I don’t love breastfeeding

This past March, as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Sugarbaby, I had noticed a few women commenting online that they hated breastfeeding or at least didn’t love it.  Not that they were stopping or refused to do it but that they didn’t have any of the warm fuzzy feelings they’d heard others talk about and they were looking forward to experiencing themselves.  Often with their confession came the question: “does this make me a bad mom?”

My heart ached with them.

I watched as some people responded making suggestions as to how they could maybe enjoy the experience more, or how it may take some time to get to that place, some sharing how much they love breastfeeding and are sorry the poster didn’t, and sometimes a few responding that they could relate.  These women would respond that they were really struggling or felt broken, or questioned that maybe they didn’t love their child enough and that there was something wrong with them.

And again my heart ached with them.

I was 35 weeks pregnant that week, preparing for a new nursling.  Expecting baby #6, I was fairly confident that everything would be fine with breastfeeding.  Not overly so, as I know each breastfeeding experience is different but there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be breastfeeding and that if there were any challenges we’d be able to work through them with our incredible support system.  Still, there was this tiny part of me that wasn’t really looking forward to it.  Maybe even dreading it a little.  Which is almost heresy coming from the person that started The Leaky Boob.

Feeling for those women struggling I posted this status update on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page:

Swing by the wall, you’re needed here. I don’t *love* breastfeeding. Nope, I don’t. It doesn’t give me warm, fuzzy feelings. I don’t look forward to sitting down with my nursling. I don’t particularly care for the sensation. But I breastfeed and I actively advocate and educate about breastfeeding. Why? Because I believe it’s the biologically normal way to feed a human infant. I don’t see myself as a martyr, just doing what I need to do to care for my children. I also don’t think this makes me a bad mom any more than the fact that sometimes I really hate making dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch. Or changing diapers and doing laundry. What about you? Anyone else not “love” breastfeeding? What’s your breastfeeding confession?

Responses started pouring in and in less than an hour there were close to 200 comments.  The first 20 or so comments (I didn’t count, it could be a dozen or 50) are either people sharing they can relate, thanking me for such an honest confession because they felt less alone or freakish, sharing that it’s a love/hate relationship for them, the random “don’t like seeing people breastfeeding in public” (what’s that doing there?), the super excited ones that LOVE it and can’t relate, and the true confession of wanting to go out drinking (one brave soul shared that).  Most of the 200 responses were from women grateful to hear my confession, thanking me for letting them know they weren’t alone and weren’t a bad mom for having these feelings.  Then came the handful of comments saying that status was terrible and would discourage moms from breastfeeding.  A few said that if they had seen that post when they were first breastfeeding and things were rough it would have made them want to quit.  They asserted that we shouldn’t lie but we have to be selective with our words so as not to scare someone off.  A few came down hard saying they were disappointed to see a post like that on TLB and called into question if I really support breastfeeding with posts like that.

I told my #4 nursling at the time that I didn’t like breastfeeding.  Apologizing that I was gritting my teeth through her nursing sessions, I stroked her cheek and told her that even though I didn’t love breastfeeding I did very much love her and so she was worth it.  Too young to understand, I felt my little girl sleeping in my arms and my chest tightened as the truth of my love for her surged through me making it hard to breathe.  In that moment I vowed that even if I never loved breastfeeding I would focus on how much I love my daughter while she’s at my breast and I could take pleasure in how much she enjoyed breastfeeding even if I didn’t personally enjoy it.

Today I’m breastfeeding my 6th baby as I type this.  My feelings about breastfeeding have changed, the skin-crawling, teeth gritting feeling is gone and while I still can’t say that I personally love it I truly and deeply love how much my baby loves to breastfeed.  As her mother, there is an expansive satisfaction in making her happy that overwhelms even my own discomfort.  I don’t see myself as a martyr, just as a mother who, like most parents, has to give up some of my own personal comfort for a time for the benefit of my child.  As my baby grins up at me briefly letting go of my nipple, a little dribble of milk coursing down her cheek, I feel privileged to share and be the source of this moment she enjoys so much.  I will continue breastfeeding for my baby girl and I will continue being honest about my own breastfeeding journey and feelings because in the long run we all need the kind of support to be who we really are if we’re going to grow.

