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The ‘Joys’ of Breastfeeding

Put the Baby Down or Poop your Pants?

Have you ever had to run to the bathroom with a baby on your boob, while working as fast as you can with one hand to get your pants and underwear off before you poop your pants? Then you get stuck on the can until your baby finishes nursing (at least one side?) How about the feeling of warm breast milk running down your shoulder, boobs and stomach as you pick your little one up to burp them and they spit up? If this sounds familiar to you, then you know the “joys” of breastfeeding!!

When I made the decision with my first to try breastfeeding, I had NO idea what I was getting into. My “Baby Daddy” (now my Husband) encouraged me to at least try because of all of the benefits for the baby, like immunity. We also were under the impression it would be cheaper. That was a funny dream!!

The Expense of Breastfeeding

Nursing bras and shirts are expensive. And they do not last because they get dirty quickly between spit up and leaking boobs, so you have to wash them ALL THE TIME! Do we add the cost of laundry detergent into the nursing cost? And what about pump supplies? If you want to sleep in, go back to work, or enjoy a night out, you have to have some on hand and ready to go. Even IF the pump itself is covered by insurance, you have to buy more containers and storage bags. You need pump supplies, bottles for storage and feeding, plus sterilization bags or containers to clean the parts in, possibly an extra freezer for storage, pads for catching milk when you leak, and let us not forge that sweet nipple cream for cracked and bleeding nips. Oh and the extra food, drinks, teas, and supplements you may need to boost your supply to make sure you are making enough milk for your baby. Have I missed anything? I’m sure I have….

Where is the Bond I Heard so much about?

I even thought that it would be this AMAZING bonding experience. I have heard some mothers feel the bond. If you have, I am so happy for you!! Truly! I however did not once, while shoving my boob into either of my children’s mouths and hoping they do not latch on to my actual nipple, felt an extra sense of love. I get tired, anxious, bored, stressed and sometimes in pain, but not bonded. You want to know when I feel closest to my babies? When I am holding them against my chest. Cuddling with them on the couch or when they are asleep. When I look at their beautiful sleeping faces and I see myself in their face and I fall in love all over again. But, no, not at 3am when I am just wishing that the man sleeping next to me snoring would have more useful nipples!

Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful and amazing thing that we as woman can do. Produce everything our baby needs. But, that is so much easier said than done. Each child is different, so each experience is different. With my first, we had to deal with a lip tie. This led to her sucking in a lot of air and spitting up most of what she took in trying to burp and get the air bubbles out. Trust me, nothing is more disgusting than trying to pick up a baby to switch sides or burp to have her spit up all over you..right on your chest, running down your shirt and onto your stomach. All warm and disgusting while they scream because it did not feel good and they are still hungry, but now you need to change. You want to shower, but a new shirt is all you have time for, if that. I am still scarred by the memory of having to hold my child down while they fixed the tie. Her tie also led to struggles for me. I had a low supply and needed lots of supplements, eating and power pumping.

Second Time Around!

This time around, I have a nursing champ. He definitely has it down, but it is not necessarily easier. Whatever the reason, I have been dealing with clogged ducts like crazy. If you have ever had one, you know how severely painful they are. I would never wish this kind of pain on anyone. The clog is in the nipple, but it backs up all the way to the armpit. So, the WHOLE boob is full and tender. You can’t touch is, even slightly, and every move you make hurts. You don’t even want to walk, breathe, or try to sleep. Painkillers don’t help. It can be days before you finally find a way to release it. And if you don’t, you might end up with Mastitis, which includes a fever and chills and requires medication. Does breastfeeding sound like fun yet?

You also have to watch what you eat and drink. After 9 months of not being able to have a SINGLE drink after a long day with my 2 year old, one glass before having to Breastfeed AGAIN just did not feel like enough. You need to limit how much you drink because it can get into the breastmilk and effect the baby. We are starting to learn that some things do not end up in breastmilk the way we originally thought it did, but you still need to be careful. The amount of coffee and alcohol you drink must be limited, or you need time to make sure it is out of your milk. Medications need to be safe for breastfeeding and babies, which sucks if it is something you need for you. Your body is not just yours, so you have to take everything into account…

Laxative Effect

And…. finally…. the things we don’t want to talk about. Did you know breastfeeding can have a laxative type effect on your body? It can make you suddenly have to poop. And without warning. Have you ever wanted to poop with someone else? I know that being a mother means you may never poop by yourself again, but imaging having to run to the toilet while carrying a screaming infant, hoping you make it there on time, just to sit there and nurse, trying to decide if you want to get them off so you can get up or if you should just stay there until they are done. What do you do with an infant when you have to wipe? Put them on the bathroom floor? Do you still try to finish up and wash your hands while holding them? Either way they will scream the whole time… When WAS the last time you cleaned the floor or carpet in the bathroom? How annoying would it be to just keep something in the bathroom to put the baby in when an emergency poop happens? Is there enough room? You didn’t know you needed a “Bathroom Bassinet” when you were pregnant. Why is this not a thing on EVERY registry?

Drying up after you finally decide you are done with the whole shebang is a process in itself that can take months, even years. I had a letdown the other day while driving for no reason. I was just driving along, singing along to a good song on the radio without any kids in the car and BOOM!! Letdown!! I was happy I did not forget to put in pads this time!!  Even once you stop, a crying baby or some sexy time can trigger that in a second. Who ever thought that feeding my baby would lead to an emergency change of clothes in my car for years to come?!?

So what is my Point?

So, what is my point? That motherhood is tough. No matter what path you take, how you do it or what stage you are at. Mothers who formula feed may be jealous of those who are successful at breastfeeding, but believe me, we are just as jealous of you. There is no right or wrong way to be a mother. Strong, healthy children are what we all strive for and no matter which route you go, the outcome is the same. There is nothing that makes one better than the other. Well, except the poop….

We all have hard days and struggles. So, thanks for listening. From one mom to another, I needed to share my frustrations. And don’t forget. You got this Mama!!

If you want to read about a mother who actively chose not to breastfeed please read Formula Island!

Author: Shari Brophy is owner of Cherie Photography, mom of two, and Market Director for Cool Moms of Saratoga County.

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