeding... HOWEVER (and please remember, as the title said, these are MY truths) it would be so much easier to bottle feed a baby while trying to grocery shop, while your partner is driving the car on a road trip, when you're at a social function with (non-nursing mom) friends and family (pulling my boob out in front of my father-in-law doesn't equal a good time in my book), etc. etc. Additionally, if you breastfeed you have to plan your wardrobe around the activity... I am constantly having to think about what shirt/outfit will allow me the easiest access to my chest. Want to wear a cute, high necked dress? Not going to happen unless you want to retreat to a private place and get undressed every time you need to feed the little one. Don't want the entire world to see your baby-flab tummy? Gotta wear multiple layers so you can pull one up and one down and keep your mid-drift covered. Final note on the "convenience" point, pumping breast milk at work is, like, the complete opposite of "convenient".
Nope, actually, I have one more thing to say about this one... sleep. As a breastfeeding mother, when my baby has to eat. It's up to me... day or night. Sure, my husband could give the little one a pumped bottle, but guess who had to pump that bottle, and who will need to pump again in order to keep up supply/relieve the pressure from that missed feeding? Waking up every 2-3 hours for months at a time, I do not feel the lovey, dovey warmth that I am told that I should feel as I breastfeed my child... I feel tired, stressed and often resentful of my sweet child who needs the nourishment, my husband who's sawing logs in the next room (and well rested in the morning) and my toddler who has so much energy and just wants her mommy to play with her during the day.
Breastfeeding is cheaper that formula feeding. OK, so this one is pretty legit. It's much cheaper to produce something for free than to hand over tens of dollars for cans of formula. However, there are expenses involved with breastfeeding... nipple pads so you don't leak out of the left boob while feeding from the right, creams and gel pads to soothe tender areas, nursing bras/tanks/shirts/etc., breast pump, and the 30 bottles you may have to purchase to figure out which one is the most shaped like your nipple so that you're little one will take a bottle while you're away at work (Dr. Brown's, if anyone is curious).
Breastfeeding is great bonding time for mom and baby. So... if you don't breastfeed you don't bond? I call bull shit. I don't feel like my bonding with my children came during feeding times. I was too tired and had my eyes closed at 2 AM or they were asleep (though, of course, NOT at 2 AM when I wanted them to be) or staring off into space. My bonding came from rocking them in my arms, making funny faces and coo-y noises at them, dancing around the living room and just spending time together. I can also tell you, for a fact, that my husband did not bond with our children due to breastfeeding. ;)
If done correctly, breastfeeding doesn't hurt. Again, BS. Breastfeeding, even when the latch is 100% correct can still hurt... just maybe in different ways. Even now, 4 months into my second kid, my let down still stings a bit. Ever since my first was a few months old, my chiropractor has become my best friend. I constantly feel physically drained, nutrient deficient and dehydrated... I'm constantly focusing on what I'm eating/drinking, how much and how often. Breast pumps are not exactly soft, pillow-y apparatuses either. But that's just the physical discomfort... there's the constant stress of: is s/he getting enough to eat? Is working outside the home killing my supply? When am I going to be able to pump today? Can I drink that? Can I eat that? Where, while I'm at this event/party/activity/date with my husband will I be able to pump? Crap, am I leaking through my shirt? Is this taco going to give the baby gas? Is this medication going to decrease my supply? Can I run all 20 errands in the 2 hours that I have between feedings or am I going to have to find a place in public (or retreat to my car) to feed my baby? Am I wearing appropriate clothing so that I can do so without flashing the old man sitting across from me at the restaurant?
Pregnancy weight will just fall off! Not much to say on this topic... just wanted to point out that this is NOT the case for everyone. I had to TRY to lose every pound after the initial birthing weight loss.
So, to sum it up, breastfeeding is a pain in my ass that I really don't like doing... but I continue to do it... because mommy guilt. I don't know how much longer I'll do it. My supply had pretty much kicked it by this time with my first, so we'll see what happens with the second...
I can't be the only one, right? I'm not alone?
P.S. That linked article pretty much could have been written by me, too.