I've wanted to write on this for a long time, not at all because I am incredibly passionate about this particular subject and feel it's my mission to push this but simply because I have thoughts and I want to record them. Grandpas you can probably stop here.
But, before I say anything, I just want to make it clear that it doesn't matter to me in the least whether a person nurses their child or not. Mothering is already hard enough, so to put the added pressure of feeling judged for how you provide for your child is not necessary in my eyes. Do you co-sleep? Baby-wear? Cloth diaper? Okay, great. Maybe I don't, but if it works for you than that is awesome and you should totally stick with it. Like I said, mothering is not easy so if you find something that just helps you survive, than by all means do it. The big question is; will something be done that is going to harm my child's heart? That's what I would choose to spend my time obsessing over.
Okay, so some history first.
I really wanted to nurse Shepherd until a year. I nursed Reagan for 4 months and Shepherd twice as long. With Reagan, I was working full time and going to school full time and Zach and I were about to leave for a week to go on our honeymoon. I didn't think much about nursing, we just stopped and no one died. Reagan has always been a super healthy child and to this day has been on antibiotics maybe twice in his lifetime. With Shepherd, around 8 months I noticed my supply drastically decreased. I researched and sought advice and did everything I could to get it back up but nothing worked. Then one search mentioned pregnancy as a cause... and well yeah, after testing that pretty much was the case! I kept trying but with my body feeding three people at that point, counting myself, it was zapping me of everything I had (remember Zach was also working out of Rockford during the week at this point.) So we phased it out, Shep did awesome transitioning and I was thankful to avoid any of that engorgement awfulness.
Now, how I really feel.
Breastfeeding is hard. It hurts, it's inconvenient, it's isolating, it makes you more ravenous than even when you were pregnant. I remember white-knuckling the arm of whatever chair I was sitting in whenever latching on started. And that happened for months! Way longer than I expected. And they tell you if it hurts you're not doing it right, but that's crap. It just hurts. You think it's nice that you don't have to mix bottles but when the baby needs to nurse the world must stop and you have to sit down right then and do it. Probably the worst for me though was how isolated I felt. The mother shoulders all of the responsibility in this area. I was the only one who could do it therefore Zach was useless and the stars must be aligned (aka milk pumped and stored) if you need to spend time apart for any reason.
Now, would I do it again? Yes, yes, a thousand times over. In the back of my head I know it's the best for my baby. That miracle we've somehow been entrusted to raise. In this house we are big believers in a Higher Power and I'm constantly amazed at His creation. If he made me to be able to do this then there's got to be something said for that. I don't need to go into all of the studies that show how beneficial breast-milk is, because we've all heard it. I know some people gush over the overwhelming bonding experience they share when nursing, which is great, but I'm just not built that way. I find joy and closeness with my children in other ways. Plain and simple, it was just hard for me... because newsflash, it's not easy to stick with something you might not enjoy. It has been a lesson in selflessness that I truly needed and has bettered me with each child. Second to giving birth, breastfeeding is one of my most proudest accomplishments. Other perks... it stimulates your uterus to contract therefore it's awesome for getting your tummy down post baby, breastfed baby poop really doesn't smell that bad and you don't have to clean bottles. And also it deserves some major points for being so darn cost-effective- hello!
Other things I've learned.
Mastitis is the literal devil. It is a clogged milk duct that has become infected. I found it happened usually if I skipped a feeding, wore a garment that was too tight or exercised without a tight enough garment. It feels hot to the touch, harder in one specific spot and sometimes red too. Aside from dying... you'll get a fever, your whole body will ache and you'll get a blinding migraine. What worked best for me was to nurse frequently on that side, take a hot shower and massage the area out. Drink lots of water and rest a bunch. It sucks but it will pass.
Post birth you'll still look pregnant and your stomach will look like pizza dough.
The first time you spill pumped milk, aka liquid gold, you will cry.
New parents: get used to living life tired.
And no matter what you think. You're doing a really good job.