Everybody is worried about Beyoncé’s breasts. As if the world doesn’t have bigger problems... The superstar recently posted a picture on Instagram where she is sipping what appears to be a glass of wine, and people had a lot of strong feelings about that. Apparently breastfeeding is a hot topic.
To start with, why did everyone assume that Beyoncé was breastfeeding her twins? Breastfeeding is a personal decision and not necessarily desired by or possible for every woman. People condemn new moms who do not breastfeed with such an ease and passion that at some point bottle-feeding becomes almost a dirty word. Moreover, breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It is damn hard! So let’s think about that before judging and throwing a stone at non-breastfeeding mothers.
Now forget about Beyonce’s breasts. I would like to talk about mine. Three months ago my husband and I had our first child. A boy: Nikola. As a matter of fact, he is enjoying his second meal of the day as I write this article. Breastfeeding is a blast now, but it hasn’t been always like this. The first month was a real hell.
I was one of those women who desperately wanted to breastfeed. It all started very naturally only an hour after I gave birth. My baby had a strong sucking reflex and he was eating well until his jaundice worsened. He became very sleepy and stopped eating as well as before. The result was a grumpy, non-stop crying baby that on top of all that wasn’t gaining weight very well, decreasing breast milk supply and a draining 24/7 nursing ‘schedule’ for me. I was exhausted and so were my husband and my baby. What was once natural and pleasant became traumatic. I had a personal collapse, or the closest to a collapse that I could allow myself to have. I felt so guilty and ashamed for not being able to feed my baby exclusively with breast milk. I felt like a failure, like the worst mother on Earth. And no woman should feel like that; no woman should ever put such a huge pressure on herself. But I guess we all do; it’s in our delicate, devoted female nature. I was absolutely exhausted: physically and emotionally. I was caught off-guard by how difficult breastfeeding was, but I was determined to continue doing it.
So we had a change of plan. We were advised by Niko’s pediatrician and our breastfeeding consultant to continue nursing, but to start topping him up with a little bit of formula after each feeding until he overcomes the jaundice and becomes stronger. I had to nurse him 8 to 10 times a day and pump after each feeding. It was only my personal motivation and my family’s support that helped me go through this period in one piece. Things were gradually getting better and better. Niko became stronger, eating and gaining weight well, and at some point I even started enjoying the whole process. But I went through hell.
My experience made me think about the optimistic, yet not realistic way that breastfeeding is presented by healthcare professionals: like the easiest, most natural thing on Earth. Why is it that no one is giving us the bigger picture? I believe that it is important to be clear on how challenging breastfeeding can be, so that women who struggle with it don't immediately feel like I felt: as if there's something wrong with them, or as if they've failed.
We get the message loud and clear: breast is best. The real problem is not that women don’t want to breastfeed, but that they need more realistic information and bigger, and more professional support; someone to tell them that the struggle will eventually end and that it does get easier with every single day.
Interested in more pregnancy and motherhood-related articles. Why don't you have a look at HOW TO STAY IN GREAT SHAPE WHEN PREGNANT?
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