I followed up with this that day on Facebook: (edited here)
So sometimes breastfeeding isn’t an amazing experience, sometimes it is. We can be honest about our feelings with ourselves and with others and need to have safe places to do so. If that’s announcing loving the experience or sharing that it’s a struggle not enjoyed, it’s important to have that place. Even for me. Being brave enough to be honest enough to admit the hard stuff is where true support is found. When I first started breastfeeding and hated it deeply it wasn’t helpful to only hear how wonderful it was for everyone else. I needed to hear a balance of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I didn’t believe anyone actually enjoyed it, they just said they did because it was expected. Today, 6 nurslings later, I’ve learned that it’s complicated and that’s ok. Everyone’s experience is different and nobody should have to hide it because what we need is to be honest, supportive, and real. Some things are going to encourage you, some are going to discourage you, either way, own YOUR experience.
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What about you?  Have you had times where even if everything was working fine, you just didn’t enjoy breastfeeding?  Why do you continue?
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Comments

  1. Jen says:

    I don’t always love breastfeeding, especially as my oldest gets older and continues to nurse. He is almost 26 months and still going strong. I’m proud of that, and I love the connection we have because of nursing. But sometimes I just want to own my body again. I am committed to letting him self-wean because I see how important and meaningful that nursing time is for him and I want him to have it for as long as he needs it. And when he is done I am sure I will be sad and regret all these times that I wished for it to be over, but I will also celebrate a little. It is complicated. Thank you for so bravely sharing your experience.

  2. Kim M says:

    This is exactly the type of support and perspective that women need!!

    I, for the most part, love nursing. But, at 38 weeks pregnant and nursing my 23 month old I have moments that make me want to scream. The first few seconds are VERY painful these days and getting my nipple out of my daughters mouth after she has fallen asleep is a test and a half. We will be tandem nursing very soon and I’m sure that will come with its own challenges. Let alone the challenges of a new nursling.

    All that being said the benefits and my daughters love of her milk and our nursing relationship far outweigh the challenges. For me it is all about perspective.

    • Jen says:

      Kim M – I’m currently tandem nursing a 2 month old and a 26 month old. It is a new set of challenges and also a new set of rewards. The bond I already see between my children is worth every difficult moment – and there were many especially in the first month.

  3. amyB says:

    99% of my BF days have been magnificent. Just this last week though I had two days where it was complete torture and drove me to tears. My son (21 months) nurses to sleep and it was like nursing a scratchy, nipple pinching, rabid octopus. It took 1 1/2 hours two nights in a row just to get him to sleep and I woke up the next morning swearing I would quit. At nap time that day he magically went back to his sweet self and has been ever since. I am SO glad I tolerated a couple bad days for more wonderful days down the road. I would be so upset if I ended our breastfeeding relationship on such a bitter note.

  4. I *have* loved breastfeeding, but I definitely do not always love it. Just like I love eating some meals, and some meals are merely necessary, like grabbing a mediocre sandwich. Does that make any sense at all? It’s just not always a warm, fuzzy, intimate bonding moment. Sometimes, yes. Always? Definitely not.

    RIght now, I’m 16 weeks pregnant and nursing a nearly 3-year-old boy. It’s painful, uncomfortable, and downright annoying sometimes when we nurse, but it’s just what we do. I believe in it. I also believe I”m hoping for a short break before the next one gets here! :)

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

  5. Anna P says:

    I completely agree!!! My husband has asked me with every child, we have 3 with #4 on the way, if I ‘enjoy’ breastfeeding. If I love that fact that I am my child’s only source of nutrition and comfort. I never know how to respond correctly. Because I really don’t ENJOY breastfeeding. Sure it makes me happy that I am giving my child the best that I can, but there is a lot about breastfeeding that I don’t like. We don’t use bottles, and I hate the feeling that I can never leave my child for more than an hour because they will need something from me shortly after that amount of time. I hate waking up a billion times a night nursing on demand. I hate being tired and hungry ALL the TIME!!! I could probably go on and on, I have a tendency to be a negative nancy… ;)

    But I will say, that for everything I don’t like about breastfeeding… I would NEVER do things differently. I also am no martyr, I’m just doing what I know is the best thing for my children whether I like it or not. Whether I get something out of it or not. Keep up the good work. I love the honesty of your writing.

  6. Kate says:

    Love this. I actually love breastfeeding. Love everything about it. I’m nursing my 3rd baby right now. I love that my body makes everything that she needs to grow. I love the whole biology behind breastmilk and breastfeeding. I love holding her in my arms while she nurses or laying next to her while she nurses at night. I love that it’s the only time in my day when I have an excuse to do nothing else! I can sit down and feed her and not have to worry about anything else that needs to be done. It’s really the only time I can relax! I love how uncomplicated it is (for me). I can feed her anywhere anytime, with no cleanup necessary. But of course that’s not to say everyone should or can share my feelings about breastfeeding. I think it is absolutely important to be honest about breastfeeding. I think you hit it on the head, with the meals comparison. I wish more women would feel they don’t have another option to breastfeeding. You don’t really have another option than to provide meals for your family. It drives me batty making 3 meals a day for everyone, but obviously I don’t have a choice so I do it. Not always pleasant, but you do it. Breastfeeding should be as normal as making dinner. Regardless of how it makes you feel.

