It is no wonder to me why women give up on breast feeding.
I took the course before my son was born and was feeling as natural and blissful as the rest of the assembled crowd about why breast feeding is best.
There is no denying several of the facts about why the World Health Organization and other assembled health professionals push women to choose the breast over bottle. The colostrum from the first few days is deemed “liquid gold” and contains nutrients and antibodies that are invaluable for baby’s health. Breast milk is purportedly easier to digest, fights disease, can lower your child’s proclivity for obesity, saves your family money, and is excellent for Mom’s health as well– making it easier to shed post-baby weight, as well as reducing her risks for Type 2 Diabetes, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and post partum depression. Sounds great! Sign me up!
However, it’s curious to me what must be left on the cutting room floor where they produce the breastfeeding videos they show round and glowing mommies-to-be.
Here is the footage that is edited out of the video:
1. You see: a baby properly latched in one of the suggested “holds”: football, cradle, cross-cradle. What you do not see: A screaming, red-faced hungry and squirming baby with his hands flailing in front of his face and simultaneously punching his mother’s breast as she tries to “relax” and assume the proper position.
2. You see: a baby suckling at the breast. You do not see: the toe-curling pain, the agonizing look and the mother trying to restrain herself from screaming out a stream of f-bombs as her sweet newborn clamps down on her tender breast not yet accustomed to this kind of 50 Shades of Grey nipple-clamping pain.
3. You see: a baby eating, being burped and placed peacefully asleep in their crib. What you do not see: the clock. This set of actions can take hours. The feeding itself can last an hour or more, moving from breast to breast– struggling to wake the sleeping baby to get back to the business of eating so you can get some much needed rest. The burp can stay lodged in there, causing inordinate pain to your struggling newborn who has no ability to wind himself without you thumping and rubbing his back. This can then lead to screaming and crying that sends a tired mommy in to another bout of swaddling, swaying and shhhing her little angel back in to slumber.
4. You might also note that it is only the mother who breast feeds. This may seem like a rather obvious and moot point to note, but during a round of cluster feeding when your baby wants to feed non-stop every hour on the hour barely wanting to rest in between– you’d wish your husband’s breasts were far more useful. It is physically demanding on your sleep-deprived body and no one has anyone to turn with this hungry baby, but to the Mommy with the leaking, rock hard breasts. It’s not always easy being “number one”.
5. There are other down sides not covered in the video as well: Mommy can’t have a beer after a long night of incessant crying to soothe her nerves; nor can she be sure to get in a hot cup of coffee before the next feed as her eyes begin to twitch uncontrollably after being up all night; though the video does show a woman being refreshed and hydrated by a tall glass of ice water. Yes, water helps, as I am incredibly thirsty, and I have consumed countless litres of H2O, but some of the aforementioned beverages hold far more restorative properties in my mind. And I am just waiting for the dinner I can have accompanied by a lovely glass of red wine.
6. Also, not much mention in the video of: chapped and cracked nipples; mastitis, blocked ducts, thrush or a plethora of other painful pitfalls that have befallen women in the attempts to properly nurse and nurture their babes. I have googled them all, in horror, wonder and with great anxiety– and I am pleased to say I have avoided most of the worst.
But alas, my friends, like anything worth doing: it’s hard. It is also rewarding. The bond between mother and child is truly solidified through such an intimate exchange. It is what is best for both of us, and since I have not shied away from anything difficult thus far in bringing our son in to our lives, why would I give up now? And, it does get easier. I write this six weeks in to our adventure together and we have both gotten much better at breastfeeding. It hurts less, he is becoming more efficient, he sometimes naps for long stretches (like he did today, whilst I composed this) and when he turns his adorable face up at mine and smiles at me– well, I wouldn’t have other any other way.