A Few Thoughts on Nursing

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I really wanted to breastfeed Finn–there are so many health benefits, it’s far less expensive and easier to tote around than formula, and it’s great for mom/baby bonding. There was really no question in my mind. I found it very interesting that when we went to the breastfeeding class at the hospital, they spent a lot of time selling breastfeeding to us based on its health benefits (smarter kids, better immunity, less colic, etc.). They also (rightfully) discussed the facts about getting started breastfeeding. It’s not like falling off a log, to put it mildly. It takes work, and patience, trial and error, ice packs, and lanolin until you finally get it right. I appreciate all the breastfeeding moms I know being very honest with me about that–it helped set my expectations.
And now that I’ve been at it for a couple of months, what I find the most interesting is what the classes and the other moms didn’t mention at all, and that is that breastfeeding is also a very emotionally intense and sometimes fraught experience. I had no idea how many different emotions would be wrapped around nursing my child! When he’s super fussy, yelling and pumping his fists in front of my breasts instead of just calmly nursing, it hurts my feelings and makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong (answer: nothing! he probably has to burp!). When he’s nursing every 90 minutes or 2 hours, you feel like an indentured servant to your child, because you’re the only one that can nourish him. And of course you want him to thrive and be happy and healthy, but sometimes the sheer monotony of sitting still while he nurses for 30 min to 45 min at a time can really drive you up the wall. (I had to impose a boycott of NPR for awhile since that’s what I listen to while I nurse. We switched to the jazz station!).
It’s definitely a yeoman’s job–you just have to stick with it, work through it, and try not to take things so personally when it’s not going so well. And in my case, thanks to Captain Reflux, you have to get used to wearing a lot of spit-up breastmilk that you wish he was able to keep down!

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