5 Things I Wish I Knew About Breastfeeding
Before I was pregnant I thought breastfeeding was all loving connections and rainbows and butterflies. I heard about rocking a sweet little baby that loves mother’s milk and goes to bed no problem and there is no other side to it at all. Don’t get me wrong, being a mother and a breastfeeding mother is the best thing I have ever done. It is magical and empowering. There’s nothing like it. BUT there are some things that, I guess, surprised me or challenged me.
Here is what I wish I knew about breastfeeding:
- Pumping will make you crazy
When my first baby Claire was 12 weeks I had to return to my full time job as a middle school English teacher. I did all my research and had a little stash of milk in the freezer from the few times I made myself pump on maternity leave. Nothing prepared me for having to pump 2-3 times a day, let alone at a MIDDLE SCHOOL full of adolescents.
I had my backpack pump which discreetly hid my plan to pump to anyone but past breastfeeding mothers. I even brought in a mini fridge. I was fortunate that I had an excellent team of teachers and principal who supported my decision to pump and a principal who let me have my whole classroom to myself.
So, imagine my surprise when I was pumping all alone in my large classroom that I started hearing “Orange, Orange, Orange, Orange..” YOUR PUMP STARTS TALKING TO YOU. I could not UNHEAR Orange repeating itself over and over. The next day it was “Water, Water, Water, Water…” It seemed everyday my pump decided to say a different word.
In addition to talking to you, pumping makes you paranoid. We live in a society where most people would be extremely uncomfortable if they were walked in on while they were pumping. Because I was a teacher to middle schoolers, I was quite paranoid they would somehow come in my classroom to get their coat or backpack and I would be caught with two suction cups attached to my chest. I can only imagine the horror my students would have felt. I almost always checked the door twice to make sure it was locked. Many times I actually did have students banging on the door and my wonderful colleagues had to shoo them away.
- You will be bitten
You Will. It’s shocking and quite painful but don’t let this stop you from nursing because it’s not AS horrible as it sounds. For instance, I have yet to hear of someone who actually was injured from a baby nipple bite. Somehow in my paranoid first time mom research I missed the whole watch out you might get bitten thing. When Claire turned 8 months and got her first four teeth she bit. HARD. I thought I was going to pass out. Immediately I googled and asked my mommy groups how to stop the biting. What worked for me was yelling NO!!!!! Every time. Both of my babies were not happy with me…. but they stopped biting.
- It’s lonely
Not all of the time, but sometimes breastfeeding is a lonely thing. You are feeding your baby at any hour of the day or night. A lot of that time baby is asleep while nursing so you can’t even talk to them. At night you are alone feeding a baby while your husband sleeps soundly. When you are a breastfeeding mother you sometimes are tied to the couch for a day of cluster feeding. Hanging out with friends gets harder. Unfortunately, many people don’t get it. They think you are spoiling your baby or that you are imagining that the baby needs to eat so much. If you are uncomfortable nursing in public, you are alone feeding your baby. You literally have to remove yourself from adult situations to nurse. If your husband feels uncomfortable with nursing in front of people in your home, you are alone feeding your baby in a separate part of the house. I have tried my best in my own circle to nurse in public without it being a big deal but sometimes no matter how comfortable YOU are the people around you are not. I hope one day we live in a world where breastfeeding is as socially acceptable as bottle feeding in public.
The reason I started this blog was to help breastfeeding mommas know there are other mommas out there just like them, Thank YOU God for social media so I can talk to other breastfeeding mommies.
- It’s Controversial
Part of the reason breastfeeding is lonely is because of how controversial it is. Before I was pregnant I knew I was going to breastfeed because my mother did and I casually heard “Breast is Best”. I saw mothers nursing in public and didn’t think twice about it. That was normal in my immediate and extended family. When Claire was born I breastfed her and figured things would be fine. Then I started nursing her in public and felt it. Felt the judgment. Felt the stares. Once, I was nursing at a restaurant and a family moved to a different table. People drop their opinions on whether a mother should cover up in front of you and expect you to agree with them. People comment on it on social media by calling celebrities that embrace nursing gross.
- You will be jealous of a bottle
I wouldn’t call myself a naturally jealous person. Of course, I’m a tad jealous of Gisele’s body and extremely rich people that have all luxuries, but in general I’m not the jealous type. However, with bottles I have been jealous of them for two completely different reasons.
The first time my oldest actually took a bottle I was so relieved and relaxed. I could send her to daycare and she will take a bottle! After that instant relief though, I immediately felt jealous and worried. Was she going to choose a bottle over me? Would I have to pump all of the time now? She won’t need me, her mother, to calm her down now?! Will my supply dry up? Did I know these were irrational thoughts? Yes, but I still thought them. I felt so nervous and insecure that I would not longer be the only thing my daughter needs to rely on. I was an emotional postpartum mess not ready to leave my tiny little baby in a daycare.
Now, with my second who has always refused a bottle I am jealous of the bottle and the freedom it can bring. While I want to be with Natalie all of the time, sometimes I would like to have a date night longer than 1 hour. Or maybe get a pedicure or my hair done without knowing she is missing me. Or maybe go to the bathroom without a baby standing on the other side.
All of this being said, nothing is like the connection you have while nursing your baby. It is beautiful, emotional and powerful.