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To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed…

Long before I was a mother, I made up my mind that I was not going to breastfeed.  I had been formula-fed as an infant in the 70’s (long before breastfeeding was “en vogue”) and using formula just sounded so much more practical!

Then, I became pregnant. As I began to more seriously consider feeding options, I felt that I might want to just give breastfeeding a chance.  Several friends had successfully breastfed their children and, although I wasn’t familiar with the logistics of it, I thought that it was probably worth attempting.  I also read something that really stuck with me:  other than the act of childbirth itself, breastfeeding is one of the most green, natural acts that a human being could possibly participate in.

Of course!  How could I not have thought about that before?  Not only does formula present issues with packaging (in terms of both chemical leeching and producing waste), but it also might pose medical risks to the infant’s immature intestinal tract and increase the baby’s lifelong risks for health issues ranging from obesity to cancer.  Not to mention the cost!  Estimates that I saw ranged from about $1500 to $5000 per year depending on the type of formula required.

My mind was made up.  I would at least attempt to breastfeed.

The first days after my son’s birth stretched into weeks and he slowly gained weight as we painstakingly learned the process of breastfeeding together, one feeding at a time.  As most new mothers know, I felt that all I did was feed him.  Each session lasted about 45 minutes (including the several that fell in the middle of the night) and, by the time we finished one cycle of feeding, changing, and a nap, it was time to start all over again.

I believe that it was around 3 months of age when I suddenly realized that neither one of us seemed to have to think much about what we were doing anymore.  We finally had it down pat.

This was my experience and I know it’s not the same for everyone.  Some women do have medical issues that prevent them from producing enough milk, although I have also read that many women who think they may not be producing an adequate amount actually are.

I will not use this post to enumerate the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child as those are widely publicized and probably very familiar to you already.  What I will say is that breastfeeding is definitely not for the faint of heart.  Above all else, it requires a commitment to work through the initial physical pain and the worry that your baby is not “getting enough” or that you are losing your supply.  I still need to plan out when I need to pump to maintain my supply (when I will be away from my son) as well as the logistics of freezing, refrigerating, and thawing appropriate amounts of milk for daycare.

Just recently, we passed the 10 month mark and are still going strong.  Personally, I will plan on continuing several feedings a day of breastmilk until my son turns a year old and, despite any preconceived notions I once had about breastfeeding (like “I will definitely be done by 12 months!”), will likely continue one or two feedings a day for several months thereafter as long as he is interested.

What was the experience like for you?  Did you choose to breastfeed, or no, what were your reasons?

28 Responses to “To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed…”

  1. Star

    I did not breastfeed my oldest b/c I was young and nervous and I didn't have the support or knowledge I needed to succeed. I bf my 2nd child until she was 15 mos, I was determined with her that it was *going* to work! I am currently nursing our 4th baby and though it has trials, I stick in there and strive to give them the best I can give!

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  2. lisa

    My first stopped completely around 33 months. I currently have a 13 month old who still drinks more of my milk than she eats food. We won't be stopping anytime soon!

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  3. deanie

    I breastfed my first baby simply because i was told it was best for her. I promised her 6 weeks – good start. by then it was going well and i was going to be at home with her until she was 5 1/2 mths so i decided to keep it up a while longer. At 5 1/2 mths I returned to college and she startred in a creche. I said I'd give expressing a shot before giving up. I hated expressing and never seemed to have enough for her and spent the day uncomfortable and leaky…it was so much more time consuming. But the weekends and evenings were so easy that I kept it up until she hit a year. Then we started sending cows milk to the creche for her and I only expressed a little for comfort. Just over 13 mths she lost interest in nursing.
    When my next baby was born I decided to breastfeed him until he self weaned….expecting that to be around the same age. He's still going strong at 31 mths and his little brother joined him nearly a month ago now. I hope to allow them both to wean in their own time.

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  4. Katy

    I love to see moms who never considered breastfeeding change their mind and love it! Good for you! I breastfed both of my girls, and I will breastfeed any future children as well. It wasn't easy with my first, but it was old hat with my second. I am so glad that I stuck through the challenges those first 8 – 10 weeks presented, the following years were well worth it.

