Everyone talks about how wonderful breastfeeding is, and truly it is wonderful. But for me, there is a huge downside and I rarely hear people talk about it. Maybe people who nurse don’t have these issues but I think they probably do to some extent. It doesn’t feel honest to say I love nursing 100% of the time, because I don’t.
For me, the life of breastfeeding is physically challenging and emotionally draining.
The Physical Aspect
When I am pregnant, I don’t have a lot of cravings, but when I am nursing, I am a ravenous beast. I crave tons of protein, water, and pretty much anything that looks edible. I’m only 5 feet tall and weigh less than 100 pounds, and I always wonder if being tiny plays a part in the whole-body exhaustion. I produce milk wonderfully, but my entire body suffers.
Throughout the day, I’m constantly on the verge of shaking, my body is so desperate for calories. I try to eat enough, but I’m just so busy during the day taking care of everyone else, that I rarely get enough food or time to eat.
This time around (I am 6 months into nursing my third baby), I was on multiple rounds of drops for my eyes because they barely produced tears for about 4 months. They were dry to the max. I’m talking dry, sandpapery-gritty, burning eyes, loss of all eyelashes and cracked eyelids.
I get superficial wounds on my body that don’t heal, and have constant eczema, which only occurs when I am nursing.
The Emotional Toll
Every time the baby nurses, I have an initial letdown (release of milk) and then subsequent letdowns every 5 minutes. For me, the letdowns cause a release of hormones that feels like a wave of intense sadness for about 5 seconds. It definitely passes, but when you get that depressed feeling every 5 minutes for 10-15 minutes at a time, 6 times a day, it starts to get to you.
At her age, Meghan gets distracted very easily, so we have to nurse in a dark room. Talk about depressing. I feel secluded and far away from life. I can’t even talk to Meghan because she gets distracted and stop nursing. I could make it sound soothing (Mother nurses baby in a tranquil, calm environment far from the daily distractions of dishes and loud children) but for me, it is a lonely time. I like being with all my kids. And sitting still for so long causes me to recognize how tired I am, which again depresses me.
I do like to nurse, I just don’t like what nursing does to my body and my emotions. My overriding factor for all my negativity, is that Meghan loves to nurse. She is obsessed with it. I do enjoy the first and last feeding every day.
I am hoping to nurse for 1 year. She is just over 6 months.
While she is extremely anti-bottle, I am hopeful that we can work up to amazing inventions known as cups.