Before I continue, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am a huge believer in #FedisBest. I do not believe fed is minimal. I believe breastfeeding is optimal in many cases, but there are plenty of other cases that do not fall under this. When I had B, I was really at peace with whatever feeding method was best for us. It turned out that breastfeeding was what worked well for us but it didn’t come without its trials and bumps. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I will breastfeed another child (more on that in a different post).
I knew breastfeeding wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but I still was surprised about how differently it went than I was led to believe by many other very pro-breastfeeding advocates. I wish someone had told me what I know now, which is why I wanted to share this with all of you. These are my personal misconceptions based on my own experience, and it won’t be the same for everyone. Breastfeeding was highly successful for us, and yet I came across all of the following misconceptions during my 1 year nursing my son:
1. It would be painless with a correct latch
LOLOLOLOL. So many women, lactation consultants, and nurses told me that it shouldn’t hurt unless his latch was incorrect. But the fact of the matter is, your breasts are now being used in a way they never have before. Your nips are gonna take a beating! B’s latch was perfect. In fact, his weight gain was so incredible, the pediatrician called him a prodigy at a couple of days old because he had already surpassed his birth weight by two ounces. He was born at 7.11, we left the hospital at 7.8, and when we went for the first check up, he was at 7.13.
But guess what? My nipples were cracked, blistered, and bleeding. He would latch and it would feel like someone was taking scissors to them. The only thing that got me through that pain was the very vivid memory of my contractions and I knew nothing could touch that kind of pain.
2. I would have a “special bond” with my baby
Maybe this is the PPD talking, but breastfeeding never made me feel connected to my baby. While I was happy to supply the milk to my little guy and I loved the time we shared together, I never felt a special bond while doing it. We are just as connected now that he’s eating solids as we were when he was exclusively breastfeeding. Truly.
3. Using a nipple shield, pacifier, or bottle can cause “nipple confusion”
I’m going to be honest on this one. I do not believe in the idea of nipple confusion. A baby is born with a biological sucking instinct. They know the way their mom smells and what their mom’s milk smells and tastes like. They can distinctly tell the difference between a man-made product and their mother. I say this because I have watched so many women struggle to breastfeed and have been guilt-tripped into suffering through pain. They’ve been led to believe that their baby will refuse the breast because they will become confused by the difference in the nipple. Some babies do stop breastfeeding after being bottle-fed simply because the flow of a bottle is faster and easier access; aka less work.
But lemme tell you, B refused to drink formula. He knew the difference in the taste. He would take a bottle, but he much preferred the breast because hello, that’s all he ever knew when he was such a young little guy. If using a pacifier or nipple shield or bottle will help relieve you, USE IT and don’t feel guilty or buy into the idea that you are harming your breastfeeding journey. And fun fact: using a pacifier lowers the risk of SIDS.
4. It prevents PPD
True, breastfeeding generally lowers your chances for PPD but in my case, it actually made my PPD, PPR and PPA much worse. I thought I was “in the clear” because I was breastfeeding but all of the extra hormones in my body really screwed up my mental stability. Looking back, I see just how stressed and depressed I was while breastfeeding; I was constantly worried if he was getting enough milk (B was a super quick eater), I was stressed about having to feed him out in public, and I was feeding him around the clock for months (which contributed to my depression and rage due to the lack of sleep). I also felt like I couldn’t leave the house because he had to eat so frequently.
5. I would lose my baby weight
It’s “common knowledge” that many breastfeeding mothers lose weight quicker (and more weight at that) than formula feeding mothers. Except, that isn’t always the case! I lost weight initially, but held on to a lot of it until my supply dwindled due to my slowing of feedings (and then I dropped a couple more pounds) and then once I stopped, I dropped the rest of my baby weight (which was quite a lot). I felt so down on myself thanks to the plenty of women who breastfed and were at their pre-pregnancy weight almost immediately (and shouting it from the rooftops) while I still looked like an overstuffed muffin that couldn’t fit into my regular clothes for what seemed like eternity (which was really about 10 months).
6. I would only lose hair initially
Yeah, I lost a lot of hair after my supply initially adjusted and regulated at the 8-10 week mark (which is normal). But once I started the weaning process and slowed down feedings (I slowly dropped feedings starting at 9 months until he was 1 year), I started losing hair again. Once I completely stopped and weaned B, I lost A TON OF HAIR. I’m talkin’ bald spots for dayssss. It was terrible and totally came out of left field but I know now it was hormone-related. No one warned me about the fall out once you wean!
7. Expect Clogged Ducts and Mastitis only in the beginning
*sigh* I was one of those girls. I got mastitis multiple times, and too many clogged ducts to count (once every couple of weeks). My clogged ducts were awful, like a mini version of Mastitis. I would run a fever with it and they would be impossible to unclog. IMPOSSIBLE. And very painful as well. My supply was fine, and I was constantly feeding him (his weight was always great). I’m just someone that was prone to getting them and I didn’t find out until I was well into my breastfeeding journey that this can happen, even when you’re 10 months into breastfeeding.
8. I could pump if I needed to
My pump is currently sitting in a box in the garage, if that tells you anything.
Yeah, so, I found out AFTER my supply had regulated that my body doesn’t respond to a pump. I had pumped for relief when I first got my milk cause #holyengorgement and I was storing milk left and right. Imagine my surprise at 1am when I went to pump and couldn’t get but a few drops out. My baby was around 10 weeks old and I had a full on panic attack thinking that he had been starving at my hands. Thankfully, he had more than enough wet diapers, his weight continued to be amazing, and he seemed satisfied at the breast, but it was extremely difficult for me to trust that he was getting enough when I couldn’t physically see it. Also, it made traveling very difficult, as I couldn’t take some milk and pop it in a bottle. And i was even more surprised to learn this isn’t uncommon!
9. Don’t pump when your supply hasn’t regulated
I was told by so many people to never pump until after your supply regulates, or you could create a massive oversupply. It’s technically true, you could create an oversupply. But, at the same time, you also don’t want to be in significant pain from clogged ducts and mastitis, either. So, if you’re engorged and needing relief, pump. Don’t suffer! Breastfeeding is hard enough as it is, especially in the beginning. And if you need to pump to build up a freezer supply, do it. Different folks, different strokes. I liked having an oversupply, and desperately missed it when it was gone.
10. It’s hard in the beginning, then it’s smooth sailing
Yes, it was super hard in the beginning (most say for the first 6 weeks, for me it was only a week or two) and then it got easier for a few months. I thought I was a supermom, then God decided to humble me by sending some teeth down to my piraña child. He bit me, hard, and constantly. In fact, he tore off a little piece of my nipple. No matter what I did, he wouldn’t stop. I cried feeding him for a couple of months and tried switching him to formula but he wouldn’t take it. So I just survived until I could wean him.
I am very thankful that I was able to feed B with my body at that time. Our bodies are incredible, and it was great to see him thrive off of my milk. I know that while it was extremely challenging at times, it was also the right decision for us. Andddd I’m also very happy to admit that I’m not breastfeeding him anymore #truthtime
I would love to hear your challenges with feeding in the comments below! Let’s educate, spread awareness, and help other mamas in need.