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  5. @pinkpoetlikeme

    i have been breastfeeding for 5.5 months! we had a tough start… an emcs, then he being seperate from me up in nicu, worrying about my lack of colustrum, colic, then reflux then realising via the dietician that his reflux was actually a dairy and soya intolerance! not to mention 2 bouts of mastitis but i'm glad we are still going coz he is thriving and as my first baby he has taught me so much now i know exactly where i went wrong and i'm hoping the second time around it'll be smoother!

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  6. Sensigirl

    Breastfed both from the start, still feeding daughter at 27 months. Fed son until 19 months, but stopped 4 months before daughter was born. Found it very easy from the start, and would say that for some people it isn't a question of working at it, at all. So when people say it's easy and natural, it is for some mothers and babies, they're not hiding the truth! Both babies brought the milk in incredibly quickly – less than 26 hours, and I suspect that helps.

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  7. busychasingbutterflies

    I had decided to breastfeed while pregnant, then my little girl arrived prematurely and I was told she need breastmilk, either mine or she would need donor milk. Expressing was the only thing I could do for her in those early days. When her feeding tube was finally removed at 4wks old we began the next part of our journey, trying to establish actual breastfeeding. Her tiny latch was so very painful but we got there in the end, she is still feeding at 26 months. Breastfeeding could have been just another struggle to deal with in those terrifying early days, instead I see it was an opportunity to bond and connect and to provide my baby with the extra support and health boost she needed. I'm eternally grateful to the NICU nurses who encouraged me and my partner who never suggested I formula feed.
    Sarah x

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  8. Susan Peterson

    Right after my positive pregnancy test in 1972 when I was a senior in college,(was already married) I told a faculty wife, whose first act was to present me with the La Leche League Manual and Niles Newton’s Family Book of Child Care, a very pro-breastfeeding book. I had never even thought about the subject before, and with these as my first influence, I naturally decided to nurse my baby. Even though I had a C section and didn’t even get to touch my baby for 12 hours, and even though I had never even seen a baby nurse in my life, as soon as he was brought to me I untied my gown even though it hurt to lift my arms, and put him to my breast. I did this because he was bumping his head against me and seemed hungry. I did it even though I had been told that “C section babies can’t eat for 24 hours.” He knew exactly what to do. The nurse scolded me, but I didn’t really care. I had no difficulties with nursing. I was home with him and with all my babies, so I never had to pump, which I think I might have found difficult. I wound up nursing all nine of my children. I even nursed my youngest grandchild sometimes when her mother had to leave her, as I was still nursing my youngest child.

    I think it helped me that I was a not very time or schedule or measurement oriented person. I also think it helped that I didn’t wear a bra for the five years before my first pregnancy, so my nipples were toughened by rubbing on clothes. Other than that I suppose it was just good luck, but nursing to me was the easiest thing in the world. I probably would have been a terrible bottle feeder, especially back in the days when you had to make up bottles and sterilize them in what was essentially a boiling water bath canner, as my mother had to do! Even with modern methods, I would have lost the bottles and nipples, not had clean ones when the baby was crying to eat, etc etc. For me, breast feeding was easy and practical, and bottle feeding would have been really difficult!
    Susan Peterson

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  9. ann

    Tho I never breast feed any of my children. It is better to do so. Cheaper and more healthy for the baby. No need to worry about cleaning bottle either. Tho I dont always agree with how
    long they say to keep breastfeeding your child ( at what age ) and there is lots more talk about breastfeeding now a days and if woman should do it in public. I feel that it is okay if done descretely – then most people dont even notice it

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  10. Heather E

    I nursed my oldest 4 children until they were no longer interested. My 5th was a preemie, and developed her sucking reflex during a short period of time when I was unable to visit her due to pinkeye. The nurses really had no choice but to start her on a bottle, and we never were able to get her to latch on to the breast. It broke my heart to lose that close contact with the child I knew would be my last. I did pump exclusively for her until she was a year old.

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  11. miriama59

    I didn't breastfeed my firstborn. Just didn't want to, no one mentioned it really and I think that was okay. With my second child I DID breastfeed and loved it. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had.

    I do have a problem with some extremist breastfeeding advocates. My oldest could not breastfeed with her first child. It hurt. Her nipples bled. She cried. She was miserable and still she hung on. Why? Because of the IMMENSE pressure on her. I was appalled. When she posted she was thinking of quitting she was told over and over how WRONG bottle feeding was. Really? And WIC kept telling her not to stop. Her mother-in-law and other relatives pressured her as well. She went to websites for advice and people posted to her that she would be wrong to stop.

