I Don’t Like Breastfeeding

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.
I don't like breastfeeding
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.

Image courtesy of Mel ‘GW’ Stampa @ flickr

Comments

  1. thebonfire says

    Oh i could have written this article!! I have been breastfeeding or pregnant for over 3 years and I am so ready to have my body back especially because for some reason it is *impossible* for me to lose weight while I’m breastfeeding. My baby girl is 9 months and she has been the worst nurser EVER! From not wanting to latch to not latching properly and causing me severe pain for months no matter what I did to correct it. I had mastitis TWICE, now she has both top and bottom teeth and does not know what to do with them, plus the typical thrashing around, pulling on and off constantly and just generally treating me like an open bar. I’ve said 100 times that I’m giving up but I manage to persevere. In spite of it all, I would feel so sad if I missed out on this bonding with my daughter. Not to mention I just can’t get past paying ridiculous prices for something I can make for free!! But I will never look down my nose at a mother who switches to formula to save her sanity. It’s honestly been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I make sure other mothers know it’s also been one of the most rewarding and through my perseverance, I’ve gained confidence in myself that I can accomplish things. Now when I think that I can’t do something, I stop and tell myself if I can breastfeed, as hard as it was for me, I can do this too.

    • says

      Good for you mama! I’m sorry things have been tough for you; kudos to you for sticking with it! You’re right, it does give you a certain sense of achievement. I feel very blessed that our nursing experiences have been straightforward (so far… not tempting fate i hope!).

      Thank you for sharing! xox

  2. says

    I have definitely been feeling this recently with my son being 9mo and starting to play with the other boob on top of feeling his budding teeth scraping against me. It isn’t always wonderful, especially at 3 a.m, but I’ve persevered so far. I can understand why some women don’t have the patience for it. Some days I can barely tolerate it myself. But exactly like other body functions, it is normal, and just like I would end a pregnancy because I was uncomfortable one day, I won’t be prematurely weaning either. However it would be nice if someone else took over nursing for awhile!

  3. says

    So well put! I’m nursing an 18 month old, and I’ll admit I have days when I think about weaning her instead of letting her choose to stop. I’m dedicated to child-led weaning and it’s so obvious how much she still needs to nurse, but I definitely am tired of the every hour “check-in” nurses. I feel sort of guilty because I can’t wait for summer when we can get out of the house more and get her mind on other things.

  4. says

    LOVE your honesty and patience and can totally empathise at the moment! I have a 4 1/2 month old going through the same thing and it sucks! I too have fantasised about getting out a bottle and giving up completely or even pushing the weaning early. She’s so frantic and wants fed every hour day or night pretty much, it’s utterly exhausting!

    But on the plus side – quite apart from baby’s benefits – it is shedding my baby tummy rapidly!

    • says

      Thank you! And i’m sorry you are going through the same! I’ve been feeling a LOT better and have been enjoying nursing generally a lot more since posting – it definitely helps to vent! Do you have anybody you can have a good old moan about it to?

      Lol, I’m glad someone can empathise with the bottle/weaning fantasies. Misery loves company I guess :P Hang in there, mama!

  5. says

    I can really identify with this. My 11 month old has often had nights where she seems to be nursing every hour, or even more frequently! Sometimes I’d love to shut myself in a room on my own and get a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Except that’s not true because on the odd occasion where I’ve tried to take a daytime nap without my daughter it has felt odd and I couldn’t sleep without her there. I keep telling myself the interrupted sleep won’t be forever. Her teeth have been an issue too. Sometimes I’ve shut up shop out of frustration at being bitten for the fifth or sixth time. It takes me ten mins to regain my composure, tell myself she’s not purposely trying to hurt me and allow her to nurse again. Of course I would never tell those that think she’s too old to be breastfed that!!! It doesn’t happen frequently and I can take a few bites if it means she is getting the very best start in life.

    • says

      What you said about not being able to sleep away from your daughter really made me smile :) I am the same with alone-time. I so crave an afternoon completely to myself but I know for a fact that if I got it, I would be bored and lonely within an hour!! Oh, how things change!

      Good for you for sticking with bf, even when it’s hard. It’s easy to forget that we need support past the fragile newborn stage when it’s all about sore boobs and latching issues. Hell, sometimes we need support even when everything is going well!

      Thank you for commenting :)

  6. says

    I could have written this post! Breastfeeding is hard, it’s a drain (literally) and its a huge responsibility! I get so mad when I am told I MUST wean BiP next month as she will be a year old – I’ve struggled to get to where we are today where finally it doesn’t hurt and isn’t so time consuming and now I actually enjoy it! I never thought I’d get to 6 months let alone 11 but my own determination and stubbornness was what drove me!

