Breastfeeding-my honest thoughts
Off the bat I would like to disclose that this will be a biased entry. It is biased because I'm 100% pro-breastfeeding but I also take my hat off to those mamas that for reasons beyond their control absolutely cannot breastfeed.
But we live in a western world where society almost makes it impossible for us to breastfeed freely. Breastfeeding becomes time consuming, painful, and with just 3 months of disability time, returning to work and pumping every 2-3 hours becomes a dreaded chore. It is said that although 70% of moms start nursing at the hospital, only 25% of mothers will nurse up to 1 year. This statistic to me is shocking and disappointing.
I have a few friends that started off breastfeeding and switched to formula due to the reasons I just listed above. I do not want to point any fingers when they tell me these reasons but the first thing I want to do is scream at them that they did not try hard enough. But is it really their fault? The western world makes it so easy for babies to be fed with formula- it is fast, convenient, and gives mom the flexibility she wants. To me, this is selfish and taking the easy way out, which I cannot be when it comes to the welfare of my baby.
I knew breastfeeding would be difficult, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be until Atlas was born. The hospital I gave birth at was so so good on promoting breastfeeding and my little babe was already rooting and suckling within his first 15 minutes of life. Fast forward two days, I left the hospital wanting to cry because anything that touched my breasts felt like needles and knives. How was I supposed to continue when I was in so much pain?
On top of my sore and cracked nipples, I developed mastitis within the first week after delivery. I woke up one night with my boob on fire and with chills, cold sweats, and a fever of 102.5. Luckily, I had my mom and my husband to help me get through that first night where I pumped like crazy after breastfeeding my son. It was painful and uncomfortable, but I just kept repeating to myself that I had survived labor without medication & I WILL get through this.
After two weeks of antibiotics, applying cold cabbage leaves, and constant nursing and pumping, my milk supply was finally established. Within two months I was back to my pre-baby weight! Did I mention breastfeeding moms have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and ovarian cancer? (WoHOO!) What about the benefits for your baby? Well according to American Pediatric Association (APA) breastfed babies:
get fewer illnesses such as ear infections due to receiving natural antibodies
are less constipated and gassy because breast milk is more easily digested than formula
may lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
increases cognitive function=higher IQ (want to raise a genius? UHM YES YES YES!)
reduces risk of obesity, asthma, leukemia, lymphoma, type II diabetes, and high cholesterol
To name a few...!
Did I mention that breast milk is a living substance? (Think kombucha, yogurt etc.!)
But the best part of breastfeeding for me is my bond with my baby boy. There is nothing that describes that feeling, it is so so special. If I have to go get a manicure, I panic and run back home to breastfeed him. I even get sad that sometimes I have to pump so his daddy can feed him, and I'm pretty sure Atlas feels it too. I've never seen the same joy and calmness in his face when he is bottle feeding vs breastfeeding.
And it kills me to think that I'm going to be a working mom eventually (thanks again Western World!) and Atlas will be bottle fed most of the day rather than breastfed. Once that moment comes, I am sure many many tears will be shed from this mama. I'm so blessed that I got to breastfeed in the first place, and I want nothing more but for me and my baby's bond to grow for a lifetime. All the challenges I faced in the beginning makes it worthwhile for this moment. I love my son, this first step into motherhood is a beautiful thing.
For this reason, I encourage all mamas to try and breastfeed and hang in there just a little longer. All the pain you feel in the beginning is temporary and so worth it.