Breastfeeding is a pain in the, well, boob. Yes, as I said the other day, it IS glorious and magical and makes you feel as if you’re floating on a rainbow cloud surrounded by glitter unicorns and chocolate waterfalls. But also it’s a pain in the boob. In a literal way actually, since your breasts experience quite
some a lot of pain at some point of your breastfeeding journey. And yet, we carry on, pushing through the pain and discomfort; ignoring silent side eyes given in shopping malls and the need to sleep as we power through 3am pumping sessions. We carry on because the pain in the boob act of breastfeeding is, quite honestly, one of the biggest miracles of being a mom!
It wasn’t all sparkly for me when I started my breastfeeding journey though. Mainly because it hurts, guys. Well, in the beginning, anyways. And not a “oh I have a headache in my boob” kind of pain. Nope, during the first few latches, the pain is a toe-curling, deep down in your soul, kind of pain. And then, when you’re over the worst and you’re finally comfortable with having a baby physically attached to your breast, you have to face your next hurdle: breastfeeding in public. This was the most mentally challenging part for me, yo. I cringed every time I had to whip my boob out in front of other people (even though “in front of” actually means “discreetly hidden behind a super stylish breastfeed cover”).
Pumping milk was another challenge. Man, when I see cows being milked, a piece of my heart goes out to them because my pain is their pain. Maybe it’s the act of knowing that you’re doing something that should be happening naturally. Or maybe it’s the staring into oblivion as you listen to the rhythmic buzz of your breast pump. Maybe it’s the feeling of having something pull at your nipple or the packing and unpacking of all the equipment and meticulous way you need to store and look after your expressed milk. All I know is: Moms who pump regularly should receive a medal of honor!
Fortunately the Medela Harmony hand pump and the Medela electric have been total lifesavers. I actually used my Harmony while on a flight to Cape Town. Yep, right there, in my seat, under my MyMum breastfeed cover, pumping away as the air hostess (who happened to be male) asked me whether I wanted milk in my tea. (Oh the irony) Someone needs to hand me my Noddy Badge immediately.
But I think one of the biggest concerns for any breastfeeding mom has to be the worry that they might not pump enough milk for the following days feeds. There are ways to increase and influence your milk supply. You can complement your diet with Similac Mom formula which is said to be packed with protein, vitamin D, folic acid, iron and calcium. (Win some over here on Ella’s blog.) What you eat is extremely important and if you’re on a strict diet, good luck Chuck, because you’re starving half the time anyways!
So yes breastfeeding is a pain in the boob. It is more than just a nipple in a child’s mouth. It’s a commitment, a tolerance and a sacrifice… but the very best kind!
Weird how we even fight for the right to do this one thing that is so physically demanding and mentally draining. That’s because the pain in the boob act of breastfeeding does not compare to its rewards. It’s totally worth it. And no matter what your breastfeeding challenge is, you will always feel like a rock star when your kid’s pediatrician weigh’s him and says “oh wow, that’s a healthy weight”. The painful nips and 3am pump session a forgotten memory as you hide a smile and quietly tell yourself “yeah, that’s all ME, boo”.
(Clip note, I never actually use the term “boo” in real life, but that last sentence felt like it needed some gangsta.)
Disclaimer: I do believe that “FED is best” and I salute all those moms who have powered through formula feeds because that in itself holds a lot of challenges and rewards, so big ups to you. But this week is in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week Aug 1 – 7, so mention must be given to those who breastfeed.