It seems that in recent years breastfeeding has become somewhat of a hot topic for moms. There is support from the community, with organizations like La Leche League International for breastfeeding mothers, and most employers must understand a nursing mother’s need to take a pump break every few hours. After all, people get to have smoke breaks to go puff away on something that can potentially kill them, nursing mothers should have every right to spend their designated breaks how they choose. But sadly, breastfeeding is a difficult task, and for first time moms it can prove too much to handle.
With the issues surrounding breastfeeding, a lot of this boils down to the commitment involved. If you want to be a breastfeeding mother, it’s like a full-time job, all over again. And if you spend hours away from your baby at a time you need to maintain an adequate supply from pumping or you will find your production lacking, quickly. And as any mother who’s breastfed can admit, the manual letdown from the pump is clearly not the same. Then there’s the awkward noise the machine produces. Although a pump will certainly get the job done, it takes away from the incredible bonding experience and is not natural the way nursing your little one is. Plus you have these leaking breasts that are like ticking time bombs if not released every so often.
If anything were ever more about supply and demand, it would be breastfeeding. For novice moms, and I was totally guilty of this my first go-around, you may not realize the true importance of this key to breastfeeding. If you decide to go give baby a bottle instead of nursing, whether that be of formula or previously pumped breast milk, you better go and pump shortly after. Basically, for every feeding that is missed it signals to your body that the milk didn’t need to be produced. This can be sort of tricky to remember or even realize at first. Then there’s the battle with other people wanting to get a chance to feed the baby, too. Also, the ease for baby to take from a bottle versus working to express milk from the breast. When a baby is hungry, they are likely to be rather fond of the easiest option to get that milk in their tiny tummy.
In a world where women, especially mothers, are constantly being judged for the actions they take by society it’s truly a labor of love to breastfeed your child. I nursed mine both for 4 months, and hope to do the baby-to-be for at least 6. For my first child I supplemented some as I was still working often, but the second time around I nursed exclusively for 4 months. Which was great as I was home during those months and had more free time on my hands to figure out the science behind breastfeeding. Being a mother who breastfeeds is a true commitment. Sure you just spent the last nine months carrying your baby, but if you plan to breastfeed be readily prepared to sacrifice all over again. It takes time, patience, understanding, and a plethora of other tools to master this art that seems to be becoming less of an option for mothers.
I would be lying through my teeth if I said I haven’t previously judged another mother for not breastfeeding. Some women have no interest in it at all whatsoever, which is fine, even though it might be puzzling to someone who is big on breastfeeding. Other mothers go a bit extreme and nurse far beyond the recommended time frame, tandem nursing or basically nursing a speaking toddler. It’s one of those “to each her own” kind of things that is different for every mother in the world.
All it really boils down to is this: even if you get one nursing in, pat yourself on the back. Because one is always better than none. Congratulate yourself for trying, even if it doesn’t work out. And if you decide from the get-go that it’s not for you, be proud of yourself for recognizing what you can and can’t handle. We shouldn’t judge other mothers for their choices in breastfeeding, because after all, we’re all just figuring out this enigma of a mother thing together. And no information book or sound piece of advice could have ever prepared us for the unexpected things we experience.
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