Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Breastfeeding Lies I've Been Told

I've always been a strong proponent of breastfeeding. Heck, for over 9 years I've been a member of a group of women who's sole purpose in forming was to offer breastfeeding advice and support to each other---and I was the only one who'd never lactated. That's a story in itself but here we are, close to 10 years later and I've finally fulfilled our nickname of "lactating loopies". For the record, the Loopies have never steered me wrong, never uttered untruths about breastfeeding and never painted a rosy picture over a landscape that should include lots of browns, greys and black. Here are a few of breastfeeding myths and lies that others have told me:

Breastfeeding is the easiest way to feed your baby.

Uhh, no it isn't. There isn't anything easy about it in the beginning, when you're trying to squish something the consistency of an ultrathick milkshake out of your nipples. And there's nothing easy about helping your baby learn to latch on correctly. When you have a newborn screaming the "I'M STARVING" cry and you're having to pop him off the boob and back on again there is simply nothing easy about it. And you can't leave him latched on wrong or the pain hits...oh yeah, the pain. Think of what it would feel like if someone froze your nipple, then pinched it as hard as possible. When your nip is compressed completely into an unnatural shape, they let go and the painful sensation turns from frostbite ouchie into needle stabbing sharpness.

So...let's just be honest and say it is much easier to feed your child from a bottle, be it breastmilk or formula. And I'll follow that by saying that although it is harder than bottle feeding I believe that the skin-to-skin contact elevates the mother-baby bond to a much higher level. If you can't or won't breastfeed I suggest taking off your top and the baby's onesie and feeding with bare skin. Call me crazy, but there's something very comforting for both mom and child when you utilize skin-to-skin contact. Just try it, if you haven't already.

Breastfeeding is more convenient.

I've been told that breastfeeding is more convenient because I don't have to worry about carting around bottles and expressed breastmilk or formula. There's plenty of inconveniences such as when you're out running errands and the baby wants to nurse but you aren't anywhere close to home. If you don't have some nifty nursing shirt or wrap that allows you to modestly feed your baby then you have to deal with the pervy stares and outright glares of uptight people. I've already fed Ryder in several parking lots...I use a receiving blanket to cover us but he doesn't like having a meal under the covers. When we're over at a friend's house it isn't every friend who's comfortable with me whipping out a boob nor is it convenient to ask to use a private room to feed Ryder.

Breastfeeding will help you lose weight.

Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, that's true, but helping you to lose weight? No. What happens if you were to engage in an activity that would burn an equivalent amount of calories, say running? You get hungry. Uh huh. You want to eat. This is not conducive to weight loss. Breastfeeding makes me hungry. All the breastfeeding books tell you that you need to concentrate on good nutrition. Seriously, you finally get away from feeling like a ground walking whale but can't diet. Exercise, yes. Dieting, no. Healthful eating yes. Restricting calories below 2600/day, no. And whaddya know, the number one change that has happened in my body since I started nursing is craving carbs. Crave 'em! I want them with an intensity on par with a junkie needing a fix. I salivate over the thought of sweetly yeasty buttered dinner rolls, sinfully dark and moist chocolate cake with rich, thick fudge icing, a pile of mashed potatoes with a little flecks of potato skin here and there, topped with peppered country-style white gravy....I could go on and on revealing my carb porn dreams.

Now you know the truth, that there are some myths being bandied about by well meaning folks. Or maybe I have it all wrong and there are women to whom breastfeeding is easy peasy and they never have a moment's trouble. I'm still advocating for breastfeeding if at all possible. I'm happy that Ryder prefers me to a bottle even when he's indulged in cluster feeding and has drained me dry but is still insistent on more, more, more. And I'm not opposed to formula. Ryder started off being supplemented with formula and still is, albeit a very small amount compared to breastmilk. So please, La Leche Leaguers, no hate mail or nasty comments. I know breast is best.


leogirl77 said...

The La Leche League is on CRACK! Nothing is easy, or convienent about breastfeeding. I hated it and only did it briefly because I wanted to try. If I could bear another child next month I would NOT breastfeed. It was painful and it doesnt stop there. Wait til you wean him off the boob and your so full of milk that your engorged and your breasts hurt so bad you want to chop them off to put yourself out of your misery. I say spew that crap somewhere else and stop trying to force mothers to breastfeed. Its moms choice and no one should be made to feel they have to do this or else.

Kay said...

It is a mother's choice. I'm not about to tell anyone what they should do with their own bodies. For me, though, despite the leaking boobs, achiness when they're overly full and the few times now when Ryder has an incorrect latch-on, it's been a good experience. Maybe I should blog about what I do like about breastfeeding?

Anyway, the decision to breastfeed or not lies with each mother. For me, I'm committed to breastfeeding as long as I'm able but not so long that Ryder's able to pull up a chair and ask for me to take my shirt off. :-)

angelnina said...

I breast fed my son for two months and then went to the bottle. He slept through the night from that day on--no lie. With the extra sleep, I became a happier mommy. I think i was too young to understand how to do it, and nobody explained anything, so I was winging it. My doctor said my milk wasn't coming in right, then I got an infection, yadda yadda.
WARNING: I think mothers who don't breast feed for the first year will end up with grown sons who get huge tattoos on their chests. :)

Kay said...

I have got to see a picture of Sean's huge tattoo!!