Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why you will hate breastfeeding

To all my preggo first time moms out there, particularly the ones like me, who were asked if they plan to breastfeed and responded quite naively, Why of course! What - do I hate my child? Of COURSE I will breastfeed. What kind of monster wouldn't? And then would really wonder why its seems so controversial... really why wouldn't someone breastfeed... what am I missing...?

Well, let me tell you why you will hate it. (and why you'll do it anyway)

You will hate breastfeeding Week 1 because:

You will freak out over low/no supply and you will be convinced your newborn is starving. Then after putting the baby to the breast often enough to get your supply going, you will be raw, cracked, bleeding and sore. To the point where you will cry at the thought of feeding the baby again. In one hour. Plus breastfeeding will be awkward and ungainly and all manner of strangers will see you barechested. Oh, and the baby will have latch problems that will exacerbate the soreness and you will have to annoy the newborn constantly to correct this. If you even can.

Week 2

The nipple sheilds you got to give you a tiny bit of relief from clothing brushing up against your exquisitely sensitive nipples will give you the beginnings of thrush. Enjoy. And you'll experience your first growth spurt. You are nursing (and therefore in pain) about every hour or two round the clock. Sleep deprivation + cabin fever is slowly making you a little crazy.

Week 3 - 6

Pain is not going away, but getting worse - thank you, thrush - and you start getting your first of many golf balls stuffed into your boob tissue, otherwise known as a blocked duct. Ouch. You start practicing with the breast pump in an effort to assuage the cabin fever and let daddy give baby a bottle so you can get 2 hours of sleep in a row. The breast pump is not working on your breasts and you really start to panic.

Week 7-3 months

More blocked ducts, on a weekly basis. Treatment for the thrush you finally figured out you had, and a bout or two of mastitis. You can finally use the pump - hurrah - only now the baby will only take pumped milk from a bottle. This sentences you to constant bottle washing and feeling like a damn milk cow hooked up to a machine all the time. Baby is eating every 3-4 hours now and sleeping longer, its 6 weeks, so it's time to finally jump back in the sack with your man, but hold on... what the hell is wrong with my vagina??? I'll tell you what. Elevated oxytocin and decreased estrogen. Due to - you guessed it - breastfeeding. These hormones are killing your libido and making the walls of your vajayjay paper thin. Plus every drop of moisture in your body is now going out your boobs. You're like the Sahara desert down there. Ouch. Side note: this also means you're very constipated. You make a very embarrassing appointment with a doctor to ask what the hell is wrong with you (has something prolapsed? am I frigid? WTF?) and right away he knows what no LLL leader will admit: breastfeeding sucks. the very life out of your sex life. He says it won't get better until 3 months after you stop breastfeeding. Until then, be patient, use lots and lots, buckets and buckets of lube. ew. charming.

In general:

Every time the baby seems fussy or gassy, you will wonder if its because of something you ate. Related: people will tell you that because you are breastfeeding, you must not eat *insert favorite food here*

Formula feeding parents will brag about their baby sleeping through the night before yours. Formula is more filling. Sticks in their craw like a bag of cement. After several weeks of sleep deprivation, this will begin to have lots (and lots) of appeal.

Pain, stress, sleep deprivation, inconvenience, pain, loss of sex life, and did I mention PAIN - with so much to hate, why why why would anyone do this? If breastfeeding were a person, you'd have an excellent case in court against him. But you will do it anyway - or try your darndest - for reasons well-covered by the pro-breastfeeding nazis out there, but I will touch on the main points:

You get to eat anything you want and still lose weight. Really. Breastfeeding uses up a BUNCH of calories, so you will be under your pre-pregnancy weight in no time. Literally. For me it was a couple weeks.

That's not all. It's cheaper. Formula is criminally expensive, and aside from pumps, lanolins, bottles, bras, what-have-you, breastmilk is free. (plus the cost of extra chocolate cake)

Breastmilk has antibodies. If you are like me, you dread the first real bout with illness in your child. Kiss your baby lots, feed him breastmilk, and with any luck, it will be a long long long time before you worry about colds and flus, even if everyone else in your house is sick. Don't be surprised if your breastfed baby is fine.

Number one reason why you will breastfeed: because you love your little kidlet with all the love in the whole wide world and this is the food he is supposed to have. End of story.

***OK not everyone experiences all these problems - you'll have your very own special set of them! But for every problem there is a solution, or at least a way to cope... but if you can expect the worst and still forge boldly ahead, congratulations - you have truly earned the title MOMMA. Be proud of yourself. It may not work for you, or it may not work for as long as you'd like, and that's OK. Just do your best.

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