My mother-in-law, "C," told me that when her daughter "M" had her two babies, that she breast fed them for 3 months. "That was enough for her," C said. "She was very committed to it, but 3 months was when she just said, "Okay, moving to formula."
When I first heard this, I have to say, I felt a little bit of pride (or maybe it was self-righteousness?) well up inside of me. Three months!? HA! I'm doing a YEAR! Six months, at minimum. 3 months is NOTHING!
Um....can we make it to three months, already?!
It's not that I am wanting to quit nursing. It's just that I am...considering it. The most important reason is because after all this time, I'm still in pain. There are other reasons that I could add, and which I will add, when weighing the options of this decision. But the only reason I am even thinking about stopping is the pain.
Here's a pro/con list...
PROS: Continue Breastfeeding Because..
- It's best for Lorelei
- It's "easy" (no bottles to make or clean up)
- It's portable
- She gains immunity and will rarely get sick (I pass my antibodies on to her through the milk)
- Easily digestible for Lorelei; fewer stomach problems (potentially)
- Diapers are more "pleasant" (ha ha), less constipation
- Weight-loss booster for me
- Strong bonding sessions between us
- It doesn't cost a cent
- less spitting up/gassiness
CONS: Stop Breastfeeding at 3 Months Because...
- Pain while nursing (left side only); excruciating at times, other times merely bearable (with Advil).
- Recurring clogged ducts and nipple blisters/blebs
- Mastitis - for me, the agony of this infection was worse than labor. I have to take Lecithin, a supplement which helps your milk flow easier, 3 times a day or else the clogs come back.
- Freedom to go out and leave baby with Derek or sitter without having to pump.
- Freedom to drink alcohol without worrying about it getting to the baby.
- Freedom to eat anything I please without worrying about reactions/sensitivities (this was a huge problem before, but she has since outgrown the dairy allergy, THANK GOD!, so that's not really an issue. However, sometimes she has horrible gas/fussiness and we can't pinpoint whether it's something I've eaten that is troubling her.)
- Can still bond with bottle, as long as I maintain eye contact and snuggle while feeding her.
- Derek can have more of an active role in feedings (right now he feeds a bottle about 2x or 3x/week total). This is nice so he can spend more time with Lorelei, but also to relieve me "from my duties" and allow me some more sleep.
- Unconfirmed - but theories are that formula-fed babies sleep longer because they are fuller longer, whereas breastfed babies wake more often to feed. Right now Lorelei is waking a minimum of 2x/night to eat and I am getting choppy, restless sleep because of it.
- No more NIP (nursing in public). Oh, how I hate that. Or nursing in the car. Or in a public bathroom. God I hate that. I do have a nursing cover, but it's awkward and I am such a modest person that I really feel uncomfortable with NIP.
- No more worrying about pumping. I am SO SICK OF PUMPING. Pumping to maintain or build supply, pumping to relieve clogs or PREVENT clogs, pumping to empty the breast if she falls asleep, pumping to have a bottle for Derek in case I have somewhere else to be. Plus I am having very little success while pumping. Not really getting a lot of milk. It's almost better sometimes if I hand-express it. Which is ridiculous and takes FOREVER. Thank god I don't have to go back to work now, because I have nothing saved up at all.
- Which leads to....no more feeling incompetent or like a failure. :( Of course, I WILL most definitely feel like a failure for probably a couple weeks when I do decide to stop BFing (provided it's before six months). But right now, I have so many questions. Is she getting enough? Is she gaining enough weight? Is she happy at the breast, or frustrated? Is she constantly hungry? Is she just comfort nursing? With formula (or at least with a bottle - even of expressed milk), I know what she's eating and it's not a guessing game. I know that "we produce what our baby needs" and that nature is a remarkable thing, but I can't help but wonder sometimes if she is unhappy because I am not giving her enough milk. Sometimes I feel as though my right side (which, luckily, never hurts while she nurses) hardly produces anything at all, whereas my left side, my super producer, is the one that KILLS when she nurses. I have seen an LC more than once, have attended multiple breastfeeding classes and groups, have seen a nurse from the OB-GYN's office who specializes in BFing, and have had a nurse come to the house to coach me with her. I have tried a nipple shield. And then a different nipple shield. The left side STILL HURTS. I am so frustrated and don't know what to do!!! Hence feeling like a failure.
- Possibly, but maybe not - I will stop being a total bitch due to being overtired and cranky. Maybe I will have more energy and be nice to Derek instead of snapping at him. Maybe I will have more patience with Lorelei when she is screaming and crying, instead of crying myself and passing her off to Derek so I can cry in the shower.
As you can probably tell, this is a highly sensitive, emotional decision for me. It consumes most of my day. It's not an easy decision to make. And the question I guess becomes, whose health is more "important?" Mine, or Lorelei's? Yes, BFing provides her with everything she needs. It is the "perfect food." But is that more important than having a mom who is happy and well-rested? Who has more energy to take care of her and play with her because she is not throughly exhausted and both physically and emotionally drained every day?
I do want to wait until three months, though, because I have heard that things improved drastically at this point for most babies, even ones with colic (which I am pretty sure Lorelei has). Maybe once she starts sleeping more and being less irritable, I will relax, produce more milk, be less stressed, etc. Maybe the pain will subside, like so many BFing veterans have told me. Maybe.
I guess I'll just have to see what three months will bring.