For the record, yes, breastfeeding is wonderful and glorious and it’s a miracle, and women’s bodies are amazing and miraculous and isn’t life wonderful? However, we also need to acknowledge that it’s hard and stressful and, like many other aspects of parenting, breastfeeding requires a lot of sacrifices. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it still difficult, even though it's completely worthwhile?
Um, yes. The answer is yes, totally and completely and unequivocally, yes. In my experience, despite the many (many, many) challenges, breastfeeding has, indeed, been worth it. While my real-life experience definitely didn't match the stereotypical breastfeeding portrayals you see in the media (you know, peaceful and calm and beautiful bonding between mom and baby, with lots of pastel clothing on them both and in a dimly lit room, of course), I still found there to be perks, and things to appreciate. There were complications and moments of doubt and pain and I had to surrender certain abilities in order to make breastfeeding work for me and my baby, but it was absolutely worth it.
So, yes, there can definitely be an endless supply of tears, lots of stress, plenty of inconvenience and many hours spent thinking that it would just never work when you're breastfeeding. But would I, personally, it all over again, knowing that it is difficult? For sure. Here’s just a small sampling of the struggles that often feel like sacrifices, but, in the end, are most definitely worth the pay out.
You Will Be Forced To Leave Places You Don't Want To Leave
Perhaps it's when people are visiting. Perhaps it's when you're visiting other people. Of course, you could breastfeed in front of them, but I want to leave room for the fact that you might not feel like breastfeeding in front of other people. Either way, having to pause what you're doing to open up your shirt can feel like an inconvenience, even if it's something you're choosing to do.
There's Hours Upon Hours Of Pumping And Sitting
Sitting still isn't the worst thing to do when one's recovering from labor and delivery. However, it can get pretty freakin' old pretty freakin' quick, especially when you're hooked up to a grinding machine and not an adorable little person who shares your DNA.
You Will Soak Through Shirts
I found that patterned shirts hid the splotches more effectively than plain ones. Also, it never hurts to wear layers.
Baby Fingernails. That's All I'm Going To Say.
For being so tiny and delicate, baby fingernails are surprisingly sharp. I'm sure that, on occasion, my chest and arms resembled those of someone who owns and lives with a feral cat.
Blocked Ducts, AKA The Worst Things In The World
Pretty much the only upside I found to blocked ducts is that they can require a complicated combination of yoga-type nursing positions to dislodge the plug, making for somewhat of an odd, contorted breastfeeding experience for you and your child. Also, I suppose, the fact that they make you question (and I mean really question) whether or not it's worth it to continue nursing.
You Will Expose Your Breasts Somewhere, Or In Front of Someone, That You’d Rather Not Expose Them To
If only there's a career path for carefully opening your shirt and not revealing anything remotely curvy. I mean, if that was a thing that people are paid for, I'd be on top of the corporate ladder drowning in that CEO money. However, regardless of how careful you are, a hungry baby with undeveloped motor skills will tug at your shirt in such a way that all your efforts will be for naught.
The Many, Many Wake-Up Calls You Will Endure
True, if it wasn't breastfeeding, it would be bottles or diapers or one of the many, many reasons why a baby wakes up. However, in those instances, there's always a chance that your partner can help. When it's breastfeeding, you and you are alone are required to wake up. That's a lot of pressure.
The Constant Sharing Of Your Body
I was blissfully naive at just how much I had to share my body, even after my pregnancy was over. Little did I know that pregnancy was just the beginning.
The Extreme Exhaustion You Will Feel
Combine all the sleep interruptions and the overtime that your body is working to provide for another person, and your energy is straight-up zapped. As a new mom, I spent a surprising amount of time just laying on the floor.
Your Ability To Have A Life Outside Of Parenting Is Limited
To be fair, babies (in general) kind of limit your ability to go out or jet-set or road trip or, really, do whatever kind of carefree travel you enjoy. However, even if the stars aligned and you had the opportunity to venture forth and do something awesome, the need to stop and nurse every three or four hours can definitely complicate the matter.
Good-bye, Cute Bras
RIP, underwire. I hope you're happier now than when you were when you were constantly digging into my rib cage.