My two and half week old son feeds, on average, every couple hours. My wife exclusively breastfeeds and her sessions can last up to an hour. Does this sound familiar? It wouldn’t have to us, because all those wonderful all-natural websites and our classes failed to mention the cons of breastfeeding. Matter a fact, the glorious internet will label you a bad parent if you don’t pop that nipple in your baby’s mouth for the first year. The only leniency you’ll receive is if you pump into a bottle after the first month for those working moms. These quasi-fascist websites make you sound like a horrible mother from the 70’s. They list exactly how you should raise your child, as if every kid and parent are the same. Don’t even get me started on large websites with the word mom in the domain. These sites with their hoards of puke-tastic advice overflowing on their forums. So, Hitler, how do you plan to feed your newborn?
For the record, I left the decision up to my wife. It’s her body. We researched and discussed the pros and cons together, but ultimately it’s her choice. She has the mammary glands, after all. So, why did we choose to breastfeed? Our lifestyle allowed it, recent research shows it is far superior than formula and finally it is free. You can’t beat free. However, it comes with a huge cost and this is what they don’t tell you. Breastfeeding can make you go insane. I’m assuming you can produce milk and your little one can master the latch. What can you expect while your baby is sucking at your nipple? No sleep, infrequent feedings, sore nipples, sore back from sitting, loneliness, getting peed on while feeding, and did I mention the lack of sleep. We’re only 2 and half weeks in and that’s what we’ve learned so far. Of course, things have gotten way easier and we’ve adjusted quite a bit. This is just our story, every child is different. The radical “naturalists” don’t want to admit that. They want you to follow exactly what they say and be a “responsible” parent. These people, am I right? I’m not hating on these all natural folk either, I’m just saying that every family needs to make their own decision. This is not some black and white issue.
I didn’t write this post to tell you what to do. Matter a fact, my advice to you is to sit down with your partner and write up your own pros and cons. Are you planning to return to work? Do you have any health issues that would forbid you to breastfeed, such as medication? These are questions that only a doctor or other licensed professional should answer. Stay away from the trolls on the internet. Remember, it will not make you any less of a mother for not breastfeeding. Avoid these all-natural parents that push their propaganda. All natural means the male hunting food all day and eating it raw. It means that at my current age of 35 I would be dead and most likely a a great-grandfather. It means that there is a good chance a wolf will come in my cave tonight and eat my young.
If you are planning to breastfeed then you need to know about cluster feedings. Babies have growth spurts that can cause them to want to eat more frequently and these spurts can cause the insanity I was refering to above. Don’t freak out like we did. It is normal. The best advice anyone can give you is to seek out a lactation consultant before you leave the hospital. My wife has seen two so far and it has been a huge stress reliever for us. Our son will sometimes keep us up from 10:30pm to 1:30am with his feeding every hour. It’s frustrating, but more importantly exhausting. You learn to sleep when the baby sleeps. On a positive note, the picture above is a perfect example when our son becomes “milk drunk”. After nursing, your baby will hopefully fall into a comatose like state that makes for some awesome pictures.
The good news is that there is equipment ready to make you more comfortable while you are nursing. My wife is currently using the boppy pillow. You can purchase awesome custom covers, like the classic horror one we have, from Etsy. My Breast Friend is rather popular as well, but the wife hasn’t tried it yet. Mother Love Nipple Cream will save your nipples from feeling like razor blades are slowly slicing them off. A mobile device like a laptop that has Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Trust me, you’ll get mighty bored with nursing at 3am without some entertainment. For dads, I highly recommend a Nintendo 3DS. I try to help my wife at night with the tending our son. That means diaper changes, undressing and holding him while my wife adjusts the pillows in our bed. The RPG, Bravely Default, has helped me pass the time and is easy for me to play 20 minutes and put down in between naps. Your life becomes a series of naps after birth.
All in all, the most important thing to take away from this post is that you need to make your own decisions. Be wary of people giving advice or trying to put you on some kind of “path”. It’s 2014, you don’t have to breastfeed if you don’t want to. Feel free to adopt a more natural philosophy or tell those hippies to shove it. It’s your child and only you can make the right decision.
“Nerdy With Children co-founder Nick Veneris regularly writes about him and his wife’s experiences raising their newborn. You can read his first post at Poop, Pee And Puke Or How I Survived The First Week With My Newborn Son“