Breastfeeding feels totally different this time around. I like that I was able to start nursing from day one instead of waiting three or four weeks like I had to with PJ. It was easier to get my milk supply started and easier for BabyN to get the hang of it when he wasn’t bottle-only for several weeks first. I also suspect it helped considerably with the faster bonding I had with BabyN.
But I’ll be honest that I’m not totally in love with breastfeeding either. I remember struggling a lot with deciding to give it every effort at first with PJ. I ended up really loving it, but it was only because I stuck it out through the worst days, about six weeks after he came home from the hospital. In the months since he weaned, I’d forgotten what it was that made me struggle with it. I’d thought it was all due to PJ’s difficulty latching on and our fight with the apnea monitor that made feeding more difficult.
I remember now some of the other things that made feeding difficult. I am a champion milk producer. That sounds wonderful, but it’s as much of a pain as it is a blessing. My normally tiny breasts get so swollen when they’re full of milk that there is little left to latch onto. I am once again forced to use a nipple shield, which minimizes the bonding, just to give BabyN something to latch on to. I’ve tried sneaking the nipple shield out once I’ve let down and the worst of the swelling disappears, but it still won’t work. The problem then is that my milk sprays out until the breast is drained. I literally choke my son with my milk. It turns out that was the real reason I had to use the nipple shield for so many months with PJ (seven-ish) until he was nursing less frequently and I was less full of milk all the time.
And those barely touch the tip of my complaints. There’s still the idea that I, and only I, have to get up repeatedly during the night to feed him. I don’t get a break because M certainly can’t feed him. And I’m damp all the time. I hate the feeling of being wet, and I fight a constant fight to keep my front dry. And that doesn’t take into consideration the embarrassment of leaking in public. I could go on and on, but that’s really not my point.
My point is that I’m proud of what my body can do for my children. I may have numerous complaints about the ickiness of breastfeeding and the struggles I’ve had with it, but it’s a wonderful extension of pregnancy. I still have a unique connection to my son through the miracle of my body producing his only food; I am able to transition from the connection of pregnancy to sharing him with the world. I wouldn’t trade that for the world, inconveniences and everything.
Truly the benefits end up outweighing everything else. Not only is this healthiest for my baby, but it is also healthy for me. I strongly doubt I would be wearing pre-pregnancy clothes already if I weren’t breastfeeding. The emotional bond is also worth it; I think it is helping me avoid the depression again, as long as I can keep up with a reasonable amount of sleep between the endless feedings. And M will be the first to point out his favorite benefit of breastfeeding: my petite size A’s are now large C’s. He may hate that they’re off-limits, but it’s kind of cool to have a rack for the first time in my life (okay, second now).
I feel like I’ve rambled my way through the post. I’m severely sleep-deprived right now, and my mind is not functioning well enough to give you a well-thought-out post that actually says exactly what I wanted to say. I need to nap, though, so this ramble of a post will have to do for today. For the record, while I am adamant about breastfeeding my own children and while I do agree it is best for babies, I am not an activist about it. I obviously understand the struggles associated with nursing, and I can understand why so many women eventually choose against it. I do not judge you if for whatever reason you cannot or will not breastfeed, so please do not judge me for choosing to do so.