Breastfeeding is the lazy option.
Hang on, before you lynch me and throw your mean words my way just hear me out.
When breastfeeding works it is the easiest, simplest thing in the world. Let me lay it down for you. Feeding your babe at 3.27am consists of rolling to the right, unhooking your bra strap and whacking out your bosom into your bambino’s eager lips. You lay there in the warm embrace of your flannelette sheets, drifting between delicious moments of sleep and awake. In this loving haze you manage to nourish your little one in the most natural of ways.
That’s when it works.
I recently ran into an old friend (read: I use the term ‘friend’ loosely after this most recent encounter) who also has a daughter about the same age as my toddler-bird. We smiled nicely at each other and exchanged random pleasantries about the bouncing new bundles we each held in our arms. She then mentioned a conversation that she had had with a mutual friend of ours regarding an article that I had written on the blog about the troubles I had breastfeeding my first child. It was an article I had written about being confronted by a stranger for bottle feeding my child in public. You can read it here -> ‘Bad Cow’
We stood there admiring each other’s new babes jovially laughing about the lack of sleep, the poo charts and how quickly they grow. Then she said: “So, have you managed to sort yourself out this time with the breastfeeding or did you just give up and resort to the bottle again?”
What. The. Actual. Fuck.
A blaze of fury engulfed me.
Had I sorted myself out? Like I hadn’t tried hard enough? I just thought I would give up and use the bottle because, you know, that’s easier.
Should I just get a shirt that says I am a breastfeeding failure?
The reality of feeding your new baby for many people isn’t quite as simple as ‘sorting yourself out’.
When breastfeeding doesn’t work, feeding your baby can become an arduous and labouring endeavour every single day.
For me it doesn’t work.
I tried. Fuck I tried.
The first 12 weeks of my darling girl’s life revolved around hospital trips and lactation specialists. This wonderful exclusive breastfeeding that everyone pushed me to do led to my daughter losing 12% of her body weight within a couple of days. The paediatrician told us we would have to comp-feed her otherwise he would admit her to hospital.
I met with lactation specialists. Three of them. Each of them confirmed that she attached well I just simply didn’t have enough milk. One even suggested that had I had an average sized baby that I probably would have been able to feed her, but since she was nearly 5 kilos born that she needed more milk than I could provide. I didn’t have enough milk for my own child.
Basically I was a failure. I wasn’t able to exclusively breastfeed my little person.
I took medication that gave me headaches, but they said it might just increase lactation.
I developed a great relationship with the health food store who helped provide me with natural supplements.
I baked cookies with brewer’s yeast. I made lactation protein balls.
I set my alarm so that I could pump while my new babe slept. I spent more time in those first few weeks pumping than cuddling.
I spent a magnitude of money on the best breast pump. I tried nipple shields because someone suggested it may help. I even resorted to a supplemented feeding tube.
Don’t you tell me I didn’t try.
When breastfeeding works it is great. There is no steralisation of bottles, no jumbled trips to the only supermarket in town that sells your baby’s formula, no remembering not to boil the jug if your baby will need a feed in the next hour. Instead, you untie your breast and your little one has instant room service.
That is when it works.
Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
Some women exclusively breastfeed. Some women formula feed. Some women mix both.
If you can exclusively breastfeed good on you. You’re a star.
If you formula feed good on you. You’re a star.
I continued to comp-feed my daughter and still do. We still enjoy the time of a morning breastfeed before she is compensated with formula throughout the day.
Each time I pour sterilised water into her bottle I flinch at the comments and judgments of those who tell me I haven’t tried hard enough.
You do not know what other mothers are going through. Every single one of us is doing our damn best. How about instead of tearing each other down we put out messages of support.
It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby just nourish them, whether it comes from a breast or a bottle.
To all the mamas, I gotcha back. I know you are doing your best x
Happy health Nesters x