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The Dark Side of Breastfeeding

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Last week I found myself in a debate with a fellow Lactivist about what exactly it is that we should be fighting for. The conversation was about pump at work bills and whether or not companies should be required to give PAID breaks to pumping moms. I argue that they should have to give breaks, but that they shouldn't have to give paid breaks. (I'll save my reasoning for another post.)

That led us into a conversation about just how far the lactivist battle should go in terms of securing "rights" for breastfeeding moms.

I've long felt convicted that the lactivist battle is one of "equal rights" not one of "special rights."

For example, long-time readers might recall my writing about the Kelly Fuks YMCA incident back in early 2006. In that case, a mom was told that she could not nurse her baby in the pool area. The reason given? Because they had a strict "no food or drink" policy. At the time, I explained my stance that if bottle feeding isn't allowed, then I don't care if breastfeeding isn't allowed.

Again, equal rights, not SPECIAL rights.

The argument that the other woman came back at me with was that we had to make breastfeeding "as easy as bottle feeding" for women to want to do it.

I argued that it would/could never be as "easy" in terms of "freedom" and that breastfeeding moms had to recognize that there were going to be things about breastfeeding that are simply harder than bottle feeding.

In fact, I stated that while we could make breastfeeding "easier" we were never, EVER going to make it "easy" and that moms simply had to accept that breastfeeding, like anything else, has its downsides.

Eek. That opened up a bit of a debate.

So with that little bit of background, you'll have to understand what my brain has been pondering the last few days. I've sat down to write this post a couple of times, but the thoughts just weren't...developed enough yet.

One of the themes that I hear again and again from the lactivist community and from breastfeeding professionals is how much "easier" breastfeeding is than bottle feeding. In fact, some go so far as to say that if it's difficult, you must be doing something wrong.

That bothers me.

Don't get me wrong, there are so many things about breastfeeding that are easier than bottle feeding. On a day to day basis, I'd obviously prefer to simply lift my shirt than to have to go and get a bottle ready. The portability, the ready availability, and of course the wonderful physical closeness is something to be cherished.

But there are some days...days where breastfeeding is...well, when it is a crushing load that can be shouldered by no one but me.

...and that's difficult. Mentally and physically.

Now I know that good moms are supposed to love their children all the time. To revel in the closeness of nursing a child and to get their relaxation through the occasional bubble bath while dad plays with the kids, but I think we do an enormous disservice to breastfeeding moms to not acknowledge how hard it can be.

How hard it is to be on call 24/7 with zero breaks.

ZERO breaks.

When I pumped for Elnora, I sometimes felt like a slave to the pump. It went with me everywhere and I was always keeping an eye on the clock to know when my next pumping session was. That was rough. Pumping when I had the flu, pumping when I was traveling, pumping when I wanted to throw the pump out the window.

But ultimately, when I needed a break...when I needed that moment of sanity that can only come from sitting by yourself in a location free of small children...I could get it. I might have the whir of the pump playing as my background music, but solitude was within reach.

Now however, I find myself with a child that will not take a bottle. That does not sleep through the night. That still nurses roughly every three hours day and night.

In seven months I have had two four hour breaks from my child. Once was late at night after he'd gone to bed when he was ten weeks old. I went out with some friends with cell phone in tow ready to head home the moment it buzzed. The second time was just last week while giving a presentation at Ohio State while my mother-in-law watched the kids.

Both times I spent the entire time worrying that I'd have to make a frantic dash home at any second. I knew that if he got hungry, if he got upset, there was no one that could take care of him but me.

Apart from that, I've been gone for around 2 hours less than 10 times.

Now I love Emmitt. I love Elnora. I adore my children and I know how very blessed I am to be able to work from my home so that I get to spend time with them.

But there are days where I feel trapped. Not because I'm a mom, but because I'm a breastfeeding mom.

Yep, I said it.

As wonderful, as important, as gratifying as breastfeeding is, it's far from easy. Not for the mom that lacks the option of ever leaving a bottle of expressed milk for her child. Not for the mom that hasn't slept more than 4.5 hours straight in over a year.

There are no breaks.

I had the flu last month. The type of flu where you have to sit on the toilet while puking because the force of the puke sends some other ... stuff ... flying out as well. I was at my moms. When Emmitt was hungry, she would come and lay him in my arms. When he was finished, she'd take him and settle him back to sleep. Nursing him was literally all I could do and sometimes she'd have to "catch" him as I jumped up to race to the bathroom.

There are no breaks.

I know that this time period will be brief when compared to my entire life. I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that some day, maybe soon, Emmitt will get the hang of a sippy cup and I'll be able to take a much needed afternoon of rest.

But right now, I can't see the light.

And I wonder, are we fooling ourselves, are we harming our cause, are we setting moms up for failure when we try to convince them that breastfeeding is "easy?"

There are days where I look at Emmitt as he nurses and I want to cry with joy because of how beautiful, how precious the moment is. There are other days where I look at him and I want to run away from this never ending cycle.

That doesn't make me a bad mom. And if you're reading this, and you can relate, it doesn't make you a bad mom either. It makes you a real person.

When we become mothers, we do so knowing that we have to give up a little piece of ourselves. We do it because we know that the piece we've given up will be filled to the point of overflowing by the presence of that little person. We do it because we know that most of the things worth doing in life...are difficult.

I call it the "dark side of breastfeeding" because no one seems to want to talk about it. At least not anyone that breastfeeds.

There's this underlying fear that if you talk about it you'll either show yourself to be a bad mother or you'll convince some other woman that she shouldn't breastfeed her child.

Bollocks.

I'm a darn fine mother. I have my faults, but I have few regrets. As for other women and the impact this line of thinking could have on them? They deserve to know both the good and the bad. They deserve the right to make informed choices. They deserve the right to know that breastfeeding may mean, quite literally, being "joined at the nip."

Being a mom is hard. Every choice we make has pros and cons and if you're out there, looking at some other mom and thinking how easy she has it then I suggest you realize that some other mom is looking at YOU thinking the same thing.

There's a dark side to everything. Talking about it? Well that's what brings it into the light.

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:09 PM |  

    Good for you! I think this post is right on. Overwhelming the experience of breastfeeding is so terrific, but we have to acknowledge that there are times when it's not all perfume and roses. Of course, no mother of an infant has it easy. There are babies who will not take a bottle from anyone but mom, or be soothed from anyone but mom - even if mom is puking on the toilet. Maybe it's not so much a breastfeeding issue as a mother issue. In the end we just do our best, then these precious babies grow up and we forget how truly hard it was. The important thing is that in the end - we survive!!

  2. Anonymous Tamara | 8:13 PM |  

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Being in the middle of a rough patch (up all night breastfeeding every hour or two for the last five nights, I'm exhausted), it is so good to be reminded that it's OK to not like breastfeeding sometimes.

    I had been well-prepared for trouble getting feeding started (and we did have a rough go of it at first), but I hadn't really been ready for the long-haul inconveniences; no breaks, no time off, and very little time alone. I keep telling myself that this is such a small part of his life and I should enjoy it, but it doesn't make me any less tired.

  3. Anonymous Crystal | 10:44 PM |  

    BRAVO!!! I know EXACTLY how you feel. My son does take a bottle, but I am still pumping when he takes that bottle. I don't ever go more than 3 hours without pumping or breastfeeding (even at night at 10 months old). I have told my husband several times, "I wish I was the dad." I wish I didn't have to be the one constantly thinking about when my son eats next. Yes, I want to breastfeed him, I want to give him the best, and there are great moments breastfeeding, but that doesn't mean I don't yearn for time to myself without that niggling thought in the back of my mind.

    I am so glad you are talking about this. When I first started breastfeeding, I was shocked at how attached my son was to me. I hated it and I was not prepared for it. I certainly agree that keeping the difficulties a secret is harmful.

  4. Blogger MamaEscandon | 11:50 PM |  

    well, I'm not afraid to talk about it! I can soooooooooooooo relate! I have to go to bed at 7:30 or whenever my daughter decides she is ready and she is literally attached all night long. Its exhausting and at times I get so frustrated. I start thinking about letting her CIO or moving her out of my bed, maybe even bottle feeding. That feeling usually goes away after a good nights sleep. My time during the day is limited because I have no free time. And free time doesn't mean "me time" it just means time to mop the floor, clean the bathrooms, get some excersize done, organize the coat closet. The little things I can get done if she was asleep without me! The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that she is my first baby and I suspect that things will be different with subsequent children as I won't be able to devote 100% of my time to them. So, for now... I just revel in it and try to get as many cuddles and hugs as I can now, before I know it she will be off to college and then who knows, off to get married.

    Forgive me for misspellings and grammatical errors, I have a tiny break and snuck away while she is sleeping, I have to make sure I can get to the bathroom!!! :o)

  5. Blogger 2-10 | 11:59 PM |  

    This is easily one of the best posts or articles I've ever read on breastfeeding.

    I'm a tandem nursing mama to my almost 1 year old girl who is really technically 10 months because she was 2 months premature. I had to pump milk for her 24 hours a day for a month while she lived in the NICU at the hospital. I had to pump for several feedings at one time and ahead of her feeding schedule so the hospital would have enough milk stored for her & so they wouldn't feed her formula (!). This was the most stressful month of my entire life, but I did it. To this day, she is exclusively breastfed and has never had a bottle. My son is 2 years old and still breastfeeds a few times a day.

    I am never away from them and I don't wish to be. I chose to breastfeed, but believe you me, I will be the FIRST to say that breastfeeding, pumping, extended breastfeeding, tandem breastfeeding...is HARD, wonderful, difficult, beautiful, rewarding, frustrating, precious, restricting, and freeing... sometimes all at the same time.

    Your post was beautiful. When I read the following paragraph, tears flooded my eyes: "When we become mothers, we do so knowing that we have to give up a little piece of ourselves. We do it because we know that the piece we've given up will be filled to the point of overflowing by the presence of that little person. We do it because we know that most of the things worth doing in life...are difficult."

