In defense of feeling ambiguous about breastfeeding…..sort of

You reopen a blog thinking you were going to write mostly about Jesus and two months later you tell the world about your boobs. What can I say, God works in mysterious ways?

Anyway, I follow the site Babble pretty closely. Yesterday they published an article about breast feeding vs. formula feeding that I thought was pretty reasonable. I also thought it wasn’t really anti-breastfeeding. It just wasn’t pro breastfeeding. But, as you find out when you get pregnant, somehow having a baby makes your body in a weird way public property. Thats right, even if you haven’t posed for Playboy, people, strangers, strange people who don’t even HAVE boobs, are allowed to have an opinion about your boobs. And what you should and should not be doing with them, and where, and when, and for how long. It is totally weird. Really, truly, weird. I wish there were a better way to describe it. It’s weird.

Most articles and blog posts you read take a really strong stance. And I get it, I do. I do think breast feeding is important and most women not doing it for longer is simply a product of our incredibly crappy maternity leave and care in this country. I think everyone should be super positive and encouraging about breastfeeding because if it weren’t for a friend stopping by after her 12 hour shift to get the peanut to latch, another friend paying for a lactation consultant, and some excellent advice from my sister and aunt who used to be a la leche league coach, I would have never been able to make it work. I was supported, that is why it worked for me.

But, there is a difference between being supportive, and making people feel like crap if they opt to formula feed. Especially if they have given it an honest try. Breastfeeding while Juliet was tongue tied was the most painful experience of my life. I had fibromyalgia for years, and pushed out a baby, and breastfeeding made me want to DIE. But that is a sign that something is wrong, so if that is how it is for you RUN to someone who can help you! So I get a little bristly when someone (even on the internet) puts “hard” in quotations marks when they feel like women just use it as an excuse. They, apparently didn’t get their nipple chewed off by their oldest (the first time the peanut yells YOU DON’T LOVE ME! She will see the scar….by 16 she’ll be like mom, put your boob away, fine I won’t wear this short skirt) so maybe they should back off.

So I do support breastfeeding, but I do think that sometimes the hard gets glossed over because people want everyone to try it. In my experience not being totally honest about anything only makes that thing more difficult for everyone. With that I will say, there are pros and cons. Oh and I am only one person with only two boobs the experience that I am describing only applies to those two boobs.

Pro: It is free. You burn extra calories. It is ridiculously convenient. Seriously, no going for a bottle in the middle of the night or worrying about if you will have clean warm water available, is the baby here? Are my boobs here? Good to go.It made air travel very easy for us. Crying? Nurse her, she stops. There is something very cool about your body being able to provide for your child. For me, getting Juliet to latch and then going through the whole tongue tied thing made me feel like God uniquely designed me to advocate for her. It gave me confidence that I could be this babe’s mom. I love coming home from work and her bouncing around like a maniac because she wants to get to me. Maybe if I wasn’t the bearer of the boobs she would still do this because I am her mama. But I do love that moment. It has provided some very sweet moments that I may have missed because I am so go go go. I had to stop, and let her eat, and just hang out and hold her. I needed a reminder to do that sometimes. Especially when she was very little. You don’t have your period. How cool is that?

Con: It hurt until we got the tongue untied, then it still hurt for a little bit. But we worked through it. I got approached for nursing in public, and it made me a little skiddish to nurse wherever whenever. Though I did get the opportunity to tell someone if they didn’t like it they could arrest me. I also got a profuse apology from the property manager. I felt kinda like a bad-ass. I also got over the skiddishness. I hated pumping. Hated it. Leaking, but they make pads that work great. For me the cloth ones didn’t cut it. I needed the disposable ones. But don’t forget them when you teach high school boys! I have been more bra sizes in the last nine months then I was during my entire pubescent period. I thought they would just get big, then go back. It did not occur to me how much milk I needed to be making would be evident just by looking.

Looking at this list I think for me the pros absolutely way out the cons, and most of those cons would not have existed if a.) someone would have told me or b.) I would have had a normal experience. But pumping, it still sucks (no pun-intended). I do wish the way we talk about breastfeeding would be more approachable in this country. Instead of “breast is best” I think I will go with “hey, everybody likes boobs, even your baby, why don’t you give ’em one!”

4 thoughts on “In defense of feeling ambiguous about breastfeeding…..sort of

  1. Thanks for this post, Abby. As someone who was hesitant about breastfeeding, then had a tough start and only stuck with it (and continues to stick with it) because of strong support from the women around me it's nice to know I'm not alone. — Dem

  2. Dem, right? The same women who LOOOVE breast feeding are the same ones LOOOOVE pregnancy. Liars. All of them. At least thats what it feels like from over here.

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