So I've been thinking about this for awhile, and there's just a few things I need to get off my chest (ha, ha...get it? I'm hilarious.)
My friend Kimberlee and I used to talk about how we wanted to write a book called The Truth About Breastfeeding.
Before I get started I need to make a couple of things very clear:
a) I'm a big proponent of breastfeeding. I nursed all 4 of my children for their first year on this earth. I think everyone should try it.
b) I do not judge anyone who formula-feeds their baby, either because they are unable to breastfeed, or because they choose not to.
There's too much judgement on both sides of this debate. I'm not here to debate though. I'm here to pass along my profound wisdom!
As I stroll through blogland each day, I see there are so many new mothers, expecting mothers, first time mothers, and I think it's absolutely wonderful! I start to reminisce about my first pregnancy, and my first child, and the experiences I've had with each different baby we have been blessed with. I don't know if any of these young mothers ever read my blog...but I'm going to pretend they do and that I'm passing along a little mommy wisdom!
In BOLD I will put what "they" say. "They" referring to all the breastfeeding books, magazines, "coaches" etc. Then below I will put how it really is....the gospel according to Xazmin!
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world.
Um, actually...it's HARD! It's awkward, and uncomfortable when you are first learning. You don't know how to hold him correctly. You can't tell if your baby's getting anything, if you're smothering him, if there's any milk coming out. It's a huge guessing game!
It's the most loving, bonding experience a new mother can have.
Not always true. Sometimes you're so worried about doing it right, it's just stressful, and you don't have enough emotional energy left over to "bond"!
Your newborn will eat every 2-4 hours.
Ha! My firstborn wanted to eat ALL THE TIME! I felt lucky if I could hold him off for 30 minutes between meals! And my other 3 nursed every freakin' hour!
If you're doing it correctly, it is not painful.
FALSE! If you add it all up, I have breastfed for about 4 years out of my life. Now I know some moms have like 7 (or 17!) kids. But I still feel like going through it 4 times gives me a little insight to knowing if I'm doing it right or not.
I know there are some women who are blessed to have it all work perfectly without ever having any pain or discomfort. But I can tell you from everyone I know, (I'm Mormon...we have big families and we breastfeed (mostly)...I know about that which I speak!) and from my own experience, the majority of new moms have a painful first few days, weeks (or in my case with Bookworm, months!). It doesn't matter how carefully you practice, and latch that baby on, your boobs (yes, I say boobs, sorry for anyone who finds that word offensive...that's just how I roll) are just not used to that kind of abuse! You have sore nipples. Sometimes even cracked and bleeding ones. It doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong!
Breastmilk is the only suitable source of nourishment for a newborn.
While I agree that breastmilk is God's perfect recipe for providing our babies the nourishment they need, and has all the nutrients in perfect proportions for our little ones, not breastfeeding does not make someone a bad mother!
Formula has come such a long way over the generations. I believe modern technology is also a gift from God. This technology has given us the advancements necessary to make good, healthy, nourishing baby formula for our babies.
I was disgusted when a pro-breastfeeding campaign came out calling formula feeding dangerous. Comparing giving your baby formula to riding a mechanical bull, or doing a high wire act while you are pregnant. Really? Really people...give me a break.
Whew! I feel better. I feel like the above 5 things are the biggest myths in the breastfeeding world!
Now, that being said. I do NOT intend this to scare anyone away from breastfeeding! I will add to each of the things I said above.
First, although it's awkward at first, you will quickly learn what is most comfortable for you and your little one, and what schedule works best. Once you get it down, breastfeeding is incredibly rewarding. You are providing your baby with something that no one else in their life is able to. It's your perfect, special gift to him or her. There's nothing sweeter than looking down into your little one's perfect, content little face as they are nourished by their mama. I really encourage every new mom to at least give it a try.
Next, the eating all the time doesn't last forever! I promise! As the months go by they'll be bigger, need less and be too busy and curious to eat all the time!
Now about the pain. I think this varies depending on you, your baby, and your breasts! I have some big milk jugs on me, so I had a more difficult time I think, getting itty bitty babies to latch on correctly. Sometimes it hurt so bad I wanted to say the worst swear word I know when they first latched on. I had bleeding and cracking. But I never once second thought my decision, and I plowed through and am so glad I did! Because this part doesn't last forever. Sometimes only a few days. I know this might be too much information for some of you...but the reason I wanted to get it out there is this:
Based on everything I had read about how it was supposed to be, I felt like a complete and utter failure. I must be doing everything all wrong, or it wouldn't hurt, right? I must not have good milk, or he wouldn't be so hungry all the time right? My experience was NOT what "they" had described. At least in the beginning. But if I ever have another baby...I will go through it all over again. It's worth it, and I loved that time with my babies, providing them with what only I could.
Here's my best piece of advice if you are planning on breast feeding. Ask the hospital to give you lanolin ointment, or buy your own before you go. Use it EVERY TIME you nurse. Immediately after you're done nursing. Even if you're not sore (because you won't be the first couple of times). It makes a world of difference. Don't forget to use it every time. Also, it's safe to take Tylenol while breastfeeding. Sometimes it really helps take the edge off of the pain.
If you are a new mom, or soon to be mom struggling with, or considering breastfeeding, I just want you to know that you shouldn't be frustrated if it's not everything the experts say! I think so many people give up too soon because they have false expectations of what it's supposed to be. If you really want to do this for your baby...don't give up! You will get past the hard part, and then it will be wonderful!
If you are a mom who wants to breastfeed, but are unable to for some reason...It's okay! My heart goes out to you. You're still a wonderful mom. Breastmilk is just one tiny thing in the many, many things that mother's have to offer their children. Give them your heart and that's what matters.
I hope I haven't offended anyone. If it all worked perfectly for you, that's awesome. But I just wanted to put this out there for the many of us who have a difficult time mastering the skill of breastfeeding!