    Well said...God bless you, mama!

  6. Blogger Abigail Munday | 12:07 AM |  

    Hear hear! Well said.

  7. Anonymous scarlettheartt | 2:26 AM |  

    Thankyou for expressing what I know I have felt quite often and what I am sure other breastfeeding mothers have felt as well. I love nursing my daughter but sometimes I just want to run for the hills! Its nice to know I am not the only the one who feels that way.

  8. Anonymous Traci, Mom of Many | 4:15 AM |  

    I doubt that my post will be published, but here are my thoughts regardless.

    I will agree with the equal rights, not special rights comment. But, I can't and won't agree with you on breastfeeding being harder.

    I am a mother of 7 (ages 13 years to 8 months). All of them have been nursed...although the first 2 not as long due to me being young, lack of knowledge, no support, etc. I have toddler nursed, tandem nursed, and nursed while pregnant. I haven't been without breastmilk in 10.5 years! You said the cycle never ends...but sadly enough it does! The baby turns toddler and the toddler turns child, and unless you have another, that is where the breastmilk ends!

    Having been breastfeeding for 10.5 years straight, I am still sane! LOL My last 5 children have never been given a bottle (that means I don't pump...EVER). I have had time away from them...you should see me at Kroger, every week, shopping and be boppin to the classic rock being played over head, going down the aisles with a cappucino in one hand and a list in the other...enjoying my time!

    HA! Lets even call it easy, because I believe it is! I am a SAHM, and that is a really hard job...but I get to take breaks...heck, I have even gotten naps while nursing. If my husband and I are working hard on projects around the house, I get to take breaks...he doesn't!

    I have been there sitting on the pot, puking in a bowl...trying to nurse a baby while still sitting on the toilet...bouncy seat close by in the event of more puking. No, that wasn't easy...but then since the baby nursed, the baby wasn't barfing right along with me...which a bottle fed baby probably would have been (wouldn't that have been harder?!?!?)

    At present I have an 8 month old...almost 9 months. I leave the house 3 times a week to go to Curves...with travel and workout time, that is 1 hour, 3 times per week. I go to Kroger once a week and with travel time, that is about 2 hours...so I am up to 5 hours per week. I go to the library or the book store once a week...adding another hour = 6 hours a week. Point being, I get away from the kids...I see other adults!

    Also, I sleep all night...always have! We gave up the crib when the first baby had colic. Nursing a baby at night...even a newborn...is best handled from the bed. 7 kids, all slept with us, all still alive...so lets not open that can of worms. My husband and I obviously haven't suffered from the baby being in the bed...actually we get some "adult" time and still are very well rested!

    All moms are on 24/7...breastfeeding or not. I haven't seen the "dark side to breastfeeding" but then after reading how you breastfeed, I could see how you feel that way. I don't think you are a bad mom...maybe just a tired one!

    Someone should have told you long ago, you can't have it all or do it all...none, I repeat NONE, of us are Super Mom! This season of life (the breastfeeding baby season) is soooo very, very short...enjoy it while it is still here!

    My glass is half full...

  9. Anonymous Jessica Lietz | 5:31 AM |  

    You know, I've had some of the same thoughts. I also get little uninterrupted sleep, I've had plugged ducts and mastitis, I have to interrupt my work day to pump... breastfeeding is not always convenient or easy. It helps to be aware of that before going into motherhood, rather than in the thick of things!

    But as in the rest of life, what is best isn't always what is easy. It would have been easier for me to loaf in school and still live at home with my parents and not be working. Rather, I went to college then graduate school and I work outside the home. It's not the easy choice, but the best one for me. It would be easier to buy takeout every day, but it's not the best choice for me. Formula is the easy choice, but it is not the best choice.

    Sometimes the best experiences in life are not the easiest-- they are the challenges, that when you see that you can do it, you feel so much more confident in yourself and your walk in life with God.

  10. Blogger Stacy | 5:40 AM |  

    "And I wonder, are we fooling ourselves, are we harming our cause, are we setting moms up for failure when we try to convince them that breastfeeding is "easy?"

    Yes, we most certainly are! We are also setting mosm up for failure when we say if breastfeeding hurts at first then you are doing something wrong. I don't know one mom who didn't have pain with breastfeding when she first started off. If I had not had the support of a nursing moms group that told me that yes, it's going to hurt but it will get better, then I wouldn't be breastfeeding right now. Moms need support and they need to know the truth!

    I was never one of those moms who thouht breastfeeding was this great bonding experience. I always envisioned that my son would look into my eyes while he nursed and we would share this great moment. No one ever told me that its hard for your baby, especailly a newborn, to be able to turn thier head so that they can even see you face. That's not to say we didn't bond through BFing but it jsut wasn't the picture that breastfeeding advocates painted.

  11. Blogger Lesley | 5:56 AM |  

    Awesome post Jennifer. I remember when my friend was pregnant and she was on the fence about breastfeeding and she asked me if it was hard. I really struggled with how to answer her, because I wanted to be honest but I did not want to scare her. I finally told her that yeah, it can be hard. But so was riding a bike the first time, or driving a car. Everything has a period in the beginning when things are not easy and you struggle with it and begin to doubt yourself. But as with everything worth doing, the rewards are fantastic. Seeing how my daughter thrived on my milk, seeing how it had the power to nourish and comfort her was amazing. And that is what I told her...it can be hard, it takes a strong commitment, but it's worth it.
    Rarely do you hear health professionals say that yes it can be hard. I only had one nurse say anything like that while I was in hospital after having my son (and thankfully all she did was recommend ways to ease discomfort rather than advocate formula use), and since support can be difficult to find if you do not know who to ask or where to look, it would be nice if honesty could come into play here.
    Oh...and my friend is breastfeeding. Her daughter is 5 months old and they are still going strong.

  12. Blogger Jennifer | 6:06 AM |  

    LOL, Traci, I'm going to guess that you are new here. :) Welcome to the site, thanks for delurking to comment!

    Don't ever assume that I won't publish a post. Unless you are hurling insults at people, I publish pretty much everything. This blog wouldn't be much good if I only published the people who agreed with me.

    I'd also note that I don't think I said that breastfeeding was awful or tiring or horrible for everyone.

    My daughter (2.5) slept through the night from 7 weeks to 7 months without waking a single night. Life was much different then because I was rested.

    Thus, my post is that for some moms, breastfeeding is harder than bottle feeding. We can't assume all moms experiences will be the same. The concept that Emmitt wouldn't one day take a bottle was beyond me. The concept that he would still be waking every 2-3 hours to nurse at nearly 8 months was beyond me.

    This is my second child that has received nothing but my milk and the experiences have been radically different.

    You also won't find many posters here that give you a rough time for co-sleeping. Heck, I'd bet at least half of my readers co-sleep themselves. The rest may not do it, but few have issues with it. We co-slept ourselves for awhile but no one was getting any sleep. Emmitt now sleeps in the crib right next to our bed. He'll see his nursery...some day. ;)

    I'd also note that even getting out for the amount of time you describe would be an amazing Godsend, but it just doesn't happen...at least not yet.

    I've been to four classes at church (about two hours) without the kids. Twice I came home to Emmitt screaming his head off and Greg telling me that he'd been doing so for more than an hour.

    Evenings don't work for me to go out. :) He clusterfeeds pretty often at night.

    During the day? Well, going out alone isn't an option. I could leave them in the dog cage, but somehow I think CPS would get on me for that. ;)

    Every now and then my mom visits for a few days and that might mean that I get to run to the grocery store for an hour.

    But what I'm really talking about is the fact that some moms, some personality types NEED some alone time. I'm an incredibly social person. I'm the kind of person that never stayed home prior to having kids. I work for myself, which can be sort of isolating, so I might head to a coffee shop and work there where people are around. I might go to the gym. I might meet friends for lunch.

    But I now have a 2 year old and a baby and we've moved 30 minutes north of the city. I work two jobs from home. Some weeks, I go three or four days without setting foot outside the house. Not even out to get the mail because I'm that busy.

    For someone that thrives on social interaction for sanity and that needs a few hours away from her kids, that inability to escape at all can be very isolating.

    That's not to say that every mom experiences it. It's simply to say that for those that do, being told how wonderfully blessed they are to be able to nurse and how great it is that they get to spend so much time with their kids and how "I never wanted to be away from my kids" and so on is...well...it's insensitive. It's devaluing the feelings of another mom simply because you can't relate to them.

    I'm not saying you are doing this, I'm saying that it's an issue that some (many?) moms have to deal with.

    Yes I chose to breastfeed and no, I do not regret it. 90% of the time, even 95% of the time, I find myself sitting here thinking how amazingly blessed I am.

    But there are those times, those days, those dark, dark days where I need a break. And I know that break is a long ways away.

    It's just the reality of life for some moms. Not acknowledging that it might be like that? Well, that makes it worse.

    It's like telling someone with clinical depression to just "buck up." ;)

  13. Anonymous tasha | 6:11 AM |  

    nak
    ita, equal not special rights. and that bf'ing is easier but not always easy. i've been up since 3 a.m. with a teething one-year-old. the only comfort he will accept is the breast. he has never sttn.
    i try to let every preg mama know. yes, its easier than bottles in lots of ways. but prepare yourself, educate yourself, and realize that, like anything abot having a baby, it takes patience and dedication. especially on the more difficult days.

    thank you, jennifer

  14. Blogger Jennifer | 6:15 AM |  

    I think in some ways, I liken it to birth.

    Regulars know that Emmitt was born at home. That means no meds. :) He was 9.5 pounds.

    Was it hard? Parts of it. In fact there was a time period while pushing when I thought "what the @%$^#? was I thinking!!?!"

    But it was worth it. It was so worth it.