    Thank you for making me realise its ok to say that maybe, sometimes, I don’t like breastfeeding!

    • says

      Congratulations for breastfeeding for a year! That must have been quite a struggle, living where you live. I am well aware of the exceedingly low breastfeeding rates and the ridiculous attitude towards breastfeeding in France.

      And yes, it’s totally OK not to like it sometimes/most of the time/all the time. I LOVE it mostly but between the hours of 1am and 4am when he just. won’t. sleep and wants to nurse all the time, it makes my skin crawl.

      Thank you for commenting :)

  7. Darcie says

    I really appreciate this post. As a mother who started out breastfeeding her 2 daughters, but ultimately switched to formula for a multitude of reasons one of which was the reality of what bf was not how it was “sold” to me. I did experience some of the joys of BF, but was not ready for how difficult it is/could be even with a good nursling, never mind the stress/pain/depression that comes along with a bad nursling. I think, whether it is a fear that women won’t even try, the reality of the work involved with BF is not discussed to new moms and when it isn’t easy, enjoyable they will think that something is “wrong.”

    I don’t think it is how you meant it to come across, but just because a woman decides to switch to formula it isn’t because she wasn’t educated enough. A lot of bf supporters assume this. Many of us are very well aware of the differences between breast milk and formula it’s just that- either out of choice or circumstance- the benefits to formula feeding outweighed the benefits to breastfeeding for us. I know that is difficult to comprehend for many breast feeders since they don’t have the same viewpoints, but it isn’t because we aren’t “educated.”

    So, in the end I think more discussions like this post need to be put out there in an effort to support nursing mothers and soon-to-be mothers so they don’t feel so all alone in their feelings and struggles.

    • says

      I do apologise that this article (and probably others i’ve written) seems to assume that a woman wouldn’t switch to formula unless she was uneducated about breastfeeding/formula. You’re absolutely right that it’s hard for breastfeeding advocates like myself to understand because we see it from a different viewpoint. I have to admit that in the past I have truly believed that no woman would *choose* to formula feed if she truly knew about the amazing properties of breastmilk (and more importantly the shortcomings of formula), but since starting this blog (and having the wonderful opportunity to meet and converse with such a diverse group of parents) I have learnt that this isn’t always the case.

      I do believe that there are lots of women who choose to stop breastfeeding who wouldn’t have, had they had access to up-to-date, accurate information. But you’re right, there must be plenty out there (yourself included) who are educated in these matters, and made a balanced decision to stop breastfeeding because the benefits of it were outweighed by the benefit to your family of formula feeding.

      At the end of the day, it’s a very personal decision that nobody can make for another. For me, the hard parts of breastfeeding are worth toughing out (and at the moment I’m loving nursing) but I know that doesn’t mean that everyone has to feel that way.

      Like you said, I think absolute honesty is required when teaching new and expectant mums about breastfeeding, as well as balance. It’s no good terrifying mums with horror stories of cracked nipples and all-night-long nursing sessions without balancing it with the good parts, or they wouldn’t even try.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Darcie.

  8. Larissa says

    Hi,
    I love this article!
    I have no doubt BF is best, but it’s not all!
    Unfortunately, i was subject to torture in my country and my nipples were severely damaged. Needless to say, i cannot BF my 2 children.
    What really annoys me, though, is that there are certain mums who go around making you feel inapropriete for not BF when they don’t know why i don’t do it. I feel bullied and if i didn’t know better, i would turn against BF.
    I don’t want to tell them why (it’s far too personal and don’t believe they have to know) – just want them to back off.
    Their behaviour makes young mothers have a bad attitude towards BF.
    I will support my girls when their time comes to BF their children, but i will not bully them into doing it. It will be their decision while having the right information and support.
    I believe there should be more information and support on BF mainly in hospitals and GP waiting rooms, but i also believe, BF mums shouldn’t go on it when they see a mum giving a bottle to her child.
    It’s a shame, really.

    • says

      Hi, thanks for your comment! I’m so sorry to hear of what you went through. You truly are a survivor. And what a crying shame that you have felt that you must defend the fact that you don’t breastfeed! Your story is yet further ammunition to the thought that we must all remember that we cannot judge anybody else until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

      I totally agree that there needs to be a lot less judgement and fighting, from both sides. There shouldn’t even *be* sides, really.

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