Breastfeeding is a very controversial topic, so please don’t fill my comment sections with hate messages – remember we are all moms making it work among the chaos, so no judgement and no catty words. It’s ridiculous that I even have to put this caveat at the top of my post, that goes to show how much judgement there is even in the mom community who should be supporting each other. This is another topic for a different day.
So, back to breastfeeding. I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. I do it, and I did it until my baby girl was one year, and I’m 6 months in to breastfeeding my baby boy, but it wasn’t a life changing experience for me…and I’m OK with that.
I am amazed at the female body and its ability to feed our babies. The changes our bodies go through are a true miracle, but when I hit one year and my baby girl could eat steak and drink whole milk I was ready to have my body back as my own.
I can hear some of you rolling your eyes and calling me selfish from the other end of your computers and shaking the computer insisting how I should cherish the moment. Others, for your own reasons weren’t able to breastfeed at all. Please pause and refer back to the first sentence of this blog (“no judgement”). I commend women who are able to selflessly feed their babies for multiple years, I personally was proud I was able to make it to one year and other moms can confidently say they made it a few months or a few weeks – again, it is whatever works for you and your baby.
I feel I can fairly and honestly say that I hate it and love it because my experience breastfeeding has been the worst and the best. I’ve gotten mastitis, was in horrible pain and struggled with both of my babies, but I have also enjoyed the money savings, weight loss benefits and the sweet moments when it is just the two of us.
Why do I hate it so much?
Those first 2 – 3 weeks hurt. I don’t care what any lactation expert says, whether it was me learning how to breastfeed, or my babies learning how to suck, my nipples were left cracked and bleeding, and it hurt. I understand it’s not supposed to hurt, and once you get through the first 5 weeks (for me) it gets so much better, but the first few weeks are tough.
I can vividly remember sitting in my rocking chair looking up at my husband in tears saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore”. I was lucky that I had an overly supportive husband and close friends and family members who talked me through those first few weeks, because If I didn’t I would have quit.
It does get better. There are a few weeks…maybe months where I can remember thinking, “I got this”. I was feeding effortlessly with no pain – Lottie and I were finally working as a team. And then she started teething and there were weeks when she forgot how to eat, or her latch changed with her new teeth and we were back to square one with the pain and the voice inside my head telling me to give up.
Your body isn’t your own
After being pregnant for 9 months I couldn’t wait to have my body back. With breastfeeding I still had to worry about what I ate or drank and if it would end up in my milk or if milk would leak out of me while I am running errands. I know I’m being selfish, but I want my body to feel like my own again. I want to wear what I want to wear, and not think about how can I easily get a boob out for when Lottie needs to eat. I wanted to have sex and not worry about if I was going to leak milk all over my husband (Sorry TMI? It happens). I selfishly want my body back.
You have to feed or pump every 4 hours
If you don’t want to lose your milk supply, or you don’t want your boobs to explode you have to set aside time every 4 (ish) hours to pump or feed. This means if I want to go on a girls trip shopping all day without my baby I still have to bring my pump, cooler, ice pack and bottles to use during my fun filled girls day. If I want to go on vacation without my baby, I not only have to leave enough milk for grandma to feed her every 4 hours, but I have to pump multiple times a day while I’m on vacation, store the milk and bring it back through customs. Think about that, I have been feeding a baby or pumping every 4 (ish) hours for 1.5 years. Let’s just say it’s inconvenient.
I never know how much he actually eats
Is he getting enough? Is he gaining weight? How much does he actually eat? When I leave him with a sitter, how much milk do I leave him? With bottle feeding or formula you know how many ounces he is getting. There are so many unknowns when it comes to breastfeeding and somehow he regulates how much milk he needs, and he is able to tell my body to produce more or less. All I have to do is take myself out of it and trust that all will be ok, which is sometimes the hardest part as a mom.
So, Why do I secretly love it?
It’s Healthy for baby (and let’s be serious, the weight loss for me!)
Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of breastmilk, and I believe them. I figure if I am able to give my baby the best food for them I might as well push aside all of the reasons I hate it for a year and give them all that I got. Both of my babies have avoided being very sick, ear infections etc, and who knows if breastfeeding is helping that, but I am telling myself it is.
And let’s be serious, we’ve all heard the benefits for baby, but I mostly love it for the weight loss benefits for me. I know once I wean I have to start being more careful on what I eat. The calories burned while breastfeeding are a big reason I keep at it.
It’s Easy (and cheap)
I always have my boob on me, and I never have to heat up my boob, or bring an extra cooler to keep it fresh. I can feed them anytime, anywhere. When I first started breastfeeding I was shy and overly concerned with being home to feed her. Months later, and years later with my second, I have fed and pumped in the strangest of places. When your baby is hungry, they are hungry. And yes I’ve gotten the awkward stares that so many people complain about, but you know what, who cares. Let them have their opinions, my only goal is to feed my baby, if it bothers you, you are the only one who is losing sleep over it.
Also, formula is expensive. I was (not so secretly) glad to bypass that expense for the first year.
It’s a Miracle
I am still in awe of the miracle of birth and how I am their sole food source for their first 6 months and most of the rest of the year. It is an incredible miracle and I feel grateful to be able to get milk to my babies. When you look at the breakdown of our milk, the nutritional benefits and healing nature is awesome. Recently I read an article which I suggest you check out but I’ll share the part that blew my mind:
“her breastfeeding baby’s saliva tipped her own body off to the fact that the baby was sick, so her body “[changed] the milk’s immunological composition, tailoring it to the baby’s particular pathogens by producing customized antibodies.”
It’s a sweet moment between the two of you
I know one of the reasons most people insist is that you should breastfeed is that you bond with your child, which yes I can definitely say it is a bonding time, but personally I feel there are numerous other ways that Lottie and I have bonded outside of breastfeeding.
That being said, it is an incredibly sweet moment, when all is quiet and your baby is so content. You are their comfort and safe place for that year (or however long you breastfeed for). No one can replace that role you play in your baby’s life. They grow up so quickly and become “do it by self” independent kids before you can blink. For that first year I love holding on to the fact that I am the only person who can care for them in that way.
I’m clear on the blog, this is a judgement free zone. No matter if you are breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding, as long as you are feeding your baby and giving them all the love you have that is the best thing you can do for them. This post is based on my own experiences, emotions and feels. I would love to hear about your love/hate relationship with breastfeeding in the comments in a constructive way please!
I totally feel the “body not being your own” part. I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding too. My son just turned one and some days I want to never stop and others I’m ready to throw in the towel.
This is 100% how Im feeling right now. I want to stop but also not because of the nights when it’s just the two of us cuddled up on the couch. I never got that experience with my first daughter.
I love that my body is going back to pre baby so much faster. But I also miss the ease of formula feeding. I hate having to empty myself every 4 hours or leaking randomly. It is this weird love hate relationship and I think how you stated it was the best.