    Of course labor lasted about 6 hours whereas breastfeeding...well...we're looking at at least 18 months or more. :)

  15. Blogger Diane | 6:25 AM |  

    Beautifully, beautifully stated. You're right - it's wonderful, it's difficult. For the most part, I've found it to be much easier than if I were to be doing the formula thing. I admit I've had it pretty easy, and I enjoy the fact that four times a day (he's almost a year, so that's all he does now), I get to stop what I'm doing and sit and read a book while he nurses. But there are times I'm looking forward to the end. Like being on a family outing and having to pull the car over to nurse because I didn't pump enough for a bottle. Or yes, being sick. I believe every future mother needs to know both sides of the coin, or else she can feel totally frustrated and think something's wrong with her for having negative feelings about the process. There's something about knowing you're not alone in your feelings that actually deminishes those feelings. Great article!

  16. Blogger mrsmalaney | 6:55 AM |  

    This so sums up how I felt on Mother's Day, of all days. I had a breakdown and didn't want anyone around me. I felt, on that day, that all I ever do is take care of kids. I hardly get to sit and read now because when I have a book my 10 month old will attack it. My hubby had absolutely no clue why he saw me crying, well sobbing really, when he walked into the room. Needless to say, he took Ian and my older son and gave me some ME time. It was nice to have a few hours. Then of course it was time for Ian to eat again. But get this, my hubby took Ian back into the room with him, to give me even more quiet time!!! I think he got it! He has been helping more since then. Yes, I know, it's only been 2 days... but YEAH for those days with help.

    I love breastfeeding and as a working mom can relate to the love/hate relationship with the pump as well. But as you can see... it still gets to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything though!

  17. Anonymous Marica | 7:29 AM |  

    YES YES YES we have to share the "downside of breastfeeding"! It is only fair since we know the downside of formula feeding. Besides, moms would hang in there longer if they knew more. Also, there are many moms that I see and interact with on a weekly basis that do NOT want the ultimate attachment that breastfeeding provides. Nobody has breastfed in my husband's family and the moms (ages 22 to 35+) see me at family gatherings breastfeeding all of the time - from my observation they enjoy handing their baby off to be fed by others so they get to mingle with the family without baby in tow. In fact, one of the mamas commented to me yesterday that you can always tell a breastfed baby from a formula baby - the breastfed baby stays close to their mama (at least mine do) and are more reluctant to go to strangers comfortably. Some of the other moms just have fallen into our great American culture; thinking that formula is just as good and breastfeeding is on the borderline of being gross. In my opinion, this does not make them "bad" mothers. What I strive to do in my circle of people I know is to let the mamas know that they can do both! We as bf'ing mothers can't be too high on our soapbox - we have to let moms know that they have options, you can breastfeed and formula feed. In fact, one of the younger moms had to go back to work and pumping just wasn't an option and I let her know that she can formula feed during the day and breastfeed when she was home. She was surprised to hear this and breastfeeding then seemed a little more "do-able" for her.
    Ultimately, not all moms want to be on call 24/7 and that is not bad, nor does it make them a bad mom. No, we can't have it all and be wonderwoman, that is why we have choices.
    On a side note: I have breastfed all of my children to self-weaning. I am currently breastfeeding and I love being with my baby 24/7, we cosleep so I am pretty well rested...and there are some times where I would love to go out to dinner with hubby without baby in tow!

  18. Blogger heidi | 7:31 AM |  

    This is a great post. Honesty is so key here. If I hadn't known that breastfeeding can be tough, that there can be challenges to overcome, I would have given up. I never thought about nursing until I was pregnant, but I assumed you just lifted your shirt and the baby nursed. Thank goodness I read so much that I knew to find a supportive pediatrician who is a certified LC, too. Thank goodness I knew to ask my midwife for Reglan when I was so anemic and sick I wasn't making enough colostrum/milk to feed a bird. Thank goodness I knew that even as I watched my husband feed the baby formula while I pumped and pumped that my milk was on the way and we'd get her onto the breast full time.

    We did and the reason we did was I had read and listened to women talk about "the dark side."

    I do have to say, though, that with very few exceptions, my life as a nursing mom is astronomically easier than it would be as a formula feeding mom. And I'm a working, pumping mom. My caregivers have less fuss- no mixing stuff and spit up and smelly formula diapers. When the baby's with me, I can't imagine having to take time to prepare bottle feedings- especially in the middle of the night.

    That said, she'll take an ounce or two of expressed milk from a bottle or sippy, and that makes my life easier than life as Emmitt's mom, I'm sure:)

    Great, insightful post.

  19. Blogger Jennifer | 7:40 AM |  

    Marcia,

    You make a lot of good points. One that I want to jump on though is the co-sleeping thing.

    I think co-sleeping is a fabulous idea. I know quite a few families that benefit from it and we tried it ourselves for awhile.

    But I think co-sleeping is much like breastfeeding in that people tend to focus so heavily on the positives and ignore the fact that it doesn't work for every one. Add the fact that co-sleeping is often offered up as the "solution" for a breastfeeding mom suffering from lack of sleep and things get even crazier.

    We tried co-sleeping because in the early days he was eating almost every hour. I was a walking zombie.

    It worked for awhile, but around the time he was 3-4 months old he became a restless sleeper. He stays asleep, but he tosses, rolls and turns. In our queen size bed, there's simply not the room for him to do so. Add in the fact that I'm a restless sleeper and none of us were getting any sleep.

    I suppose we could have sprung for a king sized bed and hope that worked, but when I stuck him in his crib right next to my side of the bed we suddenly all started sleeping better. Sure, it's annoying to wake up and get him to feed him and then put him back, but I'll take three 30 minute awake sessions in exchange for sleeping soundly the rest of the time.

    Everything has it's benefits, and everything has it's downside. Some people get a mix, some people get more of one than the other.

    That's ok, but realizing that not everyone's experience is exactly the same goes a long way toward helping us understand how to encourage new moms.

  20. Anonymous SL | 7:50 AM |  

    I agree that it is terribly difficult to be violently ill while being a mother. I agree that motherhood has it's dark side. I agree that our society has set us up to feel uncomfortable being needed, that we are made to feel that we are entitled to a certain amount of me time. I think that societal sense of entitlement comes from a place of disregard for parenthood.

    Otherwise, I agree with Traci.

    I had plenty of people willing to tell me that breastfeeding was too difficult, both in the beginning and later. I had plenty of people tell me that life would be so much easier if I'd just give the kid a bottle and leave him alone in a dark room to cry himself to sleep. I even fell for it with one of my children. It most definately was not easier!

    I have been violently ill as a mother who happens to breastfeed. I did not have anyone available to help me. I delt with nursing the baby, changing his diapers, and trying to keep him, if not entertained, at least out of danger. It would not have been any easier mix bottles as well.

    But, is lactivism about getting special treatment or equal treatment? I say equal. It would be nice for mothers to have equal exposure, support and information for thier feeding choices. A breastfed baby should be able to eat where ever a bottle fed baby should be. The nurses on the OB floors should be able to help you latch a baby and give accurate info on how milk production works and how often to feed a nursing baby. They should also be able to show you how to properly sterilize and prepare a bottle. Doctors should be familiar with the protocols available to them for both breast and bottle fed chldren and not just the protocols for bottle fed children.

    Lactivism also ties into earning respect for motherhood in general. Until mothering, or parenting for that matter, are seen as important to our society, very little will actually change.

  21. Blogger JudyBright | 7:54 AM |  

    Jen,

    I can watch the kids for an hour or so. Just ask for goodness sakes. I'm barely lactating though but I could wrestle with the kid to try to take a sippy or something. Not that it would work, but it may be less frustrating for me since it's not my kid. He probably needs a straw, a big ol' straw ;)

    To the mother of many, please don't take this personal but I wanted to smack you after I read your comment. I could not handle your life and you are a better woman than I.

    I can't totally relate to being permanently attached, but it's so frustrating when you're the only one that can soothe a kid. If I leave I frequently come home to a screaming kid and an exasperated dad who of course has to tell me how awful it was for him for the hour or two I was gone.

  22. Blogger Jennifer | 8:15 AM |  

    Oh I agree with you that too many people focus on the negatives of breastfeeding and ignore the negatives of bottle feeding, but I've found that within lactivist circles there's often this "unspoken rule" that you simply can't acknowledge how difficult it can be for some mothers.

    The reality is that people are wired differently. There is no "mommy mold" that we all need to squeeze into in order to prove that we're good parents.

    Some people love being around their children 24/7 and don't need breaks. Some people love being around their children 23/7 and wither up without breaks. Some people have kids and hope to deal with them only a few hours a day. Others have kids and lament the fact that they HAVE to leave their children with someone else during the day. Still others balance work and children just fine.

    But we're all different.

    Quite frankly, I'm sick of having it implied that because I'm a mom, I don't "get/deserve" "me" time. When I became a mom, I gave up PART of myself. Not ALL of myself.

    Just as I watch some women have children and absolutely abandon their husbands emotionally and physically to devote all that energy to their children (which I find to be quite unhealthy for all involved) I also see mothers abandon themselves to devote all of their time to their children.

    If it works for you, for your children and for your spouse, that's great. More power to you.

    But just as I can't assume that every breastfeeding mother sometimes finds the 24/7 "on-call" to be occasinally stifling, no one should assume that ever mother revels in it.

    I've actually heard women...lactivists...claim that no mom that breastfeeds will have post partum depression.

    Again, I say "bollocks."

    I've seen some women drive themselves almost to insanity trying to live up to a breastfeeding "ideal" that they think will earn them their stripes as the perfect, or even just "great" mom. Sometimes to the detriment of their own mental and physical health.

    Support? Education? These things are essential. My readers know that I want to see breastfeeding rates rise as much (probably more) than the next person...

    But I firmly believe that until we begin to acknowledge the fact that SOME mothers will find that SOME things about breastfeeding are incredibly difficult, then we stand no chance at moving things forwad.

  23. Blogger Jennifer | 8:18 AM |  

    Judy,

    I know, I know, I could ask. But I also know that you've got your own issues and adding TWO children to the mix...well, it's not easy either.

