Half a year ago today, my adorable melonhead of a son was born, and my foray into the harrowing world of breastfeeding began.
I know you’re thinking, “But Becca, your breasts are perfect. Why would you want them absolutely ravaged?”, to which six months ago, I had no single, solitary answer.
I had four of them:
- My ego also needed sustenance. I felt like I needed to do this so I wasn’t an absolute failure of a woman.
- Breast milk is free.
- I wanted that mystical bonding experience I’d read so much about.
- I could finally fulfill my lifelong dream of making complete strangers feel uncomfortable by legally exposing myself in public.
In all seriousness, I knew it was going to be hard. I suspected I’d probably even shed a few tears.
Once again, that idiot had no idea what was coming.
The odds were stacked against us from the get-go. Due to my baby’s aforementioned melon-sized cranium and a litany of other nonsense reasons (okay, decels are a pretty good reason), it was decided 10 hours into my labour that Liam needed to be cut from my uterus versus being pushed on outta there.
Don’t get me wrong: my intact ladybits are grateful for this decision (let’s be honest, that nearly 9-pound fetus would have left them looking like some sort of battlefield), but what I didn’t know, was that cesarian birth super sucks when it comes to the odds of having a successful breastfeeding experience.
According to Anne Smith, an international board certified lactation consultant:
- Nursing as soon as possible after birth provides the stimulation needed to bring the milk in faster. Women who give birth via c-section can’t breastfeed right away, because, you know, druggy-drug, stitchy-stitch. My milk didn’t come in for FIVE DAYS. I wasn’t able to hold my baby until nearly an hour and a half after he was born, but at least I was really, really high.
- Cesarian babies are generally more lethargic and drowsy than babies born vaginally, due to the medley of drugs administered to the mother pre-surgery. Have you ever tried to get a stoned newborn to eat? Just let me sleep, ma.
- As a baby travels through the birth canal, compression and contractions help to squeeze mucous from the lungs; however, if a baby is born via cesarean, this process does not occur and mucous can remain in the baby’s lungs after birth, which can impede nursing. Gross.
- Surgery hurts. Imagine trying to manoeuvre a surprisingly large baby to your breast with a fresh, throbbing abdomen wound. Can’t do it, can you?
And that was just the beginning.
Next came the three-week-long battle with learning how to breastfeed at home, and a lengthy and terrifying dairy-and-soy-protein-allergy hospital ordeal. After these experiences, I hadn’t wanted to quit anything so badly since my mother forced me to enroll in Girl Guides.
And quite frankly, I still do to this day–six months later.Expectation versus reality is a wonderful thing, folks. Remember the four reasons I listed for wanting to breastfeed?
Let’s revisit them now, shall we:
The whole formula vs. breastmilk debate is obnoxious. Sometimes it isn’t a choice. Babies need to be fed somehow, and if you think a woman is a failure for giving her baby formula instead of breastmilk, I invite you huck yourself out of the nearest window.
- Free food
Yep. Breastmilk is free. Which is great, because it freed up all the extra cash I needed to buy my baby all those toys he never plays with. Money does not equal happiness, and I can’t imagine a scenario where that rings more true than this (I’m a prisoner, help me).
I’ve never rocked back and forth gently in my chair as I gazed lovingly down at my nursing infant. My experience has gone from frantically trying to keep him awake long enough so he eats a couple of ounces, to failing to control him from wriggling out of my lap–so no, I can’t say any bonding has ever happened in the nursing chair. We bond in a ton of other ways though, like over our mutual love of puking all over the floor, and kitties.
This one still stands.
If I quit breastfeeding tomorrow, he’ll still light up the first time he sees me in the morning. He’ll still reach out and touch my face as I lean in, and giggle whenever he hears my embarrassingly high-pitched squeal calling out to him.
My ego will also be fine. Someone once said to me that every ounce I’ve given him is a gift, and it’s stuck. We fought a damn hard battle on so many fronts, and won each time. I will forever be proud of that.
My wallet on the other hand–well, that’s a different story.
Good thing it’s only money.