OK, so I’m taking a risk here.
I’m about to to tell you all how I really feel about breastfeeding, and I know that I run the risk of making some mommas unhappy; especially living in a state that is so pro-breastfeeding. And I’ve got to admit that my little people-pleasing heart is racing as I’m typing this right now.
OK so time to get real; I don’t like breastfeeding. Now, while you breastfeeding loving mommas pick your jaw up off the floor, let me explain.
I wrote awhile back on my struggles with breastfeeding our first daughter Nora. It was such a difficult experience for me and I felt like I was failing at something that I should innately be able to do as a mother. I struggled long and hard with not allowing how I fed my daughter to dictate how I felt as a mother. I came to realize that what defined me as a mother was not how I fed her, but that I loved her deeply and sought to meet any need she had however I could.
Fast forward to last July when we found out we were expecting again. I began to wrestle with those same questions again…what if I struggled to breastfeed like last time? Would it be the same? Would I struggle just as much as the first time?
Maggie Grace made her debut in May and breastfeeding with her has been completely different. From the beginning Maggie latched on great, fed like a champ, and gained weight quickly. I have yet to need to use any supplementation and we are still nursing and going strong 3 months later!
While all of this has been very exciting for me, it has also brought many difficult emotions that I did not expect.
Now having been on both sides of the equation, a formula momma and a breastfeeding momma, I feel liberated in being able to express my true feelings.
I don’t like breastfeeding.
You know those pictures of a momma peacefully feeding her baby while she radiates an angelic glow as her white gown flits and flows in the breeze?
You know which ones I’m talking about, right?
Ya so that is has definitely not been my experiencing with breastfeeding. Instead I’m the momma in the corner, sweating buckets, uncomfortably trying to adjust my baby and not expose myself in the process. Where’s a picture of that mom?
I don’t find that it allows me to bond with my child anymore than bottle feeding did.
I don’t feel super empowered. I just feel like I have a baby hanging off my boob.
It’s hot and sweaty. And I hate being hot and sweaty.
It can be painful. Those first few weeks were tough as we struggled to perfect her latch, and cracked and bleeding nipples were the norm. So was writhing in excruciating pain while she latched on and fed. Thank goodness for wonderful lactation consultants who helped us fix that!
It’s time consuming. Having been a bottle feeding momma with my first, I got used to short feeds. Nursing is definitely not short, and with a toddler running around, it can be hard to sit for long periods of time needing to nurse a little one.
I find it stressful at times. I’m still worrying about how much she is getting and if it is enough. I worry about my supply and how to keep it up. I worry if I’m feeding enough throughout the day. I wake up panic stricken that she just slept 8 hours straight and my supply might go down, when I really want to be doing a jig because she just slept 8 hours straight!
Now, I know there are many great things about breastfeeding. It’s convenient; no mixing bottles. It’s cheap (wohoo!). It’s great for baby. Trust me, I know.
But in spite of all these great things, I still don’t like it. Just being real.
I also know that there are many women who love breastfeeding. Who find it extremely empowering. Who experience a deep and intense bond when they breastfeed their child. What do I have to say to those mommas?
More power to you! I’m so glad that you all can experience these types of deep emotions and connections with your little ones, but I just don’t find myself relating or having the same experience. And I’ve come to realize…that’s OK.
So why am I still breastfeeding, you may be asking yourself? Well, because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for formula. Because I know it is great for Maggie. Because, if I’m honest, I feel guilty at the thought of giving up because I know how hard of a struggle it was for me and how I longed to breastfeed Nora, and I know how many women would love to breastfeed but find themselves unable to for a multitude of reasons.
Oh and maybe for this reason too…
So here I am; breastfeeding Maggie even though I don’t really like it.
And while I know there are many women out there who love breastfeeding, I also know that there are women who can relate to how I feel as well.
What I want all of you mommas to know is…
I support you. We support you.
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed. Whether you supplement or give your kid the boob until their three.
I support you.
I want to focus on what unites us as mothers, because I find that we are all too often quick to focus on what divides.
I want to focus on our deep love for our children that is the common thread amongst us all. Our deep desire to provide and meet their needs.
This is what is important. This is what unites us.
So now matter how you choose to feed your children, I hope you feel our love and support through this blog and the relationships you may form. And let’s all make it our goal to focus on what unites us as mommas and seek to encourage and uplift each other as we all walk along our individual journeys through motherhood. Because while our journeys may all be unique and different, no one should have to walk it alone.
I understand breastfeeding is not for everyone. I am not here to judge anyone’s decision. I have not walked a mile in your shoes. I have nursed 4 children. Ages currently 15, 13, 10, and now 8 months. I pump 3 times a day. I hate pumping. But it is important to me. I hate that my child has to be bottle fed but that is our reality. I do not have the luxery to be a stay home mom, although, I would love it. I am busy transporting kids to after school activities and sporting events yet I find a way to sit down and nurse my son. It is some of the most important moments I have with him, That being said. My mind takes me to when my daughter was young and she was the same age as some of the babies lost during Hurricane Katrina. So many babies died because they were formula fed because moms did not have access to formula or clean water. It was a very real and heart breaking situation that impacted my commitment to nursing. It also changed federal policy regarding breastfeeding. One of the results is that Women Infant and Children (WIC) now have breastfeeding peer leaders to support and change the breastfeeding culture. Whatever you decision is make sure it is an informed one.