    I may take you up on it though. Even if it's just to run to the store without dragging two munchkins.

    And quite honestly, I think that a few posters completely missed the point of my post. ;)

  24. Blogger Sarahbear | 8:33 AM |  

    I really needed this post today. I took my daughter(4 mos) to her pediatrician yesterday for a weight check. She hasn't been gaining weight like she ought to and the pediatrician has been seeing her almost weekly to check her.

    When he first told me that she wasn't gaining enough, he had me talk to the LC in his office. She assured me that they didn't want me to stop breast feeding. So I went on a really strict schedule of feeding her every 2 hours. I was exhausted. I've got 3 other children, all boys, the oldest is 5. Trying to gauge when 2 hours has gone by is nearly impossible. I often look up when my husband walks through the door at night and think 'where did the day go?'.

    My daughter was 8 lbs 7 oz at birth and yesterday she weighed 9 lbs 10 oz. Obviously not what she should be gaining after 4 months. I decided to start supplementing with formula and the doctor also said to go ahead and start her on cereal. I nearly sobbed when I gave her, her first bottle of formula, thinking what a terrible mother I must be if I can't figure out something so simple as breastfeeding and how I must have been starving her all this time.

    I feel better today though. She prefers nursing still and I just nurse her until she's done and then offer her a bottle of formula. It works and hopefully she'll gain some weight here soon. She's perfectly healthy other than her low weight.

    This post made me think about something else too...the dark side of pregnancy. I remember buying Jenny McCarthy's book 'Belly Laughs' and reading it while I was pregnant. It's hilarious. She talks about hemmeroids and constipation, stretch marks, weight gain, pooping on the delivery table and many other funny pregnancy experiences.

    I think that the media bombards us with all these beautiful images of nursing mothers and babies, gazing adoringly into each other's eyes. They never show a mom that's up at 3am with a screaming baby, trying desperately to get the baby to latch on.

    We're also shown these gorgeous celebrities with baby bumps that only gain 26 pounds for their whole pregnancy and the next time you see them after the baby is born, they are on a catwalk in lingerie. You don't see the moms that gain 70 pounds during their pregnancy and are struggling to lose it 2 years later. Or the moms that wanted natural births and had to go to the hospital for complications.

    I think it's very important to talk about the 'dark side of motherhood' from pregnancy - college. People are only seeing the happy side of things and when something is going wrong, they think they are to blame. They are encouraged to just keep trying because if they give up and seek medical help they aren't trying hard enough, sometimes at the expense of the children and the mother herself.

    Sorry this is so long. I just wanted to thank you, Jennifer and especially you Marica, for posting about the harder things with breastfeeding and saying it's okay to supplement with formula.

  25. Blogger Heather | 8:56 AM |  

    I heartily concur. I think I had somewhat realistic expectations of motherhood before the fact, but there's no way to know how hard it will be.

    I had some anger issues with God for a while (well, I think they're past) because of how inequitable the division of childrearing is. I thought it would be more like 80/20 in the beginning, given that my hubby is helpful and good with kids. But no, nine months in, and it's still, at best, 95/5. When he's home. Pumping equilizes the burden a bit, but God didn't make us with pumps. Why are we created this way? Why, when our ties to our children make our lives so wearying--and for women in poorer socioeconomic states, downright untenable? Why, when it helps create inequities for men and women in other spheres, as well?
    Sure, the bond created is great, and we get practice being Christ-like servants and all, but geez, sometimes I'd like to be less Christ-like. Just a little.

  26. Anonymous Traci, Mom of Many | 9:22 AM |  

    Ohhh now, I too think there can be dark times in motherhood...but it isn't during the "baby on the breast times"! LOL Wait till they get to the tween years and the teen years! UGH!!! That actually may be the difference in our opinions, you are a newer mother. Also, most of my children have my husbands type B personality (thank God!) Babies require alot from us, but for sooo short a time period. Teens and tweens make you want to pull your hair out! I used to think, "not me! mine won't act like that! I did it different!" HA!!! I may not have made the same mistakes my mother did, but I did make a whole set of new ones! ;) I did suffer from post partum with my first child, and was afraid everyone else would hurt him. My husband sat on the toilet holding him while I showered and looked out every 2 seconds. I suffered from panic attacks and migraines during the first 3 months of his life...that was a very dark time!

    I will admit, it took me years (and a couple of kids!!!) to figure out how to leave my babies for a little bit. Also, I have kept telemarketeres on the phone to talk with no intention of buying what they are selling! LOL I am social and a type A personality...but sometimes I like quiet, alone time...more now that when I was younger. As for "ME" time...hmmm...don't ask me what I think of that, it will offend.

    The family bed isn't a great fit for everyone...in fact, with some it is downright dangerous. I can say, I am a light sleeper and my husband a heavy sleeper...and both of us sleep just fine at night. In fact, I don't personally know any Mom that is as well rested as I am. I will attribute part of that to having an amazing husband! At night, I nurse the baby as often as he/she needs it, and then at some point we both roll away satisfied and sleepy. I am not sure that I ever completely wake up (except for when they are newborns)...and if you follow this method, I highly recommend a waterproof pad under you! LOL

    I still say this season of life is very short and gone too quickly...I know that feels like a "buck up" comment to you. But, there is a reason people say they grow up to quickly...once it is gone, you can't get it back!

  27. Blogger Jennifer | 9:36 AM |  

    Traci,

    I think you still failed to grasp the entire point of the post.

    That's ok. Life is working well for you, you're happy, I'm glad for you. (I mean that sincerely.)

    Just know that when you tell a mom things like:

    I too think there can be dark times in motherhood...but it isn't during the "baby on the breast times"!

    ...you demonstrate an astounding lack of empathy and you contribute to the problem of a mom feeling guilty for struggling to do what she thinks is best for her child despite difficulties.

    I'd guess that if you honestly believe that there is never a dark moment during a "baby on the breast" time than you had a much easier time nursing than some friends of mine.

    In fact, I can think of a friend or two that would be quite justified in giving a little lip in response to that comment. I don't say that to be nasty, I simply say that to point out the old adage "until you've walked a mile..."

  28. Blogger Nevanna | 10:09 AM |  

    Jennifer,

    Huh, I'm one of those people who would say it's 'easy'--but qualify that statement with 'compared to bottles' and 'after you both figure it out'. ;)

    Quick background...it took us a month to learn to breastfeed. Yes, a month. Over two weeks of trying before he would latch. In that time, I pumped, I tried to nurse, and I used formula.

    Anyway. Yes, it was very, *very* hard during that time. And I cried a lot, thinking babies were just supposed to know how to nurse. But I still would say it's easier than bottles/formula. To me, that initial learning curve gets lumped in with the baby-24-hours-a-day and I-didn't-even-have-time-to-pee newborn period. Does that make sense?

    Along with everything else (and I had one of those little ones who wouldn't lay flat, wouldn't sleep by himself, and never, *ever* let me put him down the first three months), it settles down after a few months. Yes, he still nurses every two hours during the day at seven months (and at least once at night) as well as 2-3 offerings of solids.

    I am lucky in that he will take a bottle. And I do work full-time, so have time away--which means I am attached to a pump.

    Still, I would describe bf'ing as easier than formula. :)

  29. Anonymous scarlettheartt | 10:10 AM |  

    Point me at those women who have said that nursing mothers dont get post partum depression!!!! (Someone obviously forgot to tell my brain that I shouldnt get ppd because I was breastfeeding).

  30. Blogger Jennifer | 10:53 AM |  

    Exactly scarlettheart!

    But I have, honest to goodness, read message boards where posters said that breastfeeding mom wouldn't get PPD because their hormones were being properly channeled.

    Mind blowing. I have no problem with the theory that it may REDUCE the risk of PPD due to hormonal issues, but wipe it out completely? Tell that to the many nursing mothers I have known that have suffered from PPD.

    Then duck.

  31. Blogger Renata | 11:06 AM |  

    Jennifer,

    You know why I enjoy your blog? It's because you are real. You're real, but not pessimistic. I like that balance. Thanks for all the encouragement and perspective you offer.

  32. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:18 AM |  

    I loved this post. All things considered, I think breastfeeding is sooo much easier than bottlefeeding. When I'm attaching the little monster in the middle of the night, I'm thinking, "At least I don't have to get up, and make a bottle, all I have to do is roll over," but I'm still wishing, oh, just a bit, that I could poke my husband and say, "Feed him."

    I had this crazy dream the other day. I was walking around town and this thing was coming up and sucking on me. And no matter where I went and no matter what I did, it followed me around and sucked on me. And when I woke up, there was my sweet little baby, latched on and nursin'.

    Yeah, I love nursin'. I love the milk drunk head loll, I love the milky smiles, I love his milky breath, his odorless poops. It's awesome. But there are still times when I think, "I wish someone else could take him, just for a while, just so I could read a book or just have some space." It's like eating oranges, sweet, delicious, healthy, good for you, but a steady diet of it makes you eye the bags of chips with envy...

  33. Blogger Jennifer | 11:24 AM |  

    Thanks Renata!

    I'd been thinking about writing the post for awhile and finally it dawned on me. If I feel that way, someone else out there does too. I'll get past it, and I'll keep nursing despite the occasional wanting to scream, but if posting this helps a mom stick with it if for no other reason than letting her know she's not alone?

    Totally worth it.

  34. Blogger Steph | 11:38 AM |  

    Jenn, thank you so much for writing this!

    Had I known in the beginning how hard breastfeeding was allowed to (supposed to?) be I would not have been so discouraged. I had supply issues and no one told me that is normal the first few weeks. I was on medication that gave me migranes and made me depressed, and my poor daughter spent most of her awake time screaming because she was hungry. I was convinced I was a bad mother, starving my child so that I would get the warm fuzzies from breastfeeding. At 3 weeks I stopped, and it took another few weeks to repair the broken relationship.

