Notes from the Underboob

-Obviously a well-fed baby-

If the topic of breastfeeding makes you uncomfortable or squeamish, you may want to stop reading. Or, better yet, get over it.

Seriously, a woman can serve up her cleavage on a platter in nearly any public setting, and nobody blinks an eye (because they’re all staring), but if a woman chooses to feed her baby in public? Scandalous! I know, I know, the breastfeeding environment in general has improved, but I’m still shocked at the comments I hear sometimes. Some people are just downright grossed out.

Everyone is entitled to their (misguided) opinions, but how can something so natural be so disturbing to some people? God gave women breasts to feed babies, and to manipulate men, but mainly to feed babies. I’m not a breastfeeding extremist, but I feel strongly that more women would be successful if society in general was a little more accepting. I even hesitated about writing this post, but the more people who talk about it, the better it is for moms down the road.

Here’s the deal. I quit breastfeeding my first daughter at three weeks, due to an awful infection. I probably didn’t have to give up, but I was so exhausted from trying to fix it, that I chose my mental sanity over my ability to breastfeed. She was raised on soy formula, and she’s amazing. She’s intelligent, funny and very attached to her momma. But she did have terrible stomach problems from the formula–reflux, constipation, you name it.

So, when my second daughter was born, I was determined to make it work. Even though I know formula is great, I wanted to avoid all of the gestational problems that can sometimes come with it. And through sheer will and determination, I can now say it’s successful. I still have to supplement with formula (she’s a very large baby) but I’m completely fine with that.

Despite all of the challenges I’ve had, I can honestly say it’s been worthwhile. The bonding, the lack of tummy troubles, the contentedness…it’s all wonderful. Now, having said that, I would like to share some of the downsides that nobody really told me about. Everyone has a different experience, so please don’t think all of these things would apply to you.

1. Breastfeeding is not free. 
Yes, if you’re able to exclusively breastfeed (no pumping) and use washable breast pads, and borrow some nursing bras, and use regular pillows for support, and not need Lanolin, then maybe, maybe it will be free. Otherwise, you may have to purchase: nursing bras, breast pads, breast pump (not cheap), breast milk storage containers, Lanolin, support pillow, nursing stool, etc. The good news is, even with all of that overhead, it’s still cheaper than formula over the course of a year.

2. It may not improve bonding with all of your children. 
When you have your first baby, marathon nursing sessions can be wonderful. Just you, the baby, and quiet time to relax and enjoy your little miracle. Now, throw a two-year-old into the mix, and it’s just downright exhausting. “Mommy, I need a drink.” I can’t right now, I’m feeding the baby. “Mommy, I need a snack.” I can’t right now I’m feeding the baby. “Mommy, come stop me from opening the fridge and pulling out all of the contents.” I can’t right now, I’m feeding the baby.

You get the picture. Those first few months were tough. Very tough. But, my oldest daughter got to experience what it means to feed your baby in a natural way, and hopefully she’ll have success with her own children someday.

3. You’ll feel like a cow (or a milk truck)
If you return to work after having your baby, you’ll become a prisoner to your pump. And pumping, my friends, is not fun. Don’t worry, it’s not horrible, it just gets old…really old. You have to continually remind yourself that it’s worth it, and that you’ll be in a world of hurt if you don’t do it regularly. The upside is that working mothers can still provide breast milk for their babies. Imagine if this lovely invention didn’t exist!

And with that, I must end this post. Because it’s 10 p.m., and I have to perform my motherly duties before going to bed. ((Yawn))