05 December 2013

Breastfeeding and Feelings

I have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. That's no secret. It still surprises me sometimes, how difficult I've found it, in so many little ways. And yet there are the moments when I love it, love being able to do this.

We're firmly set in the combo-feeding camp now. E.'s been good with all three of the formulas we've tried her on, and she's happy with a couple different bottle and nipple types. And I'm still breastfeeding her. She loves it. She gets a lot of breastfeeding in during the late evening and in the mornings, and then lunchtime, dinnertime, and one nighttime feed are usually formula. There's also a late-afternoon breastfeeding period. I tend to get a chunk of time in the early afternoon when she isn't eating and isn't sleeping, in which we can go for walks and run errands without it being a hassle.

The times when I struggle with breastfeeding are when my nipples are sore, again. Even when she's properly latched, there can be some discomfort, though it's not the pain I experienced when we had thrush, so it's easier to deal with.

There are days when I long for the times when my breasts were not used for feeding a tiny wiggly child who wants to look around while eating.

There are days when I wish I wasn't so casual about pulling my shirt up or down and unsnapping my bra. I'm not an exhibitionist, and yet I've become extremely comfortable with breastfeeding in front of other people (though when in public, I do use the cover--it's just easier). I have to wear layers that allow me to stay warm while feeding her, so sometimes I look a little unfortunate. And when I do get a break that will keep me from feeding her for more than a couple hours, I have to plan for my breasts to get a little uncomfortably full. I don't get terribly engorged, but it's another source of discomfort. We're going to a Christmas party tomorrow night and leaving E. with some friends for the evening, and I have to make sure that what I'm wearing will withstand a little growth, and that I can fit breast pads in there, in case of leaks.

I'm tired of sharing my body with my child--it's like an extension of pregnancy, though it feels totally different, and for an introvert like me, it becomes very wearing.

And yet there are times when I appreciate it. It's convenient. It makes E. happy. When she's upset, it's often a great way to soothe her. Breastfeeding was very helpful during her first round of immunizations the other week.

I suppose there's something to this bonding and breastfeeding thing. I still don't get the rush of promised happy hormones when I feed her, though.

And I'm glad that my body works well enough that I can breastfeed her, even if she still needs the formula in order to gain weight.

But that doesn't stop me from feeling ambivalent. Is this the way it is for everyone?

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