Our second child is less than two months old, and I have recently realized I have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. There are highs and lows, advantages and disadvantages, and so many sleepless, yet special, nights.
Some days I feel fortunate to have been able to breastfeed my children successfully. And there are moments during those good days where I am in awe of all the benefits. But other times (even during those good days) there are moments I hate, dread, and even resent, breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not, at least for me, all positive and magic, nor only negative and awful. Every mom’s breastfeeding journey is unique, and mine happens to bounce around on a love-hate spectrum.
I love the special relationship I have with my baby.
Without a doubt, I find myself honored to be the only one who feeds my baby this way. It is a miracle of biology that my child and I have this special, physical connection to one another.
I hate that sometimes no one else can help my baby.
Sometimes I just want to nap, okay? Or shower, or eat, or wear a normal bra. Or just not be at the beck and call of a finicky tiny human. I have a lot of support, but sometimes my breastfed baby only wants to be nursing, and it can feel burdensome to be the only one who can do that: to be the only source for food and comfort.
I love the convenience of breastfeeding.
Because all I need are my body parts, I always have the required supplies. As long as my baby and I are together, I can always feed her whenever she’s hungry.
I hate how inconvenient breastfeeding is.
When I am breastfeeding, my options are either I can never leave my baby’s side, or an incredible amount of planning and work goes into assuring someone else can feed my baby. The pumping, freezing, hauling, and storing of breastmilk can be a lot to keep track of. And keeping all the pumping equipment clean is a job, too. Then, there’s finding the right bottle, getting the temperature just right, and holding the baby in just the right position to accept it.
I love how natural breastfeeding is.
It blows my mind how a baby comes out of me, and then within an hour or so, they have figured out how to eat. Breastfeeding is so primal, and it can be amazing to watch my body and my baby know just what to do.
I hate how hard breastfeeding is.
Except, sometimes we don’t know what to do, and it doesn’t always go right. And it is really, really hard. Especially with issues like clogged milk ducts, engorgement, and nipple trauma. After our first kiddo was born, the lactation nurse at the hospital called him a “barracuda baby,” so you can imagine how much fun that was.
Or when the baby is showing all of the feeding signs but then refuses to nurse, and then the brain-rattling screaming just won’t stop. That sucks. As does the relentless game of on and off a latch. And all the biting and the pulling. Ouch. Oh, and don’t get me started on cluster feeding.
I love all of the support for breastfeeding.
I feel in the last generation there has been a greater effort toward raising awareness and support for mothers who choose, and are able, to breastfeed. There are so many resources to consult, support communities to join, great products to use, and improving laws to encourage women to breastfeed their children.
I hate all the pressure to breastfeed.
But the pressure to breastfeed, especially the kind that takes the tone of shaming, is not helpful. I have felt guilty for not loving every minute of breastfeeding because someone tells me I shouldn’t be complaining, invalidating my own experience. Being scolded for wanting to incorporate bottles of expressed milk and *gasp* even formula into our feeding routine.
When really all I want is to just keep my little humans alive and thriving. Successful breastfeeding (or feeding of any kind, for that matter) looks different for every mom, and I do not need any more judgment from anyone. This includes judgment from people who have opinions on how and where I breastfeed.
Just mind your own business.
I love that pumping is a break where I can be alone.
Let’s be honest nobody wants to see it, and nobody wants to ask questions. Therefore, I get to pump in solitude. Now that I am a mother of two, I cherish any time I get to myself.
I hate that some of the only time I spend alone each day is while pumping.
I’m a human being who needs downtime just to be a human being. And I’m not only a mom or a milk factory, and I would like to be that human being, alone, while not hooked up to a machine every once in a while.
There, I said it. Sometimes I love breastfeeding my baby. Other times I hate breastfeeding. While I am glad I have been able to successfully feed my children the way I have wanted to, it doesn’t negate my feelings about how hard it is. It is physically demanding and I know I’m not the only mom out there with mixed, even conflicting, feelings about breastfeeding. It’s okay to admit it isn’t always the magical experience we thought it would be.