There’s a blog post circulating right now about the 9 things mom hate most about breastfeeding. This might not be an issue if it actually addressed real problems with breastfeeding, and offered solutions on how to fix or deal with them – but no, it’s just anti-breastfeeding propoganda. This list literally looks like it was written by a formula representative. I’m not going to link to it and risk giving them more traffic, but here are the reasons they listed.
“Since breastfeeding moms can’t whip out a prepoured bottle, late-night feedings take a little longer, meaning a lot less sleep. In some cases, the baby doesn’t want the milk — just the boob.”
Right, because it takes a lot longer to roll over and give baby the boob, then drift back to sleep, than it takes to get out of the nice warm bed, walk to the kitchen, open the fridge, warm up a bottle, get the baby, feed the baby the bottle, put the baby back to bed, put the bottle in the sink, walk back to bed, and fall back asleep.
Oh no wait. That’s completely the opposite of reality. What’s truly funny about this is it may be the first time someone has used the phrase “whip out” to be talking about a bottle – usually it’s the mom “whipping out” her breast – because it’s so fast and easy!
If you choose not to bedshare, breastfeeding is STILL faster and easier than bottles. There’s no warming up, there’s no washing up, there’s no wait time. The milk is always there and ready to go. It is actually “prepared” already – something you’re not supposed to do with the majority of formulas! Multiple studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers get better sleep, and that by actually breastfeeding at night rather than pumping and giving the baby a bottle of breastmilk, you better your chances of breastfeeding full term. The idea that bottle feeding at night is easier than breastfeeding just makes no sense.
The author also doesn’t explain how a baby who just wants comfort and not food is supposed to be comforted by a bottle feeding. If a breastfed baby wants to nurse for comfort (a totally NORMAL thing) it’s easy to let them nurse, and fall back asleep! If a bottle fed baby wants to be comforted, what exactly does the author propose that lets the parents keep sleeping? Ignore the baby? Yeah, it’s totally easy to sleep while your baby screams, I’m sure. So you’re going to get up, and go hold and rock that baby until he falls back asleep.
Pinches, Biting, and Hair Pulling
Breastfeeding could leave some unintentional battle scars if you aren’t careful. “At first it was kind of sweet when he would grab at me while nursing,” Heidi M. says of her son. “Now he pinches so hard that he ends up leaving little scratch marks.”
I didn’t realize bottle-feeding moms don’t hold and snuggle their babies. I guess that’s why they have all those bottle-propping devices on the market that let you leave your infant to feed themselves so you don’t have to touch them and potentially get a scratch. You know, cause a scratch on your boob would totally clash with the stretch marks and episiotomy scar, right?
Try clipping your baby’s nails, lady.
Look, my two year old loves to poke and prod and pinch. He has a habit of tickling my armpit in the mornings. The solution is pretty simple – I move his hand and ask him to stop. When he was younger, I’d simply hold his hand and distract him from pinching. It’s totally fine to have a time out for a few minutes from nursing if your little one can’t behave appropriately. But this is not unique to breastfeeding. Our son will grab his daddy’s beard and pull it, slap him in the face, and jump on his belly. These have nothing to do with nursing. Toddlers can play rough sometimes, and even infants can poke you in the eye when you’re not prepared. It has absolutely zero to do with breastfeeding. Bottle feeding parents should be holding and cuddling their babies just as often. Sure, you might not get the scratch on your boob, you’ll get it on your arm or face instead. What is the difference?
There’s Never Enough Milk
Babies eat a lot, and sometimes a mother’s supply can’t meet the demand. “I cant produce enough milk,” Autumn F. admits. “Because of that, I had to supplement with formula.” No mother wants to switch methods, so talk to a lactation consultant if you struggle.
There’s NEVER enough milk? What the heck? About 98 percent of mothers are physically capable of making enough milk. But to flat out say there’s NEVER enough milk? Then how did our species even survive long enough to come up with formula? Does the author think we are somehow the only mammals incapable of doing one of the core things that makes us mammals? If there’s NEVER enough milk, how do you explain all the moms who do exclusively breastfeed? Are their babies magical zombies?
At least they offer up the idea of talking to a lactation consultant, but if you’re going to claim that women can’t do it anyway, why bother?
