The Mommy Lyfe: Dangerous Lies About Breastfeeding
Before we have our babies, we're already indoctrinated to believe certain things about motherhood, about parenthood, about what we should feel, see, and look like as parents. Never is this more true than in the case of breastfeeding where we're saturated in mantras like It's really, really good for your baby! Breast is Best!, It's the ultimate bonding experience!
And there's truth to those statements, yes, but there's a lot of untruths floating around out there about breastfeeding too, like "Oh, yeah, if you don't do it, you don't love your baby" and "Your baby will become a sociopath at best, a full-blown serial killer at worst, if you don't breastfeed," and the most terrible lie of all, "It's sooooooo easy!"
These thoughts are dangerous, because if you go into the world of breastfeeding believing these things, you're going to drop out of the race real, real quick. What could eventually form into a sweet, natural ritual will end before it's even begun.
Thus, throw out the following dangerous lies about breastfeeding and give yourself a hug.
It Doesn't Hurt!
Big fat effing lie, it doesn't hurt. Who are these sadistic experts who apparently revel in pain? The first few weeks (for every mom, the length differs, but don't be surprised if the pain doesn't "soften" until around six weeks post-partum) hurt like a total B.
Some feedings aren't so bad, but others are pure misery. You might experience piercing pain in one or both of your nipples during the "letdown" (when your milk gets'a flowin'!) and you will most certainly experience cramping during breastfeeding, sore and irritated nipples that basically feel like they've been attacked by an army of fire ants, and a web of hideous stretch marks on your once perky breasts that will cause you to question the meaning of life. T
he good news is that after a period of time, these pains do, seriously, go away. By around the eight week mark, not only do most of these painful symptoms completely dissipate for most mommas, but breastfeeding actually will feel like a relief and yes, a precious bonding time with your baby.
If It Hurts, You're Doing it Wrong!
Again, big, fat, effing lie. Breastfeeding kills for many women for the first six-eight weeks. But their breasts must be doing something right because their babies not only don't starve, but actually manage to grow quite a bit! It's true that your baby may still be learning to nurse, but no matter what anyone tells you, this is just something your baby will learn on his or her own by default. In my own personal experience, nothing I did helped my child to nurse better, except for the moments when I seemed to calm down! That did seem to help her.
The worst part about this lie is that lactation consultants will back it, telling you that if breastfeeding hurts, you might have a bad latch, you're not helping your baby into position enough, etc. Though this may be the case at times, breastfeeding hurts because you're allowing a tiny human to wrap their jaws around the single most sensitive part of your female anatomy and trusting them to not fail at that endeavor.
Think about it...
It Just Comes Naturally! Duh!
Lol. OKAY! If you call wrestling your three-day old's lips onto your nipple through tears of anguish "coming naturally" then sure.
Here's the thing, babies don't come out of the womb knowing how to walk, laugh, or talk--all things that do eventually "come naturally" nor do they know how to nurse right away. It takes some coaxing, some patience, and a great deal of perseverance for both mother and child. You may find that while your baby latches the first few times after birth without much help, he or she will inevitably begin to question the whole institution of breastfeeding after they wake up from the exhaustion of birth.
You're Starving Your Baby.
One of the pediatricians at our practice told me this in so many words, about one week post-partum.
As you can imagine, I cried, and it wasn't because of the hormones, it's because I believed it. She told me that my baby wasn't gaining weight fast enough and it's because my milk supply was too low, causing my baby to basically shrivel up and it was all my fault and I was scum and probably going to hell when I die.
The thing is, I wasn't starving my baby, and her comments and "advice" didn't really help, they just freaked me out and caused me even more anxiety than I was already feeling. Babies lose weight in that first month after birth for various, usually harmless reasons.
And it's very, very rarely because momma isn't making enough milk.
Breastfeeding Will Help You Lose All of The Baby Weight!
Nope. You're going to lose some by default after your baby is born, at least 6-8 pounds (haha, get it?) Then you're going to lose the water weight. But those last 5-10 pounds that hang on even twelve weeks post-partum? That's the weight your body is retaining to fuel itself and make milk for as long as your little one is breastfeeding.
So, Here's the Truth About Breastfeeding
It's a very strange, and wonderful act (a force, really) that has been around since babies were invented, that does, in fact, get better with practice. But it's not easy. So don't stress out (ha. ha, riiiight) if your initial experience with breast feeding isn't all rainbows and sunshine. It's tough, and it's a great parallel to other aspects of motherhood in that it's scary at first but after the first hundred tries, you start to figure out a thing or two.