It was Thanksgiving Day, more than seven years ago. I was holed up in a corner bedroom intently watching the digital clock on the nightstand in front of me, waiting desperately for 15 minutes to pass by so I could switch sides. The clinking of silverware and laughter downstairs grated at my ears. My then 2-week-old newborn was nestled close to me, sucking loudly. I should’ve been happy at that moment. I was a new mother.
Instead, questions of frustration filled my mind:
- Is my baby getting enough food?
- Why does it feel like a pair of scissors is cutting off the tip of my nipple every time I breast feed?
- How do other women nurse in public without flashing everyone?
- Why isn’t my baby latching on correctly?
- Will I ever stop feeling like such a cow?
- Is it possible for my boobs to explode?
- Why does everyone seem to lose weight nursing except for me?
- I am a woman, WHY CAN’T I FIGURE THIS OUT?
At that moment, I was not in a good place. But four beautiful baby boys later, I realize now that I was not alone. Many women feel this same frustration. But somehow we get the idea stuck in our minds that we are not good mothers if we don’t nurse our babies. That is not true.
A happy mom is a good mom.
When all is said and done, if nursing is putting you close to the edge of insanity, it is okay to stop after six months or even six days. You have to consider your own health and well-being. If you dread feeding your baby and tears fill your eyes frequently because of it, take a step back and re-evaluate.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think mother’s milk is the best thing for a baby. However, in my case, I wasn’t producing enough milk for my first baby because I was so stressed out. I was a new mom and I had no idea what I was doing. Finally, when my baby was below his birth weight at two months old, my doctor told me to stop breast feeding and put him on formula right away. It was a wake up call for sure.
It should only be about you and your baby. There will always be someone you know who produces enough milk to feed an orphanage and would NEVER feed her baby a bottle … EVER. Well, good for her and her baby. As for the rest of us, we live in a place called reality. We are all in different situations. Maybe you are a working mom, maybe your body just doesn’t produce enough milk, maybe you have a bunch of other kids at home or maybe you plain just don’t like breast feeding. Whatever the situation, we all have to figure out how breastfeeding works for each of us individually.
For me, I was always subconscious about nursing with other people around. I always used a cover and still do, but it is tricky. It wasn’t until my third baby that I finally said to myself, “Screw this. If someone sees my boobs, then they probably shouldn’t be looking there anyway!”
Do your homework.
Lactation consultants are your friends. You don’t have to do it on your own. There’s a wealth of information and professionals all around you. If it’s your first baby, don’t make the same mistake I did. Go to your prenatal classes. Learn all that you can so there are no surprises on the day of your delivery.
Come to a decision and be happy with it.
Last year, I was sitting in the middle of a slot canyon in Zion National Park pumping my milk while sitting on a hard rock as my husband kept watch for unsuspecting hikers. I said to myself, “That’s it! I’m done nursing.” And that was that. My baby was six months old. He was healthy. I was tired of being tied at the hip and I wanted my body back! And that’s okay. So, I don’t HATE nursing, I just don’t like very much.
Who knows, maybe you will love breast feeding and it will be a wonderful experience for you and your baby. And then again, maybe it won’t. But consider it carefully and decide how long you will breastfeed and be happy with your decision. Don’t allow any guilt to set in. You’re a wonderful mother!
What about you? Do you like nursing? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.