Thoughts on B-Feeding

This may be awkward, but here it goes. I feel like people don't really talk about breastfeeding, and I had no idea of what it would be like. I just thought it would be natural and easy. It is, but it isn't too. So here's my brain dump of thoughts on the subject.

I never really thought much about breastfeeding until I got pregnant. With an adoption, I knew I didn't want to induce lactation (as many do with adopted kiddos) because I don't like messing with my body with medicines/ hormones. Formula was a given, and Israel was on soy formula for months at Hannah's Hope because of his lactose issues. I remember reading blogs about formula versus breastfeeding, and even received some comments on this blog about the dangers of {soy} formula for babies. I felt defensive! They say "breast is best"- but what about those people whose babies can't process breastmilk? What about all those kids in orphanages who HAVE to have formula? What about my son who was getting soy formula, and I couldn't do anything about it?

I really hate when people get on their formula vs. breastfeeding soapbox, because this is another aspect of motherhood that is deeply personal and sometimes really difficult. Some people want to breastfeed but can't produce enough; some people want to do formula from the start because they want both parents to be involved in that aspect of caring for their baby. It is a hard decision. There are high financial and emotional costs to both.

I really wanted to try to breastfeed Edith. It is something I really felt like I missed out on with Israel. I longed for that bonding process with him, and wanted to give it a shot. In my pregnancy, what scared me the most was thinking about breastfeeding. I read a book right before I had her about it, and went in to the hospital armed with techniques and a game plan for getting her to latch. I felt an enormous pressure to do this right; she depended on me and I needed to make it work.

So far, things have been going really well. Edith is 2 1/2 months old now, and we are still exclusively breastfeeding. She does get pumped bottles regularly (almost once a day), and we introduced the bottle at 2 weeks because I had to leave her all day for class when she was just four weeks old. I pump every morning first thing, and often pump throughout the day if I need to. I'm definitely overproducing, and I'm currently storing extra milk with friends in their deep freezer until we purchase our own. It is a huge blessing to be able to pump extra, and I don't take that for granted.

I didn't expect the hormones and emotions that would come with it. Breastfeeding is physically demanding and exhausting. I am always aware of my daughter's needs and the timing of the clock. It is a burden and a privilege. It is emotionally tiring when Edith is fussy and won't latch at night. I ask myself if she's getting enough, have I eaten anything that will mess her up, did I drink one too many cups of coffee today? I am the sole provider of my daughter's nourishment, and that is both beautiful and scary.

I love when she is eating and pulls away to smile at me. I love the noises she makes when she eats. I don't love wearing a cover up to nurse when I need to be private, and I don't love that breastfeeding is awkward (I'm not brave enough to be one of those bare-all people) and sometimes feels embarrassing when I have to go in a separate place to feed. It is isolating at times. I've had mastitis. I've pumped AND fed in a bathroom and car. It's not glamorous but it is a sacrifice that I want to make.

I don't have a set goal in mind. I really want to go as long as I can. On fussy nights when E won't eat, I fear that she is weaning and it breaks me up. I am not ready to give it up. I want to do this, even though it is the hardest, most self-sacrificing, emotional and physical gift I've ever done.


  1. Wow Rebekah, you have captured exactly the way I feel about it! Thank you SO MUCH for putting into words what has been swirling in my emotions for four months. With Althea, we actually were advised to supplement her with formula and then my own milk for a while because she was a large baby, and that added to my own fears of not being able to produce enough. Plus she had reflux, which went undiagnosed for about 4 weeks, so every time we laid her down to eat she would just scream. It made me feel horrible and I almost gave up breast feeding many times because of the challenges. But thanks to the best husband I could ever ask for, plus support from others (including a lactation consultant), we are still exclusively breast-feeding and I couldn't be happier. You summed it up nicely: it is the hardest, most self-sacrificing, emotional and physical gift I've ever done.


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