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Breastfeeding Isn’t So Bad

By Sierra Black |

Breastfeeding doesn’t have to suck

I loved breastfeeding. Many of my best memories of mothering my babies involve nursing them. I loved it because it brought us closer and helped us bond. I loved it because it was easy and convenient. I loved it because I knew I was giving my kids the best nutritional start in life.

I’m not shy about the fact that I breastfed my first kid for five years. But I normally don’t talk about how easy and fun it was for me because there are enough high-pressure messages out there telling women that breast is best and they’d better do it.

Today, though, I want to sing about it from the rafters. Breastfeeding is awesome. At least, it can be. You wouldn’t know it from reading the blogosphere this afternoon, though.

Both Jezebel and Double X have posts up today extolling the horrors of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is “the worst”, says Jezebel. Women who don’t like it are more likely to be depressed, Double X warns us.

Yes, people often have problems getting started nursing. Your nipples can crack, you can get engorged or even infected. Your baby may have trouble learning to latch. You might find breastfeeding exhausting, boring, painful or impractical given the other conditions in your life.

Or you might not. I gave birth to my first baby, laid her on my chest and within a minute or two she was suckling happily at my breast. I did get a painful breast infection a few weeks into our nursing relationship, but it cleared up in a few days. Other than that, we got into it smoothly and continued without much hassle for years. I never had to worry about buying formula for her, sterilizing bottles, prepping bottles in the middle of the night, carrying feeding supplies. For the first year of her life, everywhere we went, I could feed her in seconds without having to think about it.

This was especially useful late at night, when I could just roll over and put the baby to my breast without even having to fully wake up. But it also came in handy on outings, and pretty much everywhere else. Who wouldn’t want a no-mess, free, endlessly renewable source of nutritious, delicious food for their baby?

I’m not saying you *should* love breastfeeding, or that it’s the only right way to go. I’m just saying that it’s possible to have a really positive experience nursing your baby. The authors of these blog posts made breastfeeding sound more like a prison sentence than an awesome parenting practice. Yes, breastfeeding can be hard. Sometimes it’s impossible, or so hard that the right decision is to stop doing it.

Most of the time, though, it works. It can even be easy and fun. Most of the challenges are surmountable without heroics or horror stories. For me and most of the moms I know, breastfeeding has been a mutually rewarding experience for mom and baby.

What about you? Did you breastfeed your baby? Did you love it or hate it?

Photo: moppet65535

Against Medical Advice: Why are so many doctors ignorant about breastfeeding?

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About Sierra Black

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Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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23 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Isn’t So Bad

  1. Melanie says:

    I’m nursing my 10 month old as I type this. She is teething, has a fever, and is all around unhappy. It is nice to be able to comfort her by nursing!

  2. Manjari says:

    I had a positive experience too. My son had difficulty latching for the first couple of weeks, and I sometimes wonder if I would have kept at it if his twin sister hadn’t taken to it so quickly. Once we got through that first month, it was the easiest thing ever. I went from not being a mother at all to having two children in one day. I think I would have been even more overwhelmed and sleep deprived if I’d had to deal with the whole bottle thing. I weaned them when they were 16 mos., but I soon wished I had kept it up longer.

  3. emily says:

    Thankfully, i have had no problems nursing. a family friend is a lactation consultant, and she stopped by the day my son came home from the hospital (after being in the nicu for 5 days). Although it was a little tricky when i first tried in the hospital, when we got home, not hooked up to monitors, it was a piece of cake. our friend came by to reassure me that we were both on the right track. i know i really lucked out, for many people have problems, and i am very grateful. its just so easy, free, and i love the bonding.

  4. nylara says:

    i loved breastfeeding and it was easy for me. i have a 2 yo son and 6 mo daughter. weaned the elder when i found out i was pregnant he still tries to sneak boobies and sometimes i let him but overall its been good. no cracked nipples, infections, or anything. had engorgement but when that happens i just let the milk drip out and everythings fine. and its easier for me than bottles. just pop a boob out and go. less mess to carry around too! lol no stumbling around the kitchen trying to find bottles and measure formula. and no shrieking at the top of their lungs for minutes when im not going fast enough lol

  5. Anna says:

    I found it really tough the first couple of weeks and would stare longingly at bottles, thinking how much easier it would be and how nice to not constantly be on tap. Now, fast forward almost 10 months later and I’m so glad I stuck with it – breastfeeding is the easiest thing in the world. Never have to worry about how long we’ll be out and whether I should pack bottles/formula – we always have food with us. It is also so wonderful to be able to comfort my daughter in any circumstance if she is sick/hurt/teething/upset. I used to always say I would wean by a year, but now am thinking we’ll just wait and see how the next couple months go and take it from there.