    • Jessica says:

      I agree with Kate. BF was one of the things that I loved the most about having a baby. I loved being pregnate and I loved BF. The love the flowed out of me was indescribeable, as was the love that I got back. BUT as a suffer of cracked nipples with baby #2, I totally understand how people can NOT love BF but still do it. I think that in the end, all that matters is that you DID what you thought best for your child regardless if you loved every minute of it. I hate cleaning…but I do it. I hate washing out poopy laundry or vomit…but I do it. Why? Because I love my children and if I’m not going to take care of their every need, who will?
      xoxoxo to all the moms out there! Keep up the good work! :D

  7. amyB says:

    P.S. I tried to email an anonymous question to theleakyboob@theleakyboob.com when I was in the thick of those really hard moments and I couldn’t get it to go through from two different email accounts. Is there a better way to send an anonymous question? I have family members on my FB page that I don’t need to share info with…

  8. justine says:

    there were moments when i loved it, unabashedly. but in the beginning, i would say maybe the first 6 weeks, i would cry after she would latch, thinking about how i had to do it again in 3 hours. my husband was super supportive, and even though neither of us knew anything about breastfeeding, he researched as much as i did, called my LC, bought me an amazing pump and all the lanolin i could dream of, let me rest in between sessions-everything he could to encourage me. that saved my nursing relationship with my daughter and made me love it. i think i loved it even more when i was GOOD at it. when new moms set out on a nursing adventure, i let them know that the beginning is hard but as long as they surround themselves with positive people who want them to succeed, they can do it, if they want to. i think it is so SO important to hear that it is hard, but it gets better. my sister in law told me that on day 4 and it definitely made an impact. all that is to say-honesty is the best policy. someone said, “if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong” and i firmly believe that is a lie. when you start a new work out or a new wake up routine, it hurts a little at first. and once you get used to it, the hurt goes away, but sometimes it comes back briefly, but the end result keeps you motivated.

    • Jana Cathey says:

      thank you for making it more clear that if it hurts your doing it wrong….I always heard that so I always thought i was doing it wrong. That gives me a little bit more peace in mind. I have a 2&3 yo that i could only breastfeed a short amount of time cause they never gained weight and dr said i was not producing enough to keep them healthy so i would pump and do formula. i would only get like 2-3 ounces. But for my next child i will remember this thank you SO much.

  9. Erika says:

    I have nursed three babies- my first until she was 2 (and through a whole twin pregnancy that ended in stillbirth), my second until she was 2 1/2 (through the whole pregnancy of my third), and now I am nursing my third and she just turned 10 months. It is an important part of my mothering…but every day, I don’t love it exactly. That’s not why I do it. It’s just how I parent and it’s the only way I know how to feed my babies…and it is important to me. I think it’s kind of like running- you don’t always like it while you’re doing it, but you’re always glad that you did.

    xoxo,
    erika

  10. Jem says:

    It’s hard to love breastfeeding when you birth babies with tongue and lip ties. Nonetheless, I grieved the end of my first nursing relationship and will no doubt grieve the end of this one eventually too.

    Nothing in life is perfect 100% of the time, I just see breastfeeding as a normal part of life.

  11. Ashley says:

    Thanks for this post – I am nursing my 2nd baby (my first I couldn’t nurse full time for varying reasons, so my son has been my first ebf experience)

    I do experience the “oh my goodness I love this so much” feelings while nursing him. SOMETIMES. Other times I feel like I am just doing it because I have to. The perspective you brought up about thinking about how much your baby loves to nurse is an amazing one to keep in your mind during those tough times. Like in the middle of the night when my 7 month old is STILL calling out for a feed, or in public where you can’t find a comfortable position, or when all of your girlfriends are going out for drinks and you can’t join them.

    Nursing isn’t easy, that’s why bottles and formula exist. I would never condemn anyone for going that route EVER (my daughter was only partially nursed, and all of my beautiful nephews were bottle fed by my amazing sister). You just have to be committed to it and you really have to know why you are doing it, and believe in it. When in doubt, look down at that little one drinking away. They might be fast asleep, intensely focused on sucking, or staring at you, oozing with adoration. That is why you are doing it!

  12. Faye K says:

    my oldest pretty much self weaned at 1 yr, and while i was not arguing with him, i was thankful to be over that. this time, 5 years later, im breastfeeding twins, and at 8 months, we have worked out most of the kinks in our breastfeeding relationship, but i still struggle sometimes. its hard being the sole source of sustainment for two humans. its emotionally draining at times. the demand for my time, my attention and how much i have to sacrifice being comfortable takes a toll on me. i have back issues and large breasts so its been tough. i do not love breastfeeding in the magical warm and squishy way a lot of women do. i love it in the its best for my children, its what i can offer them that i know is good no matter what kind of way. i will make a lot pf parenting mistakes along the way, but i feel good knowing that the breastfeeding choice, was a very big one and it was the best one for us. (still have to pump and let my husband feed them once and awhile to stay sane) congrats to all the women out there who are honest with themselves.

    ironically, even though its more challenging, i get those warm and squishy feelings more if i breastfeed both at the same time. but that is physically difficult for me. thank you for your honesty and for not being ‘perfect’.

