Before actually trying to breastfeed, I didn't understand how hard it is. I always thought that it was kind of a natural, peaceful and pain free process where the baby latched on. In the first week I soon learned that this was not true.
Things I did not know about breastfeeding
1. It hurts (at first). It feels like your nipple is being attacked by piranha's while being fixated in a vice. Not fun. For some people, the pain subsides after a couple of days. It took me five weeks, after which feeding is mostly pain free.
2. Then it hurts AGAIN. Feeding is now a matter of keeping a close eye on her: at the end of her feeding she starts to goof around, including nibbling with her razor sharp tiny teeth while smiling. Not fun.
3. No sleep for the wicked. Yes, when she wakes up in the middle of the night I can feed her right away. But I can't miss a feeding. The first months I couldn't miss a feeding because my breast would have exploded, and now I can't miss a feeding because we don't have enough milk stored in the fridge. This means that for the first three months, my day and night consisted of being awake for one hour and being asleep for max two hours. If I was lucky. Now she feeds every four hours and if we're lucky she skips or delays one feeding at night, allowing me to sleep for 4-5 hours.
4. My body isn't mine. With every passing week I feel more and more like myself as a separate entity instead of 'mom'. Which is great! As long as I breastfeed, my body will not be mine.
5. Pumping milk requires massive logistic skills
I have to think before going out of the door if I have the breast pump with me. I have to clean the bottles and breast shield every night and pack them up in the morning. I have to plan a week before going out on how many feedings we should have in the fridge. Arriving an hour early or later might make the difference between missing a feeding or not.
Despite all the negatives, I am a poster girl for breast feeding. Within eight days of giving birth, we worked out the latching problems and my milk production was up to speed. Eliza thrives in her growth and development. I have been pumping four days a week for the past two months and my production is still going strong. All things considered, I am contemplating continuing breastfeeding Eliza up until her first birthday*. After all the hurdles we took, seems like I might as well enjoy the benefits a bit longer.
*the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years but that feels like an eternity and a bit overkill for me