The majority of moms who give up breastfeeding have fallen victim to a “booby-trap“. When everyone is trying to convince you that you can’t make enough milk, it’s easy to give up.
Working While Pumping
Many moms return to work soon after giving birth, putting them in the awkward situation of pumping at the office. That is, if their bosses are accommodating. As a radiology technologist who worked 12-hour shifts, Jessica P. struggled to keep her supply high. “My fellow employees and boss were not sympathetic to my needs,” she recalled. “Within 12 hours I was only able to escape to pump one time.” After losing so much milk, Jessica had to switch to bottle-feeding.
This is a societal issue, not a problem with breastfeeding. This should more accurately be labelled “Something I hate about my office being so back-ass-wards about me caring for my baby”.
Breastfed babies are healthier, and so are breastfeeding moms. That means less sick days for mom and baby, and less missed work. Unfortunately, the federal protection for breastfeeding moms only applies to non-exempt employees (typically hourly wages, not salaried), and mom has to clock out. Which at least means there is no reason a company should have any issues with this – they don’t have to pay the mom to pump, and any reasonable person would be willing to complete their extra time on the clock after pumping.
How about instead of blogging about how hard it is to pump at work and so that’s a reason we should hate breastfeeding, we write about ways businesses can support breastfeeding moms, and the reasons they should. Healthier moms and healthier babies equals more productive workers. Which seems better for your employees, having a stressful and tense environment because you’re denying a mom something she needs (a place to pump, and the time), or a comfortable and accommodating environment where you encourage moms to do the best thing for their baby while they keep their productivity up? From personal experience I can tell you it’s the second. My previous employer provided myself and the other pumping moms a private office to pump in, where we could bring our laptops in and work while we pumped. They did not even ask us to complete extra hours. In return, I was more than happy to give my best effort because I wasn’t stressed out about not pumping, and I could focus on work, rather than worrying that my boss was resentful of me.
When it comes to pain children cause, breastfeeding is right behind childbirth. “When I had my daughter, I breastfed her for a month and it was awful,” Shannon R. admits. “It literally felt like I was putting my boobs in a food processor.”
Uhm, what? Once again – if it’s so painful, how did our species evolve? How did women bear that pain for so long? Breastfeeding is not supposed to be painful – the first few days might hurt a little, but it’s not constant pain. If you’re in constant pain, you need to see a professional for help – and get help that isn’t just “Well, you can’t do this. Here’s formula”.
It sucks if you had constant pain while breastfeeding, but please realize – that is not the norm. No one expects you to be in constant pain. There are people out there who have the knowledge and ability to help fix that problem, and they want to help. If you are considering not breastfeeding because you keep hearing how painful it is, please do not be scared. Chances are, it won’t hurt constantly, and it won’t hurt after a few days. If it does, you don’t have to just give up – you can get help! Baby may have a tongue tie, you may need to use a nipple shield at first, you may need to try a different hold, you may have an infection, there are lots of things that can be fixed!
In fact, quitting breastfeeding can cause plenty of pain too – like mastitis, an infection in the breast. Sudden weaning (even if you think you’re not making any milk) can cause a horrible infection! This includes if you never even put the baby to the breast – women who go straight to formula are vulnerable to this infection!
Your Ever-Changing Boobs
Shrinking is one of the many unfortunate side affects of breastfeeding. “They used to be perky and firm, but now they are very soft and just hang there,” Kari M. says of her once perfect breasts. Stretch marks may also surface as a result of the deflation.
Breast changes occur because of pregnancy, not breastfeeding. Sorry ladies. Plus, in the first months, most women report that their breasts are larger, not smaller – because of the extra milk. Personally, I never noticed a single difference in size or perkiness, but mine were never perky, so…I kind of figure that’s what bras are for.
Also, stretch marks occur when your skin is stretched – meaning it got bigger. You don’t get stretch marks when your body gets smaller, you get them when it gets bigger. This is just common sense. Stretch marks do not occur because of “deflated” boobs.
Lactating in Public
“I stopped breastfeeding when she was 14 months old and was still producing milk until I got pregnant again,” Rebecca R. says. She adds that it took almost a year for the midday leaks to stop. To keep embarrassment to a minimum, carry a spare shirt with you in case you have to make a quick change.
