I have a confession to make: I didn’t love breastfeeding.
In fact, I really didn’t like it.
When my first child was born in 1999, I was a Labor and Delivery nurse. I loved my job! I actually taught moms how to breastfeed. I knew all the little tricks to get them to latch on, how to hold the baby in more comfortable ways and was very successful in comforting distraught moms when they were at the end of their breastfeeding rope. I had high hopes for myself and swore I would breastfeed for an entire year and not even think about using formula! When I started breastfeeding, I couldn’t see what the big deal was. Oh, sure, I loved holding my little one close, looking into his eyes as he held my finger and filled his belly with milk, but other than that, I didn’t care for it.
I didn’t like how HUGE my boobs were. I didn’t like how I would leak milk for now reason. I didn’t like how I had to “air dry my nipples after applying vegetable oil” so they wouldn’t crack. I didn’t like breastfeeding in public bathrooms. I didn’t like how I was tied down for the better part of a 24 hour period. I didn’t like how I was the only one who could feed him. I didn’t like how breastfeeding ruled my life!
But, I did it.
After many visits to a lactation consultant, pumping to try to increase my supply, adjusting my diet to produce more milk and crying more than I should have, I called it quits! I started my 6-week-old son on formula, got some actual sleep and became a much happier, kinder mom!
When my second son was born in 2001, I tried it again. I thought, “maybe I just didn’t try hard enough last time!” At first, it went much better. I knew about the soreness, the exhaustion, the time it took, what to eat, etc. What I didn’t count on was the “mom guilt.” I remember very vividly sitting on the couch in our living room feeding my baby while my 2 year old ran around the house like a mad man! I couldn’t play with my toddler for the better part of a day because I was ALWAYS breastfeeding. I felt like I was neglecting my 2 year old in order to full fill some ritual that would prove I was a good mom. Good moms breast feed…right?! As ludicrous as this sounds, that was my mindset. I lived under the delusion that “I could have a 2 year old, breastfeed almost around the clock, have a clean house, laundry done and dinner ready when my husband got home.”
After 5 weeks of nursing, pumping, crying and having a disorganized home life, I hung up the breastfeeding hat…for good!
I’m happy to say that I went on to have 2 healthy baby girls who never got one drop of breast milk. I didn’t feel guilty about it either. I did it for me, my children and my family.
I was a better mom and wife NOT breastfeeding.
All 4 of my kids are healthy to this day. I have not seen any difference in my kids who were breastfed vs. those who were not. So, for all you moms who breastfed your babies for years, I bow to you! I admire you! But for those, like me, who it just didn’t work out for, I salute you too.
It’s a hard decision but it’s one that is personal. One that should not illicit guilt. One that only YOU can make for yourself…