This is the point where I insert a big "but". I love breastfeeding but there are obviously also things I do not like as much
- the fact that breastfed babies usually sleep through the night later
- when babies are fussy and refuse to nurse in certain positions which makes nursing in public very challenging (thankfully AY seems to finally have outgrown this annoying habit
-having to be careful about eating or drinking certain foods which may not be great for baby .ie caffeine, cabbage, broccoli, alcohol, etc.
- the fact that breastfeeding is all me all the time. On the one hand it is nice to be so "needed", on the other hand it is also very draining and sometimes I just want a break.
-Pumping- This has become more of an issue, now that I am out of the house about four hours a day four times a week. During the spring semester, I was only out of the house two hours twice a week. I had to pump milk but not that much and not so often.
Now I am pumping about twice a day and am really not enjoying it. I only have a hand pump which is a lot more labor intensive. I also have a hard time getting a let-down on a pump so I am always nervous that I do not have enough milk.
AY has recently started solids, so the pressure is a bit less, because he usually eats a yogurt while I am out but I still need to pump and do not look forward to my pumping sessions. I am happy that I only have a bit over a week left to this course, but I really do have new found respect for full-time working moms who make the commitment to pump for their babies.
What I have decided though, and it took me to till the fourth child to realize this, is that while breastfeeding is certainly the ideal, if I had to supplement with formula, it would not be the end of the world. Case in point- three months ago I attended a good friends wedding. I knew I would be away for a large part of the day and really tried to build up a milk stash, but was going through a low supply phase and knew I did not have enough. Rather than spend hours worrying about my hungry and crying baby, I bought some formula so the sitter would have a back-up. He ended having about 6 oz. of formula and nothing happened :)
I have spoken to two other mothers recently who echoed the same sentiment. They are committed to breastfeeding but if for some reason, they cannot pump or are worried about amounts, they will happily supplement with formula. This may sound like common sense, but many breastfeeding "purists" would look down on such scenarios and say I was not "committed" enough.
I want to clarify that I think that breastfeeding is not encouraged enough in the United States. There are many women who are under-informed and I would love to help advocate and educate for breastfeeding, either as a L&D or post partum nurse. I also think that just because something is hard sometimes, does not mean we should throw in the towel right away. Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging in the beginning and sometimes even months in. But it is a worthwhile investment in your child.
And yet...life is not perfect. In a perfect world, your child would never have a drop of formula, never be left to cry and always have all their needs met immediately. But life is not perfect and we do the best we can and if that means a bottle of formula now and then that is okay.
What are your thoughts on this issue?