I love a good pro-breastfeeding article. Anyone who has attempted to breastfeed knows the struggle and to hear your struggles in someone else's words is a feeling I can't even begin to describe.
So obviously after an uplifting experience I have to scroll to the comments and lose all hope that breastfeeding will ever become normalized. Comments I see at the end of every single pro-breastfeeding article are something to the effect of:
"Stop flaunting your breasts."
"Have some decorum."
"Move to a private place."
"It's as if she's proud to be able to breastfeed."
"Can't you bottle feed?"
After reading the same comments over and over again I turned to my husband and said, "It's like these people don't understand how hard it is to breastfeed" and he said, "That's exactly what it is! You didn't know it was going to be as hard as it was, right?"
He was 100 per cent correct.
The major problem with negative attitudes toward breastfeeding is simply the lack of exposure to it and not understanding how difficult it truly is. There are quite a few common misunderstandings about breastfeeding and majority of them you can't truly understand unless you've attempted to breastfeed or watched someone close to you attempt to breastfeed. I'm going to try and dispel some of these misunderstandings. And I'll preface this by saying that I believed a few of these myths before I breastfed my son and was hit with reality.
"When the baby is born, it will open it's little mouth like a baby bird and I will place my nipple into it's mouth and milk will flow like the Nile River."
NOPE. Not even close. If baby latches, it may hurt. Otherwise a nurse will smoosh the baby's head into your breast until it latches. As for flowing milk, the first milk that leaves the breast is called colostrum and it's kind of syrupy and very thick. Usually within the week milk will start to flow in very small amounts.
"Going somewhere private like a corner or a washroom should be no problem because it only takes a few minutes to feed a baby."
NOPE. A newborn baby can feed for upwards of an hour every few hours. So you want me to go sit on the floor in the bathroom for an hour and feed my baby so you don't have to see my breast? And my two-year-old will sit there with his hands folded neatly in his lap and patiently wait for the baby to finish up? HAHA. What a perfect world.
"Formula or bottled breast milk in public saves you from exposing yourself and is easier."
NOPE. For the most part breastfeeding is a supply and demand thing. If you always breastfeed your child and then introduce a bottle, mom's breasts will still need to be emptied or else it will send a message to her body to stop making as much milk. She'll also start to leak milk and get rock hard breasts that feel like they are filled with cement. If someone gets offended by watching a baby breastfeed I guarantee they aren't going to like watching a mother pump in public. Introducing bottles can be a slippery slope to not being able to make enough milk to feed your child and baby may eventually lose it's latch and some moms don't feel like taking that risk.
"All the baby is doing is sucking on your nipple. It can't hurt that bad."
NOPE. Dear god, to me it felt like lightening bolts. Honestly, it hurt me worse than labour and delivery and I gave birth without any drugs! My child had a lip and tongue tie (very common to go undiagnosed) and it caused my nipples so much pain. I had chunks of skin missing from my nipples and it looked like a tiny shark bite. and that was before he got teeth! I had gashes in my nipples that bled every time he ate. The hour I had between feeds my nipples would start to dry up and attempt to heal and he'd be back at it re-opening the cuts. I don't wish that pain on anyone but unfortunately, it's very common to experience discomfort.
"I can just wear a nursing cover!"
NOPE! A great idea in theory! I honestly couldn't see myself having the courage to breastfeed in public or around my family without a blanket over my chest. I've always been really modest about my own body. But when you're both learning how to latch properly a blanket or nursing cover doesn't help matters. You need to be able to see the baby's latch to know if it's doing it properly. By the time you both get the hang of things, the baby won't tolerate being covered anymore and be curious of it's surroundings.
The next time you see a woman looking down lovingly at her child happily eating from the breast, know that she most definitely struggled to get to where she is. She has beat the odds and is now facing your judgement and society pushing her to go hide in the bathroom or just toss the kid a bottle so you can keep your lunch down or keep from being aroused. She has every right to be proud of what she has been able to accomplish.
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