– Should you attempt to breastfeed before deciding on the bottle?
– Should you cover up or should everyone get over it when you whip it out to nurse?
– What age is too old to continue breastfeeding?
Lately there’s been a ton of press about breastfeeding. From ads encouraging it to blogs on it, to tweets that rally for or against it in public.
Breastfeeding is HARD. I didn’t expect it to hurt as bad as it did, to be as time consuming as it was, to mess with my hormones for months on end. There were many nights I thought about giving up and simply giving Bella formula. I blogged my entire experience (as it was still fresh in my head) about it for Heir to Blair one time.
Then once everything healed on me and both her and I got the hang of it, the reflux and barfing kicked in. Hours on end Bella would puke up breastmilk while I cleaned it up. I woke up some nights and bawled because I simply didn’t think I could handle her projectile vomiting all over me and the bed one more time. I went through 25-30 burp cloths a day. The big ones. Like 3 feet long and 2 feet wide folded in half to catch it all.
You’d think after all that, I’d maybe be a bit miffed at someone who didn’t try at all, or gave it a shot for a few days and then switched to formula. But really, I understand. Breastfeeding was more painful than labor for me. Hands down – I’d rather push out a 17lb kid than go through those first few weeks again.
So when someone says, “It was so hard, I just couldn’t do it,” I nod my head in sympathy. I get it.
On top of that, if you can’t be at home for long after the baby is born, I know the thoughts creep in of, “Why bother if once I’m all healed I have to go back to work and switch to formula anyway?” Let’s face it, not a whole ton of work places are breastfeeding friendly, and even if you insist, they usually find some way to make you pay for it – either emotionally or with actual time off your day.
But if you’re debating – let me tell you that after almost 8 months of breastfeeding, I wouldn’t change a thing. The struggle I went through physically and mentally with Bella’s reflux was worth it for the pride I have in my own body to have been her sole sourse of nutrition for 5 months.
Nothing worth having comes easy, and the same is true for nursing. It wasn’t easy for me, although it is for some. (Jealous) I didn’t have a wonderful lactation consultant, one of the nurses in the hospital was a total pig about it, insisting I supplement with formula 1 day in, and I stood my ground. I had one class that included a bit on feeding, read books, and talked with my Dr. and Mom.
It’s a very personal choice. I know some people don’t feel that way – they don’t feel breastfeeding should be a choice. It’s what our bodies as mothers were made to do. So let me tell you this; I was in the hospital and Bella wouldn’t latch after hours of trying. I was crying, she was crying, the nurse from hell was making everything worse. Finally a new nurse came on duty and sobbing I said, “How come this is so hard for me? Women have done this for thousands of years so why can’t I?”
She looked me in the eyes and said, “No. You’re wrong. In those days, if the mom couldn’t breastfeed, she either had someone else do it or the baby died. Not all moms were able to do this. Just now we don’t need to have a wet nurse or death because of formula.”
It gave me a whole different perspective on breastfeeding. I wasn’t a failure if I couldn’t do it, but thanks to modern science my child didn’t have to latch on to another woman or die because of it. Since I was determined to, I kept at it anyway.
As for the public thing, I’m pretty modest when it comes to covering up. I know it makes other people uncomfortable to see a breast hanging out – fair or not. Yes, it’s sad and a little sick that Kim Kardashian can dress like a hoochie and do a sex tape, then have the gall to rudely comment on some woman breastfeeding her baby at the table. But for the sake of the old man next to me, or the young kids a few tables down, or the waiter who may not want to see a breast on his shift, I cover up. I’m completely fine with it.
I’ve known women who don’t, and it does make it a little awkward never to look down while you’re having a conversation with them. It’s like the whole time I have to tell myself, “Look directly into her eyes.” Now I know how guys feel on the first few dates with someone they like. 🙂
I’m not out to make a statement about breastfeeding uncovered or to challenge someone to say something where I can let loose about my rights as a mother, so I cover up.
And when is your kid too old? Well, everyone varies on this one. My opinion? If your kid:
– can unhook your bra
– plays video games while nursing
– needs a note to get out of kindergarten class for snack with you
– can tell you in a full sentence what you just had for lunch
it might be time to wean. I want to continue to nurse for a while, but then again, Bella is still my toothless wonder so things may change if those teeth all come in at once.
However – to each his (or her) own. This is simply my two cents as a breastfeeding mom.