There are many misconceptions when it comes to breastfeeding.
In fact, there are too many for me to list, but one of the biggest misconceptions is that breastfeeding is hard. Now don't get me wrong, breastfeeding in the first weeks can be pretty tough if you come up against hurdles, but in almost every scenario, there is a breastfeeding solution to every breastfeeding problem.
It can take a few weeks of perseverance for both you and baby to find your feet with it. Once you have found your feet though, it is too easy. It makes nights easier. It makes leaving the house easier. It makes travelling easier. It just makes life with a baby easier. Even better yet, it's free! On average it costs a whopping €700 for just the formula alone in the first year. Think of all the other ways you could spend that!
I am a mother who has done both. I have formula fed and I now breastfeed. There are lots of things to consider when deciding whether you will breastfeed or formula feed. From my own experience, I can now safely say that I am way too lazy to formula feed. Having to wash bottles, rinse bottles, sterilise bottles, boil water, cool water, pour into bottles, count scoops (and losing count and have to pour out and start again) and then repeat. Every single bottle. Every. Single. Day.
Every mum who has formula fed has had those evenings when you're getting ready to head to bed and realise that you still have to get bottles ready for the next day and you just feel like crying. It doesn't end there though, then there's getting up in the middle of the night to prepare and warm bottles. Accidently over-warming the bottle and having to then cool it down. All the while baby is hungry and waiting and there is nothing you can do. Sit awake holding the bottle fo the baby, wind baby, settle baby back down and then go back to sleep.
Then, when you are going out, packing the changing bag, working out how long you will be out and figuring out how many bottles you will need to squeeze into the bag. Even worse again, those times when you're out of the house and you have given the baby the last bottle you have and you have to make sure you're back home with more bottles washed, sterilised and ready before baby needs another. For me, it was just stress.
Breastmilk is always ready. No fussing around trying to make up or warm a bottle. Baby never has to wait and cry. It's ready, on tap and at the perfect temperature. Happy baby, happy mum. When it comes to night feeds, it is extremely easy to digest, the baby doesn't wake for as long and settles back down quickly. Personally, I breastfeed and co-sleep. Baby wakes, I latch him on, he feeds, he falls back to sleep and we both sleep well. I am sleeping more than I ever slept formula feeding, I don't have to do a thing and honestly, I could never go back to the hassle of bottle feeding.
Breastfeeding is also about so much more than food. It is an amazing tool for a mother to have. You can't overfeed a breastfed baby, it is not possible. Is Baby sick? Boob. Is Baby tired? Boob. Is Baby teething? Boob. Is Baby upset? Boob. Is Baby hungry? Boob. You can't just offer bottles to soothe or comfort, baby can only have so much formula in a day, so what do you do between bottles?
Breastmilk is a live substance and is constantly adapting to suit your baby's ever-changing needs. It contains antibodies, hormones, enzymes, probiotics, growth factors and countless other amazing things that unfortunately just aren't present in formula. There are so many massive health benefits to breastfeeding and they're not just for baby but for mum too. It helps the womb contract after birth, it helps lots of women with loss of baby weight, the oxytocin that is released is great for keeping mum relaxed and it even reduces the risks of a number of reproductive cancers.
Another thing that I didn't expect to be so different was the bond. The bond we have is indescribable. I am nurturing my baby, with my body, the way nature intended. While of course, I bonded with my baby while bottle feeding. It is a totally different bond that I wish I had been able to share with my older two. While breastfeeding, every gram of his weight is down to milk that my body has provided him with. The pride you feel as you watch them grow and reach new milestones is overwhelming. It's something I had not experienced before and wouldn't change for the world.
So whether you're expecting your first or even if you formula fed your older babies and are expecting again, there's no reason not to give breastfeeding a try. Join breastfeeding groups on Facebook, pop along to a breastfeeding coffee morning and equip yourself with knowledge and support. You'll never regret giving it a try.