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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The downsides to breastfeeding...

Okay so a few of my friends / relatives formula feed, and I have to admit that as much as say I am "pro-breastfeeding" I'm also a little jealous of moms who are able to feed their baby formula. I've been honest with you about everything else so I'm going to share the downside to breastfeeding. I've promised to give you all the pros, but here are the cons:

1. Since something like 70% of women try to breastfeed but only 40% are still nursing at 4 weeks this would indicate that women want to do it but can't. So not only does breastfeeding add pressure and stress for a new mom to figure out how to do it, but it really hurts in the beginning. Though the pain is only initial, it still sucks when you're already recovering from birth to have to endure any extra pain, multiple times a day and throughout the night.

2. When you're recovering and all you want to do is sleep and rest, you're the only one who can feed baby (at least until you're able to pump) and there were many times when I hated my husband because he didn't have breasts or a bottle of formula.

3. You and baby are dependent on each other. Things like having to have surgery or fears about getting in a car accident or something that keeps you from baby are extremely scary and difficult for mom and baby. It can be overwhelming once you realize you are your baby's only life source. This dependency also means if you want to go out for any extended period of time you have to bring a pump. Because I make the commitment to nurse for one year, that means I have to tell family and friends that I can't join them for weekends away or drop off the baby for a baby-free weekend with the hubby (which I'm DYING for!!). I can't even go see the newest Harry Potter movie without my husband texting me "The baby needs you!!!!!!" 20 minutes before it's over. Of course, as soon as I think about my baby needing to nurse, my milk comes in and now I'm engorged and ready to burst. It's hard to even run to the store when every time I leave the baby I'm filled with anxiety over getting back to him asap (I know some moms who can pump and baby takes bottle, mine gags and throws up whenever he sucks on even a pacifier so bottles are no help to me).

4. Every time baby cries you become the human paci, and if you're not giving baby a bottle then all you're going to hear from dad is, "the baby wants YOU" and baby will always be your deal to calm down (though in dad's defense it is easier for mom to just nurse baby then for dad to bounce, walk, and rock him).

5. It's easier to feed baby a bottle in public or around company than to hide under an udder cover and nurse.

6. Your formula feeding mommy friends / relatives not only have freedom to leave baby whenever they wish and allow others to feed him / her but they don't have to wear nursing bras, and nursing pads and worry about engorgement and milk leaking.

7. If baby is colicky you worry it's something you ate and because you can't see how much baby gets when he nurses you'll always wonder if he's getting enough (at least until you become secure in your body and know how your diet affects baby).

8. Some breastfed babies sleep through the night at 2 weeks old (this sounds crazy but it's true, my best friend's second child is proof - 10-12 hours straight, every night for 5 months now) but if your baby is up every hour or two and you admit this to anyone they will tell you the baby needs a bottle of formula. Breastmilk is rapidly digested so traditionally they need to nurse more often - and this really sucks at night time.

9. Maybe my experience is not the norm, but I felt like there was a lot of pressure to formula feed from everyone (nurses, doctors, family & friends, even from strangers!) and so I got teased a lot for being "so stubborn about breastfeeding."

10. Although breastmilk will most likely never be "recalled" I have to point out that at my pediatricians office I noticed a sign on the door about a nipple cream that about how Mommy's Bliss had been recalled! The reasons for the recall:
"Potentially harmful ingredients in Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream are chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol. Chlorphenesin relaxes skeletal muscle and can depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory depression (slow or shallow breathing) in infants. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants."
Naturally I was relieved that I wasn't using Mommy's Bliss brand nipple cream while nursing my two week old baby Jonathan, but I was terrified that maybe it WAS in the brands I did use. I searched for those chemicals on the bottles of the Medela nipple cream and the Lanolin-free all natural cream I had purchased at Target. Both were free of those chemicals, but it got me thinking that I was taking a risk that you never know when some study might prove that the cream I did use was harmful. Later on I thought about how the soap I use, the detergent on my nursing bras, the absorbing chemicals in the nursing pads I wore, all these things are in contact with my breast and may transfer traces of these chemicals to baby every time I nurse. So I have to point out that even when nursing, breastfeeding does not completely guarantee you that your baby won't be exposed to something that might be recalled. (FYI Medela pumps claim they never used plastics with BPA in them, in case you boiled their bottles or micro-steamed their pumping gear prior to all the BPA updates. However, other pumps may have had BPA in their products).

11. You are limited in the things you can consume (alcohol, medications, certain foods, etc).

12. I don't know about dying hair when nursing, b/c I know some breastfeeding moms who did it and their baby is fine, but I personally cannot wait to have my step mom do the Brazilian blowout straightening product on my hair which they say shouldn't be done when pregnant or nursing so I'm stuck with my curls so long as I'm still breastfeeding my son.

13. Although you burn 500+ calories per day while nursing (and this helps most women lose weight) I personally found that my appetite increases when nursing and so I'm snacking ALL DAY and I am always hungry.

14. You will probably experience the sore, cracked or bleeding nipples in the beginning, but later on you might experience a mastitis infection, a clogged duct, engorgement, or discomfort during let downs for a while.

15. If you chose to nurse for at least the first year you might have to learn how to nurse with a baby with teeth, and that can be tricky and especially painful if baby tends to bite or pull your breast with his new set of chompers.

16. Maybe this is something few deal with but based on my experience with nursing you might be teased or mocked for it. Ex: You might be called old fashioned, a fanatic, stubborn, perverted, cheap, weird, crazy, a hippie, animalistic, etc.

17. Your breasts may no longer seem sexy when you realize what they're designed for (though some nursing moms love the extra cleavage) and you and / or your spouse might view them exclusively as baby's bottles so long as they have milk in them!

* Obviously I chose to breastfeed in spite of these downsides to nursing and it is 110% completely worth it, every single time I look down and watch my baby smile while nursing or get "milk drunk" and watch his eyes roll back into his head and pass out while nursing. I love the bonding experience, feel a sense of pride when I look at this 18 pound baby and know I did all that with just my milk (Nick calls him a ball of breastmilk), and as much as it sucks to deal with all 17 of those downsides to nursing, I decided that for me it's worth the initial pain and sacrifice of sleep, the frizzy hair, the judgement from strangers and family (I've learned to laugh when my own mother refers to me as "the milk wagon"). I want you to be aware of all the downsides I've experienced with nursing and know that at the end of the day, I'm genuinely sad that I only get 6 more months to nurse my baby (that's assuming he doesn't go on strike early or get his first tooth and bite me to the point where I have to quit, etc) because every nursing is precious to me. One year is such a small amount of time, a drop in the bucket as they say, when you realize just how fast it goes and how quickly they grow up.

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