The Breast Decisions

Breastfeeding.  To many this might not seem like an intimidating word.  To other, including myself, it is the principal source of fear and trepidation to becoming a new mom.  The debate between breastfeeding and formula feeding moms is like watching a cage match between rabies-infested dogs.  How are first-time moms suppose to get all the information they needs to make this important decision from an unbiased source as well as make a decision for herself without feeling like the world is judging her every move?  And what truly is the best route for me, personally?  I want to breastfeed, but I just don’t understand how to make it work, while still having time for yourself!  Just to clear the air before I even begin, I am not trying to boil any pots or cause any arguments.  I am just an honest new mom looking for honest answers to honest questions.

 

We have all seen the mom at the baseball game with her boob hanging out, just feeding her baby like its nothing at all.  All the men sitting around her are awkwardly forcing their attention in other directions as to not blatantly stare at her exposed-to-the-world nipple.  Or how about the women featured on the cover of Time magazine who was still breastfeeding her elementary school aged son?  There is certainly a stigma associated with publicly breastfeeding, which is so sad to me because all these women are doing is feeding their babies.  They are trying their best to do what they feel is right for their child, and if that means feeding in the middle of a crowded restaurant, then who are we to judge?  But it also boggles my mind how these women that choose to exclusively breastfeed are able to have time to do anything for themselves, such as work out, have full time jobs, or go out for drinks with friends.  Which brings up another thing I learned while doing my online research on breastfeeding… you can’t drink!!!  You are expected to abstain from alcohol for 9 months while growing your mini human, and then you are told that you now must go without alcohol for an additional 6 months (or at least that’s how long they recommend that you breastfeed) in order to feed your little one.  What cruel irony.

 

“Breast is Best” is the mantra for all the doctors, nurses, and lactation clinics who barrage pregnant women with information on why they should be exclusively breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of a baby’s life.  The nutrients in breast milk cannot be duplicated, and breast milk will help your baby fight illness, score higher on IQ testing, and lowers the probability that they will be obese in their adult life, just to name a few.  Which leads you to believe that if you in fact choose to formula feed (or are forced to due to uncontrollable circumstances), your poor babe is destined to be a sick, low performing, fat adult.  That is a hard pill for me to swallow, seeing how I know many children who were not breast-fed and turned out just wonderfully.  Why must there be so much pressure on how a woman chooses to feed her child? 

 

Breastfeeding is considered the “gold standard”, but I just don’t understand how so many women make this work while still having a life for themselves.  With things such as bleeding nipples, biting, being on call for feedings 24 hours a day, low milk supplies, etc etc etc, it just seems like a daunting feat for any woman to commit on becoming an exclusive breast-feeder.  And then you get into having a full-time job, which is the biggest weight on my mind in regards to breastfeeding.  I plan on returning to work full time because I want to, not because I have to, and it is something that is important to me.  But the idea of sitting in a room all alone a few times a day with my boobs just hanging out being pumped by a mechanical machine while I have piles of work to be done and customers needing assistance every other moment is mind-boggling to me.  And I usually take my lunch breaks to get in a work-out, which would have to go away in order to provide enough time to make sure I am pumping enough.  This would mean that I would have to go to the gym after work, leaving less time to actually enjoy my baby.  Or worse yet, not work out at all!  How do these women make it work?  What happens if you simply don’t have time in your day to get this done?

 

So many women, including myself, also take the time to research the option of exclusively formula feeding.  You have more time to get things done, you are able to return to work full time without the obligation of pumping every few hours, your boobs stay in-tact, you can drink!  But with that comes the judgment that is associated with formula feeding your baby, which arrives in the form of an onslaught of horrible negativity aimed at the new mother.  “Guilt” is the main adjective that is used when describing many mothers who formula feed their children.  These women are coined by the internet blogs as being selfish mothers who are not providing the best they can for their child.  Who is judging the quality of their parenting skills anyway?  And it seems to me that a much more likely determiner of obesity, IQ score, and health is based off the parent’s genetic disposition, not their choice of nutritional supplementation.  Even the topic of exclusively pumping brings a firestorm of debate.  So if this route is the path you end up following, you are already beginning your journey with a bad rap.