    She's happy and healthy and well attatched and I'm sure there's no residual problems from that stressful time, but I wish things had been different, that I would have known better and had better support. Just being told "it will get better" doesn't help when things are that stressful.

    And for the record, even bottle feeding doesn't always mean you get to be baby free...she's 6 months old and I've spent no more than 10 hrs away from her I'm sure.

  35. Blogger Eilat | 11:44 AM |  

    "And I wonder, are we fooling ourselves, are we harming our cause, are we setting moms up for failure when we try to convince them that breastfeeding is "easy?" "

    I think so. I was totally intent on breastfeeding. No question about it. But my mom, who BF'd me for 18 months (in 1977!) and my three sisters who followed, including twins, NEVER warned me about difficulties during my pregnancy. I figured, if she could BF twins, how hard could it be?

    Well, I found out when my son didnt like my right boob and fought and cried and only took the left. I was stuck with a deep cut and giant rocks of plugged ducts in my right breast for almost a month until I saw a LC and got positioning and latch on that side worked out.

    Turns out my mom had lots of trouble with me and the twins and went to LLL and had "a great book" that she told me about later.

    When I asked her why she didnt tell me it would be hard she said "I didn't want you not to try and give up."

    First, I was insulted. My mom thinks I'm a quitter (never mind that I love a challenge in all aspects of my life). Second, although I wouldn't have given up breastfeeding, I may have ended up hating it.

    I know of at least two women who asked me after having their babies "is breastfeeding supposed to be this hard?" and one of them switched to formula after a week.

    I think if most people were aware of the challenges and other BF mothers shared both the ups and downs then new moms would be prepared for the difficulties instead being hit with them unexpectedly. I don't think we give women enough credit by shielding them from the challenges.

    That said, I think the lactivist community feels the need to pump up the wonderfulness of BFing to combat the "then just give him a bottle, hell sleep better" remarks at the first negative word. Its a defense mechanism.

    I must admit that I became the BF cheerleader (even during that first month when it was really hard and I had no idea when/if it would get better) when my in-laws were around. My mother in-law didn't BF and her daughter had lots of problems with a preemie and suffered through a few weeks of pumping, but switched to formula. I felt like I had to 'enlighten' them about this new thing, and since I knew I would need their support for months to come, I had to put on a happy face at first. Even now, 20 months later, when I grumbled about having to take my pump with me to a 2 day trip with my husband (first time away -- you DO eventually get there!) she causally told me that "maybe its time to wean".

    But we are human and need someone to complain to. So I send my BF woes to my BFing friends.

    I just wish we didn't have to be so closeted about it ;-)

  36. Blogger Jennifer | 11:47 AM |  

    Steph,

    I'm so sorry that things were so rough for you! I remember the struggles of my early days trying to nurse Elnora. I'm thankful that pumping worked for me, but every now and then I wonder if I would have made it if people had been more open to the problems *I* had as opposed to what they *thought* I should have, ya know?

    But then, it's just so hard to know how to support a nursing mom that's struggling. Everyone one of us is different and what supports one woman would cause another to throwin the towel...very tough.

  37. Blogger Cagey | 12:04 PM |  

    Excellent post. I've always maintained on my site that breastfeeding was "easier" (not, NOT "easy") for me. In addition, it was easier for my particular Lifestyle because I had that complete freedom to totally devote myself to my son. Not every woman has that option and yes indeed, breastfeeding would be harder when you are trying to juggle working, pumping, nursing and everything else that Life entails. I wholeheartedly agree with the premise that we do new mothers a HUGE disservice by trying to "sell" breastfeeding as the "easy" option.

    My son did not take well to the bottle, too. My babysitter was the only one who could give him a bottle. Quite frankly, she didn't have an emotional investment in it and did not give up in tears (like my mother) or in frustration (like my husband). Therefore,I was able to get away for a few hours at a time. My heart goes out to mothers who can't get away.

  38. Anonymous Traci, Mom to Many | 12:05 PM |  

    xJennifer,
    I didn't miss the point of your post and thought it was really good too...I know there can be dark sides, and I can pat everyone on the back all day long over how bad it all can be...and have, just never over the baby years and breastfeeding, or at least not yet. I have also always told people breastfeeding can hurt in the beginning, you can latch on wrong, you may not sleep well, and call me at any time day or night if you need help or a shoulder to cry on. Maybe the reason others didn't talk about the baby years/breastfeeding as having a dark side is that they felt guilt...I don't know! My comment about the darkside not being during the baby years/breastfeeding was my opinion from my experiences...not a slam towards other mothers who are having a difficult time. My darkside is different than yours! Any statements I make are based on what I have felt or been through. Quite honestly, nobody I know thinks of the baby years as the hard ones...but then we all have teenagers! Also, anything I type, you cannot know from the words what is in my heart or mind, and so can not judge me as un-empathetic. BTW, I firmly believe in talking about everything (EVERYTHING!!) and supporting each other...different or alike.

    With my first, I had PPD while nursing and was advised to stop nursing...it broke my heart! When I quit nursing the PPD went away! HA! Go figure!

    Then with my second, I quit nursing due to her having surgery (ovary removed due to a 6 cm cyst) at 2 days old, and while she was in Children's I had to pump and she took a bottle...lets just say it became to much with nipple confusion, and baby blues and all...again I was advised to stop nursing and it broke my heart! Dark side...hmmm...maybe.

    Finally after having my 3rd, I felt like I was in my groove and nursed her till she was 2.5 years. But it took me and my husband a few months to figure it all out. We did the bottle thing...neither of us think that is easy! After we figured it all out with baby #3, the others were easy and maybe that is why I don't think there is a dark side to breastfeeding.

    I have guilt over things too...just different things. And, being that we are at different stages of parenting (sort of-I do have a 9 month old and 3 year old), I just have different feelings than you do. The same could be said to you..."until you walk a mile in someone's shoes..."

    I actually am glad you are out here telling your side, as many may and obviously do agree with you. I hardly ever post to people's blogs but I felt compelled...maybe because breastfeeding is so close to my heart. Anyway, most of what I talk about is just mindless babble of a mother of 7 homeschooled children! LOL

    Talking about a darkside, time to get my 13 yo son off the roof (trying to get his cat) before CPS views it as child endangerment!

    Have a great day!

  39. Blogger Jennifer | 12:28 PM |  

    Traci,

    Thanks for coming back to clarify. Quite honestly, I DID take your post as saying that since it wasn't like that for you, it flat out wasn't like that.

    As you said, we all have different things that we consider dark sides.

    For instance, I adore having a baby around. I love, love, LOVE snuggling him. I miss that with Elnora...she's too busy running around to snuggle with. But I do NOT miss the days of being a slave to the pump.

    I'll miss breastfeeding him when we finally wean, I have no doubt. But I won't miss the years that I will have spent attached to my child.

    Different strokes. I know that the teenage years will be tough. I knwo that ALL phases of child rearing are tough. But I also knew going into this that the hardest thing for ME was going to be the lack of chance at any alone time.

    But I chose that.

    I chose to work at home because the trade-off of walking the fence of insanity is worth the closeness and time spent with my kids.

    I chose to breastfeed and I wouldn't change that.

    I just wish the kid would take a stinkin' bottle now and then. ;)

  40. Blogger Biby Cletus | 12:45 PM |  

    Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

    Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

    Biby Cletus

  41. Anonymous Melissa | 1:10 PM |  

    I know 100% what you are talking about!
    You know, I always thought people were full of it when they said that some breastfed babies don't take bottles. That is until my daughter became one of them. Boy was I wrong. It's those days that you are talking about that I almost wish I had a close friend that was breastfeeding a child. Although I know many people object to it, I think that a little cross-nursing every once in awhile would be worth it to have an afternoon (or at least more than 2 hours) away. Maybe once a week we could each take turns watching the other's kids. Oh well, I'll keep trying the sippy... sooner or later she'll get the hang of it.

  42. Blogger Amber | 1:18 PM |  

    this post is great. i love to read your blog because you are so fair. i support the "whatever works for your family" philosophy. i provided my children with a combination of nursing, pumping, and formula feeding. all of which have their pros and cons. my list of those probably differs from yours, and other readers. isn't that great? we all have different views, and are allowed in this country to express those views freely, without scorn. isn't it wonderful that as mothers we are able to compare notes, and share ideas (love the bentos by the way). i am sure there is some part of motherhood we all wish we had been warned about. it is hard to believe there is a darkside to such a wonderful job. i am glad you have brought up this darkside. i might have done better with my breastfeeding if i had realized it could be so "dark". i truly believe many women feel frustrated with their own mothering skills, and feel disappointed even though the problems they have are not uncommon, just not discussed as openly as the sweet moments. i mean surely we should have known the mothering would be hard after all the morning sickness, fluctuating hormones, gassiness, bloating, uncomfortableness that is the sweet glow of pregnancy.

  43. Blogger sajmom | 1:55 PM |  

    I agree with your point overall, but I have to say I think most women are aware that breastfeeding requires more of a time commitment and requires the mother to be with her child more. That's one of the criticisms you usually hear from women using formula-they just wanted their freedom. And they didn't want the baby to be too attached to them-where it wouldn't go to other people. Maybe it's more a problem of women not being aware of the degree rather than the problem's existance. Or women feeling guilty for getting tired of all that can be required in a breastfeeding relationship. I think it's sometimes because we feel like we shouldn't get tired of all the sacrifice so we feel guilty, and sometimes it's just that we feel like if we admitt that you do get worn out we'll be betraying breastfeeding and giving credence to "the formula way of thinking." Not to detract from your point, but I think sleep deprivation and surprise at how much of the entire baby burden falls to you can have a lot to do with a woman's feelings toward breastfeeding and motherhood. I personally felt just like Heather(comment #25).

