I’ve decided to write this article on The Real Truths about Breastfeeding from my personal experience of doing it for the last 22 months after realising that there are too many articles out there that are not based on the truth. After all, the truth sets you free. I believe learning these hard truths early on for any parent will prepare them better on the journey of breastfeeding. Glorifying and sugarcoating breastfeeding and omitting all the hard details only makes it harder to be accomplished, so here you go.
The 1st Truth
Breastfeeding is A PAINFUL HARD WORK. When I first read about breastfeeding, I knew it would be inconvenient, but I also thought it would be the most natural and easy thing to do, after all, the animals seem to do it so easily (the cats and dogs and everything else). They can nap away while 8 pups feed on them! Think of new born babies that eat all the time and occasionally bite. Most women are fearful about the pain of giving birth, but the truth is, breastfeeding is much more painful that that, at least for me, in the first two months, and occasionally now. Besides the pain, there’s the backache when feeding lying down, there’s the trouble of finding the right clothes to wear, going to convenient places, the hours spent pumping, the diet we have to adopt etc.
The 2nd Truth
Breastfeeding is NOT CHEAP. Most of the time when people found out that I had been breastfeeding, their first comment would be, wow, you save a lot on milk. That’s a half truth, coz even though I don’t have to buy formula milk, I still have to spend a lot in other areas, like supplements that increase supply. To date, I have bought so many bottles of Fenugreek pills, drank so many bottles Mama’s tea, that I’ve lost count how much they cost. A bottle of those pills would cost around RM60-100. Blessed are those women who don’t need them, but I do. Then there are the nursing clothes and nursing lingerie. The blouses normally cost more than a normal blouse, but they don’t look great. Most are many of cotton stretchy materials. I guess these are not essentials but they help a mighty lot, for women who go out a lot and need to be well covered when feeding in public. We also need to think about supplements for the kids as they grow older, as breastmilk doesn’t contain high amounts of iron. If they don’t take enough of that in food, they’d need some kind of supplement. When a breastfed kid reaches 1, he can start taking Full Cream Milk, the ease the mother cow’s job. Most breastfed kids I know shun formula, so we end up having to give UHT or pasteurised milk, and these are a lot pricier than normal powder milk.
The 3rd Truth
Breastfeeding doesn’t slim you down automatically! Sigh, I wish this is true, but I am still FAT. I breastfed for 22 months and I lost NO weight. That’s because I’m hungry all the time and I need to eat all the time. Blessed are those women who are naturally thin.
The 4th Truth
Breastfeeding doesn’t mean your child never gets sick. Sure, breastfeeding really really helped to make a healthier child, but the health of the child really depends on a lot of other things too. My son got sick a few times as well, and once it was really really bad. Breastfeeding parents have to prepared for any kind of sickness too.
The 5th Truth
Breastfeeding doesn’t make your child closer to you than if you don’t breastfeed, it is not an automatic thing. Bonding with the child requires much more than that few minutes together, much much more. I know for sure my son is much closer to my husband than me in his early days, I’m quite sure my husband did not breastfeed. That’s coz my husband spent lots of time playing with him, when I spent much time crying while feeding him, my husband spent much time showing him new things and teaching him new words, while I spent much time trying to get a shut eye whenever he doesn’t need to feed. So, yea, spending time communicating is what makes a happy close relationship with your little one.
Nevertheless, despite the above hard truths, I believe I would do it all over again with a second child, even though I still do not know how I’m going to do it, with the 1st one not weaned yet, as I’ve seen the benefits it did reap because of it. The short moments of togetherness, although frustrating at times, when my son becomes really demanding and never sleeps through the night and treats me like a vending machine and a pacifier, I guess it is still worthwhile. I am really ready for this special journey to end once he celebrates his 2nd birthday. Praying that it magically happens!