No one ever really prepares you for breastfeeding – what a trial it will be, that is. We, as women, worry so much about the birth (the labor, the pain, the fears, the preparation) that we don’t really think about afterward. Especially since breastfeeding is so natural & instinctual, right? How hard could it really be?
Oh, how hard indeed… cackle cackle.
Breastfeeding is harder than pregnancy & labor/birth, by far. Granted, I had an easy birth – but women I know who’ve had much harder births have said the same thing. Breastfeeding takes longer to master, the problems don’t always have clear-cut answers, you’ve got a million people spewing opinions & advice at you which can make your head spin (I’ve declared a firm rule to everyone I encounter that I ONLY listen to my wonderful lactation consultant, so back off.) Breastfeeding is also far more frustrating than labor & birth and painful in it’s own myriad of ways.
Breastfeeding takes up far more time, more energy & will exhaust you longer & harder than birth. Breastfeeding will send you crashing up & down, emotionally, like a roller coaster gone off it’s tracks. And breastfeeding will seriously make you take a long, hard look at yourself until you figure out what kind of mother you want to be and just how far you’re willing to go. You’ll certainly find out what you’re made of when you start breastfeeding.
(Minus those rare people for whom it came easily – but those are in the minority.)
And this is what no one really warns you about ahead of time, when you’re pregnant.
My mom gave up after two weeks, because she felt emotionally wrecked with worry that I wasn’t getting enough. She didn’t have the support that I did, and they certainly didn’t have an army of midwives that came with a lactation consultant or pay for post partum doulas to come in just for the purpose of helping you breastfeed. If I didn’t have all that, I may have given up, also. It’s not something you can do alone. And there – if I had to choose just one piece of advice to give to pregnant women, it’s that. Breastfeeding cannot & should not be done alone & don’t ever hesitate to ask for help. It’s worth it. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world where women sit around breastfeeding in groups, supporting each other. I don’t know that breastfeeding is even all that much a norm anymore. We, as mothers, are more isolated and breastfeeding simply isn’t something that was meant to do alone. So don’t. And that’s my two cents.
We’ve been making progress & I’m feeling good about the process. My goal is to have him back, fully on the boob by the time we move to Seattle because dealing with pumps & syringes are a big hassle. With that in mind – I follow a hardcore breastfeeding activist on Twitter & I never cease to be amazed at people’s negative reactions to women doing it in public. My attitude is pretty much that after all the work I’ve done to get here, I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone intimidate me out of breastfeeding in public, or feeling that I need to go out of my way to cover up. Screw that.