For all of my new mommies, or about-to-be mommies, or those of you that have questions about breastfeeding…I thought I would share some of my experiences with you. Breastfeeding is often misconstrued as one of the most important parenting decisions a mother makes. This of course, IS FALSE. It just happens to be one of the FIRST parenting decisions you make, but that by no means makes it first in priority.
Here are some of my experiences…
Take it or leave it, but after 15 newborns, I have come to finally understand breastfeeding and put it in it’s proper place.
It would make me so pleased to discover that posting this has made a difference in how you view yourself as a mother or that it helped you understand that if you had your challenges breastfeeding, it by no means defines your motherhood.
I have nursed 10 children.
Some for as little as two days, most for an average of six months, and the longest I have nursed a child is 18 months.
Yes, I have nursed an adopted child.
Two of them in fact…although it was quite challenging because I was also nursing one of my own children at that point as well.
In one case, it only lasted a few days before I realized I was in way over my head.
I have never had an easy time of it.
Those blissful photos of a mother nursing a newborn never included me. It was mostly me crying begging God that the baby was not hungry. Please. Oh my goodness no. The pain was…horrific. I’m not exactly built like an even-flo nipple…most of the time I lived with cracked and bloody breasts for the first six weeks–which I think should get me a mansion in Heaven…bigger than your average dwelling place anyhow. Actually, once past those first six weeks it was fine. But man…weeks can seem like an eternity. Meanwhile feeding every three hours seemed like every five minutes.
In fact, there have been 5 children that I have flat out decided not to nurse!
One son because when I was pregnant, I fell down some stairs and broke my pelvis…which made the rest of the pregnancy *painful* and the post partum period *challenging*…So I just decided I did not need to add misery to my pain with breastfeeding…and the other four? Well, I had just had it. And you know what? Those children are happy, well adjusted, healthy and intelligent little beings. So there. I am a breastfeeding advocate, but I want every mom to be guilt free if she can not breastfeed or for whatever reason chooses against it.
Nipple confusion is a lie.
I learned that if within the first few days or weeks mom needs a break, you can offer a bottle of breastmilk or formula without the child imploding. Let’s all give new mommies a break shall we? This pressure of “exclusively breastfed” is just way more than most of us can or should have to handle. A few hours of uninterrupted sleep may be all it takes to pull her back from the edge of post-partum issues…so let me be real and tell you that a bottle at a day old, a week old, a month old doesn’t matter! My son Courson had nothing but bottles until he was seven months old, and THEN he learned to latch on. Nipple confusion is a complete falsehood in my opinion. Give ’em a bottle if you need the break #newmommy…everything will be just fine.
I am very pro-breastfeeding, but I always think discretion is best. I love those new little cover-ups, the ponchos that are so in style, and my favorite are the thin Aden&Anais blankets to use to keep my hoo-has from scaring some perky little teenager out of future motherhood. I know there are some die-hards that just think we should let it all hang out– but I really don’t think that’s appropriate. When I cover up, I am not saying I am ashamed of breastfeeding…I am just being respectful of the sensitivity of others.
Inadequate Supply and Insufficient Caloric Milk
Yes, there is such a thing as a mom who does not make enough milk or whose milk is not caloric enough. I have been this mom on more than one occasion and for that reason decided to just stop breastfeeding altogether. With all the right amount of sleep, calories and so forth I still came up short…and pumping, feeding and then supplementing took much time and took away too much joy.
It’s not what you feed, but how you feed that counts.
In the end– what you feed them pales in comparison to HOW. With love. Undivided attention. Warmth. Talking to them and cooing. All that is far more valuable than simply breast or bottle. So in your quest to be a good mommy, don’t put breastfeeding on the altar. I have lived in that world, and it is an unhappy one. After almost 20 years of parenting, I have finally put the decision of breastfeeding where it belongs. And after all of my experiences, you can not point to some nameless group of statistics and correct me where the proof in my household shows me that breastfeeding is not THE decision, it is A decision…and one that is far less important than most would lead you to believe.