  44. Anonymous Debby | 2:01 PM |  

    Wow. 42 response posts already. I can't say anything that hasn't already been said, but just know that I appreciate anyone who is brave enough to say "it's not always a bowl of cherries". I'm bfing my third kid now, and she nurses every couple hours -or more- except for at night when HALLELUJAH she will sleep for several hours. And I don't always love it. I don't always love being a mom, either. But I wouldn't trade it, or watching my babies grow on nothing more than mama juice, for anything in the world.

  45. Blogger Eilat | 2:31 PM |  

    I wanted to add one more thing:
    Breastfeeding is MUCH easier when the *baby* is sick. Any nursing mom who has had a sick, puking baby or toddler knows what a godsend breastmilk is for hydrating and nourishing a child who wont and physically cant keep anything else down.

  46. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:26 PM |  

    My daughter is almost 19 months. She still nurses almost every 2-3 hours though I get a 5 hour break at night. But up until last month I was her only source of liquid. She refused to take EBM, juice, water by bottle cup, syringe.... And she is more attached to me and my breast than my son was. I could leave him alone for a couple of hours when he was 10 months old because he was able to drink from a trainer sippy cup of EBM and juice. And wonderful daughter could not be left alone for 5 seconds. My house is a total disaster but my daughter is alive because she screams all the time.

    It is hard but it is worth it. If it were not for BFing, my son would not be alive. I praise the fact I nursed him for 26 months every time I see his brain damage come through. He contracted Meningitis when he was 3 and should have died. But the doctors told me if hadn't nursed for so long, he would be dead. My son's life over the "difficulties" of nursing? Which one do you think I chose?

    Dagny

  47. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:38 PM |  

    So much I want to say, but time is short. My husband's been out of town all week, my youngest of 3 children has bronchitis (multiple medications + breathing treatments every 4 hrs.). Never more grateful that I'm nursing than when sickness strikes. He's bouncing back extremely fast, well hydrated, and comfortable at my breast.

    Anyway, I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that there are ways to feed a baby your breastmilk without a bottle. There's spoon feeding, cup feeding, feeding syringes, medicine spoons, and droppers. I know this has worked for many moms and babies. It may require a patient caregiver, and some babies may want the comfort of their mother even if their hunger is satisfied.

    In my life, I was always surprised that my babies tended to happily wait until I got home, even if the time period was longer than when I was there. I definitely am one of those who needs some time away, but as I get more kids, time away with only a young breastfeeding baby seems like a fabulously restful treat! The period of time I can leave them gradually grew and grew. A very gradual weaning away... Perspective is definitely important. I love the saying "The endless days and the lightening fast years!" I think breastfeeding past a year is really wonderful, because all you get all the positives (nutrition, immunities, ease during illness, bonding and closeness -I think vital during the trying toddler years, etc.), but very few of the difficulties. Most moms don't have to worry about pumping or how long they will be way. I've even left for over nights or weekends with breastfeeding toddlers.

    Might have time to comment more later. This is definitely a post that had me thinking all day...

    Jennifer R.

  48. Blogger Stacie | 5:58 PM |  

    YES YES YES.

    One of my pet peeves about BF is that everyone talks about how "easy" it is. I think that sets women up for failure because if it isn't "easy" they think "Wow, I must really suck because this is supposed to be easy and I can't do it/resent it/ want my body back." I think a little truth in advertising would be far more effective.

    I love nursing. Love it. But I haven't had more than 5 hours of sleep in a row in over a year (and, let's be honest, 5 hours is a good night.) I can't get away. I can't go into the city to go to a play. I CAN go out for dinner, but not dinner and a movie. Sometimes I feel trapped and resentful and it is good to read that those feelings aren't unique to me.

  49. Blogger Micky | 8:11 PM |  

    I don't think it's as easy as saying breastfeeding is easier than bottle feeding or vice versa.

    In breastfeeding classes, a teaching tool sometimes used is to have four large pieces of paper hanging up. One is labeled advantages of breastfeeding, disadvantages of breastfeeding, advantages of formula feeding and advantages of formula feeding. Some breastfeeding supporters are not comfortable talking about the "benefits" of formula feeding or the disadvantages of breastfeeding. However what this exercise often reveals is that many of the advantages of formula and disadvantages of breastfeeding seem to benefit mama at the expense of baby.

    Yes, formula feeding may allow others to feed baby, may allow mom to be away from baby more or give more "freedom", may be free from embarrassment. But I think selling moms the idea that formula/bottle feeding will equal a less intense mothering is not entirely true. A well attached baby who is fed with love and engagement should still be concerned and "fuss" or cry (or show other signs of healthy attachment) when mama or their primary care provider is separated from them.

    Yes, you may not have to feed the baby from your body which might mean feeling less emotionally or physically taxed but , but really, the truth of motherhood is that it is intense, constant, overwhelming and taxing, especially in the early years.

    Interestingly Attachment Parenting International has recently changed it's principles to clarify what it is "attachment parenting" means (to them). Instead of only mentioning breastfeeding, they now say "Feeding with love and respect". I think that would include holding a bottle feeding baby, using slow flow nipples (so babies don't "drown" and gulp food), look at, talk to and interact with baby while feeding and even switching sides while feeding. The truth is, bottle feeding, any infant feeding should be AS intense and intimate as breastfeeding or as close to it as possible.

    I am not really disagreeing with you, just adding more perspective.

    Micky
    mochamilk.blogspot.com

  50. Blogger Naki | 8:23 PM |  

    'The dark side of Nursing' sounds like something from Star Wars..lol.. I glad you brought this up...This is exactly what my friend (who is also nursing) and I were talking about. We were talking about how much time bf really takes. Not to mention patience.. when you are in the middle of something very important and have to stop at a whim. In between all the growth spurts, wet spots on shirts and biting from the teeth from hell, I have to remind myself why I am doing this. Before our second daughter, I was working full time and then some. I sometimes think I am a horrible Momma for wondering if I should have quit my job. My job was easy- I went to work and came home. I loved it. Anyway, we were saying how being a SAHM is like having several jobs in one. I can't even imagine when hubby goes back to Iraq. I am more busy more now than ever. For instance, my little honey bear is one of those who will only eat with me. Via bottle or booba. I am honestly stressing about what I should do when I start school in 2 weeks. All Dad gets is a crazy blood curdling scream- which has him doubting his parenting skills. :(

    My sister asked me my view on bf and I told her it was challenging but the rewards are awesome. She is due in sept, and excited to try. I also told her about the first few weeks of indoctrination. lol. It isn't comfortable. But I also told her how much I loved being able to do this for my daughter. ( who I'm pretty sure appreciates it too) I am so proud of myself for what I have accomplished so far. I have so many more pros than cons about bf though. A big perk for me is being able to make more than Tater Tot needs and being able to donate. It makes me feel so good inside, especially with family members who have had children in the NICU. I still love it despite my bad days here and there. Sorry for the book...lol.

  51. Anonymous aruni | 8:34 PM |  

    Great post! I can definitely relate. When I breastfed our first it was not very pleasant in the early days. I had an awful breast infection and I would cry almost every time I would put him on. I think I must have been on auto-pilot for a few months because I remember thinking the pain was so horrible that I wish I could die, but I then I would think I can't die because I have to feed my son. I think I ran through every emotion under the sun at that time. I definitely agree that sometimes people make it out that breastfeeding is easier. I think it really depends on your situation and personality.

    I didn't travel away from him until I finished breastfeeding. Was able to go out at night for some events/friends but my full breasts were a constant reminder that I had to leave soon.

    I can relate to the being 'on-call' 24/7. It's like being an on-call doctor but living on 3 hours shifts. I do often wonder how doctors can be 100% on after not having a lot of sleep. The sleep deprivation adds to any baby blues you might be fighting. It takes a village and most people these days do not have a village around them.

    I think if we were all more honest with people we can help them just be a little more prepared for a wonderful experience that is sometimes not all peaches and cream. :-)

  52. Blogger Missy | 7:36 AM |  

    This was a wonderful post and I'm so happy to hear another Mom echo some of my own feelings. I remember the dark side of breastfeeding and the fog of parenting the first 14 months, which for me was directly related to how long I nursed - baby and pump attached to my chest, night feedings, sleep deprivation.

    Now with a 2nd baby on the way that's one thing I'm truly worried about - that fog once again descending upon me... Although I love breastfeeding and it is one of the best things I can do for my children.

    Thanks again.

  53. Blogger The Sombats | 8:07 AM |  

    Really have enjoyed reading this very honest post and all the comments.

    I have had an incredibly positive experience with breastfeeding. I haven't had any problems (besides cracked and blistered nipples for the first couple of weeks- eh). My son nursed well right away, slept well, no problems with gas, didn't cry very much. My husband was breastfed well into toddlerhood himself, and was very supportive. I loved breastfeeding (still do), and had absolutely no reason to complain!

    Still, when my incredibly easy going son (about the same age as yours now) was a few weeks old, I remember thinking OMG, I'm supposed to do this 10+ times a day for the next 1-2 years?! How can I posibly give any more of myself to this little person! I had been pregnant with him for almost 42 weeks and for 4 months before that with our first. A looooong time. At that moment, breastfeeding him felt like the heaviest burden and the most beautiful blessing all at once.

    Now he's almost 8 months and I can't imagine not breastfeeding him. And even though I have my moments (he went through a long biting phase, which thankfully ended right before he started teething, and now that he's teething, neither of us is sleeping well), I don't have those desperate feelings anymore. But I totally understand them. I should mention that I get a huge breaks now- he does take a bottle (only pumped breastmilk) the 4 days a week that I WOH, and any other time I have to be away from him (or the rare time when I choose to be).

    I've been thinking a lot about giving breastfeeding advice to friends and younger cousins who are pregnant or ttc right now (I get asked about it a lot since I NIP around them a lot). You just reminded me how important it is to tell the whole story. Thanks.

    Meggan

  54. Blogger JudyBright | 9:51 AM |  

    Ok, everyone is entitled to their opinion about which is easier, breastfeeding or formula, but I think we don't realize is we're comparing apples to oranges, or Emmitts to Caties to Taylors, etc. who live with different mothers with different circumstances.

