Thursday, May 26, 2011

What Nobody Told Me About Life After Baby: Part 1 of a Guest Blogger Series

The REAL Pros and Cons of Breast Feeding
A Guest Post by Renee Malove

If I had to point my finger at the one thing nobody bothered to tell me about having kids, it was that I would find myself caught in the middle of the ongoing war between the fanatics waving their bottles and the equally fanatic fanatics waving their…

Well. Anyway.

As a mom who’s both nursed and bottle-fed my kids, I’ve been on both sides of the debate. I wanted to nurse my oldest and couldn’t, decided to bottle-feed my middle child and could have nursed twins, and by the time I finally settled into a happy nursing schedule with my youngest I realized that there was absolutely nothing natural about the “natural” art of breast-feeding.

Somehow, they’ve all turned out just fine. Wish someone would have told me this before I went into labor. It would have been a lot healthier than the food-induced stress I went through those first couple of months with all three of them.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the real pros and cons you need to know before your baby’s first meal.

Why Breast Feeding ROCKS
Kids very, very rarely have allergies to breast milk. You don’t realize what a blessing this is until you’ve played the formula game with the kid that’s both milk and soy intolerant and wants nothing to do with hypoallergenic formula.

You naturally pass on your own antibodies to your baby. , I’m hardly ever sick, but if there was a week during my older kids’ first winters that I wasn’t in the pediatrician’s office, I don’t remember it. So when I made it through my November baby’s first winter with only a single case of strep and the occasional cold, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Breastfeeding works.

It’s cheap. Since you’ve got to eat anyway, there’s no additional cost associated with breastfeeding your baby. As opposed to formula, which…well. If you’ve seen the price tag on a can of formula lately, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s convenient…especially at 2 am. There’s no prep work involved with breast feeding, which is great when you’re on the road and downright orgasmic when you don’t have to actually get out of bed at 2 am.
Breast milk’s always sterile. I’m going to step aside from the snark and be serious for a minute. If you have a problem finding potable water, whether it’s filled with bacteria or iron from rusty pipes, breastfeeding is far and away the safest choice for your kids.

Why Breast Feeding DOESN’T Rock
Babies Know They Have to Eat. They Just Don’t Always Know How. The hardest wake-up call for most parents is the realization that a good number of kids don’t take to nursing like a duck to water. They tip their head wrong. They grab the nipple wrong. Their lips don’t make a seal, so your pants end up soaked, and they gargle their milk instead of drinking it.

SuperMom Tip: Nursing is a learning process. 
It’s not just you. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Sore nipples are a pain. When you’ve got a small mouth with a hard palate latched onto your breast 6-8 times a day (if not more), your nipples are going to be sore. Not “spent 10 minutes too long at the gym” sore. More like, “If I ever wear another shirt, it’ll be too soon.” Lansinoh helps, but they’re going to hurt until you get some calluses built up.

Leaky breasts lie in wait. The first thing you’re going to learn when you start going out into public after the baby’s born is that your breasts will leak. Sometimes right through your pad. And ALWAYS at the worst possible moment. It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling with baby or not, never leave the house without extra pads and at least two clean shirts.

Breast feeding is still taboo in some public places. Nobody thinks twice about a baby with a bottle, but a baby with a breast is a whole different story. Bearing a breast in public isn’t something everyone’s comfortable with, but if you’re going to nurse you’re going to want to buy a good cover and get used to getting funny looks every now and then.

If anyone complains, ask them if they’ll bring a tray full of dinner and sit on a toilet in a filthy bathroom right along with you. That’s usually all it takes to send them on their way.

Renee Malove is a book addict, a sci-fi fanatic, and the often frazzled mother of three. When she’s not driving the tap dance taxi or cracking the whip over homework time she can usually be found running, curled up with the latest from Patricia Briggs or finding new and inventive ways to bend her furry, four-legged roommates to her will. Oh, and she writes. A lot. You can find her on the web at and talking marketing, parenting, writing and fiction all over the Internet.
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  1. I've always wanted to breast feed when I get to the point of having kids but I know that it's not always possible - my friend has a 6ish week old girl who is being bottle fed whereas her older siblings were both breast feed - it's not the end of the world and it's fine to bottle feed instead.

  2. I have 3 kids, and had three different feeding experiences. My first wouldn't latch and had to be bottle fed. My middle latched on great, but ended up being lactose intolerant so I had to eliminate all dairy from my own diet for the next 9 months. My youngest was the easiest, so easy I nursed him until he was 14 months and he weaned himself. They are all very healthy children. Everyone will have a different experience. New mom's need to learn to trust themselves and make decisions that are right for them and their baby, and not get stressed about what society, books and magazines say.

  3. I really loved this post. So down to earth and real. There are many things people never told me before I had my son last December -- this would've been helpful!

  4. the hardest thing i have ever had to do was admit defeat one night and feed my claire formula. It was only one feed, I was so burnt out and my nips were BONE DRYand she was screaming for food...but once i saw her fed and happy i realized IT WAS THE BEST CHOICE. It took more courage for me to say i needed help. The biggest thing i have learned so far is that bottle or breast...all that matters is that Claire gains the weight she needs. and you know what...the very next feed, my milk came in