The Adventures of Breastfeeding (the Good and the Bad)

Adventures in BreastfeedingYou have likely heard all about breastfeeding, maybe you have attended a class, heard stories from your friends, or read the many articles that claim that breastfeeding has oh so many benefits. For me, breastfeeding has been a journey of pain and joy. Ups and downs and everything in-between.

The Bad

It’s not magical.

Despite all the hype you read, stories you were told, and peaceful photos you saw of mommas breastfeeding by a lake with wind blowing in their hair, breastfeeding, at least in the early stages, is far from magical. It can be awkward, stressful, painful, and exhausting.

The pain.

No one told me how bad it would hurt. Why isn’t that in the manual?! Endless days and nights in agony. Crying before and during each breastfeeding session. Clogs, engorgement, bad latch, eager jaws coming at me. SO.MUCH.PAIN! I feared that I would get thrush or mastitis daily. It took everything out of me. I tried nipple shields, nipple cream, everything, but nothing could completely take the pain away.

Supply.

Will I make enough? Is my milk good enough? Why is my supply dropping? So many questions… I had them all. The anxiety of not making enough milk for your little one can be overwhelming. I spend many sleepless nights researching lactation recipes, supplements, you name it. Fortunately there are ways to boost your supply, check them out here.

24/7 feeding.

Especially in the first weeks (or months), your little one will want to eat ALL.THE.TIME. Just when you think you might get a break, there she is eager for more. It will sometimes feel like she is sucking the life out of you.

It’s all on you.

There were so many days and nights (especially the nights) that I wanted to hand little one off to the hubs to feed, but she wanted the boob and only the boob. No bottle would suffice.

Pumping.

If you have to work or want some time to go out – date night, shopping, massage (you deserve it!), whatever, you will need to pump. I felt like a cow, hooked up to a machine making milk. Sometimes I could only get an ounce out in 20 minutes and wondered if it was all worth it.

Teething!

Just when we got our rhythm down and everything was going good, there it was. This sharp new pain grinding on my nipples with every latch and pull. WHY?!?!

The pressure.

There is so much pressure to breastfeed – from ourselves, nurses, doctors, friends, strangers… it’s so hard on mommas. There is so much stigma out there on breastfeeding and formula feeding. Why can’t all the pressure stop!! Being a mom is hard enough!!!! Let’s just all feed our babies the way we want to feed our babies. End of story.

The Good

Save money.

Formula is expensive! Breastmilk is free! Enough said.

Health benefits for you and baby.

There have been so many reports on the health benefits for baby, such as antibodies that can build her little immune system and even reduce the risk of allergens. For some, not all, it can even help you lose that baby weight. Just make sure you are still eating enough. Breastfeeding requires a lot of calories!

The pain will go away.

Eventually, in time, and with calloused, abused nipples, you will one day realize: Hey! This doesn’t hurt anymore!

Freedom!

You can go anywhere, without any supplies – bottles, warmer – all you need is your boobs! Shopping, traveling, whatever, just whip your boob out, throw on a cover if you choose, and feed your baby!

It’s empowering!

I felt powerful and prideful knowing that each roll on her tiny little body was made by my milk and my milk alone. Each time she got weighed and went up on the growth charts, I took so much pride in knowing I did that. All me and momma’s milk.

Dream nursing.

Being able to stay cozy in bed, throw that boob in your baby’s mouth, and just rest while baby does the rest, instead of having to get up and make a bottle, is awesome. Especially in those early weeks (or months) where baby wakes up hungry every two or so hours.

Bonding.

Those precious moments that you get to share with just you and your little one are beyond amazing. Sometimes she will take a little break, look at me with her big blue eyes and get the biggest, sweetest smile on her face before returning to her feast. It gets me every time. My heart almost explodes and I cherish the moments that we have just the two of us. I would go through all the pain in the world for these moments.

Now that I am 8 months in, and so close to my goal of one year, I look on the bad and feel like a bad ass for making it this far. I also know that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and I totally get why. I almost stopped a million times, but those rolls, those eyes, those smiles, they get me every time and I will take those teeth gnawing on my boobs…for now.

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