    What I mean is, every baby is different. And at no point are we at the mercy of a kid's personality more than when they're infants. We can't tell them what to do or explain anything to them. They're just who they are at this point in their lives. They sleep as long as they sleep; they eat as much as they eat; they fuss as much as they fuss, etc.

    I don't have real strong opinions about sleeping arrangements so I just went with what worked best at the time. My daughter is 5 months old now and she sleeps in a crib in her own room. Some would say that's horrible, but it doesn't bother her and it doesn't bother her parents. When she was first born I slept on a twin bed in her room so the midnight feedings would be easier. We tried the bassinet in our room but it woke up my husband unnecessarily. Once she slept for six hours at a time I left to go back to my own bed because that kid is a loud sleeper!

    Do you see all the variables involved just in that decision? Feeding frequency, needs of parents, length of sleep of baby, how loud the baby is when she sleeps? They all affect an individual decision.

    Now you have the decision you made regarding breastfeeding. Think about the variables involved and consider this story:

    We have a mother who lost 2.5L of blood during a semi-emergency c-section. The baby is born at 34 weeks. The baby has to get a bottle because the mother's milk doesn't come in for 2 weeks.

    As a result of this, the baby's suck reflex is screwed up and has nipple confusion. So the baby has to be supplemented with EBM or formula after EVERY FEEDING.

    So this mother attempts to get the baby to exclusively breastfeed for three months, but has to deal with nursing, pumping, asking a friend for milk, etc. The baby nurses less and less and likes the bottle more and more.

    So the mom gives up on nursing and decides to pump what she can and give formula to make up the difference. Of course her supply drops precipitously sp? and now is barely lactating at all.

    So, to this mom, simply having to mix up some formula and put it in a bottle seems like a cakewalk compared to breastfeeding.

    I ain't makin' this stuff up; this is exactly what has happened to me and my daughter. The point is every situation is different and therefore sometimes one option is easier than the other.

    So now mommy expresses about an ounce a day so her daughter gets some milk for antibodies and digestion.

    If you want to make a comparison, say "X was easier FOR ME, because..." ok? Get it????

  55. Blogger julie.fergerson | 8:05 PM |  

    Thanks for the great post. Its nice to see someone who supports breast feeding recognize how hard it is. I have been shunned by so many as I truly hated breastfeeding. I felt I was a slave to my child and had no life. She was even a quick nurser. With my first child I made it 4 months. Once I went back to work and tried to pump on an airplane I decided to take my life back.

    The second time round with my son I only made it three weeks. My husband started traveling and I got a horrible breast infection. I went to see a lacation consultant because my son was sucking so incredibly hard. The lactation consultant had me try all kinds of contraptions and did all the right things but at the end of the day I already hated breast feeding and he was ripping me to shreds. When I started him on a bottle I had to start with a size 2 nipple size as he instantly collapsed a size 1 and he actually destroyed bottle nipples where we had to replace them from time to time - I have never found anyone else who had that experience so if you have let me know.

    Anyways, I am not a bad person, I love my kids and bonded in other ways very closely - but darn if the breast feeding support community didn't make me feel horrible because I gave up so fast - but it made me feel wonderful and free!

    I admire and support all my friends who breast feed and encourage them to do it for as long as they can and as long as it fits into their lifestyle and I certainly never recommend trying to pump in an airplane bathroom - its just gross!

  56. Blogger Heather | 8:52 PM |  

    Oh, my dark side was truly dark indeed. I suffered in desperate silence, and reached a point where when I look back, I may have had some PPD. Even my husband was stunned when I told him how hard it was, especially during those first weeks when he went back to work (he took paternity leave).

    I remember sitting on the couch, already wearing thin from sitting on it so much. We're talking heavy cluster feeding here... every hour to hour and a half for 30-45 minutes. I remember my daughter screaming, frustrated at the latch, and I remember screaming just as loud, wailing just as painfully. I remember the tears streaming down my face in agony as she clamped on

    I remember falling asleep sitting up because even though we coslept with an in-bed cosleeper, I couldn't nurse lying down yet (didn't master that skill till she was five months old). My husband caught me a time or two when I started to topple over.

    It was so hard.

    I felt trapped. I felt chained to the couch, stuck in the house.

    But I never once considered formula. I just didn't let it be an option for me, not as long as she was healthy and gaining well. And gain she did... at a phenomenal rate. She stayed in the 95-97th percentile for height, and 75-90th for weight her entire life. She nursed so much because it takes a LOT of energy to grow.

    And it was totally worth it. But then? Sitting on that couch, screaming a duet of pain and frustration with my newborn?

    It felt like it was never going to end.

  57. Blogger Jennifer | 8:59 PM |  

    Julie,

    Having pumped in airplane bathrooms at least 7 or 8 times, I agree. It's gross.

    I'm pretty open about nursing and pumping, but I just couldn't bring myself to pump at my seat. (Though the guy I was traveling with said it wouldn't bother him...just made me feel weird.)

  58. Blogger Mother Laura | 2:16 PM |  

    Thank thank thank you for telling the truth. I too am absolutely dedicated to extended breastfeeding, adore it, wouldn't consider anything else, and think it's easier overall--especially if the mom ends up doing most or all of the bottlefeeding, as puzzles me but often happens. But it is usually hard at first and ongoing a huge burden sometimes even if, as in my case, I pumped successfully, they all took bottles (or in the case of #3 switched from bottle to sippy at 5 months), and only worked part time out of the home.

    I too have often thought that we discourage breastfeeding by painting too rosy a picture, cause when it is really hard and painful at first for many women they conclude they have failed and give up. And we really discourage extended breastfeeding by this too by not saying yeah, it's hard and often painful to learn and then it's kind of a drag, but it gets easier and easier as you go on because you do it less and less. Most women have not only never seen a breastfeeding toddler or older child (and live in a hostile and ignorant culture to it) they picture the near-constant nursing of the first 6-9 months going on for 2 or more years and say "no way" without any real consideration. (Not that anyone has to toddler nurse, of course, but like so many things in our culture it's not a free choice not too when the system is hostile and ignorance is rampant).

    Oh, and can we quit the moral superiority based on the myth that babies can't puke up breastmilk? My first daughter threw up violently from a medication reaction on the way home from dinner, and since I had read this lie in the La Leche manual I nursed her before bed while my husband washed the carseat. She promptly threw it up all over me, herself and the rocker and after getting her cleaned up I did what I should have done in the first place and put her down in the crib, where she cried for two minutes and slept for hours...

  59. Anonymous Laura | 8:57 PM |  

    brilliant and thanks. we've been fairly lucky in the long run with DD2, but the first 4-5 weeks were hell. baby was tongue tied and not nursing well. then the tongue was fixed and she wouldn't last. we were pumping, supplementing, finger feeding, you name it. i was lucky to get 20 minutes to myself between feedings. YES THERE IS A DARK SIDE!!!

    i had so much help and support but i basically did not get out of my bedroom some days. and this was kid 2, after managing to nurse a 34 wk preemie in the NICU et al.

    i was exhausted, frustrated. i remember telling my husband that i was starting to actively dislike our baby.

    but i managed (just barely) to hold on because i knew that it would get better and that long term i wanted to be able to comfort her after shots, feed her "on the run", not have to mess with bottles and formula etc.

    and yeah she really won't take a bottle so i really don't get away from her much. but i do get lotsa sleep even when she nurses a lot cuz you know what? she's perfectly safe in bed with us. (rant) the study that suggested otherwise was complete BUNK and they totally blew off the SIDS baseline when they looked at safety of co-sleeping
    (/rant)

    but it's hella ok to get pissed that nobody else can help her when you need the help yourself. oh and also i discovered the joys of nursing IN the bath, very relaxing for both of us.

    good luck all ya'all

  60. Blogger Jenny | 8:18 PM |  

    I see the point, but at 7 months you're almost there, to freedom, at least for a few hours. : ) My youngest ds started loving solid food right at 8 months and all of a sudden I could GO OUT! And in the end, it is all worth it.

  61. Anonymous Shay | 2:55 PM |  

    As a mother of a son, who's now been breastfeeding for seven months, I completely understand. He has yet to take a bottle or a sippy cup and will not take solids.

    I was only 3 weeks into nursing when I got a horrible stomach bug like you describe. It was when I wanted to quit but he wouldn't take a bottle. It was hell, the dark side but we both survived.

    I think we breastfeeding mothers worry about scaring away women who might breastfeed by saying it's hard. On the other hand, when we don't, you always hear the women who say "Nobody said it hurt this bad!" etc. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

  62. Blogger Ahmie | 2:45 PM |  

    My advice to avoid the "only accepts comfort from mama" issues is to get other people involved in the baby's life as early as possible. I give all expecting moms advice to get the baby's other parent (we have lesbian friends too) to take all the output if mom does all the input (at least while other parent is home). My hubby had almost 2 months off when our son was born (he's a teacher, we aim for summer babies!) and this arrangement became habit - he still changes the majority of diapers/pull-ups (please, whatever god(s) might hear me, let this child potty train before the new baby makes it's grand entrance in a month and a half! *sob!*) when he's home, without having to be asked or reminded. Encouraging him to be active in his child's life from the first "outputs" seems to have gotten him into the habit of just generally being involved, so our son learned to find comfort in other's arms even tho he wouldn't even take a PACIFIER until he was getting his first teeth at 7mo (and then I had to bribe him with ones that I'd sucked water into the nipple and then froze - he liked the cold on his gums more than the sucking and usually would spit it out as soon as the ice thawed).