  13. I loved it, but just like I loved pregnancy while I was pregnant but now dread it again someday, I sort of dread breastfeeding again. Mainly, it’s the pumping. That was a pure nightmare. It got so much better once I stopped pumping and started feeding him milk during the day and just nursing at night. I totally see where you’re coming from and the joy for me was also in how much he enjoyed it…and I’d do it the same for a second one.

  14. Mya says:

    Aww, I don’t always ‘love’ nursing either, but what I do love is the ability to DO it. I am always amazed at the fact that my body can feed a baby even when it hurts or I am so touched out I want to push them off me! My baby needs nothing but me and that will always amaze me…Its good to be realistic about breastfeeding, like everything it has ups and downs, good days and bad…Thanks for writing this and for TLB!

  15. Sarah says:

    I’m due with my first this November and will be BFing for the first time. I really, really appreciate this post, because I’m not exactly all ooey gooey looking forward to it for some reason.. I’m choosing to BF and will give it everything I’ve got, because it’s the way my baby was created to be fed and the fact that I was created to be able to do so. The mere fact that it’s what is best for my baby is without a doubt enough for me to push through any struggles or lack of enjoyment that may come with it.

    I found this post very comforting. Thank you for sharing! Not only did it not “scare me away,” your raw honesty was truly appreciated! It helps to go into BF for the first time knowing that everyone’s experience is different and whatever experience that may be is OKAY! ..And that if it’s not a good one, you can still work through it.

    Thank you!!

  16. Jeni says:

    I have to say at first I LOVED breastfeeding. It gave me a sense of closeness and pride that is indescribable. Then when my second daughter was 6 months old and not sleeping for more than a few hours at a time, then the same at 9 months, and the same at a YEAR, I was dreading night time nursing. I knew that I wasn’t going to get more than 3 hours of sleep at a time….if I was lucky. I spent the first year of my second daughter’s life in an exhausted daze. Now at 14 months old, she pretty much sleeps through the night. She is weaned from breastfeeding all together because of my drop in supply due to baby #3 on the way. Now I miss it like crazy!!!!

  17. Mama Russia says:

    I had a love hate relationship with nursing. I have flat nipples and it makes it very hard to nurse. I delt with cracked and bloody nipples for almost 2 months. The first advice that came to me was just don’t quit. I did have to start supplementing at about 7 months and then I was fully dry by 9 months. I look back and every time I hold a newborn I have the let down happen. Then it makes me miss nursing. I only have one child but I hope to have more and I hope to not give up as easily as I did with my first. I hope next time knowing what I know now and with the knowledge of your website has given me the strength to persevere through those hard times.

  18. Hannah says:

    Three babies in…I am struggling with it. After ovecokjng our initial struggles with my first, I loved it! I was so proud of my body and our ability to over come some huuge hurtles. I was heart broken when she weaned 38weeks into my second pregnancy. She was 19mos old. I had the best time nursing my second baby for 2 years – from start to finish it was rewarding.

    My third baby pinches, has clamped/bitten since birth, and in general has never been easy at the breast (she is 7mos old)…I feel tire of always sharing my body. But I love her, she loves nursing. I will continue until she weaned herself.

  19. jennifer hardin says:

    I HATED breastfeeding my second child. HATED everything, her touching me constantly ect. So when the dr said she wasnt gaining weight well i stopped gladly. I also had severe ppd and was better that i didnt bf her. When my 3rd came i had times i didnt like it… the kicking, pinching, the growth spurts but i kept pushing through because its something special and meaningful for both of us. 10 months and still going.

  20. Beth says:

    My DS turns 2 on Sunday, and I have my 2nd due in late Dec. I never had any issues with BFing DS, until I got pregnant with baby 2 and my nipples started getting sore. We’ve still made it through 25 wks of pregnancy, but the past couple weeks I’ve started thinking about weaning DS… partly because I’m not producing milk, partly because I think it would make it easier for DS to sleep on his own (I don’t feel comfortable bedsharing with a new baby AND a toddler, and I want him to be used to sleeping on his own well before the baby arrives), but mostly I want my body back before for a little while before I start another 2 yrs (?) of BFing.

    But this post made me aware that since I HAD enjoyed BFing, I’d forget why I’ve really been doing it… enjoying it was a bonus, but ultimately not really relevant to why I BF. I’m not sure I’ll change my mind about weaning (I personally feel BFing beyond ~1 yr is beneficial but not as important as the first year, and as I mentioned there are also factors beyond my personal comfort), but I am rethinking it. And if I were going through this or another problem during the first year, I can only imagine it being a source of hope and encouragement to be reminded that I’m not BFing because I love it, I’m doing it because I love my child and believe BFing is the best way to care for him/her. Thank you!