  6. Jen Hunter says:

    It never occurred to me I’d have problems breastfeeding, and I never did.Ten minutes after my daughter was born, she decided she was hungry, and that was that. It was a no brainer all around. We nursed for 18 months. (She’s reading this and she said “Not stopping?!” and laughed.)

  7. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Nursed my first until I became pregnant with my second and the weaning went smoother than I expected. Still nursing my almost one year old. I had a lot of help from an excellent friend and lactation consultant and 100% support from my family and friends. Was it a challenge initially? Hell, yes. The ease factor of nursing kicks in a little later and in the beginning, bottles seemed like the easier option. But it only took me getting stuck in Long Island traffic once… and then I knew that this nursing thing had bennies that far outweighed the learning curve beginning. Besides, I hate doing dishes. Why create more?

  8. Libby says:

    Great post. I think we need to hear more moms say this. I am breastfeeding #2 and don’t think I would’ve if I didn’t have good friends who breastfed their babies too and talked positively about it. The message that breast is best is so often followed by qualifiers like ‘but it might not work’ or ‘its pretty hard, so if you can’t do it, it’s ok’. Of course we need alternatives and thank goodness we have a safe formula alternative of it’s needed. But for a lot of us, breastfeeding works really well and we need to help other new moms see that side!

  9. Chloe says:

    Sometimes I feel guilty that breastfeeding was so easy for us. Actually the first few days were tough. I was anxious after a difficult L&D, didn’t trust that my body was producing enough, had a hard time holding him properly to nurse, etc. So after a few vain attempts at latching him on I pumped and fed him colostrum with a special bottle my LC recommended. Then on day 3 or 4 my mature milk came in and it was smooth sailing for the next 18 months. I have no judgment toward mothers who have a terrible time with it and give up after a few weeks or months, but I’m glad not to be one of them and hope to have as much luck with baby #2!

  10. Gretchen Powers says:

    I thought the Gawker piece was interesting, if not of the typically whiny style of today’s young feminista types. She did come round full circle to the fact that once you get it down it all clicks and its easier. For me, it wasn’t really a problem because I actually did this: “In the end, you must simply stick your boob into your baby’s mouth over and over and over like clockwork until it finally clicks, the working world be damned.” Which, frankly, is what most people should do. Super props to those women who pump and work and make it work. I’m not that much of a masochist. Taking care of an infant properly IS a full time job best done by said infant’s mother.

  11. BlackOrchid says:

    I always feel guilty about how easing nursing was for me! So I never mention it.

    So, thanks for this post! I never had any problems at all, and loved doing it. It was way, way easy – way easier than dealing with formula!

  12. Laura says:

    Agreed! nursing my two boys was EASIER than bottles. first few weeks took some getting the hang of it – along with all the other stuff going on with a new baby too… but after that smoooth sailing. Loved that I did not have to clean or sterilize or warm anything up. I took my 6 month old to disney world with a small backpack and a bjorn.. he was so totally portable! I got so good at it too, never encountered anyone being rude about it or looking at me funny. Helps having family, friends, husband or partner who is supportive. I work 12 hour shifts as a nurse, so I had to pump and use bottles but both my boys were fine with a little supplementation. I like the above poster “you must simply stick your boob into your baby’s mouth over and over and over like clockwork until it finally clicks” — very succinct! LOL! I made it work at work – but ate many a turkey sandwich in the locker room feeling a bit cow like! But it made our reunions when I got home that much sweeter.

  13. Andrea Scott, RN says:

    Thanks for sharing your positive experience and outlook on breastfeeding! I know moms-to-be will appreciate reading and looking forward to their breastfeeding experience.
    ~ ^as from http://www.haltonparents.ca

  14. Maggie says:

    Thanks for this — I’d almost started to wonder if there was something different about breasts in the 21st century.

    I nursed my kids in the late 60s and early 70s. The two worst days of breastfeeding were: the day the milk came in with #1, and the baby insisted on sleeping for 16 hours! I was overfull and sore. But then he started nursing and it was totally a piece of cake.

