• Whitney

Breastfeeding is Bullsh!t

It's National Breastfeeding month! (cheers and applause) I don't have to tell you the benefits of breastfeeding, because you already know them. It's all anyone talks about. However, I do feel it necessary to share the rest of the story, because if someone had told me this before I had my son, the last 2 years of my life would have been so much easier on me and my family.

"Breastfeeding is hard. No one tells you how hard it is and that it can be painful too." Hold my beer. So, your vagina just exploded a baby that you now to keep alive with your tits while also trying to be the fit, super-mom that every new mother on instagram is? Breastfeeding is not, "hard." Running a mile in 7 minutes is "hard." Going into a bakery and not ordering anything but a black coffee is "hard." I would even go so far as to say that smearing lanolin cream on your cracked nipples from breastfeeding, is "hard." But breastfeeding?! It's a fucking nightmare.

It is difficult to put into words the full experience of breastfeeding, because it is all-encompassing. When Winston was born, he was immediately put on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. He reached out, grabbed my breast, and found it with his mouth. He latched. It was a joyous occasion! The next few days, lactation specialists would wander in and out of my hospital room, asking if they could help, but I would proudly boast that I didn't need them. My perfect little angel had naturally latched and I was over the moon. I mean, I was heavily dependent on ice pack panties, aerosal numbing spray, and water bottle baths for my unmentionables, but at least I could, even in this condition, keep my child alive. I was not okay, but he was okay because of me. And I believe that this switch in priorities is really where things go wrong.

After you take your little bundle of joy home, you must adjust to your new life. Obviously, breastfeeding every hour is unrealistic. You need time and space to yourself, right? I began pumping so that my husband could feed the baby bottles and I could rest. I would pump, and pump, and pump, and pump..... and I was making bottles for our son, but he would drink them faster than I could pump another. I was literally pumping a bottle, watching him drain the bottle that I had just pumped an hour prior, only to pump another and watch history repeat itself. It felt never-ending. I never got enough milk pumped to sleep through the night. I was so frustrated. All I wanted was a break from nursing. I would sob while he was nursing, trying to wipe my tears so they didn't land on him. The pain from nursing, the stress of pumping and making sure he's getting enough milk, the sleep deprivation from nursing every hour, the inability to care for myself and my basic needs, like bathing and eating; It felt insurmountable.

I wish, sincerely, that someone had shaken me then. I wish that someone would have told me that the baby would be fine if I gave him formula once a week, that the world wouldn't come to an end if he didn't get all of his nutritional needs directly from my body. I could have breast-fed and bottle fed and maybe kept some shred of sanity, but I always felt that this would make me a failure. I felt mad at myself for not being this picture-perfect mother, happily breastfeeding her baby. I felt like I had no way out other than powering through, and I sincerely regret that decision.

Everyone says "breast is best," and now people say, "fed is best," to make the moms who can't breastfeed feel better, but we all know that these bitches still think that breast is best and you're failing if you don't breastfeed your child. It goes along with all of these "Happy National Breastfeeding Month! -And it's okay if you couldn't breastfeed because at least you tried!" No, fuck that shit. When you tell someone that they at least tried, you're telling them that they failed. And all of these mothers who successfully breastfeed are walking around with huge smiles, pretending like it's just sunshine and fucking rainbows. It isn't!

Women are clearly marking a line in the sand where one mother is superior to the other because she is breastfeeding, and, for what? It makes me think of those 9 months in, 9 months out photoshoots. You know, where the mother is 9 months pregnant, and then 9 months after baby, she is back to her pre-baby weight, but holding the baby where her belly used to be... What a great device to shame mothers into measuring their new role by the size of their waists. After all, if a mother hasn't lost the baby weight in the same time it took her to gain it, she's clearly unfit for motherhood. Fuck. This. And I'm not trying to shame you if you have done this, because it's super trendy, and you probably didn't even consider how shitty you're making the majority of other moms feel, but please look back and think as to why you felt compelled to tell every other mother nine months out that you're thinner than them. While we're on the subject of weight, losing weight because you breastfeed is a lie. Yes, your body will burn about 500 calories a day because it's making milk, but you will also be ravenous. And if you don't eat enough calories to compensate, guess what? Your body stops producing milk!

