Here’s a Friday confession for you: some days I don’t like breastfeeding. If you’ve read my posts on breastfeeding, today’s title may be a little surprising. Especially since I breastfed my first daughter until she was 16 months, and I’m currently exclusively breastfeeding my five month old. (I’ve written more than a half-dozen posts all advocating for nursing, so please don’t bash me in the comments for hating breastfeeding, especially before you read what I have to say.)
I recently decided that my breastfeeding relationship is a little something like loving a member of your family. Take my brother, for example. Growing up, we fought a lot (as siblings do), but never once did I ever stop loving him. He got on my very last nerve, tested my patience, and drove me crazy, and yet, I’d still do just about anything for him. But sometimes I really, really, really, really didn’t like him. Breastfeeding is like that. I love it 95 percent of the time, but that other five percent sometimes gets on my nerves.
So, while I could list all the wonderful things I love about breastfeeding (the snuggles, the one-on-one time, the added health benefits for mom and the baby, etc.), I want to switch things up a bit and talk about that three-percent of the time. I’d like to think a lot of breastfeeding mamas probably feel the same way, but never dare to say it out loud.
Curious what makes me think twice about nursing my little one? Let me count the ways. No, really.
Here are five things I don’t like about breastfeeding:
1. The second guessing.
Those first few weeks after delivery are rough, even if you have a good thing going. Babies like to throw you for a loop, so even after you’ve “established a breastfeeding relationship,” as the experts say, there’s unbelievable self-doubt about whether or not you have enough milk to feed your baby. I had a little bit of an oversupply this time around, but yet I still worried that I didn’t have enough from her. Cluster feeding can mess with your mind—a lot.
2. Baby Gymnastics.
Some women also call this baby gymnurstics (see what they did there?). This usually starts when the baby is around four months old, and it’s just straight-up annoying. A typical nursing session may looks something like this: She’ll probably cry and give several hunger cues, so you pop her on the boob only to have her pop on and off (and on and off, and on and off) because she’s too busy seeing the world. This is an exciting age, because she’s growing up and interested in everything around her, but that also means that there are more important things to do than eat. The only problem is that she’s hungry and sort of actually needs to eat. Enter: baby gymnastics. The different positions a little baby can get into while nursing is simply astonishing. They’re little wiggle worms trying to master doing two things at once (seeing the world and trying to eat at the same time), which leads me to my next point…
3. Being a Chew Toy (i.e. Breastfeeding Hurts, Man!)
Even before they have teeth, it’s amazing how your nipple can become their favorite “toy.” While they’re trying to take in the world around them and eat at the same time (see above), your nipple ends up stretching in ways you never imagined. Not to mention, “comfort” nursing. While I do love comfort nursing (because, hello, baby snuggles!), I don’t love it once the sucking continues for quite a while and you know she’s just using you as a pacifier. (And yeah, I’ve tried to give both girls an actual pacifier, but they’re not fans.) Don’t even get me started on clogged ducts, engorgement pain, and the cracked and bleeding nipples that can come from the beginning stages of nursing. Breastfeeding hurts, man!
4. Freedom To Go Out.
I totally get that this is child specific, but my girls just don’t like the bottle. That’s all fine and dandy…until Mama needs a little break or she and her baby daddy want to go out—alone. When a baby literally relies on you for food, it’s hard to find time away that isn’t within a very small time constraint. Julia actually went a little more than three hours between feeds, which was awesome since I had a decent time I could be away, but this baby loves to eat all the time. Some people say that if a baby is hungry enough, she’ll eat from the bottle. My rebuttal to that is that they’ve never met one of my babies.
I don’t actually mind this one too much, but I figured I’d throw it in here, because it’s sometimes a slight annoyance. Most outfits are versatile for breastfeeding, except dresses. I see so many adorable dresses that I’d love to buy/wear (including several in my own closet), but I can’t because there’s no way to pull it down, and I’m sure as heck not lifting it up. Such a bummer!
That’s not too harsh of a list, right? And if you’re pregnant and reading this, I really hope I didn’t completely discourage you from breastfeeding.
Not digging this very natural thing, is totally okay. Look at it this way: You may love absolute everything about your job and career, but some days you just want to play hooky. Breastfeeding is more than a full-time job, so I’m pretty certain even the most hard-core nursing mamas have had days where they just want to not feel like a human cow for a few hours a day, and would love to give their boobs a night off.
With all that said, I truly adore breastfeeding, and I’m thankful for this opportunity; it’s probably one of the coolest things women are capable of doing. I just listed five things that sometimes bug me, but for every annoyance up there, I have three more things I love about breastfeeding.
Okay mamas, your turn: what drives you batty when it comes to breastfeeding your little one?