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