Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is not my favorite thing to do, and it is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Now, I have breastfed both of my children, and I have done so for the year recommended by the AAP.
Even though it isn’t my favorite thing to do, I will gladly sacrifice a year to breastfeed my children because it's what’s best for my family. No matter how you decide to raise your children, you have to make the best choices for your family and your situation. For my family, breastfeeding was the best option.
Due to the health benefits of breastfeeding, I wanted to make it work. God blessed me with a wonderful friend, who also happened to be a lactation consultant. If it weren't for her, I probably would have quit.
Keep reading to find out the good, bad and ugly of my breastfeeding experience:
Breastfeeding has numerous benefits. It's cheaper financially, helps you lose the baby weight, helps with baby bonding and is healthier for the baby.
I will say that it did help me lose the baby weight, and it was much cheaper. Besides the expenses for the pump, bottles, nipples and pumping accessories (hands-free bra, steam bags, etc.), the milk itself is free. Most of the equipment and accessories are reusable, and there are only a few things that need to be bought on a regular basis (steam bags, freezer bags).
There is also something empowering about knowing your milk is providing the necessary nutrients for your baby. For the first six months, I didn’t really introduce solid foods, so the babies survived on my milk alone. (Talk about making a girl feel good.)
I do think the health benefits alone were enough to convince me to give it a try. My first daughter didn’t get her first ear infection until she was 15 months old, and I contribute that partly to breastfeeding.
The second baby, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as lucky in that department. She has had several incidences of sickness. Being born in the winter didn’t help her fragile immune system, either.
The worst parts for me were the pumping and the sanitizing of parts every day. I hate pumping, and being milked like a cow is unappealing to me.
On top of having to lug the pump to and from work, I had to find a quiet place to do my business if the school schedule changed (which it did for exams, training, etc.). I would also have to find other teachers to cover my classes. Most times, I had to sit in our science stockroom when I couldn’t use my classroom.
Next, you always hear how mobile breastfeeding is. For someone like me, who will not feed in public, it is more of a disadvantage.
Let me stop and say I am in no way offended by anyone who chooses to feed her baby in public. In fact, I admire you. I wish I could be more like you.
I wish I could be more comfortable feeding my baby in public. I usually pump before we go out, or I have to feed in the car.
If you don’t pump and only nurse, it is hard to know how much your baby is getting. The only way you know is by counting the diapers and making sure you have enough output. The Alpha Parent is a good resource for information, and it's all broken down by your baby’s age.
As an OCD, Type A person myself, I tended to panic if my girls didn’t hit the right number of diapers every day. So, I downloaded an app that helped me keep count of diapers and feedings.
There are tons of free apps out there to help.
Now, let’s move to the ugly side of breastfeeding. When I first started breastfeeding, I was told to give it three weeks. If I could make it through three weeks, it would get better.
Boy, let me tell you: Those three weeks are excruciating. Between the raw, chapped nipples, engorgement, mastitis and plugged ducts, breastfeeding can be downright painful.
It doesn’t get much better the second time around, either. I still had to go through the same pain the second time with daughter number two.
I remember one time in particular when my breasts were so chapped, they started to bleed. Trying to pump when they are chapped is awful, and I would have to grit my teeth to get through a pumping session.
On a lighter note, for all of you ladies who are considering breastfeeding, know that it is a wonderful experience, not to mention one of the best gifts you can give your baby. There are numerous resources out there to help as well. KellyMom is wonderful for all of the questions you may have.
The good far outweighs the bad and ugly, but it is a long, tough road. Every baby is different, and every mom’s experience is different.
Disclaimer: How you feed your baby is a personal choice, and I am in no way, shape or form judging other moms who have made different choices.