The Dark Side of Breastfeeding

November 30, 2010

As soon as you have a baby, the powers that be (i.e., pretty much everyone who crosses your path) start pushing you to breastfeed. It’s sooooo good for the baby…think of the bonding!…breast is best…modern science has not yet come up with anything even remotely comparable to the wonders of breast milk…you’re the worst mommy in the whole wide world if you even consider feeding that sweet new miracle anything powdered and processed…and so on.

In some respects, I get it. Breast milk is uniquely formulated for the nutritional needs of your growing baby, and the bonding is very nice (as is the fact that you have one hand free when you nurse; I was able to read a surprising number of books this summer during those early days when pretty much all you’re doing round the clock is feeding the baby).

But what they don’t tell you? Stopping the breastfeeding is a bitch.

Setting aside for the moment the passing of a sweet era with your newborn, as well as the inevitable guilt the La Leche folks heap on you for weaning before the baby is old enough to drive, it’s just not a fun time from a physical standpoint.

All of a sudden, that milk you’ve been cranking out for the past several months has nowhere to go. Even if you’re careful to cut back gradually, and even if (like me) you’re not churning out all that much milk anyway, you’re likely to wind up sporting a pair of painful, lumpy softballs. And most websites are no help, as the recommended cure for nearly all engorgement/blocked duct problems is to nurse more. There’s apparently some very fine line between nursing/pumping just enough to relieve some of the pressure but not enough to trigger continued milk production. I have not yet found the correct side of that line.

Making matters worse is the fact that one of my boobs (Lefty) has pretty much gotten on board with the whole weaning process – the one Eric has always claimed never produced its fair share of milk anyway, based on my pumping output – but the other has not. I’ve tried having Lorelei nurse on that side a bit, but she’s been quite eager to try out those new teeth of hers, which are like miniature white razors. The first time she chomped down, I literally saw stars for the first time in my life. (It was just like one of those old Tom & Jerry cartoons.)

Signing off with heating pad in hand,

Lumpy & Lopsided in Portsmouth


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