Thank you for your honesty! I tried so hard with my son to breastfeed and it did not work. I felt like such a failure as a mom. How could I care for this little being if I couldn’t even do something as natural as feed him! I saw lactation consultants, took medicine to boost my supply, pumping after every feeding and nothing worked. I felt so judged everytime I feed my son formula at playgroups and outtings with other parents. I would get the “breastfeeding is really hard and some people just aren’t cut out for it” like I wasn’t trying! I would just cry and cry. Skip ahead and my son was 17 months or so when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and without proper medication my body is not able to produce no matter how hard I try. There is a strong movement for breastfeeding which is wonderful, I truly support it but you need to still remember there are people who can not do it and they are not just “being lazy” (was told that as well). My son is just as smart, healthy and truly loved which is all that truly matters.
Thanks nissa,very well written! I can deffinatly relate, nursing takes to long sometimes when my 2 yr old is off getting into trouble, I had to laugh about the hot and sweaty thing! I can’t stand it, it makes me grumpy lol. I’m counting down the months until Wes is 1 and we can switch to cows milk. It’s a love/ hate relationship for sure
Thanks for encouragement Samantha! Yes the hot and sweaty thing makes me pretty grumpy too! Glad you could relate 🙂
Thank you for the honest post! This is how I felt too, and I will definitely be honest with my next New Orleans Mom blog post. Thanks for the courage!
Thanks for the encouragement Angelina!
Great post! Love the honesty and the humor. As someone who was never able to breastfeed, it’s nice to know I might not have missed out on the blissful experience everyone talks about. 🙂
Coincidentally, on my personal blog (I also write for the New Orleans Moms Blog), I mention my cousin who lives in Burlington. 🙂
Thanks for the encouragement Pam! How fun that your cousin lives in Burlington! Usually that doesn’t happen since we are such a small city (and state, for that matter!).
I used to detest breastfeeding – I would find myself googling “I hate breastfeeding” in the middle of the night because I wanted commiseration. That began to change around 6 months. Now at 11 I love it – feedings are super quick (5-10 minutes), I never have to worry about packing bottles etc. The freedom that allows us is precious. And I was so glad when she got very sick recently that I still had that to comfort her. So it’s possible your opinion might change once you’re out of the early months. Not saying you’re not entitled to dislike it – you certainly are – but I wanted to also say that it might not always be so arduous.
Thanks for the encouragement Joan! I do already feel like it is getting a bit better day by day, so you are right that my opinion may change as time goes on.
Awesome post, Nissa!
Wonderful post! I too didn’t love breastfeeding but did it anyway for similar reasons. I agree that as long as you love your child, it doesn’t matter where the milk comes from.
Thanks Beth! I was hoping that was what other mommas would take away from this post 🙂
I promise… it gets MUCH easier to bfed as they get older. I’m nursing my 2 year old right now 🙂 Also, you should totally check out the Burlington LLL. We talk about exactly what you are posting and try to help each other through the struggles. it is a lot of problem solving and support. I didn’t go to my first LLL mtg until 19 months and I really regret it. the first 6 months or so can seem really isolating but once you start getting out there and doing a lot more public outings while nursing the easier it gets. and hot and sweaty season is almost over thank the Lord. I had to tell my daughter many times this summer that mama is too hot for milk but obviously you can’t tell a 3 month old that haha.
Thanks for the encouragement Beatriz. It is nice to hear from a momma who is “on the other side” 🙂 I definitely feel like it is getting a little easier day by day.
Well said Nissa.
Know you are not alone, and I often find myself feeling guilty / struggling with the judgement by others about many things in addition to the formula feeding / breast feeding choice. Like working full time, using disposable diapers… single-handedly ruining the world with each diaper I change, giving my kids store bought meats and not feeding them a 100% organic made from scratch meal 5 times a day. Oy. Who ever said parenting was easy, well they flat out lied. Being a mamma is harder than any paying job I’ve ever had.
Jenny, yes! I definitely think that these feelings extend to so many other areas of mothering as well! I was going to mention some of those very things but I thought I would stick strictly to breastfeeding for this article.
Being a momma is an incredibly difficult job…full of many rewards, but definitely difficult! It helps to know that we are not alone 🙂
Nissa, this is so honest and full of support! I LOVE this and am sharing it right now! I fed three different babies in three different ways and had three different experiences with all of them. I agree with you that bottle feeding can be so loving and a great bonding experience and dare I say it was beautiful to see my husband get to participate in that bonding experience as well.
I do hope that if you choose to continue to breastfeed Maggie that there will be something good for mama out of it. It’s no fun when breastfeeding becomes a chore solely. And it you choose to switch to formula? I’m behind you. If you choose to continue on breast and continue to be cranky over it? I’ve been there, too and I’m behind you also!
God bless you for getting real here. I hoped you would when we had our little half chat at the Farm that day….as many conversations between moms with little ones are. You are brave and I think many moms will feel relieved to read this.
Thanks, Trish, for your support!
I definitely felt it was time to get real, and hopefully other mommas experience some encouragement and support from all of it!