I don’t like breastfeeding.
Yep, you read it right. Imogen, tireless lactivist and campaigner for breastfeeding mums and babies, doesn’t like breastfeeding.
Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. There are some things I love about breastfeeding. I love the closeness, and the fact that Squish’s continued healthy growth is down to me and me only. I love the way he looks at me when he feeds. I love our sleepy, nursey snuggles first thing in the morning. I love how convenient it is – just stick a boob in their mouth and you’re done. And most of all, I love the fact that I am giving him the start in life that he is physically and emotionally designed to receive.
Mostly, though, I find breastfeeding to be a bit of a drag.
I suspect that my recent feelings towards nursing are being caused by the fact that we are still deep in the dark depths of the four-month sleep regression, and as a result I am nursing every hour, on the hour through the night. It gets old pretty quickly. I have been fantasising on a regular basis about switching Squish to formula so that my boobs can get a damn break. I have been pregnant, breastfeeding or both for the best part of four years. I am really craving my body back.
Does this mean I will be giving up breastfeeding? Not a chance.
Breastfeeding is the natural, standard way of feeding an infant. It is not ‘best’, it is NORMAL. It is what my baby expects, and what his body needs to function and grow as it should.
A very wise friend of mine likened it to pregnancy – It’s just another natural function of the body. Sometimes it’s great, other times it sucks, but we still do it because it’s how it’s meant to be.
My recent feelings have caused me to become a lot more moderate in my views. I feel very lucky that I have a good knowledge of breastfeeding and lots of support around me – if I didn’t, and I was under the incorrect assumption that formula is ‘just as good’ as breastmilk, I may have quit by now. I have a lot more sympathy and understanding for those who struggle and choose to stop, and for those who find they just don’t like nursing and choose to formula feed for that reason. If nursing is taking its toll physically and emotionally, and is affecting them in a very negative manner, why on earth wouldn’t they stop? I may not do the same, but I get it now. I understand.
I think that blanket statements about breastfeeding are very damaging. By making women feel like breastfeeding should be a wonderful, empowering, bonding experience all of the time, we are setting them up for failure. Similarly, making mums feel as though it’s always going to be difficult is not helpful. Sometimes breastfeeding is great – magical, even. Other times it just sucks. Everything in life (and parenting) has a positive and negative side; nothing is wonderful all of the time.
I will continue to breastfeed, and allow Squish to self wean when he is ready, just like his brother did. In the years to come, I’m sure my feelings about nursing will continue to wax and wane, but I will stick with it regardless. It’s a commitment – you are committing your time, energy and your body to another human being for an extended period of time – but for me, it’s totally worth it.