Breastfeeding is HARD! Maybe its doubly hard since we have twins – I don’t know since I have nothing to compare it to. All I know is that it is much, MUCH harder than I had thought it would be. And I’m an avid breastfeeding supporter.

A woman from my breastfeeding support group circulated this article called “10 Things Nobody Told Me About Breastfeeding.” I’d like to echo some of the sentiments from the article.

  • It’s expensive. You know how everyone says that one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that its “free”?? Yeah. No way. Let me tally up some of the expenses – and I have gone cheap on many of these items and/or been gifted many of the items: nursing bras ($50), nursing tops ($50), hospital-grade pump rental ($120), double electric breast pump ($399), extra pumping supplies (e.g., flanges and cords – $20), nipple shields ($30), breastmilk storage bags ($50),  bottles/nipples ($50), Lanolin ($20), nipple gel pads ($20), breast pads ($20). I’m sure I’m forgetting other things, too [edited to add: Boppy pillow; My Breast Friend pillow; Breastfeeding covers] . This adds up to over $700 for just the first 3 months. Compare that to the roughly $15 a week I’d spend on formula. Puts things into perspective, doesn’t it. I’d also like to say that a woman’s time is valuable, too. Breastfeeding (and pumping) takes forever…at least for me! So, no, breastfeeding is NOT “free.”
  • Breastfeeding doesn’t guarantee instant weight-loss. I’ve always heard about how breastfeeding just melts the pounds away! I know this is true for some people, but it has not been true for me! Which brings me to my next point…
  • It can turn you into a couch potato. Like I said, breastfeeding is very time consuming. Maybe I’m an exception because people have consistently told me that my babies would become more efficient eaters and would begin to eat more quickly as they got older. We’re 3 months deep and it still takes them around 60-75 minutes for a breastfeeding. If they eat from a bottle its generally 20-30 minutes, but then I still do a 30 minute pumping session. That’s a LOT of time spent sitting down with something (or someone) attached to my breasts – meaning, I’m completely immobile!
  • It’s not instinctive. I know all (other) mammals are able to breastfeed somehow without support. And yet we humans have so many issues that people make entire careers out of helping breastfeeding moms (hello, lactation consultants!). I mean, it’s hard! Again – maybe I’m a special case since I have twins who were born premature so I had to start pumping weeks before my babies were even able to suckle. I’m sure that has some effect on all this. But I have had such a hard time breastfeeding. We had to work on latching; we had to work on holds; i’ve struggled with my supply; i’ve felt like a failure.

This is why I attend a breastfeeding support group. Sooooooo many times I’ve thought how amazing it would be to just be done with it. To wake up in the morning and not immediately have to pump. Not to have to worry about the logistics of how long my boobs can “go” without needing to be pumped at work. Not to feel like I’m glued to the couch or in my pumping station all day. Not to have to revolve my entire life (grocery store trips, work schedule, dinners with friends) around the need to breastfeed and/or pump. I’ve often heard that one of the benefits of breastfeeding is how easy it is (e.g., you don’t have to deal with bottles, its always the right temperature, its portable, etc.). Maybe that’s true of a woman with a “regular” situation, but its not true of me and my situation. Nor would it be true of any women who have to work since they would all need to pump, too. And our society does not make it easy (try telling your boss you need a 30-minute pump break every 3 hours and, oh yeah, a private locking room to do it in, too).

But every time I want to throw in the towel and call it quits, I do a little googling about the benefits of breastfeeding (even though I know the benefits by heart). Just for grins, here are some of the benefits:  lower rates of illness, lower rates of SIDS, fewer ear infections, fewer allergies, lower rate of childhood cancer, higher IQ, lower rates of asthma and diabetes, and many more (source). And then I hit up my local breastfeeding support group. And I remind myself to take it one day at a time. I don’t want to wish this time away because it goes too quickly already!

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow, for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

-Ruth Hulburt Hamilton