Being a dogmatic/judgmental/morally superior/tree-hugging/eco-warrior mother-to-be, I had many relentless and unforgiving opinions about the importance of breastfeeding. I was 100 percent committed to being the sole provider of nourishment for my baby, and, when she was born, I never even pumped a bottle. I romanticized the idea of being the only person who could feed her, forming that unique ancient bond between mother and child. Now that I am a year into it, can I just say that breastfeeding can really suck sometimes?
The benefits of breastfeeding are many. It is cost-effective. A convenient way to transport food because your boobs are attached to you and almost impossible to forget. It is also one of the easiest ways to comfort an agitated baby because your boobs will never again make someone so happy. And, most importantly, breastfeeding is the best diet ever. Wait... did I forget something? Oh, right... healthy for the baby and blah blah blah. Did I mention it burns 500 calories a day?
But let me also tell you some of the things that can seriously suck about breastfeeding.
1) Distracted breastfeeding: When your little one is an infant, your nipple is their world. It is the most exciting thing around and they treat it with the respect and focus of a Bonsai Tree groomer. But as they get older and more aware of their surroundings, they get easily distracted. They will take a few sips, turn and look at the dishwasher making a noise, sip some more, then try and see the dog drinking water while still keeping hold of your nipple with their teeth. If you really want to spice things up, try having a conversation with someone. Guaranteed every time they talk your baby will look at them and they will be looking into the eye of your boob.
2) All work and no play: Before breastfeeding you probably considered your boobs to be part of your sexy parts, right? They were on the repertoire of things that made you feel randy. No more. Once you have a little chupacabra feeding off your tits 24/7 the thought of someone touching those things is as much of a turn-on as fleece sweatpants. In fact, even slight contact will probably make you want to punch that person in the throat.
3) Beating up your boobs: Have you ever seen a still toddler? You know, just hanging out on the couch relaxing and doing nothing. If you have, they were probably sitting between a unicorn and leprechaun, because once they start moving they never stop. Feeding your crawling and walking child means that their legs and arms continue flailing the entire time. They punch around, kick their legs, claw at your other boob, grab at your necklace, and try to stick their finger in your nose. Not to mention that they also sometimes experiment with moving their teeth in a gnawing biting motion which is not as fun as it sounds.
4) The human pacifier: Unless your baby is in training to become a Zen Buddhist monk, chances are they will wake you up to eat throughout the night. At first you think that breastfeeding makes this easier because you don't have to prepare a bottle and can just roll over and shove your boob in their mouth. (Hint: make sure it is your baby that you are sleeping next to, because things could get awkward). But you know what is really hard to do? Sleep while someone is sucking on your boob. And get this, sometimes they aren't even hungry and just want to suck on something. But if your baby won't take a pacifier or bottle they will turn you into their human pacifier so they can get back to sleep.
If I were to do it all over again I would, but I think I would be less purist about it. I would pump and get the baby used to a bottle, and staple a pacifier to her face until she got into it. In fact she could suck on that thing till she was 34 if it meant giving me some relief.
If you have experienced breastfeeding before and think I am being a total wimp then do you mind if I Fed-Ex you my baby to finish the job for me? And if you are a mom-to-be considering breastfeeding then please don't let any of what I say scare you off. I just feel like it is good to be prepared for what you are getting into so you don't feel like failure when it gets hard. There is a lot that is never talked about when it comes to what you will go through, and it is more work than the peaceful image of a mother holding a perfectly content infant in her arms. But luckily there are lots of resources to help you through the process, like lactation consultants and la leche meetings. Always remember how amazing and magical it is that your body provides food for your baby and how this process connects you to nature in the most profound way. And who knows, maybe next time you can train your body to lactate other beverages like iced tea or champagne and really be the life of the party.