"Breastfeeding gives you a stronger connection with your child." No, breastfeeding gives you a different connection with your child, where you are food and comfort, and being that means that you lose out on the relationship that other people get to have with them. When my child sees me, he only wants to breast-feed. I would go to work, and come home, and he would nurse. But then we would take a bath, and he would want to nurse, and I would try to read to him, and he would try to nurse. It wasn't that he wasn't getting enough milk, it's that it was his way of connecting to me. Even if he wasn't nursing, he wanted to latch, and this killed me because I couldn't experience anything with him unless he was nursing. My husband got to play dinosaurs and astronaut baby and chase him around, but when I tried to play, he would run to me to nurse. People say that your relationship with your child is so much deeper when you breastfeed, but I don't see it that way at all. To my child, I am a survival tool. If anything, it has harmed my relationship with him, because I don't get to be "fun"mommy. I'm "keeps you alive with her tits" mommy. And, sure I'm thankful to be able to do that, but imagine how much closer we would be if I got to have all of these adventures with him and then just pop a bottle in his mouth.

The toll is not just on the outside either. Children are literally drinking the nutrients from your body. All the good stuff you put in your body will go straight to them, and that's incredible! For them. For you, it means thinning hair, no energy, under-eye bags, a never-ending hunger, and severe thirst.

It feels like, as a new mother, people are constantly giving to advice about everything, and almost no one seems to know any facts. For example, did you know that it's actually okay to drink alcohol and breastfeed? Probably not! Less than 2% of alcohol consumed reaches breastmilk. If a 150-pound nursing mom downs 4 alcoholic drinks, and then breast-feeds her 13-pound baby 4 ounces of milk when she’s at her most intoxicated, her baby will end up with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.0038 percent. Even if you were shit-faced, the most alcohol your baby could possibly get from your milk is .005%, which is not even remotely dangerous. The biggest danger in a breastfeeding mother drinking alcohol is that, if she gets black-out drunk, she's more likely to drop her baby. Obviously, dropping your child would be horrific, but that probably isn't why you thought breast-feeding moms couldn't drink alcohol. I always thought that if I had wine, my baby would also be getting that alcohol when he breastfed, but this is not true. It just seems easier for everyone to write-off the fact that sometimes, Mommy needs a fucking glass (or three) of wine! According to the journal, Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, "It appears biologically implausible that occasional exposure to such amounts should be related to clinically meaningful effects to the nursing children,” There is actually a higher concentration of alcohol in some fruit juices ((up to 0.1 percent alcohol due to fermentation of the sugars) than there is in the breast milk of a tipsy nursing mom. So, cheers, bitch.

At some point, I woke up and realized that I was no longer me. I used to love playing with kids, cooking for the family, walking the dogs, but now, it's like my entire life revolves around breastfeeding. I am not the same person that I was before I started breastfeeding and if I feel this way, I bet other women do too.

The bottom line is that breastfeeding is incredibly difficult. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemies. I will say that I worried less with covid because I knew my son could breastfeed and get my immunities. Winston has never been sick. That may or may not have something to do with me breastfeeding. But, overwhelmingly, I do not think that it has been a positive addition to my life. To me, it's at least 90% negative. And maybe there are moms whose breasts never hurt, who feel closer to their children (they came out of you so I'm not sure how much closer you could get...), who sleep 9 hours a night and joyfully breastfeed their child every meal, but I am not going to pretend like I am that person, and I can't imagine that I'm the only one who feels this way. I think that shaming women into feeling that they have to breastfeed or their failing their children is devastating. We need to be honest with each other! The kid will be fine regardless, and honestly, for once, maybe it's time to put the mom first.

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