Thursday, 30 June 2011

10 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding

Here's a piece I wrote in October 2010 when my nursling was just 3 months old. I thought I would include it in the blog to demonstrate how mothers' attitude and experience of breastfeeding can change as the breastfeeding relationship progresses. Compare this piece with some of my contemporary works and you'll see what I mean.

10 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding:

It's supposed to be nurturing and an amazing bonding experience. But I despise breastfeeding. I'm one of those malcontent mothers who breastfeed out of duty alone. When I read about mothers who enjoy breastfeeding and who feel sad when their child self-weans I feel like sectioning them.

10 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding:

1. THE PAIN. They say "if it hurts you're doing it wrong". That's one of the many breastfeeding bluffs you'll hear at antenatal classes (don't want to scare off all the new expectant mothers do we?) Well it hurts me and I've had my latch checked by a thousand professionals. Also I've had thrush. Also I have a very strong let-down reflex. Considering the let-down reflex is normal, and indeed essential, then it's safe to say that breastfeeding hurts and I'm doing it RIGHT.

2. YOUR BODY IS OWNED BY OTHERS. All through your pregnancy you console yourself by saying "I can't wait to give birth, then I can have my body back to myself". WRONG. As a breastfeeding mother, your baby continues to have dibs on your body.

Aside from imprisoning themselves in their home for 2 years, breastfeeding mothers have to face the humiliation of breastfeeding in public. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can get a view of your baps. Some may even decide to comment as you sit there and flop an udder out. So not only does your body belong to your baby, it also belongs to the general public too. You may as well sign on the dotted line because ownership ain't yours anymore.

4. LIMITED WARDROBE. Because someone else owns your body, that means that you have to dress to their tastes. Chest access is key. Say goodbye to that inseason lacy bodysuit you've had your eye on. Say goodbye to most dresses actually. Say hello to Primark vest tops and masculine shirts. Joy.

5. FORMULA CULTURE. Most people give up breastfeeding after a few weeks. Thus we live in a formula culture. Bottles are everywhere. On Congratulations cards, in soaps, in children's books, on babygros. The result is that most people (your close family included) think that by breasstfeeding you have changed into a strange earth-mother type, and maybe even slightly pervy. And of course you're the only BFing mother at your babygroup.

6. MRS MARTYR. As a breastfeeding mother you are soley responsible for your baby's continued existence on the plannet. Only you can feed baby. (It's understandable why a lot of new dad's support breastfeeding these days!) Welcome to the world of lonely midnight feeds. Welcome to your partner going for drinks down the pub whilst you stay at home, udders at the ready. But what about expressing I hear you say? For most women the breastpump extracts 3oz. As baby grows she'll want more than that. You make an appointment with your doc but she won't prescribe anything to increase your supply. Time to pop to Holland and Barrett to get some Fenugreek herbs. As a result you end up smelling of curry. Your FFing friends at the babygroup avoid your side of the mat.

7. SO-CALLED "PROFESSIONALS". Health visitors, midwives, GPs, breastfeeding counsellors - they don't know shit about breastfeeding. But they will love to mindfuck you with conflicting info. "Your breasts have dried up because the pump isn't getting much out". "Just top up with formula, it's fine". "Don't bother breastfeeding past 6 months". Because this is your first time breastfeeding you don't know any better. You trust these professionals. As time passes you notice that a lot of what they have instructed you to do has actually sabotaged your BFing efforts. You swear that you'll learn from these mistakes for your next child. But what about your poor first child - the breastfeeding guinea pig.

8. GROWTH SPURTS. Every month or so you're going to hit one of these bad boys. You'll be constantly feeing every 1-2 hours. No sooner have you clipped your bra cup back up then your baby demands its next meal. If you were on formula you would simply increase the volume of feed and hand it over to dad/grandma/sister in law/the dog. Also because baby is feeding so frequently you worry that your milk is not enough, and you can't see exactily how much milk your baby is getting. Are you STARVING your baby? Dark throughts creep into the back of your mind. The old lady in the post office gives you evils as your baby screams the place down. "Baby needs her bottle" the old lady comments, tutting and shaking her head. You begin to wonder if she's right.

Really looking forward to several double vodkas after giving birth weren't you? After 9 months of t-totalism, a big blow out was just what you needed. Well tough titties. And that medication for your acne? Say goodbye to it and hello to a face that resembles those Cath Kidston pokerdotted handbags.

10. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE. A large part of motherhood is about making the right choices for your family. Stay at home - go to work, co-sleeping or seperate rooms, dummy or no dummy. And breastfeeding or formula feeding is one of those choices right? WRONG. you have no choice. From the moment of conception we are bombarded with "breast is best". The scientists and the government have made your choice for you. Afterall, you want to do what's best for your child, right? (How can you answer no to that question and not live with guilt).


lauraleighton said...

I'm really surprised there are no comments on this yet! Glad your "breastfeeding relationship" has changed. I had a tough time in that "4th trimester", too. Thank God it gets easier. After a while, it's totally second nature. And then you become us, those bf'ing mothers who are defensive of nip, etc. I also wrote a blog about it. Lol @ "If you were on formula you would simply increase the volume of feed and hand it over to...the dog."

lauraleighton said...

Here's my blog post about breastfeeding in the early days:

hopelesspirate said...

Wow. This is everything I've thought and dare not speak aloud. Unfortunately, my new little man is a "booby kinda guy" (as most are), and I am now burdened with glorious purpose.
And by glorious purpose I mean guilt-ridden responsibility. Between the medical community, my husbands financial practicalities, and my chubby little 9 lb dicktater (spelled as intended), I didn't have a tit to stand on. Eventually I would give up on my laughable dreams of independence and kneel before the "best-feeding" community.
Of course, at the end of the day, when the little pork belly has had his fill, nothing beats that sweet, toothless, half-asleep smile of pure contentment. Or gas. I like to pretend its contentment. At that point, its all worth it. :)

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...

The clothing thing is driving me nuts, frankly. I've got a cache of go-to shirts but so many wonderful shirts in storage!

Unknown said...

I love this, that's exactly how I felt. I hated it, but still did it for 2 years and I'm proud of myself. Now second time...I love it :) I am a walking clishe, but let down in the first few months was so painful that I was squeling from pain and I felt like I was electricuted

Eorann Lyons said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm at week 4 and I am boggled every time I'm told ''if you're in pain, your not doing it right...'' because it is excruciating at worst and grossly uncomfortable at best even when latched on correctly. But I guess the recent thrush doesn't help. (omg owww) And I've got the pleasure of having a very strong letdown reflux too. And I feel incredibly isolated and lonely and even jealous of my partner throughout the painful, exhausted nightly feedings. But it gets better? I am guilt-ridden like all mothers surely are when they don't love the horrible aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood. But to read about others going through the same thing helps at least a bit.

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