Breastfeeding. It’s a topic that every mother seems to have an opinion on, and is eager to share their opinions with one another. A topic that can turn happy, calm mommy groups into raging, throwing punches left and right angry mom wars. Where the sanctimommies come out of the wood works eager to tell you why your opinion on the subject is wrong, and theirs is right. *insert eye roll*
The Downsides to Breastfeeding.
We all have heard the saying “breast is best”, and it’s one that makes me cringe. Fed is best. It’s as simple as that. *jumps off high horse*
So you’re pregnant, and you have two choices; breastfeed or formula feed. If you decide to breastfeed, you’ve probably read all the books. Talked to your friends. You take classes that help prepare you where you hear about all the amazing things that come with breastfeeding; bonding, immune boosting qualities, etc.
I’m here to tell you that breastfeeding isn’t all giggles and rainbows. Yeah, it has it’s good qualities. But sometimes, breastfeeding can straight up suck.
7 Downsides to Breastfeeding that no one talks about.
It can hurt like hell.
Anywhere from 2-3 days after birth, your milk comes in. And man does it burn! Your breasts become engorged; they get hard, and incredibly painful. Barely touching them can make your milk shoot out like a sprinkler. Sometimes just having your t-shirt touch them is enough to make you cry in pain. And forget about facing the shower head, the water feels like a tiny little bees stinging your body. It hurts. After both pregnancies, my breasts took a good month and a half to regulate themselves. Your nipples can also crack, burn and bleed. It takes time for them to toughen up.
Your body isn’t yours.
Your body becomes your babies. It’s like you’ve magically sprouted a new appendage. You’re constantly being touched, pulled, scratched and clawed at. You become touched out by 3:00pm, and it can affect your relationship. When your significant other gets home and wants to cozy up in bed, you may cringe at the thought and wiggle away. You just want two seconds alone, and it’s hard for them to understand.
You can’t wear whatever you want.
This is something I didn’t even think about before having my first. You have to be able to whip out your boob in everything you wear! Your favorite dress with the high neckline, forget about it. It’s just one more thing you have to think of on your 3 page long list of stuff you already have to think about when you have a baby.
Nursing in public is daunting. Some people, as unfortunate as it is, judge you for feeding your baby in a public space. You know, because breastfeeding mothers should just stay inside, barefoot in the kitchen tending to laundry and dishes all day. *huge eye roll*. You can see these people doing double takes as you try and get your baby to latch, or try and catch your letdown while your baby is coughing. If you’re nervous, then you have to attempt to find a private place to nurse which is another struggle in and of itself. And heaven forbid you spring a leak in public. People look at you like you’ve got the plague. Society has definitely not made life easy for nursing mothers.
It’s harder for people to help.
When you’re breastfeeding, you can’t just pass off a bottle of formula and peace out. You have to make sure you have enough pumped milk, that is if your body responds to pumping. Then you have to pump while your baby is away to maintain supply. Your whole life revolves around emptying your boobs or your supply might dry up. So even when you’re given the rare chance to be sans baby, you still have to adult and do stuff for the baby. You never truly get a break, and that’s hard.
Everybody has an opinion.
“You’re breastfeeding for too long, you haven’t breastfed long enough, it’s gross, once they have teeth you should stop, doesn’t it ruin your sex life…” Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one. But just because we all have one doesn’t mean I’m going around showing mine to everyone, telling them what I think about it. People need to just leave their opinions, and assholes, to themselves. Which they can’t seem to do when it comes to nursing mothers. Everyone has something to say about it, whether it be encouraging or discouraging. Sometimes we just want to feed our babies in peace, without someone interjecting.
It doesn’t come easy to every baby, or mother.
Breastfeeding takes some serious work! And some babies have a harder time than others with their latch, a weak suck, or a tongue/lip tie that make it difficult. You just don’t get to plop your baby to your boob and call it a day. You have to practice positioning, possibly using a nipple shield, making sure you don’t get the dreaded mastitis (an infection in your breast). It takes practice and lots of patience, both of which is exceedingly hard when you’re running off of no sleep.
The moral of all this isn’t to scare you away from nursing, or make breastfeeding sound awful. Breastfeeding is the most beautiful, rewarding, selfless act I’ve ever done. But it’s also the most exhausting, challenging and hard thing I’ve done. It takes time to learn your body, and your baby. It’s a serious commitment. I nursed my first for two years, and am currently nursing my second. I’m here to tell you that if you decide to nurse, it won’t be easy.
But it will be absolutely 100% without a doubt worth it.
If breastfeeding is something you want to do, don’t give up. Be prepared for things to get difficult, but hold on. It will get better. It will get easier. And you will be so so glad you stuck with it. It will be the most rewarding experience of your life, and you’ll look back upon the struggles you overcame and smile proudly. You can do it.