Oh, you weaned early, and the problem is your body still made milk? This sounds like a problem with weaning, not with breastfeeding. A good solution might have been A. keep breastfeeding until a biologically suitable age to wean, B. pump that milk and donate informally to someone struggling or C. take one of the many herbs or drugs available to stop producing milk.
Of course, they make these amazing things you put in your bra to catch and absorb leaks – not that everyone needs them. I have yet to ever use a nursing pad, and I know plenty of other women who didn’t need them. A spare shirt is a little extreme, most women would need at the most, extra nursing pads. Sort of like how we don’t carry around extra pants during that time of the month, we just use “feminine hygiene” products.
Frankly, lactating is just part of being a woman who was lucky enough to have a baby. Our society should stop treating it as some disgusting, shameful thing we should hide – it’s not gross, it’s not abnormal – it’s just something that women do. Do not worry about lactating in public. Chances are – NO ONE WILL KNOW.
Breastfeeding in Public
When a baby is hungry, he will cry until he gets food. As a breastfeeding mom, that often means feeding in public and dealing with rude passersby. “I use a blanket to cover up, but people still point and give me looks,” Kateh B. says.
So let’s blame breastfeeding, instead of the morons who point and stare. (it’s debatable that people are actually pointing and glaring at you, while it does happen occasionally, just being worried that it will happen is enough to influence your perception of other’s actions).
If you’re not comfortable feeding without a cover, that’s fine – but the majority of people won’t even notice you’re doing it. Covering baby with a blanket or one of those huge awkward covers just draws attention to what you’re doing.
Don’t want anyone to see at all? There are places all over that you can nurse in public. Almost every baby-themed store offers a mother’s room. Malls offer nursing rooms. Your car with a blanket is surprisingly private. I nursed in private places for the first few months until I got the hang of holding my baby without a pillow, and then I nursed whenever and wherever he wanted to.
Once, we were at a friend’s house, and my husband asked me to hand him something. I sort of stared back and said, “Uhm, I’m kind of busy, can you just get it?”. It wasn’t until then that he and the other four adults in the room realized I was breastfeeding – and trust me, my husband takes any chance he can to look at my boobs. But even he did not realize I was nursing our son. This is the norm. Most people are not going to say anything to you, and if you’re worried people will glare at you – just look at your baby and not at them. Let them be assholes, who cares?
Weaning baby off the breast is just as challenging as getting them to latch — especially if you have a superstubborn child. Laura B. struggled to get her 2-year-old son off the breast. “If I try to redirect him he gets very offended and sad and clingy.” Dealing with mommy guilt is never fun, but sometimes you have to stand your ground.
Solution: Let them wean themselves. How many kids have you actually heard of who went off to college still breastfeeding? They will wean. Breastfeeding provides nutrients and psychological benefits for toddlers. The average age of weaning is around 4 years, with some cultures breastfeeding up to 7 or more years.
Solution: Treat it like any other thing they want but can’t have. Were you planning on letting your kid have everything they want always? Probably not.
Actual problems with weaning? Risk of mastitis from weaning too quickly. No longer having that awesome easy way to soothe a crying toddler. I’m sure there’s others but giving up on potential years of success because you’re worrying about a few days or weeks of frustration in the future is silly.
Look, here’s the ultimate truth. Being a mom is hard. It’s way harder than anything else you will ever do in your life. It’s also way more rewarding and way worth it. Breastfeeding is one thing you can do that actually makes it easier. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful I made it through the first few weeks and have continued to breastfeed my son. Now that he’s 2, he only nurses 2-3 times a day, and it’s mostly when he is tired or hasn’t seen me in a long time. There are some days I do feel like maybe we’re ready to stop, but at this point it’s still better for us both to keep nursing. When either he’s ready to stop, or I’m ready, we’ll stop. But I’m not giving up something that keeps my son healthier, calms his fears and heals his boo-boos, plus gives me an excuse to lounge on the couch and ask my husband to bring me stuff, any sooner than I have to.
If you’re having trouble with breastfeeding, there are countless resources out there. If you’re truly ready to give up, or really don’t believe you can do it in the first place, that is okay too. We are all doing the best we can. But please do not give up because you believe any of this utter bull crap. Ask for help and don’t stop asking until you get real answers.
La Leche League Support: http://www.llli.org/nb.html
Best for Babes Booby-Traps: http://www.bestforbabes.org/what-are-the-booby-traps