    The other ‘worst day’ was at 10 months with that child, when my OB/GYN (who, not incidentally, disapproved of breast feeding, warned me against it as ‘so difficult’, gave me the lactation-suppression injection without my permission right after delivery) diagnosed my pain and fever as ‘mastitis’ and said the treatment was to immediately stop nursing! Turns out, a better treatment would have been to pump the affected breast and continue nursing on the other until after the antibiotics … oh, well. The cold-turkey weaning was hard on both of us.

    Baby #2 nursed for about 18 months until he was ready to stop on his own.

  15. SNSinNC says:

    As a lot of the previous posters mentioned, I too feel guilty about how easy it was for me. I never had trouble with latching or pain and even my supply concerns (as I work full time starting when he was three months old, supply was always my biggest concern) were minimal and apparently unnecessary. But when I talk about breastfeeding my son, especially to new moms, I always feel compelled to add that it’s hard, exhausting, whatever, because that’s what you always hear and I never want to make them feel bad if they’re struggling. Kind of circular, though, because then that’s all you ever hear. Now it’s a little more difficult and hurts occassionally, because nursing an active 20-month-old boy is more like wrestling than cuddling, but I consider those kicks to the face a minor issue :)

  16. Erin says:

    Breastfeeding is wonderful, most of the time. ;-) I happily nursed all three of my babies, 8 mo for my 1st, 12 1/2 mo for my 2nd and 3rd. The first time was definitely the most difficult and I felt like as soon as we finally got the hang of things, my son got thrush and things went downhill from there. But #s 2 and 3 were extraordinarily easy. Even when I was engorged, suffering from cracked nipples, thrush, and mastitis, all of those problems seemed insignificant. Our caboose was just mutually weaned about 3 weeks ago. He was more ready than I was…. Thanks for adding a positive spin on this hot-button issue. It makes me sad that breastfeeding gets such a bad rap.

  17. Tam says:

    We had a rough start and my kid bit like a rabid piranha when he was teething and I STILL LOVE BREASTFEEDING. Thank you for a positive post about nursing.

  18. Kristina White says:

    I’ve had both ends of the spectrum:) My daughter and 1st child was so easy! She latched on, no problems, nursed just minutes after birth, it was simple and sweet. My son, the second child was much harder, he had a really hard time latching, ended up having to use a nipple shield( worst idea ever, lol), he was so attached to the shield after the 1st few feedings I had to use it from then on. It was an experience I’ll never forget with both though, and glad I at least tried. I don’t think anyone should be pressured into breast or formula feeding, it really is the individuals preference.

  19. Brigette says:

    I love this article, the only thing that strikes me as slightly odd is breastfeeding until your child is 5? Personally, I think if your child is able to chew steak it might be a good time to stop, but that’s just me. Things work differently in different homes, for different reasons.

  20. jennifer says:

    Thank you for this article! I’m breastfeeding my almost 7 month old DS. I love it — there is nothing better after a long day working outside of the home than reconnecting with my little one by nursing. Feeding him at night is so easy; I can’t imagine getting up and making bottles overnight. So few people talk about how sweet, tender and pleasurable it is, how easy it is, how the world just quiets down and it’s just this time for you and your kid, a time out of time. Really, it’s all wonderful! The only thing I dislike is pumping at work, but I’m committed to doing it until he’s at least 1 year old. I am so grateful every day I can do this.

  21. Olivia says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’m still nursing my 2.5 yr old and I never had a problem at all, no pain, no infections. Other than a small issue of not being able to pump quite enough once I returned to work, things have been smooth sailing and I’ve loved it. I really feel badly that so many women struggle. I can’t imagine it, but I also think it’s nice to hear that it isn’t always a struggle for every woman.

  22. Paala says:

    Thanks for sharing your positive experience here. So refreshing, especially after reading another babble post, “My Take on Breastfeeding: Just Do It, But Discreetly” by Meredith Carroll. That woman could learn a thing or two from you.

  23. Julia says:

    I love breastfeeding. My 2 year old was fed til he was 14 months (with shields the whole time after a hellish start) and my 2.5 week old is currently struggling to latch due to tiny mouth (so I’m cracked and sore with thrush on top) but once she gets going it’s lovely and I keep telling myself just a few more days/weeks til it all heals up and gets easier…then we’ll power on til we’re both ready to stop. In my more morose pain-filled moments I could totally crack out the formula, but have resisted so far…

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