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Is breastfeeding a full-time job?

Recently a mom told me that breastfeeding for her was a full-time job, and that some moms really can’t cope with that burden… Is that the reason why so many quit? This question stocked in my mind until I decided to put it in paper. I honestly can’t provide a professional opinion, without mixing it with my personal experience; because, more than numbers and statistics, this is a matter of perception. And that took me back a few years ago, when I was right at my first postpartum months…

When my first child Eyal was born, I experienced the most stressful day [his 3rd day] right when we arrived home. He spent almost 20 hours without eating; no matter what we did he couldn’t latch. But, thanks to the most amazing help of my doula and my family, we overcame this episode, and Eyali started breastfeeding. Since that moment and for several weeks, I remember myself literally praying every time he was able to latch, thanking G-d for giving me the opportunity to sustain my kid’s life.

I had this rocking chair installed in my living room, and I used to breastfeed there. I had my “breastfeeding kit”; my water bottle, my breast pads, wipes, my pump, my music, my phone, and my book were always prepared for my next breastfeeding session, next to my chair at the coffee table. That was my spot. Visitors and family joined me at my living room while I was breastfeeding; even working sessions took place there. I felt like a queen in my throne. Most of my day passed there; alone or accompanied, and still, it was my moment.

With Lior I didn’t have that luxury. I was also a mom of a 3 year old, with a house and a job to attend [although I wasn’t working the first few months]. My precious rocking chair was moved to the nursery, and the baby to my arms. I used to breastfeed when I was bathing Eyal, putting him to sleep, and at the parking lot of the supermarket. I’ve seen this hilarious picture of a mom on the toilet with her toddler next to her; well, I have several memories of myself in the same situation but with him on my boob. When he was 5 months, we took a 16 hour trip to Israel, and of course, he basically lived the whole time on the carrier (again, close to my breast). I even remember breastfeeding him in the immigration line and answering the officer his long list of questions…

I had two very different breastfeeding experiences, with multiple challenges too, I must say. And yet, I cannot say that it was a full-time job. It was certainly my main activity for the first couple of months, but in some way it fit in to my life, and became part of my daily routine. Because the truth is that newborns don’t really care where they are, as long as they’re with mommy.

Breastfeeding is not different than sleeping, or eating, or going to the bathroom. We certainly learned to do it when we were very young, and you and your baby will probably need some time to learn it, and manage it. Overthinking and over preparing is exhausting and very time-consuming, and certainly your baby is not seeing it that way. Perhaps we should try to see breastfeeding from our babies’ eyes, as a basic need task, and less as a new job. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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