  21. Sandy says:

    I am 24 weeks along with future nursling #2, and I can say honestly that although I am looking forward to another nursing experience (my daughter is 24 months and weaned), I am NOT looking forward to the first few weeks of soreness. I am forever thankful that I nursed my 1st, and it was a wonderful experience after the first 2 or 3 days (and then a week or 2 of “ouch!” just when she latched on), but there were many times I considered giving up in the beginning.

  22. Tamara Curry says:

    I think that the more we over-romanticize it by never speaking the full truth, the harder we make it for a lot of people. Sometimes it is played up like this fantasy thing, which some people don’t believe before they’ve even started. This leaves a gap for those cynical that it can be enjoyable. It can also leave room for someone who doesn’t enjoy it to quit because there “must be something wrong.”

    It’s like meeting your baby for the first time. Some people fall in love with their oh-so-perfect, nothing-more-beautiful baby the second they see them on the ultrasound screen or the second they see them for the first time after birth. Others, don’t feel that way and only grow into that parental love. It’s ok both ways. Different personalities, different feelings.

    I usually mostly see breastfeeding as an act of utility. Baby needs to eat; I have the ability to feed him kind of thing. I did grow to love certain things about Tristan most when breastfeeding. Nothing beats him laughing while he’s latched on–not even a full belly laugh when rolling around and being tickled. When he was under 9 months, he could not have been cuter than when he was latched on. Maybe it was something about the angle I was seeing him; maybe it was the hormones. I can say, though, being a “didn’t fall in love with my perfect son the second I saw him” kind of mother I am so glad I breastfed him. Not being that extra step removed that bottle feeding could impose, I bonded earlier than I would have if we had bottle fed. It was in a moment during a nursing session that I had that surge of motherly love. Prior to that, I felt more of an, “Oh my gosh. I am now responsible for another life,” with the “Yay! He’s cute!” feelings.

    I think there’s an element in truth about loving your child so much being a part of it. If we could separate loving your child from the breastfeeding experience, I wonder how much the “I am IN LOVE with breastfeeding!” crowd would still say they were in love with the act. I can imagine it’s one of the biggest parts of the love for the act.

    If we don’t talk about the good, the bad, the easy, the hard, the beautiful, and the ugly of breastfeeding we are segregating women and families and ultimately that sends the signal that breastfeeding is only for a select few–only a certain type of women. Talk about a disservice.

    I talked a little about this on my blog at http://rtcphotowork.tumblr.com/post/29213797442/bfpart1

  23. Meghann says:

    This was an excellent read and I think the honesty is soo important, especially for new moms wanting to nurse. I’m one of those moms! I had my baby 8-30-12 so I am VERY new to the whole experience still. I have an excellent support group, which I am so thankful of, and it’s wonderful that so many places are really promoting breastfeeding. However, I do feel somewhat betrayed by the “professionals”. The ones I talked to during my pregnancy and also the ones at the hospital who were there to help. Yes, everyone has told me it will be rough until you reach a schedule and you may have nights where you want to cry with the baby but no one really explained to me what that meant. No one told me there would be nights where I would be doing literally NOTHING but nursing. No one told me I would feel like a cow instead of a human being. The day after Kyley was born, the lactation consultant visited my husband and I to educate us for over an hour. She gave the typical spout of how healthy it is for baby yada yada. She also told me that babies need to be nursing every 2-3 hours and if they aren’t, you should be waking them up. She gave me this long list of how breastfeeding is supposed to go. Things started out great and everyone told me I was doing wonderful, I felt amazing and like I had discovered some secret that so many other moms hadn’t. After three days of being home, it was a wake up call. After having a 36 hour induction, a uterus that was giving up on me, three nurses on top of me to help push Kyley out, and a post-partum hemorrhage, you can imagine the type of healing I’m needing. Kyley wanted to do NOTHING but nurse. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t do anything else. I felt helpless and broken. I spent the entire evening crying off and on with my husband rubbing my arm and encouraging me. Telling me he wouldn’t be upset at me if I felt I couldn’t do this but he knew I was a strong person and I could handle it. At the same time, he felt so helpless as well because he can’t help with the feedings. It was the roughest night I’ve ever experienced and I just wish people had told me to prepare for these types of things.

    Things have gotten better. Although I am still early into breastfeeding, I feel like I know what to look for in the future and can at least be emotionally prepared for it, and the same for my husband as well. Kyley has been moving towards nursing herself to sleep at night and waking up every so often to nurse then fall back asleep. She’s really only doing this at night and during the day seems to go a lot smoother.

