June 26, 2010
Unlike alot of moms, I hadn't ever heard that breast feeding could be painful - wasn't it suppose to be the most natural thing? Also near the end of my pregnancy, at a breast feeding class, I found out there were so many different positions, you had to get the baby to latch on right, you were also suppose to switch sides, so on and so on. Wow, I would never have thought breast feeding would be so much work. I had fantasized it as just cuddling your baby in your arms and letting them have their meal and be done with it. I also hadn't known how many times, you were suppose to feed a baby - 8-12 times a day!! For some reason I thought, they had like 4-5 meals a day. And then I heard about all the moms who gave up breastfeeding because of the pain and hassle. When I first found out I was pregnant, I had made up my mind to exclusively breast feed for at least the first 5-6 months (until solids are introduced) and continue on till she turns 1. But suddenly I was confused, did I want to exclusively breast feed? No the bigger question - was I going to be able to? Sunvi joked about how I was born to give birth (wide hips) and breast feed (large breasts). Upon further research, I decided I was going to stick to my plan for breast feeding.
Few things that saved my life during the first few weeks of breast feeding were:
5. Nursing Bras - for obvious reasons, you don't need to be fumbling with bra straps when you have a hungry baby screaming for food.
Now, I enjoy breastfeeding so much and even if sometime in the future, I have to pump and feed or supplement with formula, I plan on continuing breast feeding for as long as possible. I actually look forward to it (although sometimes in the middle of the night it can seem like a chore). As great as breast feeding is, it does have it's drawbacks - you have to either pump (can be annoying) or be ready to breast feed in public when you're going out and most times going out for more than a few hours is not realistic. During growth spurts, your nipples will get sore AGAIN. You still have to watch what you eat especially when it comes to medications. And the worst part for most moms is probably the amount of dedication you must put into breast feeding. Getting up every 2-3 hours the first 2-3 months to feed your baby; feeding almost every hour during growth spurts. All this can take a real toll on your body, patience and increase the stresses of motherhood. A formula fed baby doesn't have to be fed as often, other people can often take care of feeding and it isn't as physically demanding for mommy. However, for me the most difficult has been dealing with the questions and unsolicited advice. Almost every single female, young/old, has children/doesn't have children, have asked me if I was breastfeeding. My answer is always a proud - YES. And then most of these women proceed to tell me or suggest to me that I should also formula feed. I've come to realize how naive some people are when it comes to this issue. Many people, and this view started sometime in the 70s when the majority of women began to pick the formula over breast feeding option, believe that formula is better for their baby. They wrongly assume formula has been artificially loaded with every possible nutrient needed for a healthy child. And even though some modern moms now know that's false (the formula companies agree as even they suggest any amount of breast feeding is better than no breast feeding), most still believe in the magic of infant formula. I will say this - formula is the best and ONLY substitute to mother's milk and while some breast fed babies are not always healthy, most formula fed babies grow up perfectly healthy. I did have to supplement with formula a couple of times, since Arissa didn't gain a lot of weight after the first month (since she was colicky and its hard getting a screaming infant latched onto nipple) and we also gave her only formula for a couple of days because she had breast milk jaundice. Exclusively breast feeding is also always not an option for mothers when it doesn't fit into their schedule or lifestyle (ex. work, studies). And sometimes formula is a godsend for moms who are unable to breast feed for medical reasons or babies who are unable to latch on (pre-mature, illness' etc..). So anyone who does choose to exclusively formula feed should be able to do so happily and with peace of mind.