Like many women, I always knew that I would breastfeed. The list of benefits to breastfeeding is endless and there are so many more beneficial mysteries still left to discover, I’m sure. But are there any “cons” to breastfeeding??
When I became pregnant with my first child and thought forward to my breastfeeding journey I couldn’t possibly imagine any downside to it. In my mind, it is one of the most natural things us as women can do. Clearly the most natural way to feed your child and certainly the most cost effective! But when my daughter was born and in the few days that followed, I learned what I wish someone had told me sooner…
Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally.
While it is SO true that breastfeeding is natural, beneficial and provides the most precious bonding experiences, it does NOT come easy to every mother. Unfortunately, I was one of those mothers. We struggled through lip and tongue ties, bad latches, constant nurse sessions or only wanting to nurse on one side, cracked nipples, you name it. She struggled with finding her groove and positions that gave her the best latch and I struggled many times having to be constantly on demand and attached to a baby! And those times I did struggle, I would often go to sleep feeling very guilty. When I didn’t meet my initial goal of breastfeeding for the first year, that hit me even harder.
Like many out-of-this-world Mamas, I had to start supplementing with formula because I just couldn’t keep up my supply (despite all of my crazy efforts) but you know what I learned from that?
It’s not the end of the world. My baby starving would be though.
Breastfeeding is the most demanding and difficult thing I have ever done. It is not always easy nor is it always precious having to expose yourself whenever, wherever. I think it’s important that we talk about the struggles within our breastfeeding relationships because just like any other relationship, it will have its ups and its downs.
When I became pregnant with my second child, I came to terms with how difficult nursing would be and I prepared myself with a support system including a lactation consultant if needed (and it was) but equally importantly, I prepared myself mentally for the challenge. I didn’t approach it like I did the first time thinking it would be all rainbows and butterflies. We had some serious issues in the beginning but with a more realistic mindframe and the right lactation support, we surpassed our breastfeeding goals.
The reality is, it’s not always easy but it’s always worth it to at least try. And when you feel your best isn’t enough and it’s just not working for you or baby (or both), there is never any shame in formula feeding, using donor milk or reaching out to a professional for help. The important thing is doing what is right for our family and our unique circumstances.