    I honestly feel that because the push for breastfeeding is so hard right now, that they don’t give you the full story in fear they will run people off. I feel that breastfeeding should really be a personal choice and not forced on people, but I also think they need to be 100% honest. As I mentioned above, I felt broken, it brought me to tears and I really feel for other moms that are out there and do feel lost. I can’t say that I want to jump for joy and shout I’M A BREASTFEEDING MOTHER, I’M IN LOVE WITH IT. However, I can say that I am in love with the closeness it brings, knowing that I can give my baby something that no one else can, the look of “Ohhh yeahhhh that hits the spot” she has on her face when I look down and see her on my boob, that “breastfeeding high” (as I like to call it) she has after she’s done and is so content, and the adorable noises she makes when she’s feeding. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything in the world and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

    Sorry for such a long response, I just really need to let all of this off my chest!

  24. Krysann says:

    I enjoy it. Now. But like a lot of moms, the first few weeks/months were kind of harrowing. There was about a week (maybe less) where my boobs hurt so terribly bad and every time she nursed it felt like someone was tearing my nipple off and stabbing me from inside (sorry. bad visual, i know!). I would nurse with tears streaming down my face, moaning from the pain. It was awful. I can say that then I absolutely HATED it. But I had done the research and had committed to breastfeeding so we got through it. I also wasn’t super thrilled with it when she was eating every couple hours for very long periods of time (sometimes 2+ hours) because I couldn’t get anything done! lol But again, we got through it. And seeing that little milk coma was worth it. Knowing that she was getting the best she could get and that she was able to rely on her mother for it gave me a satisfaction more profound than the difficulties.

    Now (she is 14 months) I sincerely love it, but I can definitely relate to moms who do not. And I think it’s very helpful to talk about it like that. To be honest about it’s challenges without advocating to throw the whole thing out. Just because we aren’t always super excited about breastfeeding doesn’t mean we want to switch to formula.

  25. tiff says:

    I struggled to breasted my last child everyone kept telling me how wrong I was doing it I cried everynight because I couldn’t sleep it right and I wanted to so bad for my baby so you could say I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding I’m now 37 weeks and dreading failure again

  26. Melissa says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, TLB! Thank you so much for your honesty! I think it’s important for all BFing moms, and those around her, to know that BFing IS hard! It didn’t come easy with my first child because of medical reasons after he was born. He had to be on antibiotics for seven days, so he got supplemented with formula while I pumped to get my supply going. I had to use the nipple shield to help with his latch. We eventually ‘got it’ and he nursed for 14 months. I would have gone longer, but he self-weaned, thus ending our nursing adventure.
    My daughter, whose 4 months & 3 weeks, was put to my breast soon after giving birth, so she latched right on! Yaaay! But, it was STILL hard. I thought, “Wow, this is great! She did it! I’ve got this, no problem!” WRONG! I stayed in the hospital three days and every time she had to nurse, I dreaded it! My nipples were SO sore, I cringed every time she latched on! Whether it was a bad latch or just a matter of my nipples getting used to the “action”, I felt I needed to stick with it for HER. Just like with my son…I wasn’t going to give up! She is ebf and I am so proud and happy I can do this for her. No, every moment isn’t “warm & fuzzy”, but the good far outweighs the bad! I will continue to BF her for as long as she needs me! The ball, or, shall I say boob, is in her court…or mouth! ;-)
    Thank you, again, for all that you share!

  27. Kristine says:

    Thank You so Much for posting this! I am on nursling #2 at almost 10 months, after nursing my daughter for 13 months. Sometimes I’m just touched out. I feel like everyone wants a piece of me. I do it because I love my kids, and Love being able to provide them with food that nature designed perfectly for them. I feel so much more sane now that my 9 mo olf has decided to sleep through the night without nursing constantly, because frankly I need a bit of time to myself, even if it is dead asleep time. I love moments when he looks up at me with his big blue eyes and smiles at me with a mouth full of milk, but sometimes I want to pull out my hair screaming because he wants to nurse ALL DAY, and big sister needs me too. Thank you for showing It does not make me a bad mom, it makes me human. Sometimes we sacrifice ourselves on the alter of parenthood, and its important to know that its ok to not always love that choice, but to know that we made that choice.

  28. Joyce says:

    I remember at the first time i thought i didn’t love beast feeding, but i also remember the first time breast feeding made me so happy the connection my little girl and myself have while breast feeding. Its true sometimes i feel overwhelmed but i get over it when my baby falls asleep in my arms after breast feeding the feeling I get looking at my little angel asleep at my breast I would never give that feeling up for anything. I sometimes feel like I need to be attached to my little one and feel frustrated but most of the time I love breast feeding. So for me it’s an up and down ride but most of the time everything is fine. I don’t doubt in my mind if it wasn’t for breast feeding the connector i have with my sweetheart would probably not be there. So if you’re having a hard time just remember it’s all worth it in the end, your not a bad mother is you don’t love it. You could love breast feeding one day and hate it the next. Keep your chin up and take it one feeding at a time.

