I feel like a boob (and not just because I’m pretty sure that’s all Rowan sees when he looks at me). Breastfeeding is serious business, and I don’t think I fully realized how much of a toll it can take on a woman until I started doing it. People tout the beneficial aspects of it – how it’s the best thing you can do for your child, it can help with weight loss, breast-fed babies don’t have smelly poop, etc. But they rarely speak out on how physically and emotionally exhausting this endeavor could be.
My fear going into this was that he wouldn’t latch, and I’d be left trying to breastfeed for naught. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the issue. Rowan’s a good feeder and has been since day one, latching like a pro right away. Having a dream feeder probably gives me even less room to complain about breastfeeding; I can only imagine how much more frustrating and draining this process is when babies don’t take to it so readily.
What I didn’t anticipate was how painful it would be. I should’ve guessed that something sucking on a sensitive part of your body for multiple hours a day would result in some pain, but I didn’t appreciate how much until after the milk came in. Luckily it didn’t get so bad that there was cracking and bleeding (yeah, apparently that can happen!); however, it got to the point where I relied on prescriptive ointment to lessen the pain for a while.
And the leaking! You’d think there wouldn’t be milk left for the baby based on how many nursing pads I leaked through in the early weeks. At night I’d line my bra not only with the pads but with a burp cloth. (Having to constantly wear a bra is another downside of this business, as is the near-constant stickiness.) An ironic aspect of motherhood is that you’ve never needed a shower more, yet you have even less time to take one.
The part of breastfeeding that’s been the hardest on me though isn’t the physical downsides. It’s the feeling that you only exist to feed this tiny, helpless human. There were a couple weeks at the beginning where I really only held my son for the purposes of breastfeeding. I’d use the in-between periods for catching up on my own nourishment and sleep before my new boss beckoned for his next meal.
I know I’m doing the best I can for Rowan by sacrificing my boobs and sanity for the time being. It’s obviously paying off based on his growth and contentment. But if I’m being honest with myself (and you, dear readers!), I’m really looking forward to the weaning process.