Apprehensions about Breastfeeding
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Apprehensions about Breastfeeding
See also: Deciding not to breastfeed
I am expecting my first child in October and have been monitoring the
discussion regarding breastfeeding in the last few advice lines. I
also am having some worries over the issue of breastfeeding. While
I understand that it is "supposedly" healthier, and creates a bonding
moment between mother and child I am not very interested in the actual
act of doing it. I feel wrong for having apprehensions since there
seem to be so many women who WANT to breastfeed and can't. Truth be
told, I have incredibly sensitive nipples, and can't imagine the actual
process of breastfeeding. I also think that I will feel uncomfortable
feeding my child in public, although I realize that it's possible to
get the knack down and do it discretly.
My husband and I have not discussed this, yet he seems to just
naturally assume that I will be breastfeeding since he made some
comment about it in the past. I know that I should get over my
hang-ups and give it a try. I'm just not sure how to get over my
worries, and pre-conceived notions about it. Thank you.
i was nervous about breast-feeding. i've always been self-conscious
about my tiny breasts, and calling attention to them by
breast-feeding made me very nervous (although for the first time in
my life i had some cleavage). the idea of putting a baby to my
breasts was a very uncomfortable idea for me, but i did it because i
knew it was better for the baby.
for the first couple of weeks i hid away in another room whenever i
fed my baby but i was able to do it very discreetly after that,
except for the noisy smacking noises he would make, so feeding in
public was no problem.
for the first weeks i had problems with VERY sore nipples, and when
the baby would first attach, it was very painful. walking around the
house topless to air them out help a lot.
what surprised me was that i went through the same embarrassment
and uncomfortableness with my second child. i thought that since i
had done it before, it would be no problem. but after a week, i was
I would recommend two things to the mom-to-be who is apprehensive
about breastfeeding. First, Alta Bates Hospital offers a free lecture
series for expectant parents, and one of the lectures is "Preparing
for Breastfeeding." During the lecture the presenter asks the
audience for their concerns about breastfeeding. The list got very
long as all of us chimed in with our worries! Then she addressed each
issue, which was very reassuring. For info on the prenatal lecture
series, call Alta Bates and ask for the Parent Education office.
Second, you may benefit from speaking on-on-one with a lactation
consultant. I went into the Bay Area Lactation Center (on Regent
Street behind Alta Bates Hospital) for the first time the other day,
and I was very impressed with how friendly and helpful they were. They
offer classes on breastfeeding, but are also willing to work
one-on-one with parents. Give it a go, and good luck!
While I didn't question whether or not I would breastfeed (I wanted
to), I had some of the same anxieties, like the pain factor, or feeding
in public. And granted, it was hecka painful those first few weeks (maybe
four?). And I sweated bullets when I had to do it in public at first. But
the pain was manageable (much like labor, I guess!) and after awhile, doing
it in public was easy. I would urge you to at least give it a try...because
I think the scientific evidence is pretty strong that it is healthier on
average (although I never touched a drop of the stuff myself and am
very healthy, but when young had a lot of painful ear infections that I
still remember). Then if you don't like it, you can always stop. I have
heard that even four weeks of breastmilk is better than none.
For the mom-to-be who's apprehensive about breastfeeding because of
I also had extremely sensitive nipples when I was "childfree," and
couldn't bear to have them touched, for example, during sex. The first time
my baby latched on, I experienced a *zap* right down to my &%$^ and
immediately fell in love with breast-feeding. After the baby was weaned,
I found that my nipples retained their good-vibes sensitivity, and now
they're a major source of sexual/sensual pleasure.
"Your mileage may vary."
I had to smile when I read the message from the mom who said she fell
in love with breastfeeding when she felt the "zap" the first time her
baby latched on. With my first, this did not happen. He was fussy and
colicky, and breastfeeding in general was a bit of a challenge, and
not something I felt comfortable doing in public (my visiting mother's
view that the whole idea and process was unseemly did not help, I realize).
