‘Breastfeeding is an amazing feeling. But there are times when you need to focus on other areas of your life without feeling stressed or guilty.’
This was printed on the side of a box for a breast pump. It was one of many sources that implied to mothers that breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your child. Medical research supports the wondrous and significant array of benefits breastfeeding offers a child; it is made to seem amazing, beautiful, and invaluable and I felt an expectation that breastfeeding would be an indescribable moment of bonding between me and my child.
The reality is, for people like me, breastfeeding is not an amazing feeling. Instead it’s a service and a sacrifice made alongside other decisions in light of what we believed was best for our child. Because of this, despite successfully breastfeeding my little one, I never felt those precious moments of bonding. I never felt like it was the most amazing feeling to be cuddling my little one while he drank as much as he needed.
Instead, when I initially started to breastfeed, I found it quite depressing. A part of me felt used because I was there to provide a service. Sometimes I felt like a cow – coming from the bloated-ness of pregnancy to having a hungry little boy latch on to me and refuse to let go until he was full or ready to drift off. My arms ached, my back was weary, and my nipples eventually became sore when my little man grew teeth.
Breastfeeding burns as many calories as light exercise and so I found the regular feeds exhausting. Amidst the sleepless nights, the nappy changes, and the energy you burn running after a child, breastfeeding takes an even bigger toll on your body as it works hard to produce the milk your baby needs. Working full time, looking after a young active boy, and breastfeeding left me drained, tired, and in bed by 8:30pm every night.
I don’t have any regrets with breastfeeding. I still believe it’s one of the best things I’m doing for my son as he’s growing up to be healthy, active, and each time he falls ill he recovers so very quickly. However if I had to do it all over again, I’d like to find a way to help me feel less desperately needed.
While I disagree that breastfeeding is an amazing feeling, I completely agree that there are times when we need to focus on other areas of our lives without feeling stressed or guilty. There is so much more to our lives than being a mother, and there is much more to being a mother than breastfeeding. As with all things that come with motherhood, it is natural to experience some emotional turmoil around breastfeeding. Nothing ever comes completely easily in life!
Finally, if breastfeeding isn’t for you, don’t listen to the thoughts that say you’re selfish or inadequate. You know yourself and your little one best, and you are in the best position to do what is right for you and your baby.