    Finally she went to the bottle and life was good. Seriously if you are miserable while breastfeeding and you have tried over and over then it should still be your right to bottlefeed without guilt or recrimination.

    Thanks. LOL I have wanted to get that off my chest for too long I guess.

    Reply
    • Life360

      Hehe, glad you could get it off your chest.

      No one thing works for everyone that is certain! I'm glad your daughter found what worked for her eventually!

      Reply
  12. T. Lawson

    I breast fed both my boys as I felt that it was the healthiest option for them. With my first I did it for 9 months. My second did not take to it to well. After many tears and help from professionals, I decided it just wasn't working (after 1 month) and I stopped breast feeding but went to pumping instead and bottle feeding him breast milk. I did this for about 3 months then changed over to formula as the pumping was very inconvenient and I felt that he had gotten a good start.

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  13. MichelleS

    With my first child I tried my hardest to overcome my "unease" with BF-ing, and it last the first four months, however then my husband deployed and my stress level went through the roof being alone with a new baby. We all know it's the healthiest option for a baby, and even though there may be unease, if you don't want to BF AT LEAST try and use a pump. I understand people have varying schedules and obstacles that "get in the way" (be it physical, psychological, or emotional), but I hope people don't take to heart or are discouraged by go-go-super-BF'rs who insist upon pamphlet-pushing. Instead, I would like to see more "understanding" for people who don't BF, and understand someone's personal choice-just like BF'rs want people to understand their pro-BF'ing stance. If I could have pumped or BF longer I WOULD have, but stressed consumed my life which

    I know "breast is best" and that is what I would want to give my daughter, however, I am not able/was not able to produce enough.

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  14. Janette

    As an infant; I was denied breast milk and it was problematic for my health since I was allergic to almost all milk formulas on the market during that era. My mother chose not to breastfeed me because she found the sensation of breastfeeding very uncomfortable.

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  15. Jennifer

    I am so happy with my decision to breastfeed our children. I was breastfed in the late 60s when everyone else around told my mom that only "poor people did it". Dh was allergic to milk, so didn't know about it, but supported me. It allowed me to bond with them as well as follow an easier schedule. My children are rarely sick and I firmly believe it was from the exposure of the antibodies in breastmilk.

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  16. Tesa Shelton

    Breastfeeding is the best start for babies, it is scientifically proven, so why not give them the best start you can. I'm a firm believer that breastfeeding is the reason for us having "the girls" and they should be used as such.

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  17. Dana M

    I'm very pro breastfeeding. I breastfed both my son and daughter. It was difficult at times, and I did have to supplement with formula, but I'm glad I was able to give them breast milk. I also felt a great bond with both of my children while breast feeding. It was such a special time!

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  18. D Schmidt

    I think the idea of breastfeeding is fantastic and certainly something every woman should consider but in my case it was not something I wanted to undertake. I wonder what the benefits truly are when you take into account the mothers diet? I have had friends who eat nothing but junk whilst doing it so I really do wonder about the nutrition aspect

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  19. mal k.

    to be honest, when i had a baby years ago, i wanted to breastfeed, because i thought it would be better for the baby. my doctor said it was just as healthy not to and i would lose the shape of my breasts…so i did not. now i hear it is better for the baby. i do not know.. it is like drink decaffineted coffee one day, and i read that "real" coffee is actually good for you in moderation. the experts's opinons change every other day, so how can we the "non-experts" made a good decision?

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  20. Erica C.

    I've always thought I would like to try it, and after reading a lot of things, I really hope that I can when it comes time.

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  21. Molly Bussler

    I am still undecided to breastfeed or not? I will know when the time comes, but I also think that it is solely up to the mother, what she is comfortable with.

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  22. Susan Smith

    I breastfed my children untill they were one. It was a great experience for us, not only did they get better nutrition, it was great bonding and saved money too.

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  23. Candice N

    I breastfed both of my sons for 14months each – feeding on demand exclusively for the first 6, then slowly adding solids but still nursing on demand. It was an amazing bonding experience, it was SOOOO easy once I got past the first 6 weeks of adjustment, and of course it was free. It was great to know that no matter where we went, I had all my baby needed right in my own body. It's an awesome feeling 🙂

    Reply

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