To breastfeed or not to breastfeed, that is the question many first time moms ask themselves. The health and finanical benefits of breastfeeding made it an easy answer for me. “Yeah, I’ll give it a try.” My first goal was to make it 1 week. For some reason I naively thought that if I could survive the first week, then the next months would be smooth sailing, easy-as-pie. Then I told myself that I’d evaluate the situation and decide whether or not to continue. My next goal was to breastfeed between 4-6 months. The ultimate goal was the big 6 month marker.
So, here I am nearly 6 months later . . . how did this mommy fare? Let me begin by sharing a piece of an article from the Lexington Herald:
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for about the first six months and support for breast-feeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child. But according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 11 percent of mothers meet the six-month mark. Thirty percent breast-feed exclusively for the first three months.”
Pretty shocking that only 11% of moms make it to the 6 month marker. No, maybe it’s just shocking that I’m part of that 11%! I’ll confess . . . breastfeeding is hard as hell!! Let me clue everyone in. During the first week of Xander’s life I had to feed him every 2 hours. For example, if I fed him at 7am (he’d eat for 30-40 minutes) then I’d have to feed him again at 9am. If you do the math, that meant I only got 1 hour and 20 minutes of time between sessions. That also meant he was nursing between 8 – 12 times a day! Unless he took a long nap, I was NOT getting very long stretches of sleep. That’s hard on a person, especially someone that has just pushed an 8lb baby out! And a person that has endured the aches and pains of a 10 month pregnancy (yes, pregnancy isn’t really 9 months, it’s 10)! Yes, breastfeeding got easier once my body readjusted. However, problems plagued me throughout the past 6 months. I got mastitis (try dealing with a newborn when you have a 102.5 temperature!), I dealt with Xander refusing the boob for days at a time, suffered through low supply, and worried about countless other things (is he eating enough? Is he hungry? Am I making enough milk? Why can’t I pump anything today?). Is wasn’t easy being Xander’s main source of food. That meant I was the only one who could feed him at 2am and again at 5am (thank GOD he started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks old). It also meant I couldn’t leave Xander for very long (making hair appointments or pedicure appointments wasn’t easy). And, alcohol consumption wasn’t in the cards either unless I pumped enough milk beforehand. On the positive side of the spectrum, breastfeeding helped me bond with Xander and helped me shed 35 pounds without dieting or exercising.
So, here we are nearing Xander’s 6 month birthday. I’ve officially begun the weaning process. It’s sad, but I think he’s ready. He doesn’t seem interested in nursing anymore but instead loves the bottle. We’re taking it slow and so far we’ve replaced one feeding with a bottle of formula. I’m writing this blog as a way to pat myself on the back for a breastfeeding-job-well-done and to let all future mommies know that breastfeeding ain’t easy but yet it’s so worth it. I loved every moment, hard times and all.