It’s Okay to Hate Breastfeeding
When I was pregnant with my son, I was incredibly naïve about breastfeeding. As a pediatric nurse, I knew the benefits of breastfeeding, but I had also had enough friends have various issues to know that it wouldn’t work for everyone. I thought I was so prepared thinking I would fall into one of two categories:
1. I would love breastfeeding and proudly nurse my son bathed in sunlight clothed in designer nightgowns while my husband looked on with awe
2. I would be the poster child for the formula industry proudly mixing my powder and water with one hand while balancing a guilt free glass of chardonnay in the other.
Of course the reality was somewhat different.
Coat Closets, Guilt and Mastitis
My reality really hit home when I was standing with a screaming 10 week old in a coat closet of a country club for a friend’s wedding. I was in the coat closet because my attempt to discretely feed under my
expensive useless adorable cover was met with the wails that only a hungry newborn can produce. At this point my dress was around my waist, milk was spraying everywhere and we were both in tears. Picturesque it was not.
There is nothing in the world like motherhood guilt, and I grew up Catholic.
I got pregnant. I had a healthy baby. I could breastfeed. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t love being able to breastfeed him? It’s very easy to say to give a speech to a friend stating how the sickest of the sick babies in hospitals often receive formula so there is nothing wrong with how one chooses to feed her baby. Believing it for myself was a different story.
Another challenge, breastfeeding is uncomfortable! Nipple butter, refrigerated soothing pads, soaking wet t shirts Oh My! To the mom who has ever fallen asleep pumping only to literally cry over spilled milk, I feel your pain. Additionally, I would rather step barefoot on 10 Legos a day than ever have mastitis again. To this day I believe a combination of stubbornness and guilt carried us through our breastfeeding relationship during that time.
Retrospect is Key
Looking back on the eight months I nursed my son, there really were some beautiful moments of gazing into his big blue eyes. Not to mention the amazing health benefits to both of us. At 14 months old, we’ve still never had a sick visit at the pediatrician. I saved a lot of money compared to when we did eventually switch to formula. Mostly, I learned some of the most valuable lessons to date about motherhood.
Everything is a phase. Its 100% okay to kind of hate the phase you’re in while still loving your baby more than life. I learned that I am stronger than I thought and that I will do what I feel is right for my family. That includes attempting breastfeeding again with our baby due this December, but also stopping at the right time for us. I hope I can apply these lessons to other challenging phases of parenting. I know there are many more to come.
Breastfeeding is an incredible gift. It is also an incredible sacrifice for the mother. Breastfeeding week is about celebrating and normalizing breastfeeding. All of the positive and negative emotions that accompany breastfeeding need a voice and support.