Breastfeeding is a weird topic these days. On one hand, it’s something you’re expected to do. It’s the best for your baby and after all, why wouldn’t you?
On the other, it’s a total inconvenience for society. Not only do people not want to see you doing it, it’s frequently nodded to as weird beyond the newborn stage. I mean really, you’re still breastfeeding?! Doesn’t your baby have, like, teeth?
So what’s a mama to do?
The answer is one only you can provide. Because breastfeeding, just like pregnancy, labor and newborns, is totally different for everyone.
For some women, formula is the answer. Maybe your baby isn’t getting enough natural nutrition, or you had issues during labor and need stronger drugs. Or maybe your baby just plain won’t latch, or the commitment is making you totally miserable. These are all legitimate reasons to formula feed your baby. Because guess what? Tons of recent studies show there is no long-term difference.
But, if you are considering breastfeeding (or trying to), allow me to share why I love it so. dang. much.
It makes me feel like a freaking woman.
Why? Because it’s incredibly empowering.
I grew this beautiful baby girl inside my body for 41.5 weeks, recovered from her exiting my body, and now, have successfully nourished her in the outside world for four months. My body alone is responsible for her growing into a little human.
The sense of pride I feel from that is greater than anything I’ve ever felt in my entire life. More exciting than my last promotion, that big presentation I nailed or even the 15K I ran.
It speaks to the power of the female body — my body. And that’s pretty awesome.
But I would lie if I didn’t tell you that it’s a ton of work. She needs me all. the. time. I feed her in the morning, day, night and middle of the night. I pump 2+ times per days to build up our freezer stash, which heartbreakingly gets depleted any time I leave the house for an extended period of time. There’s very little errand running, friend-seeing or restaurant-eating time, because after just a couple hours, baby girl needs to eat again.
Drinking alcohol and caffeine are kept to a minimum. And beans? Garlic? Hot sauce? No way. Every baby is different, but Lyla haaaates those things, and I can always tell when I accidentally eat them.
And now, as I head back to work, I’ll have to schlep my pump and a freezer bag to and from work every. day. I’ll disrupt my workday to pump at least three times a day in order to keep up my supply. And I’ll package up and organize the milk on a daily basis to bring to daycare.
If that’s not enough, probably one of the worst parts of all is the pain. In the beginning, it hurts. Like REAL bad. There was blood, blisters and lots of tears. I remember wanting to quit so bad, dreading every time she was hungry or I had to pump, and smothering myself with so much nipple balm I thought I would need a whole dresser full. (This one was my fave, btw.)
But the pain only lasts a couple weeks, and then it gives way to an amazing bonding experience that only a mama and her baby can understand. And it makes this incredible sacrifice — all of the sleepless hours, pumping time and nipple pain — all the more rewarding.
Because when I’m feeding my baby, it’s straight magic. There are no words to describe it. And knowing that I made her, grew her and kept her healthy is more gratifying than I ever thought possible.
Perhaps you want to breastfeed but are scared it’ll be too hard, or maybe you’re in the heat of the early pain stage and are ready to give up. But don’t quit. Stick with it. But do it for you. Your baby will love her mama just the same either way.