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Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

September 15, 2009

I know there are a million websites out there with breastfeeding info.  But honestly, they all seem to say the same thing and don’t really give you that “must have” info.  Here’s my take on it all.

The Good:

  • Yes, breastfeeding is great for the baby.  It is linked to lowering issues with asthma, stomach issues, obesity, diabetes, and more.
  • It’s awesome for mom.  It helps with the contracting of the uterus, i.e. makes you belly go down quicker.  On average, a breastfeeding mom burns and additional 500 calories.  Course, that doesn’t mean you should use it as a means of dieting, but it I don’t feel quite as guilty when I have that late night snack.  I have to say that I’m 16 pounds under my pre-preggo weight, but I did have bedrest, gallbladder issues, and a 10 pounder to help out me out in that area.    You read it right, 10 pounder and I am only 5ft 8in, 134 pounds.
  • CHEAP.  And when I say cheap, just the act of breastfeeding is free.  You’re built with all accessories required.
  • For the most part, it can save time.  There is no need to go make and heat a bottle.  It’s always the right temperature for baby.  There’s no need to go sterilizing nipples and bottle either.  It’s supposed to be an “on demand” feeding system.
  • It is a great soothing and bonding tool for you and the baby.  It’s hard to explain how great breastfeeding feels for a mom because there is this closeness.  I know it sounds cheesy; I’m having this out-of-body experience listening to myself say it but it’s true.  You get this connection.

The Bad:

  • It is not easy.  I’m not sure where they get those moms on tv that put the baby to the breast right after birth and all is just works.  Not really the case, at least for me.  I had what they termed, “a sleepy baby.”  In layman’s terms, it means a baby that would rather sleep than eat.  And comes with sleepy baby is about 80 people who want to move your breast around and help you feed.  It never worked for me at the hospital; I just pretty much cried because I was really overwhelmed.  PS…be ready to through modesty out the window. 
  • Clogged milk ducts suck.  These are basically little lumps in your breast that are tender.  Do note that you can get those lumps in your breast too when you are engorged.  They are not so fun trying to get rid of and it makes feeding painful.  But, everyone does not get these.  They say prevention is key by always emptying the breast; great concept if your breasts were clear and you could see if they are 100% empty.
  • Breast pumps.  Personally, I think this is a must have piece of equipment.  There are way too many options here.  I have used the hand pump, great for working those baby arms back into shape though I felt like giving up after an ounce.  I’ve got an electric double side Medela, which I love.  But again, it is an additional cost but I like to be able to pump extra for the freezer and to help with morning engorgement if Baby Bird sleeps pretty long.  Did I mention how sexy you look sitting there with cups sucking the dickens out of your breasts as your husband sits and watches tv? 
  • Touchy subject but I know I googled this a million times:  mustard colored, wateryish, baby poop.  Your read it right.  It was nothing like what I expected considering my first child was formula fed.  I also wish someone told me that it STAINS!  But on a good note, it doesn’t smell to bad to me (sort of sweet) and I find it “typically” easy to clean up.
  • Opinions.  Every body has them!  At this point, they do not bother me but they are annoying.  I’ve actually heard family member discussing how they hate to see someone feeding in public.  My MIL constantly says the she’s surprised that Baby Bird has gained weight from breastfeeding.  Seriously people, this has been done by moms for HUNDREDS of years.
  • And how does a breastfed baby, who sometimes always seems like they are eating, time it just perfectly that they want to eat right when you’ve gotten your food at a restaurant.  I’ve somehow gotten used to eating cold food or not eating at all…which might be part of my crazy weight-loss as well.
  • It is said that your milk supply is an on-demand thing.  It is in a way but it’s not like getting soda from a fountain machine.  You can’t just feed on both sides and then turn around 10 minutes later and feed again.  Of course, tell that to a cranky 4.5 month old.  She just doesn’t get it.  Then, she can be a little lazy and not want to work for the food.  She thinks I should have let down the instant she latches on.  Sometimes she is just such a baby.

The Ugly:

  • What sucks more than a clogged milk duct?  MASTITIS.  OMG.  Talk about needing to get up in the middle of the night to feed but feeling like you have the flu.  You ache, you have a fever, and you just want some sleep…but you can’t because you have a newborn baby 🙂  It is basically an infection in one of the ducts because you didn’t get all the milk out of the clogged duct.  Again, prevention; again, clear breasts issue.  I had 3 bouts in the beginning of my adventure and think my hospital grade pump and not exclusively breastfeeding were my factors. I was told by my OB that unfortunately, some people are just prone to these.
  • Now I know we talked pumps, but we did not talk “hospital grade pumps.”  These could probably make your husband bear milk.  I used to call mine the “dairy.”  It definitely works better than any store bought pump but the downsides are there too.  It made me produce milk for triplets, have a strong let down that I could drown my daughter, and a crazy case of constant engorgement.  Once me and the baby got the breastfeeding down (4 weeks later), we returned this contraption and stuck with the boob/occasional pump.
  • We’ve mentioned baby poops but no one mentions baby blowouts.  The consistency of baby poop is way more liquid than formula fed poops.  So, on those fun days, it’s always fun to try and rescue your baby from their poo stained onesie without getting it on their face/hair.  Scissors are sometimes a must.  Baby Bird actually leaked out her diaper, side of the onesie, and onto our cream fabric couch.  If only I could have gotten it in the sun.  The sun is the key for those awful breast milk poop stains.  SERIOUSLY TRY IT!

DISCLAIMER:  These are my opinions and are not to be taken as anything other than that.  Also, looking back at my list, breastfeeding looks pretty awful on paper 🙂  I look at them more as just funny life experiences.  If Baby Bird and I finally mastered breastfeeding with all of its whoas, we can do anything.  I would not trade it for the world, even if I got more cases of mastitis.  I always thought it was for liberal hippies but it’s not.  It’s natural and one of the best decisions I’ve made as  mother.  I’m very proud to be a breastfeeder and see now why women talk about it.  It’s sort of a badge of honor.  I get sad at times thinking I didn’t experience this with my other daughter and sad thinking that, at some point, I won’t get to breastfeed anymore.  Guess we will have another one then….

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