  29. Lena says:

    Thank you so much for this article!

  30. My daughter is 4 months old, and my first. I love snuggling her close. I love the way she looks up at me while she nurses, and the way she tries to grin and coo without losing her latch, milkies dribbling down her cheek. But I don’t love nursing. It hurts. She’s got a great latch, great positioning, no tongue or lip tie, and neither of us have an infection. It just stings and burns for no apparent reason. I am determined to nurser her until she is at least 2 years old – that’s another 20 months, minimum. I do not consider myself a martyr either, and I try not to talk about it much, but I do have to say that I envy those who love the experience so much, and I hate hearing how I must be doing something wrong since it is not painless for me. I’ve pretty much decided that in order to do what I need to do, and do it with a happy heart, I need to be very quiet about my feelings. I’m not sure that’s the healthiest option, but already experiencing pressure to wean at 1 year, and with those close to me loving the nursing experience, I don’t really see another option. Thank you for being honest. Maybe I will be too, one day.

  31. Lia says:

    I nursed my son for 26 months. I loved most of the first year. I didn’t like the teething but we adjusted quickly, we had a few other bumps in the road and those sucked too, but overall I loved it. I got that surge of “mommy hormones” that fought away the depression I had battled for a decade, I got to see my son laugh while nursing, I knew I could always comfort him with ease. I treasured it. As he got older it was less relaxing, less cute, and more demanding. He didn’t bite but it also didn’t soothe him as well and it ruined my sleep for many months. It decreased my sex drive and my energy and made me not want anyone else to touch me. I still loved what it was doing for him physically and emotionally but I didn’t love it anymore. I had promised myself no formula so I knew two years was my goal. After that I started gently and then not so gently weaning. The final transition was easy for him but broke my heart. I miss it and yet I do not wish to do it again. It’s complicated. It really is. It was the most beautiful, loving, frustrating thing I’ve ever done and I don’t regret a minute of it. I will be a lactivist for life.

  32. Trin says:

    I do love breastfeeding, but not all the time. I’ve been nursing at least one child, and often two (sometimes three), for the past 16 years, and at times I feel like I just can’t stand having someone hanging off me for one more second. But that always passes, and I know that when these last two babies wean, I’ll miss it. It will be LOVELY to have my body back finally though.

  33. I agree that “the good, the bad, and the ugly” are needed to provide true breastfeeding support. Although, I have been blessed with a medically uncomplicated breastfeeding journey (e.g. no mastitis, not tongue-tied, etc…), I have found the breastfeeding journey to be a difficult one. I love that I have been able to EBF for a whole year (nursling turning one this week!) even while working part-time, but a lot of the time, I haven’t *loved* nursing. I’ve had to make a commitment to continuing to breastfeed No. Matter. What. And I’m very glad that I did. I love breastfeeding more now than I did in the beginning. And it is a blessing to have this method of connecting with an active new-toddler.

  34. Thank you for normalizing the experience of breastfeeding. By normalizing, I mean sharing that it is not always this beautiful harmonious dreamy experience that some bfing advocates would like promote. I believe the women who say this is how it is for them. I just think for a majority of women this “I don’t always love it” feeling rings true and if they have that tinge of not feeling like a good mom because no one will share their sentiment then this is the exact type of post they need to be exposed to so they can be encouraged that those feelings are indeed normal.

  35. Jenny says:

    That overwhelming love for them and how much they love nursing, thats it!! My daughter is two and still nursing, and I have never really loved it. Its still a bit uncomfortable and sometimes I want to get up so bad my skin crawls. But how much she loves it absolutely melts my heart. these days she does a little excited giggle at the thought of it coming, and that giggle even on the worst of all days is worth everything! Thd bottom line is I do it for her, not for me, I dont have to love it so long as she does.

  36. Here lately I have been feeling the monotony of nursing. Don’t get me wrong, I love my babe and I “do” on most occasions enjoy feeding him but 7 months of exclusive, mommy only feedings, have taken a toll on me. I want to go out for a night with my husband. Have a margarita. Take meds when I feel like death from the flu…but I don’t and I won’t. I don’t want to risk myself giving into the ease of a bottle and switching to formula (because God knows I hate the pump) I gave up breastfeeding with my first when I had a few issues and brought the bottle into the picture. It was so easy letting others feed my baby that I said to heck with it, I’m just gonna use formula…anyway, I do understand this. It gets downright boring and annoying sometimes to constantly have to stop what you are doing to sit and feed the baby. It’s a monotonous task after a while… just as you mentioned, it’s something that HAS to be done whether you feel like it or not. Most times I feel like it, but sometimes not… I can definitely relate. :)

