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HEALTH

3 Unspoken Truth About Breastfeeding

Yes, it’s great for bonding with your child but sometimes it also hurts... AF!

BY Naledi K

Aug 11, 2021, 06:56 PM

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Breastfeeding is one of the most popular topics in motherhood, which is why it is just shocking how much is often left unsaid about it. It’s like most mothers decided to only shine a light on the good side of a woman manufacturing food for their infant and how amazing and miraculous the whole thing is… and simply left out certain parts of the journey that aren’t “pretty enough for the mommy pamphlet.

Now… if you are one of the lucky few that got the total truth from your sister, mother and community then good on you.

However, if you are one of the mothers that were left completely shocked by all the “ugly” bits, this is to say you are not alone. And, if you are yet to go through this particular part of the journey, you’ll be glad you stopped by. Here are some things experience and observation have taught me.

It Hurts!

I wish someone had taken time to actually explain how much the process of breastfeeding hurts. As a new mom, the most shocking thing for me was how much pain my breasts and nipples had me in. I was in pure disbelief… because everyone had focused on the “your body is making food for your baby” and the “your immune system is protecting your infant” conversation so much so that the pain part was ignored.

I understand that women go through different experiences where this is concerned for me, I rate the pain that had me searching for nipple cream almost as high labour pains. Yes, that high. It was really bad. Then once we got the hang of latching, I had to deal with large, swollen boobs when I went back to work, then the lil one started teething and then a new type of pain began.

Of course, like most mothers, I took it like a champ. I just wish someone had been honest enough about the pain or at least painted a realistic picture because then I would have at least been mentally prepared for it...

It Doesn’t Define You As Mom

As unfortunate as it is, there seems to be unspoken discrimination against women who can’t or choose not to breastfeed. These women are not the same  - since others have a choice and decide not to do it and others by default find that they can’t produce breast milk. However, both often face criticism in the communities online or at the clinic queue because breastfeeding is somehow seen as an act that defines you as a mother.

Breast is best for the baby so you immediately get a gold star for doing it. However, as a mom, only you should define your journey. If you have a strong enough conviction as to why you don’t want to breastfeed, you shouldn’t be frowned upon. The assumption that you don’t love your child should really be done away with.

It is nobody’s business how your journey as a mom unfolds and if it so happens that you don’t breastfeed, you should never be made to think it minus brownie points for you as a mom.

It Doesn’t Always Work Out

Sometimes as a mother, you are eager to breastfeed. You know the benefit and are willing, in fact just enthusiastic to give it a go despite some of the “not so pleasant” parts of the journey like nipple sores. Then you give it a go and realise that your little guy or girl is just not into it. This kind of situation doesn’t happen immediately.

Most of the time your child will play along with you solely breastfeeding until about six months in when you introduce solids, then he or she will “oh there’s other stuff available in the world” and simply become disinterested. Sometimes your maternity leave ends and you introduce the bottle because you now have to pump or you introduce formula because your supply (no matter what methods and pills you try) just isn’t enough.

I’ve seen this happen to a few friends, and most of them were shattered at the thought of just not breastfeeding their young. They had the plan to breastfeed till the kid turns two, but they just won’t latch on anymore. Listen, it may not be what you wanted but sometimes that is just how it goes. It is not a train smash. It doesn’t mean you are less of a mother because your baby decides to try and stick to other options.

Read: How to get rid of “new mom” guilt