In the weeks leading up to the birth of my first child I, like many others, looked to the most reliable source for advice for soon to be mothers…Instagram. With people becoming ever more honest online I had a front row seat to the most intimate place you can go with a pregnant woman, her hospital room. Videos about contractions, and complications, new dads crying, or sleeping awkwardly on small couches filled my feed, and they all came to the same logical ending, with a beautiful sticky blue baby laid across mom’s chest and all was right with the world. But all the moms out there know that was the easy part, that was the simple part; baby is in, now baby is out. You did it! Now it’s time to feed this delicate little creature, and you’re the food truck.
It’s 2022, being “real” online is the new hip thing, but no one was letting me in on how difficult it would be to breastfeed, how incredibly intimidating those first few days trying to feed my baby were. I was sold videos of beautiful moments in rocking chairs, of full breasts and suckling babies, of mothers basking in the intimate bond that they had with their child. My reality was colder, and sweatier, and way more stressful. I’d just given birth and now I was sitting around with my larger than life boobs out all….of….the….time. All I wanted was to wear a giant sweater and leggings and cover up until spring but instead my newly stretched and stitched form was lying about like a seal on a rock. I couldn’t produce as much as she needed no matter how much I pumped, or how many positions I tried. When I could finally get her latched it wasn’t relief I felt, but anxiety. Was she getting enough? Would I be able to do this again? Was it my fault this was so hard?
Here’s the deal, I know this seems like some personal testimonial about the horrors of breastfeeding, an unsponsored advertisement for formula babies. It’s not. If we are blessed enough to have another child I am going to try again, and I will pull out all the stops for them too. It’s an amazing source of nutrients for the child, it’s just another way to bond and feel more confident in your role as a new mother, and it is time that only you and your child will have, and it’s brief. It can also be stressful, and scary, and it can make you feel like you’re failing before you even start. You’re not. Failing would be not trying at all. Failing would be denying your child other sources of nutrients because breastfeeding is such a priority for you.
So here’s my hot tip on breastfeeding…Do it. Tape the little tubes to your boobs, let strangers squeeze your nipples, hold your baby like a football, and buy the $400 dollar egg shaped breast pump from the future. Here’s my other hot tip…don’t do it. If it’s hurting your relationship with your partner and baby, breaking your heart (and the bank), and leaving you in a general state of misery, try something else. Don’t let anybody else, including all those random women who asked you if you were going to breastfeed when you were 6 months pregnant who should have been asking how much of their business they should be minding, convince you that you aren’t doing what’s best for your child because certain things just don’t work for everyone.