Before I got pregnant, I was always on the fence about whether or not I would breastfeed. That’s an odd stance to take considering how fervent people usually are one way or the other. Despite some more recent #fedisbest commentary on mom-frequented social media, overall you’re either Team Breast or Team Formula. (The latter of which tends to be less vocal since it’s often construed as shameful or somehow associated with “not being a good mom.”)
Cut to around the third month of my pregnancy. I was fortunate to have no morning sickness. I just experienced some general feelings of first trimester fatigue, a symptom I can only explain as simultaneously feeling like your batteries have not only been drained but also ripped out of your body. (Then said body is run over by a Mack truck 30 times.)
It was around this time that I decided there was no way I was breastfeeding.
Here’s the thing about pregnancy–it’s long. Even at 3 months in, I could see that the next 6 months were going to be a slog. I’d even say now that I had an easy pregnancy! What’s not easy is having your body not feel like your own. There’s the constant anxiety that something could be wrong and you’d never know it. Maneuvering around corners when you’ve never had this much body to move around is NOT EASY. Don’t even get me started on having to schedule doctor visits that fit with your work schedule (doctor visits that, by the way, my husband was seldom permitted to go to because of Covid restrictions so I had to absorb lots of seemingly critical information by myself and hope that I’d remember it all).
Oh, and there’s the constant peeing. The. Constant. Peeing.
I actually think that was the most defeating part of pregnancy. I would have to stop what I was doing, whether it was a workout where there were jumping jacks or other jostling moves like burpees involved or an important work call. There was NO holding it. Especially by around the 6-month mark. In fact, my first-ever time peeing outside occurred simply because I was physically incapable of holding it during a too-long, too-rugged hike that I made the poor choice to embark on 1) as a non-hiker and 2) as a pregnant woman with very little ability to “hold it.” You really never forget your first time scrambling up a hillside and trying to crouch your bigger-than-usual body behind a tree that will hopefully conceal said bigger-than-usual body while other hikers pass by.
Then, there was the time I sneezed in my bedroom and literally peed all over the hardwood floor—through my Lululemons! The splatter sound it made actually made me laugh at first, but then I realized what had happened and I cried because I was absolutely mortified.
I had eaten every single color of the rainbow based on whatever my pregnancy app said.
There was even a particularly long stretch of consuming vast quantities of orange foods like mangoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes to give my child the best shot at having good eyesight.
I had peed on myself. I had hobbled around with Symphysis pubis dysfunction, which is a wrenching pain in the general crotch-el region caused by the ligaments of the pelvis becoming too relaxed and stretchy, thereby making the pelvic joint unstable. That one went on for pretty much every day from the start of my second trimester until my daughter was born. I didn’t drink a sip of alcohol or eat a bite of my beloved spicy tuna roll from Shiki. And, to be 100% transparent, I had underarm fat pockets for the first time in my life that I did not love and did not find “beautiful.”
So, I felt like I had done enough.
By the time my sweet baby came roaring into the world, I was more than happy to get on the Similac attack. I had been warned that the lactation consultant at the hospital could be a special brand of aggressive, so when the woman who identified herself as that role walked into our recovery room, I threw a hand up and firmly proclaimed, “I will not be breastfeeding. It’s not happening.” This proved to be entirely unnecessary, as she was really sweet and didn’t chastise me or try to convince me at all.
I think it’s endlessly cool that women are powerful enough creatures that we can not only carry and deliver our young, but we can also feed them with our own bodies. However, that breastfeeding journey wasn’t for me, and I am here to tell you that everything has turned out fine.
My baby and I still bonded.
She is even currently in a phase where she screams whenever I put her down because she likes being held by me that much. She has consistently hit all her developmental milestones and has cruised into the 99% percentile of height and head size (holding strong at the 80th percentile for weight). I, meanwhile, was fortunate to have my husband help me feed her during those initial days, weeks, and months when she would wake in the middle of the night ravenously hungry. This meant I was able to sleep during those moments when it was his turn to feed her, which in turn meant I wasn’t a zombie or a monster the next day. This was a win-win-win for my baby, my husband, anyone who was forced to interact with me, and myself.
Just as fed is best for babies, whatever mom has to do to facilitate baby being fed is best for her. For me, choosing not to breastfeed was a form of self-care. It was as beneficial to my postpartum recovery as regular physical activity and support from my family and friends.