I debated about if I wanted to write this blog post since breastfeeding is such a taboo thing in the American culture. It's not acceptable to do it in public without a cover, and sometimes even with a cover it's not acceptable. No one talks much about it in popular circles. The only reason I hear much about it is because I read stuff online.
But, after going to Meijer today and seeing the price of formula, I decided I needed to write this blog post! Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things that God has created, and there's no question that it is the best source of food for a baby (ask any pediatrician), and it needs to be talked about! I firmly believe that if it was talked about more, that more people would do it.
Everyone says in the beginning, "Stick with it. It's hard at first but it'll be so worth it!" It's sometimes hard to believe that in the first month, but it's TRUE!
I figure the best way to talk about it is to bring up the reasons people DON'T breastfeed and to discuss them.
1. Breastfeeding is too hard. Breastfeeding is hard, and I think it's one of the main reasons women give up on breastfeeding. It was hard at first. I could not get Sophie to latch and had to use a nipple shield. I cried. I called a friend and asked her for help. I listened to my baby scream and felt so helpless. But I was determined, so I went back to the hospital and talked to the lactation consultant (again!). The nipple shield that we used for 4 weeks before Sophie weaned off of it is really what helped us. It honestly took me four weeks before I could get Sophie to latch without it consistently even though I tried continuously. I know there are some exceptions, but I think if most Moms tried longer and had better help, they could do it. Which is why I get frustrated that our society won't talk about it more. By the way, Sophie became a pro at nursing around 4 weeks, and I barely blink an eye while nursing now. I multi-task while doing it, haha. (We also had to deal with thrush for two months which was a lot of work to get rid of... but we beat it!)
2. Breastfeeding takes too much time. This is true too. At first, it takes a lot of time. I also remember crying about this one time. In the beginning, Sophie would nurse every 3 hours, but would take 45 minutes each time! And a couple of nights she nursed for TWO HOURS STRAIGHT! I felt like the only thing I did was nurse her some days. I knew formula would be easier (Daddy being able to feed her at 3am sounded pretty appealing to me), but I just knew that I had to stick with it (being stubborn comes in handy sometimes). By time Sophie was 6 weeks, it took much less time- closer to 15-20 minutes each time. And now she only nurses 4-6 times a day, and she takes around 10 minutes for each. I love it that when she wakes up in the morning, I can easily provide her food source and don't have to sleepily mix formula. I especially loved this when she was still waking up at 3am.
*Note: I am blessed to, for the most part, be a stay at home mom (I do take classes for 3 hours in the morning). My hats off go to women who work and breastfeed. I imagine the time needed for that in the beginning involves a lot of self-sacrfice!
3. Breastfeeding doesn't come in ounces. (i.e. "I don't make enough milk). It is frustrating holding a fragile life in your hands and being expected to supply this little life with the one source that will continue his or her life. I remember frustrating times when I never knew if Sophie was getting enough because she was still fussy after eating for 30 minutes straight. I remember being frustrated when she went through a growth spurt at 3 months and never seemed full (I ate tons of oatmeal and downed water to try to boost my supply- it seemed to work!). Formula is great because you can see the ounces and it's easily accessible if you need more, but I think most women are capable of creating enough milk for their baby, especially if they eat and drink well (which I am terrible at drinking water and still rarely have issues). I think a lot of women quit breastfeeding because they think their bodies aren't capable of creating enough because:
a. Doctors scare them. Doctors say their babies aren't gaining enough (doctor's weight gaining charts are based on formula-fed babies so shouldn't apply to breastfed babies). And when a doctor says such a thing, it's completely normal that a woman holding her baby, who she loves more than anything in the world, would freak out. So then such a woman usually begins supplementing, and supplementing with formula causes her supply to go down because the baby is no longer teaching her body to create the full amount needed, and so eventually the woman loses most of her supply and has to revert completely to formula.
b. Books tell them that their babies should be able to eat far less often than what they do. I like the book Babywise and have learned from it, but one thing I dislike is that it always made me feel like my body wasn't working right because my baby seemed to need to eat far more often than what they said babies should need to eat. Of course, in hindsight, and from talking to other Mamas, I believe my body was functioning completely normal. Sophie just needed to eat every 2.5 hours to be filled!
4. Breastfeeding doesn't allow me to have a social life. I'll be honest... I was tempted several times to give up breastfeeding because of this reason, but deep down I knew it was a selfish reason. I could give up having as much of a social life for a few months to give my baby what was best for her.
5. Breastfeeding doesn't have all the added nutrients that formula does. Okay, I don't think people still believe this (they used to!), but incase you do, it's not true! Breastmilk has the very best nutrients for a baby, and while formula tries hard to be just as good, it's not the same.
6. Breastfeeding is old fashioned. It is :) But some thing that are old fashioned are also meant to be new fashion. Some things that are old fashioned are really what is best.
I *know* that breastfeeding is impossible for some, in which cases I am thankful for man-made formula (adoption, for instance, as well as women with certain diseases). My simple wish is that more women would give it a fair chance and that more women would talk about it to new mothers.
That being said, here are my top 6 reasons for loving breastfeeding:
1. Breastmilk is free! (have you seen those crazy formula prices?!)
2. Breastfeeding creates a special bond between Mother and Baby
3. Breastmilk is best for baby
4. Breastmilk is easier to travel with :)
5. Breastfeeding creates less spit-up and not as stinky of diapers
6. Breastfeeding helps you lose the baby weight!
Below is a picture of Sophie's growth from newborn to 5 months, when she was fed breastmilk alone!