Published by admin on 08 Jan 2013 at 04:01 pm
I have gone from being a pregnant person who said, “Yeah, I’m going to breastfeed, but I’m not concerned with formula if something mechanically goes wrong,” to a post partum person who said, “Fuck this, it hurts, I don’t want to do this anymore,” to a working person who pumps saying, “This shit is not fucking free.” Which is to say, my relationship with breastfeeding has been far from awesome, but also, I started from a pretty positive place, went to a very negative place, got out of that place to a sort of ok place and then had to start working and started to feel negative again.
There are parts of breastfeeding that I find soothe me, I am somehow, even though I’m not with him for long stretches, still connected because I’m sitting attached to a pump for about 30 minutes a day. And when I get home, we get to have an actual physical connection that I find comforting. (I have started to supplement at night occasionally because I’ve found his screaming and punching at me indicates he’s not getting enough breast milk and, call me crazy, but my quality time with my baby shouldn’t be filled with Texas tittie twisters and a side of Mike Tyson action to the boob. And giving him the bottle is just as soothing to me, maybe because I’m not being attacked and screamed at.)
But when people talk about the price of breastfeeding, they aren’t talking about a mother’s time. A very good op-ed was written about this in the New York Times and I don’t have a lot to add to it other than, Amen, Sister.
I wish we would stop saying “breast milk is free!” Because it isn’t. It is only free if you consider a woman’s time without value. It is only free if you do not go back to work (breast pump and accessories, storage bottles, feeding bottles, time away from your desk all cost money). It is only free if you are never away from your baby.
Is it less expensive than formula? Probably, but I spent a shitload of money on lactation consultants, breast pump parts (and I even had a pump given to me!), breast pump rental, storage bottles, feeding bottles, nipple cream and bras. And guess what, at five and a half months, I started to have to feed formula at least once a day.
I’m at a point now where I have to pump two times during my work hours in order to keep my supply up. Thankfully, I am very supported at work to make this happen. I would have quit pumping about a week after I started had I not been. It is too hard to do it and not be supported. Mothers out there who pump with no support are, quite frankly, made of stronger stuff than I am.
I know everyone’s experience with breast feeding is very different. My sister loved it, and thank goodness because neither of her daughters took a bottle. I think it’s important to note that you can dislike something as much as I did and still do it. And you can get to a place where you don’t mind it and then come back around to hating it again. It’s important to note that when people say “Breastfeeding is free!” they are calling women’s time worthless. And I think mostly, it’s important for me to remember that just like every other bad and good part of your time as a parent, these phases come to an end, and before you know it your son is going off to college and forgetting to call you and tell you he arrived safely.