When I had my baby, I decided to breastfeed for two reasons. The first being the obvious health factor for the baby and the second reason is the sheer cost of formula. The fact that breastfeeding also has a number of benefits for mom’s was a nice consolation but it didn’t weigh heavily in my decision making. However, I vowed I wasn’t going to let the social pressure to breastfeed get to me. I would do what worked for me and the babe.
Nobody told me that most of this “social pressure” was really self inflicted.
When the time came to feed “the natural way”, my newborn and I had some struggles and it felt anything but natural. To start, I couldn’t get her to latch properly (which turned out to be due, in part, to a slight tongue tie) and any woman who’s had latching problems knows the pain that ensues. Feedings were hour long, tear jerking ordeals. For the childless reading this, think of having a purple nurple marathon! OUCH.
It got to the point that I dreaded feeding her. I hoped each whimper or cry could be solved with a diaper change or a pat on the back to get out that last hidden burp. I could feel myself tense up when it was feeding time and often, tears weren’t far behind. But, instead of cracking open the cans of formula that had been graciously mailed to me by the formula companies and giving myself a break and some relief, I plowed through, determined to make this work.
Unfortunately, my determination wasn’t fueled by the right reasons. I wasn’t telling myself, “My baby needs this!” I was thinking that if I can’t breastfeed I’m a failure. And if I can’t do this one simple and natural thing, what else won’t I be able to do.
Six weeks later, she and I finally got everything sorted and started working as a team, so to speak. Breastfeeding wasn’t the painful chore it had been and had finally become the bonding time it’s meant to be.
While there is a lot of encouragement from society as a whole to breastfeed, I never once felt shunned or looked down on when I asked friends or my midwife about bottle feeding and formula. Most of the dirty looks came from the woman in the mirror.
While there is no denying breastfeeding is the best nutritional route for your child, it might not always be best for the both of you. While it may be natural, it’s not easy. As mothers, I think we expect too much from ourselves at times.
I wish someone had warned me about myself.