Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Breast Not Best

Breastfeeding sort of sucks. It's also very handy. And I like it, and also I really resent it.

Obviously I have some ambivalent emotions surrounding it.

I both breastfeed and formula feed. My son is on the big side and the two times I've tried to do boob only, he's lost weight. So to hell with it, right? I mean, despite the literature lactivists will write about supply and demand and how low supply is rare, I know it's happened to me.

There's cultural pressure to breast feed. I've had a number of loved ones tell me it's okay to quit and just formula feed, but I'm not ready. But it's hard researching the topic looking for tips and tricks only to read how breast is best and formula can't compare and it's just soooo important to breastfeed no matter what. When you're formula feeding, it can hurt your feelings and make you feel bad about yourself as a mother.

When I was in the hospital five days after Jack was born, my midwives were seriously worried I'd lose my milk, and maybe develop postpartum depression after everything. I managed to avoid both of those things, but the milk thing was actually the tougher battle. I've experienced hardships before. A traumatic birth wasn't the worst I've had. Worst I've had in my adult years, but not in life.

I can nurse my son when he wakes at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. Luckily, he's falling asleep around 9:00 or 10:00 most nights and that one wake-up is all I have to tangle with. I can give him my breast, he takes his fill and goes back to sleep like a champ. Around 7:00 I can usually feed him again, though a bottle is often necessary as well.

And after that? Formula. Formula and pumping. It's sort of an imposition. I'm trying to reduce my feeding costs with breast milk, and it's physically much more simple to do. No bottles to fiddle with, boiled water, measuring scoops and burping afterwards. But God, it's a struggle.

It feels pretty rough when your own baby rejects your breast, sometimes even when it's full of milk. So on top of a feed, I have to find the time to pump so I don't lose what milk supply I have. And I have to take meds and herbs as well. I don't think I could maintain my milk without this rather tiring regiment.

When this all started I felt like a dud. Sometimes I still do. I couldn't birth my baby and now my body can't feed my baby. Being a father would be so much simpler. Dads can't do any of these things and so don't have to face bodily failures. Being a dad comes with its own set of concerns, but when you've just become a mother and you need artificial means to bring your baby into the world and keep it alive, you feel a sense of sadness. It's a loss.

So I'm looking for small victories. A bottle of breast milk a day is my new goal. I usually need a few days to get four ounces out of pumping, but now I'm trying to decrease the time to one day. More breast milk = money saved and health benefits.

There is a simplicity to being at home all day with a baby, but all that simplicity is rife with complexities.

An added example is leaving the house for a walk. No biggie, right? Well, putting aside the stocking of a diaper bag and changing and feeding Jack before leaving the house, I have to deal with a stroller that needs to be taken down the stairs in two parts after locking the three doors that lead into the apartment. I've gotten faster at it, but still. I also have to get myself ready to leave, and depending on Jack's mood, this could take some time.

Actually, I have to finish this up and pump now. Jack's asleep. I may not get a better chance.

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