    The issues that you and the majority of commenters are bringing up, to me, aren't really so much breastfeeding specific so much as they are lack-of-support specific - we have a tendancy (especially us "type A extrovert" types) to think we SHOULD be able to do all this, and to resist asking for help until we're at our breaking points. The fact that many of us don't live anywhere near our biological extended family nor people we've known more than a handful of years when our babes are born doesn't help. It takes deep trust to ask someone to care for your newborn while you rest when you're at Type A Extreme Extrovert (I speak from experience here). This is regardless of what feeding method you chose. Plenty of exclusively bottle fed babies get 95%+ of their bottles from mama so they're no more free than the breastfeeders whose babes will occasionally take a bottle of EBM are. Neither "side" has it easier when none of us are supported by a strong network of caring people. I live in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland and I don't know the names of my neighbors or their children (except one, who I had a nice conversation with on Friday while my son played with her dog), we've lived in our house since the end of November. I'm ashamed of myself for this, it's not living my beliefs in the need humans have for one another, for caring communities. These take as much effort to build as anything else worth having, at least as much work as nurishing a child. And I believe the benifits are just as great.

    Tangent, sorry.

    Anyway, regarding the pain of early nursing... no, that's not a universal. I never had pain with early nursing, never had the cracked nipples and such. Never even opened that bottle of nipple cream stuff a breastfeeding mama friend gave me before the baby was born. What do I attribute this to? Other mamas willing to nurse in front of me, willing to demonstrate what a proper latch looked like, WAY before my son was born. And caring pro-breastfeeding folks who checked in on me in the early days to make sure I wasn't suffering. I *do* tell mothers that it SHOULDN'T hurt to nurse in the beginning - if it hurts, please get help before you get to the point of feeling resentful. If the first person you seek help from doesn't succeed, try another resource. If there isn't a resource accessible to you that helps resolve the issue (books, LCs, LLL, other BF moms, internet videos of how to latch the baby on) and the resentment is building in the mama, then pumping and/or formula is probably the best solution for that particular family and the mama knows she made a truly INFORMED choice and did what she could first. The big problem is, at the first little problem people try to be "helpful" by offering the new mama a can of formula instead of accurate information. Yes, breastfeeding CAN be incredibly painful. I argue that the prevelance of this in our society is directly tied to the lack of exposure women have to learning about breastfeeding through seeing others do it BEFORE THEY BECOME MOTHERS. We grow up as little girls seeing baby dolls molded with mouths ready to accept a BOTTLE, not a breast. If you let a baby latch on like that repeatedly, you're going to get hurt. Unfortunately due to lack of *ahem* exposure from our cultural need to be "discreet", lack of training of the hospital staff where the majority of babies are born, lack of understanding of the effects of some medications on a newborn's alertness/latch abilities (or lack thereof for those of us who go unmedicated), the standard practice of suctioning the baby immediately after it's born even if it's breathing just fine...etc etc etc... it all cycles into issues that aren't dealt with until they become MAJOR issues that put the mama off breastfeeding, possibly perminently.

    Does "warning" women about the dark sides do anything to prevent some of these societal causes at the root of the issues themselves?

    Does hearing the "birth war stories" that so many women insist on telling every pregnant woman they encounter bring about a better birth for the babies?

  63. Blogger Analisa | 11:41 AM |  

    I could have written this post, but you did it better than I would have. Thank you, I'm going to link back.

  64. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:22 PM |  

    I wish that I could print out this article and give it to EVERY SINGLE WOMAN who decides to BF.

    YES, we all know the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding, and for those women who have it easy, well, good for you!!! ENJOY IT!

    For the rest of us, who had to WORK and PRAY that we would get through it, THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!!!!!

    I can't even articulate how appreciative I am, for you to take such a vodoo topic and to put it so clearly in black and white.

  65. Anonymous Lindsay | 10:07 AM |  

    Hi Jennifer, I'm kind of a lurker but I wanted to respond to this. Thank you! You articulated very well the ambivalent feelings that have surrounded nursing for me. People think that I'm one of those "nursing nazis" because I'm still nursing my son (27 months). I, too, have struggled with how to talk about breastfeeding to other new moms--should I mention that it was excruciating and didn't go well at all for, say, 3.5 months? should I mention that three lactation consultants gave me very bad advice and only one that I saw gave good info? should I mention how I feel like I have nothing left at the end of the day? and how frustrated I am that Dad gets a free pass on soooo many things, ie. "honey, I can't help, I don't have boobs" I don't say any of that. (although I am as supportive as possible when people confide that they're having problems) Because I don't want to discourage/scare anyone who's on the fence. I really feel like nursing is important and that anyone who can, should. I just struggle with how to sell it while admitting that it isn't a piece of cake (or wasn't for me). It is very refreshing to see someone with more courage than me tackle this topic. Hope things are going better. (I, too, had the marathon through the night nurser and am still wondering when I'll get to sleep for longer than 5 hours at a stretch. I cannot imagine what I'll do when baby number 2 comes along.)

  66. Blogger Patricia | 7:22 AM |  

    I just found this site while searching for ways to increase my milk production, advice for BFing working moms, etc.
    I agree that there is a dark side-THE GUILT. I travel for my job. I am not a SAHM. I chose this life. I have pumped on endless airplanes, in the bathrooms of airports and in cold lonely hotel rooms. I have mastered the TSA regulations and am now forced to check my bag for every trip.
    My goal is to breastfeed exclusively. I would like to make it to 6 months-my daughter is 3 months today!
    All that said, I struggle every day to make enough milk to satisfy her. I do have to supplement with formula. I have taken fenugreek until I smell like an IHOP with limited success.
    I am fortunate-she takes the bottle or the breast interchangeably. She does not have a negative reaction to formula. My challenge-the nasty little monster that hangs over my shoulder-is that I suspect I could keep up with her needs if I was exclusively nursing-not working. Every day I contemplate leaving my job and staying at home with her. My husband is supportive either way. I feel selfish and that I will regret losing this time this incredible opportunity. On the flip side, I feel that I need to retain just a smidge of me-my identity which I equate to my professional self.
    Anyway-I know that this is not entirely on point but I did want to respond.I admire all of you that are SAHMs. It is a hard job. But please-when you talk about how "easy" this is-picture me sitting on the floor in O'Hare pumping and then think about your definition of easy.

  67. Blogger Bethany | 11:39 AM |  

    I'm having a day like this right now. I love my children and I adored breastfeeding my first, but its harder with my second. Just when your moment strikes, that moment to sit down and be free or be yourself, you have a hungry belly to feed personally. There really are no breaks. The worst is, while you ARE breastfeeding, you're even often unable to break free mentally if some distance IS achieved because you are keyed into your child's brain. It's a challenge. Thanks for saying it.

  68. Blogger Eric | 6:31 PM |  

    I wanted to add my two cents. I am one of the husbands. I so wish I could breastfeed. I wish I had the option. I would gladly surrender the freedom. I am not putting this out there to suggest that it isn't difficult to be relied upon for so long, and I don't know if I am alone, but I wanted it to be said. My kids have both latched onto me at times, and when they can't get anything they just scream leaving me feeling helpless and useless. I think that is a darkside of breastfeeding.

    All that being said. I think that my wife's committal to BFing is also because of how strongly I feel about it. Many times her friends are like can't you just pump and go out with us, or can't the baby have solid food now, and if so can't you just come out leave the baby behind.

    I fully believe that there are options that fit for ever mother and child. But I have seen all three of the main options. Breast, bottle and pump. Why any SAHM would pump and feed is beyond me. Short of a malformed nipple or as my one sister has breasts that are "too large". The extra time preparing formula, pumping milk etc, sterilizing the equipment, dealing with the proven increased illness. I can't think of why anyone would want to go through that. There are definately things such as increased diaper changes, and less sleep, but a good partner helps with that. It is all we can do. I know not everyone has that.

    I support all mothers choices. But I am adament that my wife should never have to feel bad about breastfeeding. She has. I have felt rage because someone told me that breastfeeding shouldn't be public. I have felt anger because someone said a breastfeeding mother was "disgusting". Quite frankly, I have been ready to give a good swift kick in the seat of the pants of so called friends who tell her just come on out, forget the kid.

    I am also ready to pass a swift kick in the butt to nurses who in 2 and a half days of shifts could not latch my son. I would like to thank the nurse who finally came on shift and told us what the other nurses had told us wrong. He was latched 15 minutes after she came on shift. We spent an unnecessary day in the hospital. Many other moms have given up because of that .... stuff.

    I have wanted to use profanity because all of these things to me seem unacceptable. Because breastfeeding is so beautiful. So natural.

    I know the hardships, I've supported my wife through them, and any man out there who hasn't done the same. You are less of a man. Bottlefeeding is hard too. That would be the only thing I would have added to the dark side of breastfeeding. Doesn't matter if it is breastmilk or formula. There is work involved. Difference is you can "Pass" other parts of it off, as I think that someone said. I don't call it passing off, I call it support.

    My closing comment, it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the village idiot to do it blindly.

    Noone should ever enter into parenthood unprepared. There is 9 months of study time for the exam of your life.

  69. Blogger Eric | 7:05 PM |  

    As an aside for the mom who is having trouble with sippy cups. Try a cup with a straw. My son breastfed, and most of the time from above down on the nipple. I don't think he understands the concept of gravity fed drinking. Good luck everyone. BFs and FFers alike.

  70. Anonymous ariela | 10:46 AM |  

    Thankyou so much; the dependency is stiffling and the energy it sucks out of you actually comprimises your energy to attend to your baby otherwise- such as playing and learning together. At least after the first few months. My daughter turned 1 last week and I realised I could not go on waking up every 2 hours to feed her- I was running the risk of losing my job, my studies and any energy for my husband. I simply had zero energy for anything. I was at total crisis point- it actually physically hurt! I called my mum to stay the night so that when she awoke she'd learn that there's no more breast. We let her cry it out and over the course of the night and weaned her off slowly during the week (emptying out when I had to) Within 3 days she was sleeping the night through. I feel let out of a cage. Next time round, I'll try and the combine the 2 and certainly won't allow the breast to be associated with sleep time. Furthermore, by me laying down a perameter, my daughter has responded positively and actually seems better adjusted, less cranky and ofcourse- more independent. In short: thriving. Bravo for such a 'spot on' article.

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