Friday, November 12, 2010

Breastfeeding Isn't Easy

I see comments all the time about how "it was just too hard" as though the mothers who continued breastfeeding had it easy. Because sore nipples, plugged ducts, mastitis, feedings every 1-2 hours, dealing with flow issues and upset tummies as a result, worrying about supply because there's no ounce markers, having to change one's diet to adjust for baby's intolerance(s) or allergies, feeding sessions lasting up to three hours, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples and blood blisters, scathing remarks/glares if we dare feed our babies out of our own house and in some cases, supplemental feeding systems... are easy?

Honestly, though, who said parenting was easy? And taking shortcuts may not be cheating in the traditional sense, but it cheats baby out of the benefits of the standard of care. Not just nursing, but in all aspects of parenting. "You aren't managing a convenience, you're raising a human being."

045.jpg kisses picture by Xakana

I'm not looking for your story about why it was so much harder for you than my friend who doesn't make 50% of the supply she needs to exclusively nurse and yet doesn't use bottles. Or me, who had a baby who screamed at the sight of my breast, weak suck, latch issues, one side preference, etc. Or blood blisters, choking from overactive letdown, living in horrible pain postponing surgery to get to a point where my baby would have enough of my milk to get through it... Or the mom friends I have with PCOS. Or those who've had to adjust their medications for breastfeeding-friendly ones. Those who live in daily pain trying to reach a minimum goal of nursing before going on medications or having surgery that would make it all better.

I've heard all the stories and I know moms who really couldn't do it (I have friends that even I would have/did encourage to stop for both mom and baby's sanity/health) and moms who did it when no one else believed they could--because they refused to take "no" for an answer.

The whole point of this is that it's NOT always easy with floods of happy hormones. I don't enjoy nursing. I enjoy the benefits, sure, and how deliriously happy it makes my kids. I don't notice any "special bond" or go to la la happy hormone land. I don't do it for me.

Inspired by HeidiLJ

Less than 2% of women don't make enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. That doesn't mean they shouldn't breastfeed at all, just that they need to supplement. Even that can be done at the breast now. Less than 5% can't do that for other reasons (mastectomy, medications, psychological trauma, etc.). But the number of mothers who bottle feed is closer to 40% that goes up the closer to a year you get. The number of women who nurse to the recommended 2 year minimum is only like 12%.So those who even make it half way (one year) is only like 35%. So all of those women have a reason to be proud--out of the 93%-95% that should have nursed that long, they were the ones who did. I'm not saying that bottle feeding is never okay or even necessary! I'm just saying that parenting isn't easy and there are more options than most people even know!


  1. Yes! I didn't have too horrible of a time but it was by no means easy at the beginning. We had latch problems and by Day 3 I was in tears, in pain and at the end of my rope...but I kept going. So it is offensive to me personally when someone makes the comment that I was "lucky" it was so "easy" for me and that that is the reason I am still going at 19 months.

  2. Yeah, I had a breakdown around week 6 and my husband just reminded me of the alternative and I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. In fact, I'd say that stubbornness and an awesome supportive husband and friends were the only reason I met my goals :D

  3. I, too, get a little annoyed when it's implied that I'm one of the lucky ones for whom it was "easy." Worth it? ABSOLUTELY! Easy? Not at all! Remember that even when a mother can't continue to provide her child with her own milk, donor milk is a perfectly viable option and far superior to that nasty powdered stuff!! : )

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