First things first, fed is best.
There are endless reasons a mother may or may not breastfeed. That is her choice based on her baby, body and family. I happen to be a breastfeeding mother. I have been blessed with a son who knew what he was doing straight out of the gates and, even still, it has been a tough road.
I'd heard stories about babies who just can't or won't latch for whatever reason. My son was well able for it, unfortunately, in the early days, I wasn't.
It took me a couple of days to know how to position both of us in a way that allowed him to feed. My last night in the hospital, I repeatedly buzzed for assistance until I got the hang of it. I felt stupid and embarrassed but was determined to get it right and eventually, I did.
The first month passed in a haze. I was in constant demand for feedings and was absolutely parched. For the majority of the day, I had a baby attached to me and I didn't really move from the couch. As I reflected how tough the month had been, I was also proud of the fact it had been a whole month. It had flown by. I started to move away from the negative thoughts of how difficult it was and believed that I could keep going.
Since then, it has gotten easier, but I still wouldn't say we have a routine as my son is a bit of a grazer. He will have lots of little feeds throughout the day instead of a number of longer, set feeds. It makes any home visits or trips out a bit nerve wrecking as at any time he can decide it's feeding time. I'm generally not keen on having to feed in front of people and on top of that, as he's gotten older, my little mister has decided he has no time for feeding covers. Family and friends have all been great though, and I'm getting more and more used to feeding him around people I know.
Public feedings are a whole lot more nerve wrecking.
While there has been a lot of progress for breastfeeding to become less of a taboo, I am acutely aware of the fact that there are still plenty of people out there who not only disapprove but think it's OK to shame people for nursing in public. While I'd like to think I am intelligent enough to have a witty retort to put them in their place, I know deep down I'd be far more likely to be humiliated and disintegrate into a blubbering mess.
So far, I have not had the need for many public feedings, but whenever I go out alone with the baby I still find myself reciting the pros of breastfeeding and thinking up witty comebacks in case something happens. The day may never come but I comfort myself with the knowledge that even if it does, regardless of what anyone says I'll be doing right by my son and that is what matters most.
My most recent stumbling block came courtesy of the startle reflex. As the often do, my little guy lot drowsy during a feed and drifted off mid-process. His startle reflex kicked in and he jumped and pulled away in a very sudden motion. I might add to this, he has recently gotten his first tooth. So my left side has a cut I'm trying to heal, but I still have to feed on that side to prevent it becoming engorged. The right side is picking up some slack but is getting a bit chaffed because of it. In short, until it's better, feeding has become a little bit... terrifying!!
Thankfully, I have a hubby who gives good pep talks (and buys doughnuts) and even though it's another obstacle, I know I'll get through it like I did with the others.
So to anyone who is finding their breastfeeding journey tough, believe in yourself. Surround yourself with positive, supporting people. If you trust yourself, you will get there. It is hard but it is worth it.
To anyone who has ever had anything nasty said to them in public, remember all you are doing is feeding your baby. If someone has something rude to say about that, it says more about them than anything else. Keep doing what you are doing. I think you are brave and inspirational.
To anyone who wanted to breastfeed but couldn't, remember that you are from an era where science is pretty much as close as it can be to replicating the benefits of breast milk. Formula gives your little one the nutrients they need. While you might be disappointed things didn't go how you wanted, your baby is still being fed and loved and they love you more than anything for that.