Anyone else find the title of this book ironic? Personally, I found breastfeeding to be anything but simple. All throughout my pregnancy people would ask “are you going to breastfeed?” to which I would reply “I’m going to try”. (Side note: It’s crazy how being pregnant somehow gives everyone in your life permission to give you unsolicited advice and ask you oddly personal questions – right??).
I always assumed I would breastfeed – it seemed more convenient, cost-effective, and the research I’d read suggested many benefits – but I got the sense from other mothers that it wasn’t always as easy as it seemed. By the time my daughter arrived, it was already such an emotionally-loaded subject for me. I wanted to provide the best for her, but had no idea what I was doing.
In an effort to be well-prepared, I bought a few books and read a few chapters. But the truth is, until your baby arrives, it’s all theoretical.
The lactation consultant at the hospital didn’t come to see us until we were about to be discharged and how I wished she’d gotten there sooner! Armed with the demonstration she provided, as well as a couple informational videos played on a loop on the hospital TV, I felt ready to go home.
Once home, I was shocked to discover how time-consuming breastfeeding was. My daughter was not the most efficient nurser, so I found myself feeding her for twenty minutes per side every two hours – I was nursing for over 8 hours a day (which literally felt like all the time). I was exhausted. And so surprised by what a commitment it was. I’d NEVER heard anyone talk about how hard it was. But the more people I asked, the more candid stories I heard.
I kept thinking there was something wrong with her latch – I reached out to a neonatal nurse and a lactation counselor I knew – they both coached me through my many questions and cheered me on. I joined a private Facebook group with certified breastfeeding counselors and other moms, which was so helpful for my many questions. I turned to the site KellyMom for advice as well. And most of all, I texted my girlfriends. Thank goodness for my tribe. One of my friends literally taught me how to use my breastpump via text when I was too tired to even consider looking at the manual.
Going back to work brought a whole new set of challenges and while we kept up our breastfeeding relationship for 11 months, it was never simple. And it wasn’t without supplementing with formula. It always feels like a dig when someone clarifies that their baby was exclusively breastfed, like that deserves some kind of prize. But the truth is that all parents deserve a prize, for however they feed their babies, because no matter what path you choose, it is not easy.