With my second, however, I too felt that "zap" from the very first
time in the hospital, and the sheer sensual nature of cuddling him close to
my skin continued, even through the fussy times. Another added
advantage of the breastfeeding in the first few days after birth was that
with every suck, I could feel my uterus contracting. A very interesting
physiological response, not unlike nipple stimulation during
lovemaking. Although this process was painful at times (akin to the
birth contractions), my conscious mind welcomed the pain, knowing that
it was nature's way of helping my body return to its pre-pregnancy
state. And since my son had to stay in the hospital a few extra days
due to jaundice, when I was able to (finally!) bring him home
4 days after birth, my tummy was completely flat. Not the most
important reason to breastfeed, by far, but one additional benefit. He
weaned himself after 4 months, while I was returning to work, and while
I was sad about not being able to continue with the nursing, I was so
happy that we had had those 4 months of special time.
Before my first child, I was very apprehensive about breastfeeding.
The mere notion of a baby at my breast gave me the willies and seemed more
UNnatural than bottle feeding. Add that to all the warnings and
pressure about breast feeding and the whole idea was a complete turn-off.
But realizing that it was the way Nature designed things, I was willing to
at least give it shot. Thankfully, my first baby and I had absolutely no
trouble with it. And I soon found that the real joy of it is how much
the baby enjoys it! (The memory still makes me smile!) It is also far
more convenient than having to take a bottle and formula everywhere you go.
Take everything you hear with a grain of salt and give breastfeeding a
try. You'll probably get used to it very quickly and even if you find it
difficult at first (my second child required a consultation with a
lactation nurse), it is worth some effort. I breastfed both my kids
for nine months, and even pumped at work for five months (talk about
I too, have very sensitive nipples, and I was very apprehensive about
breastfeeding. I was also very committed to doing it, however, and so
I was able to overcome some initial difficulty. My committment mostly
came from the knowledge that breastfed babies experience fewer allergies.
Since both my husband and I have allergies, this seemed important to me.
The initial two months were quite difficult for me, and there were several
episodes later that also posed problems. But eventually, the
difficulty *did* pass, and we are still nursing (once a day or so) at
age 2 1/2 (though she seems to be thinking about weaning). I'd be glad
to share my experiences with it if you would like to e-mail me directly.
I also had incredibly sensitive nipples and was worried about nursing.
I was one of those people who never wanted my nipples touched, who had to
wear soft cloth against my nipples or they would hurt. The thought of
someone putting their mouth on this very sensitive place terrified me.
As a matter of fact it was very difficult getting started nursing. I
didn't know how to hold the baby; every time she latched on it was agony,
despite having all the advice from lactation consultants etc. My
nipples were REALLY sore for over 3 months. I also used all the techniques
people suggested for keeping my nipples from drying out: rubbing milk or
Lansinoh in, not soaping. Nothing worked for those first 3 months.
However, after that I have to say it was all worth it. One day in the
4th month I noticed my nipples didn't hurt as much anymore. Then, my
nipples got tougher, I learned how to breastfeed better, and I ended up
every nursing session. My daughter loves it and is thriving. Plus, one of
the benefits you don't see mentioned too often: breastfeeding is great for
taking off Mom's extra pounds! I was able to eat huge amounts of all my
favorite foods, and still lose weight. I know many women who said they
just couldn't lose those extra 5 or 10 pounds after a pregnancy, and
they all bottle-fed their children or stopped breastfeeding after 6 months or
less. Within a year I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, no stretch marks,
and my body looked and felt like it used to. An added bonus was not having
my period for 18 months!
Good luck. Do what you can, and don't feel guilty about whatever you
Since you haven't had the baby yet, I recommend the one-night
breastfeeding class at Omni OB-Gyn near Alta Bates. It is taught by
Pam Streitfeld, the wife of one of the OB-Gyn's there. Anyone can
take the class, even if you have an outside OB-Gyn. There is a small
charge. The classes are only offered once a month. Call their
office, 204-0965 for class dates and/or to register.
Pam seemed to me to be both very warm and very levelheaded. She is
very enthusiastic about breastfeeding but at the same time warned me of
problems I might have nursing, based on my skin type.
The number of participants is small so there is ample time for you to
bring up your personal concerns and have them addressed.
Husbands are also welcome at the class.
this page was last updated: Mar 31, 2004
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