The Lie About Breastfeeding :: When It’s Not Always “Best”

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Photo used with permission

“Mommy, it says on here that breast is best… but you said you wanted to give our new baby a bottle?!” My very inquisitive ten year old was reading the label on a box of sanitizing bags, meant for sanitizing breast pump parts. However, I was using the bags to sanitize bottles and pacifiers. “Well that is true for some mommies and babies, but it is not true for me and our baby.” I told my son that I was choosing not to breastfeed because it would help me to take better care of myself after I had the baby. I wanted to be the best Mommy I could be, and breastfeeding was hard on my body and even harder on my mental health. 

While I chose this path; it also broke my heart not to breast-feed my fifth baby boy. I had breastfed all four of my other children, and I loved it. I also hated it, and resented it. Here is what I wish someone had told me before I breastfed my first son. This is what I call the dark side of breast-feeding. I am not a medical professional, this is just what I experienced while breastfeeding four of my children. First, my milk would come in way too strong; I would have to pump before every feeding session just to prevent my baby from choking. I was exhausted literally all of the time. I was always engorged; my chest was too large to fit into any of my shirts. Wearing baggy t-shirts every day makes you look and feel like crap. 

I could not run or work out for many months. This led to increased anxiety, and no outlet for stress.  Physically, my body was a wreck. I held onto baby weight and felt sluggish. This harmed my self-esteem, a lot. Even with all of that, I still might have breastfed if it wasn’t for my hormones. Again not a doctor, but my experience was that of being on a hormonal roller coaster for a long, long time. I never felt like myself until I quit breastfeeding. The end result of nursing four babies was a deflated chest and a person I did not recognize. I couldn’t go back to that. I was old enough to know better. 

I chose not to breastfed my fifth baby because what no one told me years ago when I was a young mom, was that my mental health mattered. It actually mattered more than my baby’s need for breast milk. I use to think I had to always put my children before myself to be a good mom. That is a lie.

My sweet new baby was born just a few weeks ago. He took a bottle about an hour after his birth. I held him skin-to-skin staring intently at his perfect little face. My heart ached at the realization of what I had chosen. Still, not breastfeeding my baby has been the right choice for me. My postpartum recovery has been so much better. My four other sons and husband have loved sharing the bond of feeding our new baby. My heart loves him just as much. I chose a different way, one that still allowed me to feed and bond with my baby. I chose to not breastfeed because “breast is best” is just a slogan, a suggestion, and it is not always the truth for you and your baby.

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Alli is a Birmingham native who always knew she wanted to be a mommy to many, but had no idea that would turn into many little boys! While being a "boy mom" was not what she expected, you will now find her trudging through the woods and happily exploring everything "outdoors" with her brood of little men. Happily married to a builder, you might find that her Google searches reveal a never-ending list of home improvements, which leads to lots of screen shots and "Let's do this next" text messages. When not chasing around her boys, you can find her off on a long run, drinking coffee, going out for a girls' night, or wandering the aisles of the most wonderful place on earth, Target.