I hate breastfeeding.
I also love it.
Now that Baby V is 11 months old, she breastfeeds differently than when she was an infant. She’s aware of my breasts and has her own relationship with them. An extremely proprietary relationship. Them’s HER boobies. She cannot and will not nurse if she cannot pinch the other nipple with her free hand. It’s painful and irritating, but usually I just clench my teeth and bear it. In the middle of the night, she sweeps the back of her hand across my chest, “looking” for the warm, squishy nipple that gives her such comfort, even in her sleep.
I love breastfeeding because I know for 100% sure that my daughter is getting the nutrients she needs, whether I remember to put her in a highchair 3 times a day or not. I don’t have to give her balanced meals, since she’s going to nurse when she’s hungry and get everything she needs from my body. I don’t have to wash bottles or carry formula with me (or BUY it, which has saved me hundreds of dollars). I am such a lazy mom, that BFing suits my lifestyle great!
I love knowing that I’m doing the right thing for her and that I am one of only 14% of women who breastfeed past 6 months, even though every expert out there recommends at least a year.
This article implies that we need to get serious about breastfeeding. We can save babies’ lives and save money. The government gives free formula to women who are poor through WIC and I think that’s fantastic, but it doesn’t do enough to encourage breastfeeding and poor women’s babies are most at risk for things like SIDS and other life threatening illnesses.
BREAST MILK IS FREE TOO!
But it is NOT that simple. I will never forget my first two nights trying to breastfeed Baby V in the hospital. I had lactation consultants helping me (some more than others), but I could not get the hang of it. I should say WE could not, because Baby V did not take to it either. She didn’t “latch” on. She was slightly tongue-tied, meaning the little attachment under her tongue was too short so she couldn’t stick her tongue out far enough to cup it under my nipple. She would get my giant nipple in her tiny little mouth and try one or two sucks, and then she’d let go. We must have done this 5001 times that first night. At one point, she was screaming so loudly, the nurse took her away from me and tersely advised me to “try comforting her before you try feeding her.” Like I said, some of the LCs were great and some were kind of mean and impatient. I was a new mom and I had no idea what to do with this little baby. Add to that the pain of my episiotomy and the drug haze of the narcotics they were giving me for that pain, and you have a very slow learner.
When I got home, I was told by the pediatrician to supplement with formula. Baby V was so yellow I had to show people black and white photos of her. She was not getting enough to eat and lost a whole pound. I later found out this was totally normal and the doctors and nurses worried me unnecessarily; at the time, however, I was terrified I would starve her to death (because a bitch LC told me I would). Odie and I were both amazed at how she guzzled that first 2 ounce bottle. We even made her another ounce and she guzzled that too. Oh my GOD! I thought at the time, I AM starving my baby to death! I am a horrible mother!
I think many women and teenage girls would give up on breastfeeding at that point, especially if they had mothers or mother-in-laws who were telling them stuff like, “I gave you formula and you’re fine.” Am I though? I have acid reflux disease and I’ve always had a weight problem. I had chronic ear infections until I had tubes put in my ears at 18 months. I had tonsilitis over and over until I had them removed at 14. AND I’m a bitch.
It would have been easy to quit trying. But I persevered. In the wee hours, using the football hold, I finally got Baby V to latch, stay latched, and suck. It was probably over a week into her little life. I felt such triumph. WE DID IT! My nipples were so sore for so long that I literally cried sometimes. I put cold gel packs in my bra between feedings. Eventually, it got better. It was about 6-8 weeks, though. I cannot imagine a woman voluntarily going through that if she didn’t know it would get better. I had about a dozen friends and two sisters who assured me that it would be agony for about a month and then it would get easy. I had SUPPORT. I was also very well educated about the benefits of breastfeeding. Education and support are the keys to successful breastfeeding.
I watch “Sixteen and Pregnant” on MTV, and not a single one of those girls breastfeeds her baby. What a wonderful opportunity to educate young girls about breastfeeding! They all try it in the hospital, but not one of them sticks with it. It’s such a damn disappointment. Going through what I went through, as a 37 year old woman, I cannot imagine a 17 year old being willing to put up with the discomfort and frustration. I’m angry that MTV doesn’t step in and HELP these girls. All they do is document them doing stupid things, like falling asleep with their babies on couches and filling their cribs with blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals. On a special show where the girls sat on stage with Dr. Drew Pinsky and the audience got to ask questions, an older woman in the audience asked the mothers why none of them breastfed their babies. The girls were all, “Um, like, omigod, it was like, um so GROSS, and um, like, omigod! It, like, hurt, like so bad!” Not to mention every one of those girls had to resexualize her breasts in order to rush back into having unprotected sex with their unemployed loser boyfriends. One teen father complained to his buddy, “We never have sex anymore. It’s like once or twice a week.” Holy shit, man. HO-LEE. Shit.
What really pissed me off was Dr. Drew, who basically pursed his lips, looked all sympathetic and agreed that breastfeeding is really hard. What he SHOULD have said is, “Here is a number where you can get breastfeeding help for free, because breastfeeding really is the best thing for your child.”
But I won’t say anything else critical about Dr. Drew, lest my sister who worships him stops reading my blog in protest.
Loving it and hating it, I’m sticking with breastfeeding for at least another month. Beyond that, who knows? I’m currently pumping and freezing milk so I can give it to Baby V in a cup every night in about 3 months. I want to get pregnant again and I’m not ovulating yet. Stay tuned… hopefully this will turn into a pregnancy blog yet!