If you missed Part 1, catch up here.
There are a lot of pros to breastfeeding. I found this link: Timeline of a Breastfed Baby which I liked referring to during my moments of doubt to remember that I am doing something wonderful for my daughter. My favorite part, especially during the first 2 months: You’ve probably heard the delicious fact that breastfeeding uses up the fat stores you laid down in pregnancy. The greatest weight loss is seen in the three to six month period (Moody et al). You’ve just hit the start of this uber fat-burning period.
Aria went through a colic period during our first 3 months together. It was A LOT of painful crying, no pooping, and hours and hours of screaming. Chloe did not have this, so my first thought was "it's my breast milk!" We went to the lactation consultant twice, the doctor many times, I cut things out of my diet, all in an attempt to help her. Nothing helped. I was ready to throw in the towel again and try formula because in exasperation I knew she MUST be allergic to my milk. Everyone we talked to that had any sort of authority on the subject told us to continue breastfeeding, it would only get worse with formula. Speaking only as a mother who has gone through this, keep breastfeeding! We did give her formula a couple of times to test our hypothesis, and it made the pain and crying intensify.
Everyone's willing to talk about the pros but there are cons to breastfeeding.
- The feeling (and reality) that all you do is nurse. It can be as often as every 2 hours. So by the time you're done feeding and changing the diaper, you have maybe 30-40 minutes before you start all over again.
- Having a new baby is exhausting. There are no extra long naps or sleeping through the night while someone else feeds the baby.
- Pumping is a pain in the ***. Getting everything out and ready, sitting there holding bottles, cleaning everything... ugh.
- There is no sure-fire way to see how much milk your baby is getting. Pumping gives you an idea of how much he/she may be getting but even the best pump is not as efficient as a baby's mouth.
- There can still be times nursing hurts, even 6 months in. Everything I read about breastfeeding has told me "If it hurts, you're doing it wrong". I have learned through experience, even if you're doing it right, it can/will still hurt sometimes.
- It it not always convenient to nurse. Smashed between a car seat and booster seat with a wiggly preschooler makes it nearly impossible for a comfortable feeding for you or the babe, but it's reality. (I see nothing wrong with a mother who is nursing her baby in public, but I am not one of those people)
- The weight that you put on during pregnancy does not always melt right off if you breastfeed. Sometimes, breastfeeding does not affect the amount of or speed that weight comes off - it takes hard work. I did not lose the weight any faster than Chloe, and I had to work out a lot more this time.
- Every baby poops. Breastfed babies are supposed to poop after every feeding. That doesn't always happen and you fear that something is terrible wrong. Breastfed babies can go a week without pooping, which is a rude awakening when they start cereal and begin going multiple times a day. (Aria pooped about once a week for the first 6 months and we were reassured every few days that she was fine for the first few months.)
- Getting on a schedule feels impossible. Breastfeeding is an on-demand job. You can get there, but it takes fooooorrreeevvvvveeerrrr. (And it will change every few days to a week.)
- Hugging anyone for the first month or two (or maybe three) hurts.
- The risk of a blocked milk duct and/or mastitis.
- The feeling of judgement if you decide to stop breastfeeding for any reason (convenience, pain, schedule, pumping, whyever).
Aria is gaining weight at a painfully slow rate, which leaves me questioning almost daily if she's getting enough to eat and should I start supplementing with formula. I have had a blocked milk duct which is a painful reminder of the everything you've been through so far. Aria is getting to the point of becoming easily distracted by things around her while eating so she pulls back, causing me to shriek out as she twists and bites at the same time. It's still difficult to leave her for any length of time; it takes 2-3-4 pumping sessions to get enough milk for 1 bottle.
What I've learned through my experience so far... breastfeeding is hard. It's not for everyone. It's OK if it's not for you. It's OK if you struggle through it. I know I am.
I know I'm not alone... right?