Learning to Love Breastfeeding (Even When I Don’t)

There are plenty of posts out there addressing breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, breastmilk vs. formula, supplementing, exclusively pumping – the list goes on and on. This isn’t one of these posts. While I’m passionate about breastfeeding, my passion stems more from my own breastfeeding journeys and is for breastfeeding MY children. How other people feed their children isn’t my passion, and I care way more about the fact that we as moms are all doing the best we can. I’m confident each mom is making the choice she thinks is most beneficial for her child, her family, and herself. This post is about the realization that even though I’m passionate about breastfeeding my children, I have a total love/hate relationship with it. 

Photo Credit: T.Marie Photography

I love knowing that I am the sole sustainer of my child for the first several months of her life. I’m in awe of what the female body is capable of, and I’m proud of the fight I’ve put forth with each daughter, battling weight loss and supply issues in those early weeks. At the same time, some days I hate that I’m the the only one capable of feeding a hungry baby in the middle of the night, several times a night, every night. The early days are exhausting feeding for an hour at a time every hour and a half. Having to plan date night with my husband around being home for bedtime isn’t super romantic. I’m holding out hope that one day she’ll realize bottles aren’t so bad and make things somewhat easier.

I love the intimate connection I’ve experienced with each of my babies while nursing. There’s nothing like the first time you’re able to get your baby to latch after your milk comes in and their little eyes roll back as they gulp and gulp. I think I cried both times. And as much as I complain about waking up several times each night, I love that their little faces light up in their cribs as they watch me come to them no matter how tired we both are. But then I hate the flood of emotions when nursing comes to an end and that connection changes. There’s some freedom, but (in my case) some guilt and some excitement, but also sadness as another “last” happens. Add in all of the hormones, and I was a mess after weaning my first and I’m already dreading going through it again. 

Photo Credit: T.Marie Photography

I love the connections I’ve made and relationships formed through breastfeeding. I’ve met some incredible moms who can completely relate to the struggles, annoyances, and sweet moments of nursing. I’ve met supportive lactation consultants, a helpful Le Leche League leader, other moms, and maybe most amazingly, a couple of other nursing moms who donated extra breastmilk in the beginning when I was struggling to get my second daughter to gain weight. They will forever hold a special place in my heart. On the flip side, I hate how isolating breastfeeding can be. Particularly with my first, when I felt like my day was just 2.5 hour segments revolving around when she needed to nurse again, it was all consuming. Then when they get to an age where they’re easily distracted, I have to remove myself from a room to find somewhere quiet to nurse or skip out on anything around bedtime so I can nurse them to sleep. While I’m not uncomfortable nursing around people (with a cover) I think sometimes others are – or think I am – and leave the room, which is thoughtful, but doesn’t help with feeling secluded. 

I love that I set a goal for myself to nurse both my babies and accomplished it. There were days of pain, days I hated it, (so many) days of stress in the beginning with both girls over their weight gain or lack thereof, but I pushed through, found the support I needed, and did it. I love that I had the opportunity to breastfeed. I hate that some women don’t. I hate all of the different stigmas associated with breastfeeding (not trying hard enough, not nursing long enough, nursing too long, etc etc.) I hate that I feel guilt for even saying I hate any parts of breastfeeding – especially silly things like the inconvenience of everything I wear needing to be nursing friendly – when there are women dying to nurse their babies and aren’t able to. But most of all, I hate that there’s so much mom guilt surrounding every aspect of parenting.

I’ve decided it’s ok if some days I love breastfeeding and other days I don’t. It’s ok if there are parts I hate, but then I feel like crying when we wean. For now, it’s working for us, and I’ll choose to document the pretty sides of it and focus on the positives – most days – until this season of life comes to a close. 

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