Disclaimer: I am not saying that formula and bottles isn't the way to go, but for me I'm really glad I chose to breastfeed and this is why
Disclaimer 2: I never thought the day would come that I would decide to blog about nursing. I am aware that this is now officially a mom blog.
Sleep, bottles, boobs, and swaddles: welcome to life with a new baby. Everything you do revolves around when they eat and when they sleep. Those are practically the only two things they do, with the occasional pooping in between. When I was pregnant I knew how I was going to handle the sleep part, but I had no idea how on earth I was going to feed this little guy! The thought of breastfeeding overwhelmed me, but the thought of working and pumping was almost too much. That's why I was leaning towards formula, but I really had no idea what was going to happen. Because I didn't know what I wanted, I didn't prepare for either. It was one of the few areas I decided to just wing it.
For some reason I felt like formula would be much less stressful, but that's only because I didn't know anything about breastfeeding. In hindsight, nursing is 1000 times easier and definitely the right decision for me. I wish I had found some more information about the differences between the two, besides just that breastfeeding is better for your baby. Having a healthy baby was definitely a priority to me, but so was keeping my boobs from falling off. Not that that has anything to do with nursing, but it seemed like a logical result at the time. If you don't have kids yet or haven't breastfeed and worked, then the following may be helpful to you. It sure would have been to me when I was pregnant!
Breastfeeding Pros and Cons
- Healthier for baby
- Healthier for you
- Your baby is less likely to get sick
- It's very convenient, especially if you're the outdoorsy type. It's pretty tricky to heat up a bottle when you're in the mountains and an hour away from the car, but it's quite easy to just sit on a rock and nurse!
- You do not have to wash bottles. I wash three bottles a week from the day that my Mom comes to my house to watch him while I'm at work. They are a pain. Three is enough for me.
- You can leave the house and not have to worry about packing anything to feed your baby.
- It's cheaper. Much, much cheaper! I almost fainted when I saw how expensive formula cans were at Sam's Club.
- I've heard formula spit up stains and stinks. Breast milk does neither.
- You can eat all the food in the world and still lose weight. It's like you have super mega powerful metabolism. It's much more enjoyable than when you're pregnant and eating whatever you want because you don't have morning sickness to deal with.
- For some this may be a con, but if you're at work it's kind of nice to be forced to take three breaks a day to sit in a quite room by yourself for ten minutes.
- Most insurance companies will cover the cost of a pump. Mine covered 100% of the fanciest pump I could find. I knew that pump and I would be spending a lot of quality time together during the work week and I wasn't about to get something chincy.
- It's creepy. But really it's not. This was a con at the time that I was pregnant, but now I realize it's not creepy at all. And this is coming from the least touchy, most easily creeped out person you know. It used to really weird me out when people would say how it was so special and helped them bond with their baby..... um, gross? But it really is. So you can actually add this to the "Pros" list.
- Pumps definitely are creepy though.
- At gatherings with friends or family you will sometimes find yourself sitting in a room feeding your baby while everyone else eating chips and salsa and laughing their heads off at Uncle Bob's funny story. If your baby is used to taking a bottle, you can always just grab some milk from your freezer stash and you don't have to miss out on a thing. Keep in mind you will have to pump later to replace what you took from the freezer and also to prevent feeling like you're about to explode in a few hours down the road.
- Other people can't feed your baby. But again, if you chose to do the occasional bottle this isn't an issue.
- Even if you do pump and use bottles, you will be the one getting up at night. The effort and time it takes to warm up a bottle and wake your husband from his deep, peaceful slumber, is not worth the effort it takes to nurse for 5 minutes and crawl back into bead.
- It's harder to leave your baby weather it's for work or for fun. Pumping helps and is necessary if you're working, but whatever you are doing, you will have to stop every three hours to pump.
- Nursing hurts. This was one of my biggest fears. The first few weeks can be a little painful, but with some good lanolin it won't be too long before it doesn't hurt. And the pain from nursing seems like a piece of cake compared to recovering from child birth, so it really isn't that bad.
- You will have to buy some nursing bras, but I promise the cost of a few bras is nothing compared to formula.
After Beckett was born, the nurses tried to help me when it was time to feed him. It wasn't horrible, but I could tell we weren't really doing it right. The first time they brought him to me in the middle of the night, and no nurses were around to help, he latched right away. I was so excited I woke Mark up to tell him. I could tell from his snores and drowsy voice that he was thrilled. That was when I decided that nursing was what I wanted to do. I was still overwhelmed at the thought of continuing once I went back to work. I put the subject off for several weeks. In fact, my pump sat in my cupboard for several days before I had the courage to open it. I was stressed and overwhelmed by all the do's and don't with breast milk, how I was going to store it, if I would make enough, and how to transport it. Here are a few tips I have figured out the past few months.
Tips For Breastfeeding and Being a Working Mom
- If you work a full day, pump at least three times. If you don't have anywhere to go or don't think you have the time, there are laws that protect you. I don't know exactly what they are because my work has been very good about it, but I know they are required to provide you with a private space and the time you need to pump every day.
- I store my milk in disposable freezer bags instead of bottles or jars. Make sure you lay them on their side and they stack up really well.
- I keep my milk in a cooler with ice packs in it, and I keep that in the freezer. Then the milk will be just fine when it's being transported.
- Put the milk in the freezer, and always use the oldest bags of milk first. That way the milk is always being rotated.
- You can judge, but I don't sanitize my pump pieces and bottles every day. I rinse them out with hot soapy water in between each time they are used, then I take them home on the weekend to sanitize. If you are more of a germaphobe, Medela makes bags you can microwave the parts in that will sanitize them.
- Build up a little bit of a freezer stash before returning to work. I didn't start pumping until Beckett was 5 weeks old. I wish I would have started early, because by then my supply had adjusted and it was hard to pump more than what he was eating.
There are many resources on the rules for storing and warming up breast milk. Here are two websites I found super helpful:
For some people nursing is a battle, and if that is the case then I say don't force it! If it's a horrible experience for whatever reason, your baby isn't go to be unhealthy if you choose to do formula. I'm happy I gave nursing a shot and that it hasn't been too much of a struggle for us. I plan to do it for a year, and Beckett will be 6 months next week. I'm half way there!