On Breastfeeding

I got out of the shower and she wanted to eat before she wanted me to get dressed.

I think she had decided she wanted more.
This is moments after being born. Our doula gave us some pictures, Junia breastfed right there in the operating room. I barely remember it.

For the first time since Junia was born I had a moment this week while breastfeeding that I thought, "this is why people love this." It was a powerful moment of watching her rhythm where I enjoyed meeting her need, and was able to center myself on giving to my daughter and doing nothing else for a moment.

I wasn't nervous about labor really at all. It seemed to me like she and I would work her out. Well labor didn't just magically work out, but the good news is that even though I WAS super nervous about breastfeeding, Junia is pretty good at it. Her latch, her instinct, my boobs everything was pretty good. We did have some issues with production at first but once "my milk came in"* it really has been easy for Junia and I.


It hasn't however been romantic. The idea of holding my sweet little baby as the morning sun streams across our interconnected bodies and she receives all the nourishment she needs from my body isn't exactly how I would describe most our our feeding moments. To play out this scene in a more realistic tone, tt's a little more like, you are blinded by the early morning sun you'd love to get up and close the curtian but the baby on your boob will freak out if you get up, and you are really hoping she'll fall asleep at the end of this feeding so you can either get something done (anything!) or so you can sleep yourself. Oh, and that interconnected body image. That's nice but this baby borrowed my uterus for 10 months, my vagina for too long, my bladder for the duration, my entire middle half for at least 4 months and now she get my boobs too huh?

I'm not really hating it. Most of the time I like how easy it is to quiet her and soothe her. But, nights are really hard. Our breastfed bundle gets up about every two hours to nurse,** well that was managable before I went back to work but this week was really hard. We are seriously pondering a bottle at night just so I can actually get some REM sleep. It does make me feel like a cow sometimes, it makes me more attached to her than I would ideally want sometimes, intterrupts my sleep and my day. But, it's cheap, its good for her, and I think it is good for me as I am falling in love with our little being.

So a couple other notes


I know you readers who have never done this have got to be wondering about this topic. .. We sure love to think that sex and babies aren't really connected. Or that they are just connected at the very beginning (ie conception) but being pregnant, giving birth, and yes breastfeeding too are connected to my sexuality and connected to my body as distinctly womanly. For those of you who are wondering, because I know that you are out there, breastfeeding doesn't feel as sexual as I thought it would. I can understand how there are women who orgasm while breastfeeding (yes it happens just google it- people are talking about it!). And when she first latches and the oxytocin rush to release my milk kicks in it feels a little bit like being turned on. But, for me it's only a brief rush and then it subsides for the most part. I also understand how a woman could basically feel nothing during that time. I confess though, if I am breastfeeding I don't want to think about sex- it just is too wierd. It just isn't quite as wierd as I thought it would be.


Wow, now that my boobs are out all the time around the house and around other young Mom's I forget how it's not really that acceptable to just whip out a breast to feed your baby anytime. Frankly, that's just too bad. Though it might feel wierd to others it seems to me that if I am feeding Junia in public then I don't really care if people see my boobs. So they don't need to feel ackward- because I sure don't. They are after all just nipples. Every mammal has them :)


Beyond the breastfeeding in public issue which is constantly up for debate in the media and in Mom circles I struggle with the whole breastmilk/formula issue. There is tremendous pressure among our social class to demonize formula. "Breast is best" is repeated all the time. That might be true but real life has to kick in. Our (problematic) modern society doesn't allow for total attention to our babies. So is it worth it to leave your baby screaming in the car for 30 minutes because you can't breastfeed while they are in their carseat but you could give a bottle. Is it really
worth it to sacrifice months of REM sleep (you have to sleep for 4 hours consecutively to reach REM sleep) when a bottle of formula allows most babies to sleep for several hours longer. Is it worth it to never go anywhere with your partner on account of needing to get home to feed the baby because you don't want the babysitter giving them formula? Even though I was fed on formula, and even though I freely give other women permission to bottle feed it is harder when it is me, after all it breaks my heart a little to know she is getting a bottle when I am nearby,

*Common breastfeeding phrasology
**Nurse, eat, feed, drink- I'm never sure what to call it.


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