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The 5 Worst Things About Breastfeeding

The 5 Worst Things About Breastfeeding

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The breast isn’t always best.

Everyone always talks about the benefits of breastfeeding and how great it is for the baby, but what they don’t talk about is how much it sucks for the mother.

Breastfeeding isn’t for the faint of heart. The cracked and bloody nipples are enough to make any new mother wave a white flag of surrender, but the fun begins again once the baby decides to test out his new teeth on your already tender nipples.

Although I breastfed both of my children until after their first birthday, it wasn’t always a pleasant experience, especially with my first child, who took over eight weeks to latch correctly.

While breastfeeding can be a rewarding experience (that’s what I tell myself, anyway), here’s a “let’s face reality” list that I wish someone would’ve shared with me before I decided to breastfeed.

  1. There’s no such thing as modesty. Give up all notions of modesty right now because there’s no such thing as privacy when you’re breastfeeding. I don’t think there’s a single family member, including my in-laws and the entire Kohl’s parking lot, who hasn’t seen my breasts. Don’t bother purchasing a fancy nursing cover because it won’t work. My daughter hated to be covered and flung off any type of cover that I tried to use, and my son would pretend that I was a buffet as he would unlatch to look around, leaving my breasts totally exposed, before he would decide to continue eating again.
  2. The conversations with older children are beyond awkward. My four-year-old son thinks that feeding a baby out of breasts is the most fascinating thing in the world. I didn’t want to leave him alone while I fed my daughter in another room, so he insisted on sitting right next to me and staring at the baby (and, therefore, my breast) when I was breastfeeding. He even tried breastfeeding a doll, to my husband’s chagrin. Also, trying to pump in front of children is always exciting. My daughter would immediately whine and point at the bottle while my son stared at the flanges and asked why my nipples were moving.
  3. Only horrible birth control options are available. The only birth control options available to a breastfeeding mother are IUDs and progestin-only pills. Neither sounded appealing to me, but since I hadn’t decided whether I wanted a third child (let the fun begin again), I opted to use the progestin-only pills. Since I could never remember to take my pills at the exact same time every day, I had a perpetual period. Also, the birth control pills did nothing to help my raging hormones; I felt like a teenager again with my acne and oily skin.
  4. You’ll be hungry all. the. time. Breastfeeding supposedly burns an extra 500 calories a day, but I found myself overcompensating (three dozen cookies, anyone?) and eating more than the recommended extra 500 calories. I was always hungry, especially after pumping. With my firstborn, I lost the pregnancy weight almost immediately, but for some reason (maybe the cookies), that didn’t happen with my second child. Even though I breastfed her for over 15 months, I still struggled to lose the weight.
  5. My sweet tooth went through withdrawals. My children have food allergies, so my diet was also restricted when breastfeeding. That delicious bowl of ice cream? Not an option when your baby is allergic to milk. Cookies and cakes? Nope, my kids are also allergic to eggs. Luckily, I was eventually able to find milk and egg substitutes, but I still needed to watch what I ate.

I ultimately decided that breastfeeding was the best option for my family because my kids’ severe allergies limited the formula options. Between my two kids, I breastfed for a total of 31 months (shocking, I know). Even so, breastfeeding wasn’t always a picnic, and I really wish someone had warned me about the excruciating pain initially. According to my lactation consultant, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, but tell that to my cracked and bleeding nipples.

Note: if you’re looking for some breastfeeding help, this list of breastfeeding resources helped me survive!

Getting started breastfeeding isn't always easy, but this list of breastfeeding resources will make your experience a lot better.

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Michelle

Friday 1st of April 2016

Your list is spot on! I am 6 months into bfing my second baby, first time sticking to bfing more than 2 days. The one about having your 4 year old around cracked me up! My oldest is also 4, and when I first brought baby 2 home, and was constantly nursing, my older looked at me very strangely and asked "mom...what are you doing to baby brother". I then told him that I was feeding baby mommy milk, and that some babies drink milk from a bottle and some drink mommy milk. He also still gets intrigued when I pump (rarely pump, only when I get a plugged duct) it's kind if uncomfortable because he just wants to stare, so I ask him to go play with his toys lol. I tell him I'm taking out mommy milk. And the funny thing too is that now he tells everyone nursing related stuff, like "mommy feeds brother mommy milk", and he explains how mommy takes out mommy milk WITH hand gestures of how the pump works. Oh yes and sometimes he likes to talk to his baby brother now while he is nursing and kiss his head or make him laugh&unlatch. But thank God for healthy boys, all awardness aside lol. Btw, how do you survive first teeth? I'm very afraid!

Alison Lange

Friday 1st of April 2016

Too funny! We called the milk "mommy milk," too!

Whatever you do, don't scream if your baby bites you! I made that mistake when my oldest first bit me. He thought that was hilarious so he kept doing it. :( I finally started to stop him and say, "No, we don't bite." Every time he would bite, I would stop nursing and then try again later. He eventually got the message.

For the most part, as long as they're latched correctly and nursing (not biting and laughing about it), their teeth don't hurt. It just hurts when they decide to try out their teeth! ;) Congrats on making it to 6 months. You've got this! And yes, thank God for healthy kids!

Liz

Wednesday 9th of September 2015

Congratulations Alison, you have given your kids a gift for life, and it's not by any means the easy option, but I do belive it is the best one - especially for kids with allergies. Unfortunatley we are not, as a culture, exposed enough to normalised breastfeeding to learn about it until we maybe have our own babies, then we are very much thrown in at the deep end. There are many great resources available - so glad I breastfed in the internet age - with answers available to even the most embarrasing questions I wouldn't have wanted to ask out loud!

Alison

Wednesday 9th of September 2015

Thank you! You're right, I've learned so much in online parenting and breastfeeding forums, but I wish our culture accepted it more. Breastfeeding's such a great thing to do, even if it isn't always the easiest option.

Leah Weldy

Tuesday 11th of August 2015

I love reading your posts ?. Just survived the first week of nursing for the 2nd time. Definitely took a lot of encouragement from my husband and family to stick with it when it hurt the most! So good to know us moms aren't alone!

Alison

Tuesday 11th of August 2015

Thanks, Leah! Congrats on hitting the one week mark! I had to keep bribing myself when I was first breastfeeding Mark. The beginning is definitely the hardest, but it's wonderful to have support. Did you find that it was easier the second time around?

Jenna

Wednesday 17th of June 2015

I would have to agree with you sis! You have to weigh the risks versus the benefits and on the days where you almost lose a nipple or heaven forbid your child goes on a "nurisng strike" where your whole boob almost explodes- it's hard to see the benefits. Then there are the days where everything just goes as planned- the latch is great ( your nipple is intact), their not popping off flashing your father (kill me) and you decide not to jump of the bridge that day. We pat ourselves on the back, get back in line for "Mother of the Year" award and wait until the next catastrophic event to happen that makes us rethink breastfeeding. Your not alone. Milk anyone?

Alison Lange

Tuesday 15th of March 2016

Very true! ;)