Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Real Deal on Breastfeeding

So, you're planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're not planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're thinking of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula once and awhile?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

I completely support your decision to feed your baby however you choose to do so.

You know why?  Because breastfeeding is no joke.  It's not always easy, and contrary to the popular belief perpetrated by all the celebrities who like to post #breastfeedingselfies, it is not always a beautiful thing.  It can be beautiful and amazing and wonderful but it can also be incredibly frustrating, terribly painful and just an all around pain in the ass.

I'm glad that Mommas who happen to be famous are sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding, but what I really wish is that someone with a household name would share some breastfeeding photos that show the less attractive side of nursing.  Because while it's nice to look at modern day Madonna and Child images, I think it would be more helpful if a celebrity shared a few snapshots of the other very real parts of breastfeeding.  No, they aren't pretty and they won't make for a beautiful photo op, but they are part of the reality, and it would be nice for women to see that they aren't alone when they feel more Medusa than Madonna.

At first, breastfeeding hurts.  It doesn't matter if it's your first kid or your twelfth kid, the first two weeks are absolute Hell.  Your nipples will crack and bleed.  Every single time your baby latches it will hurt so badly that you will actually cry.  Eventually, your nipples will scab over and toughen up, but you will be horrified when the scabs come off and you realize that your nipples are scarred.  The scars never go away; for the rest of your life your nipples will look as though they did three tours in 'Nam, and you may have the PTSD to go along with that.

You will sweat enough each night to fill a child's inflatable pool.  Night sweats are not exclusive to breastfeeding Mommies, but they tend to go on for a longer period of time if you're nursing.  After you have a baby, your body needs to get rid of all the extra fluid its been carrying around for nine months, and apparently the most efficient way to do this is to cause you to sweat buckets while you sleep.  Make sure you have at least three extra sets of pjs within arms reach of your bed, because you will end up changing at least that many times each night, if not more.  You will be soaked, your bedding will be soaked, even your Husband or Baby Daddy might be drenched.  Your side of the bed will have its own little climate zone which will be similar to August in Miami: hot, humid and not somewhere you want to visit. 

Nobody ever has the right amount of milk (if there is someone who does, I have yet to meet her). You'll either have too much milk or not enough.  Both of these situations suck.  If you make too much milk, your night sweats will be horrible, your baby will gag and choke because your milk sprays into her mouth too fast, and you won't be able to leave the house for three months because you soak through a nursing pad every five minutes.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he associates your boob with being gagged, which will make you cry.  If you don't make enough milk you'll end up having to pump every second that you're not nursing, and you'll have to take millions of supplements and drink gallons of milkmaid tea.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he doesn't get enough milk from you boob, which will make you cry.  You will personally fulfill the old adage "crying over spilled milk", and it's not pretty. 

Your baby will probably be sensitive to something in your diet.  The only way to figure out what's making your kid fussy/farty/projectile vomit-y is to cut out everything except water.  Nursing happens to make you really, really, REALLY hungry and being unable to eat everything you see in your line of vision totally sucks.  It's entirely possible that your kid can't handle dairy or eggs or leafy greens or legumes or, God forbid, chocolate or coffee.  Heck, your kid might not be able to handle all of the above and you will want to throw yourself in front of a moving car rather than live another second without coffee and chocolate.

You, and only you, are on night feeding duty.  Until some enterprising scientist figures out how to make men lactate, you're stuck doing every single one of those night feedings.  At first you'll think this is a wonderful thing and that it will cause you to bond even more deeply with your newborn babe.  After a week or two you will realize that getting up every two hours to have a small human mash on your sore nipples for 45 minutes totally sucks and you will cry.  You will also develop such an irrational hatred for your non-lactating spouse that you will seriously consider smothering him with a pillow during one of the many, many late night feedings.  It's at the point that you find yourself debating whether or not to commit manslaughter that I suggest you put down the pillow, take a deep breath, and make peace with giving your offspring a bottle.  Sure breast may be best, but I suspect that having a few ounces of formula is far less detrimental to your kid's psyche than having a Mother serving time for smothering Daddy-o.

In the end all that matters is that your baby gets fed when he's hungry.  Do whatever works best for you and makes you the least homicidal.  And if anybody gives you sh*t about however you decide to feed your kid, I give you permission to punch them in the throat.


  1. So. Very. True. Especially how not having the right amount of milk can be problematic. I had my share of crying while my boobs sprayed copious amounts of milk at my gaseous, colicky babe.

    I enjoy your blog, it's hilarious and makes me feel human. Thanks for keeping it real here. :)



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