While there are a number of advantages and wonderful things about it that you seem to only read about while you're pregnant, there are just about as many that you miss out on during your preparation and research. Or at least I missed them.
If you're new here, I've posted a few times about Tucker and I's breastfeeding experience. I talked about how it sucked and how I switched to exclusively pumping for 2 days then Tucker threw me a curve ball. Things are much better now though!
1. It can be mentally challenging and exhausting. Lets be honest though, those first few weeks with a newborn are exhausting no matter how you're feeding your baby. But after that newborn phase and even when the baby is by some divine miracle sleeping through the night and you've developed your version of a routine or schedule, many of your thoughts are still going to be breastfeeding related. Have I pumped enough today? Will this broccoli make him gassy? There's no way in hell I'm drinking a Diet Mt. Dew after 4pm? Do I have time to fit a beer in before he eats again? Don't judge me. Or if you're on the road for work a lot like me, you're thinking of the best places on your route to stop and pump, if you're meeting is at such and such time and it will take an hour, then you need to be done pumping at this time which means you need to start at this time, meaning you have to leave this many minutes earlier than normal.
2. When your life isn't revolving around your baby, its revolving around your boobs. You're going out for the day? You better take that pump with you. Skipping a pump every ONCE in a while isn't going to kill your supply, but if you do it often you're setting yourself up for issues.
3. You're probably going to lose some sleep. Not because you're feeding your baby at that particular moment. But because you're pumping. Only about once a week, Danny and I go to bed at the same time. When he's heading to bed, I'm staying up so I can pump, wash parts, make bottles, THEN get ready for bed. That puts me in bed an hour later than him most nights, which is almost 2 hours after Tucker. Then I have to get up early to pump again. Tucker doesn't get up until 645/7 normally (though right now he thinks its cool to wake up at 5:30ish) so in order for me to pump with enough time to replenish, I have to get up at 545. Your supply is highest in the morning after your longest stretch of sleep and this pump is vital to my supply for the next day's bottles. So, even though baby is sleeping 10 hours, I'm only sleeping about 6.5.
4. Losing weight isn't automatic. In fact, it might not even happen. There are some very fortunate women whose weight melts off while they are breastfeeding. There are also some women who don't lose weight. They actually have to hold onto that extra weight in order to keep making milk. Which brings me to my next point...
5. Don't try too hard to lose weight or you'll lose your supply. Make it gradual. And drink water like it is your J-O-B! If you're like me, "but I'm breastfeeding" will become your ultimate excuse for eating the delicious, unhealthy crap.
6. The milk itself is free (unless you have supply issues), but everything else isn't. Extra/spare pump parts, nursing clothes (bras, tanks, easy boob access shirts), pump accessories (car adapter), supply boosting tricks (Fenugreeks, Mother's Milk Tea). These don't add up to the cost of formula, but they do add up.
7. You're it. If the baby is hungry, you're up. If you want your husband or someone else to feed the baby a bottle, see #2.
8. Pumping sucks. Plain and simple, no way around it. It sucks.
I'm not pointing these things out to scare new mama's. Its all stuff that I've learned along the way and I didn't really pick up on before I had Tucker. I get really annoyed with breastfeeding sometimes. Especially #3 and #4, almost to the point that I've wanted to stop. But then I see my bank account flash before my eyes and my dreams of a new car, master bedroom and camper fly out the window. No, formula for a year (or 5.5 months at this point) isn't going to break the bank but like I said, I'm a tight ass and that's the number one reason I'm still going. There are millions of babies every day that are thriving while they are on formula and I am not at all against it. I just like my money :) And after we got nursing figured out. Not having to clean bottles was another perk.
To convince you all that I don't hate breastfeeding