I grew up making formula bottles for my little sisters and never thought much about it. I'm sure I knew breastfeeding was an option but my mom always worked and I figured she either didn't have much time to do it, or it just didn't work out for her. I never heard any judgments or knew of any big debates about what you feed your baby. They need milk: Some drink it from mom, and others get it from a can, big deal.
Years later, the topic of breastfeeding came up with my husband and he practically insisted I breastfeed our children. We didn’t have any, and this was years before we were planning on having a child, but he was very serious about the subject. I didn't know where this passion came from, but he told me how it's so much better for babies and how him and both of his siblings were breastfed, etc etc.
A little caught off guard and defensive I said I'd do what works for me, and since I work and also will be taking care of our children, we'd just have to see how it goes.
More time went by, I got pregnant, and with a baby on the way I began to think more seriously about my options. After talking with friends and realizing how expensive formula is, I made a conscious decision that I'm going to try my best to breastfeed.
I know there are great benefits for my child, I know there are great benefits for myself, but the most appealing to me at the moment is the benefit to my pocketbook.
I won a double electric breast pump in a photo contest early in my pregnancy and the excitement hasn't let down since. When I got it in the mail I immediately popped in the instructional DVD that came with it and watched in amazement. For the first time, I saw myself as a potential breastfeeding mother and couldn't wait for the experience.
I've since bought coordinating bottles, breast pads, breast milk storage containers, and cream to help with sore nipples...You name it, I probably have it, or have it on my wish list.
I know it's not always going to be easy. I have some uncertainties about the challenges, returning to work, and my commitment level.
My best friend told me her struggles with breastfeeding, the pain, the frustration, the blood, sweat and tears. In the end she decided it would be better for both of them if she switched to formula, and she hasn't looked back since.
Another friend of mine had a rough start, her baby was very hungry in the hospital, and she supplemented with formula in the beginning, but after a few days went back to breast milk exclusively. Her baby is now nearly nine months old and she still pumps enough for her baby at work to feed her almost only breast milk, all the time.
I don't look at my friends any differently for the choices they've decided to make for them and their families, but it does show me that different routines work for different people, and there's not a cookie-cutter answer to this, or anything else in motherhood.
What suggestions do you have for a soon-to-be mom hoping to breastfeed? What helped make breastfeeding work for you? What were some of the challenges you ran into?
Visit Jennifer's personal blog BabyMakinMachine.com.