If you’re a mama reading this, you probably fit in to one of two categories; you had a wonderful experience with breastfeeding and you were sad when you had to wean your last baby off of the boob, or you had a horrible experience with breastfeeding and never want to think about another baby coming close to your boob again. I consider myself very lucky because I have actually experienced both of these polarized feelings towards breastfeeding and so I can understand and relate to both points of view.
When I had my first daughter I was completely shell-shocked by new motherhood. My daughter was difficult. Very difficult. She had colic and would cry for hours and hours on end. She was fussy All. The. Time. Trying to figure out breastfeeding with her was an absolute nightmare. She was impatient so it was difficult to get a good latch (which meant that I was in pain throughout the entire feed) and because she cried all the time I was constantly questioning whether something I had eaten had upset her and whether or not she was getting enough. Not being able to physically measure how much she was getting at each feed was very difficult for me and left me in a state of constant question to which I really didn’t have an answer. I tried for three weeks to breastfeed her and finally after a particularly difficult, screaming-filled day my husband went to the store and got some formula. It was helpful because it eliminated my questions about how much she was getting and reassured me that her screaming was not caused by something that I was eating, but it didn’t actually solve our problem because she still had colic and still cried inconsolably for the majority of every day.
When I had my second daughter I was pretty turned off of the whole idea of breastfeeding so I decided to formula feed her as well. They are now healthy and happy 8 and 6 year olds and I have no regrets about feeding them formula. However, when I had my third daughter I decided that I would give breastfeeding another shot. I was mentally more prepared for what it entailed and I was totally ok with switching her to formula if it didn’t work out. Luckily for me, it did work out, and I am so grateful that I was able to have a positive experience with it. Aside from all of the benefits for baby that we know of, there are so many benefits for mamas, too. Just to name a few; it’s less expensive, it’s more convenient because you always have a source of food ready to go, and it’s less time consuming than sterilizing bottles and preparing Formula is. Once you get past the first couple weeks of awkwardness and learning to latch it’s really, very enjoyable. One thing that a lot of people don’t know is that as you nurse your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which produces calmness, as well as endorphins (the happy hormone) which contribute to your overall well-being and give you a natural high. I personally noticed a HUGE difference in my overall mood and mental well-being. Now I’m getting to close to the end of nursing my son and I am actually finding myself sad to think that this will be the last baby that I am able to nurse.
I understand that not all mothers are able to breastfeed, and we are lucky that we live in a time when we have an option to buy formula for our babies that provide them with good nutrition if that is the case, but if you have had a bad first experience and are thinking about possibly giving it another try, please do, it is a really incredible experience that is so worthy of getting a second chance.
Note: I am happy to offer guidance and support to any new mother who is having trouble with breastfeeding or just has questions and would like to talk to someone who’s been through it before.