 

So I sit here, stressed to all kingdom come.  I plan on trying to breastfeed Harper when she is born.  But if it isn’t the route for us, I certainly don’t want to be made to feel like I am a second-grade parent who is selfish and doesn’t care about the health of their baby.  I also want to be able to work full time and not stress at every moment as to whether or not I will pump enough to continue to feed her.  And finally, I want to be able to enjoy a drink, or a few.  I would ask that any mother who has gone through this journey please share their experiences, advice, and wisdom to me as a new mom and all the new mom’s that read this blog as well. 

 

     

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6 thoughts on “The Breast Decisions

  1. Cece Daniels says:

    Breastfeeding is a special bond that you will have with your little one, aside from all the health benefits you already mentioned. The length of time you nurse will depend on so many variables and any time at all will be beneficial. Due to the fact that you and Jess were both nursing and very different in size when you were born…..I was only able to nurse you both for a little over 3 months. Juliet was nursed around 6 months and then went straight to a sippie cup, never did bottles with her. I think that when she is here and you have the opportunity to have that special bond with her, your opinion may change. One other major benefit to nursing is that it helps shrink the abdominal wall quicker after birth ! Bonus. 😀

  2. Sarah says:

    Don’t stress about it too much Jen. Be sure to get a really good pump and while you’re on leave make sure to focus on building a solid pumping schedule. I didn’t have a quality pump for Kaelyn and it made it horrible to pump, I hated it. A good pump makes all the difference! I definitely agree that pumping at work feels awkward, but once you get used to doing so it won’t be so bad. I was able to nurse Kaelyn for 5 months and Matthias for eight. I didn’t feel bad switching to formula at that point and I don’t think you should either if you have to. It doesn’t make you any less of a mom!

  3. Susan Kissel says:

    I think that it may be too early to make the decision – I am pretty sure that Harper will be the most amazing, and IMPORTANT thing in your life -working out, alcohol etc. just won’t matter
    When it is time. you’ll do the right thing, whether you nurse or not!
    (I never nursed)

  4. Ashleigh says:

    I agree with the above comments. I think the decision is best made when bubs has arrived. As a mum of one already, and 25 weeks with babe 2, I was so incredibly surprised with how your life changes when you have this gorgeous human being in yours arms, things you once considered important may not seem it. Others things that once werent, will seem hugely important. I only managed to B/F for 3 months – and that was mix feeding (Breast and formula) with babe 1, and I had the ‘guilt’ that you are talking about.. however bad it seemed at the time, babe 1 is healthy, never unwell, is a clever/bright child (according to childcare) and is happy – So is his mummy! Don’t forget – Happy mummy happy baby – what ever your decision. 🙂

  5. Annette Cisneros says:

    Everyone’s right. It will come to you. I breasted Andrew strictly for the first year. I don’t know how I had a life. Ashley was breasted, but had formula when she ran out of breast milk when I was at work. I also fed her for a year. Adam didn’t go as smoothly. I didn’t produce enough milk so he quit at 6 months. And I have to tell you, formula and breast feeding both have their ups and downs. When I was out and it was time to feed, I had to find somewhere private to do it. I didn’t want to be one of those with their breasts out. And then when we had to get up and make a bottle in the middle of the night, it was so tiring cause I was so used to just picking them up, attaching them and falling back to sleep. No fuss. You just have to find what works best for you. It’ll come. You don’t need to decide right now. Hope this helps!

  6. Rita Hanson says:

    One of the things a hospital helps with is matching patients with community resources. Once the baby comes, they will send experts your way to let your know tips on nursing, or not. La leche league usually has volunteers ready to help 24/7. They will let you know where in your area you can rent by the week or month a state of the art pump exactly like the ones they use in the hospital. This can help with your decision before you make a big investment on a quality pump. There is also a chance you will never have to pump. It will depend on how long you decide to nurse and when you return to work. These decision are as unique as there are people.

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