  37. Dawn Gooden says:

    OMG I cannot tell you how appreciative I am that you have posted this. I am due with my 2nd baby in 12 days (or less lol,) and I am excited to have him in my arms…to nurse him for that first time, but I am sorta dreading it because I remember all of the struggles I had with my oldest. The day he was born he needed to have a chiropractic adjustment a few hrs after birth because he wasn’t latching properly. At around 5 weeks old was one of the worse moments: For some reason (that I still have no clue as to why) he refused to latch, was so beyond fussy and ticked off that I got so angry with him that I (literally and shamefully) screamed at the top of my lungs at him (which made him scream MORE,) and I left the room in a fit of rage, tears, and frustration while he lay on my bed with pillows around him still with a blood-curdling scream that I’m sure my whole street could hear. It wasn’t until 30 minutes later I felt calm (ish) enough to go to him only to feel like a worthless and terrible mother for deserting him that way. Like a miracle he suddenly started nursing, and I just could not get why after such a turbulent moment like that he went from defying my nursing attempts to accepting them mere moments later. It was that day I think if I really wanted to I would have seriously stopped nursing.

    Aside from that my other issue was nursing out in public because there was NO cover in the world that my son would keep over him leaving me exposed, and getting dirty looks/comments from outsiders. Hell, I was even forced to nurse in a public bathroom on more than one occasion–sitting on a toilet. Lovely huh?

    I don’t share these stories because I know there are those who would scorn me for speaking so negatively about breastfeeding; however, it’s a harsh reality that some moms go through, and it’s nice to know that someone with as much experience as yourself has struggled with it (whether emotionally or physically).

    I am excited to try nursing again, but still scared because of these past experiences. I hope that this time I will be wiser and it will be easier, but now I won’t feel as guilty as before if I don’t “love” it. I will do it because it is the best thing I can do for my children, and I want to give them only the best because as a mom that is what I need to do, and I am OK with that. =]

    Thank you for sharing your honesty! It is truly appreciated!

  38. Jessica says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=ZgmbJso-2-o&NR=1
    This is totally off subject but I was just wondering if you and your followers had seen this commercial? It’s awesome!!!

  39. CheekE says:

    Yes! I breastfed both my babies and never had any “problems” with the physical act but I didn’t “love” it either. I did it out of duty mostly. To give them the nourishment that is so widely recommended (not to mention the side benefits like saving money!). It’s kind of like exercising: I don’t always like doing it, but I do it for the health benefits and I feel good about having done it!

    With my second baby I was looking forward to being finished with it! I had a mother-friend who said she cried when her baby stopped nursing – that’s not me. I bid farewell, handed down my Brestfriend, and moved on the the next phase in my baby’s development! I appreciate you having nursed 6 even though you don’t “love” doing it!

  40. Courtney says:

    I find it very refreshing to read that not everyone loves breastfeeding. I was as ready and prepared as I could be when my first son was born. I taught women how to breastfeed every day at my job, from the preterm infants with poor latches and not enough endurance, to the healthy term babies making a quick stop into in the NICU. So I really thought I had a handle on how to go about feeding my own child who arrived on time with no complications. Was I ever wrong. I couldn’t do anything right, I had open areas on both breasts for months (seriously) and despite fixing a poor latch in the beginning, each and every feed was met with dread and initially toe curling pain. I worked with my co-workers and lactation consultants and still didn’t enjoy one minute of it despite the fact that i continued to nurse my son until he began to wean himself by 11 months. The only time I enjoyed nursing him was as I’d watch his little body go limp and eyes close in a total, satisfied milk coma. I knew how wonderful breast milk was for him and that, combined with the fact that he was growing like a weed and the mama guilt I had whenever thinking about stopping, was what kept me going. I was like you… didn’t enjoy the breastfeeding experience but loved my son so much that I was hell bent on giving him what he wanted and needed. Now here I am 38 weeks pregnant with baby number two and prepared to do it all again. Who knows, maybe this time will be different and I will get more satisfaction out of it but I’m still ready to do all I can to ensure this little person gets the best possible food I can give.

  41. Mandy C says:

    I didn’t have any issues with my oldest, and loved the whole experience, except pumping at work. With my youngest, we have had issues and I absolutely get why people don’t love it sometimes. We’ve gone through two tongue-tie procedures, three rounds of thrush, cracked nipples, and tons of bleeding. It hasn’t been pleasant! And yet… I still enjoy staring down at my daughter as I grimace through sore nipples. I enjoy supplying her with what she needs, even if that means I have to wake up 10 times a night. So I absolutely get that people can have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding, and I think every new mom needs to know that’s a possibility going into it. When we started having problems early on, I was confused… I didn’t know there could be problems since everything happened so smoothly the first time around. I wish more moms had been open with me about the problems they had had, or reasons they didn’t like breastfeeding so I wouldn’t have felt so alone.

  42. Meg Griswold says:

    My first is 9 months old and it breaks down for me like this: I like the hormone high–I feel super dreamy and happy. I miss drinking more than one glass of wine. I miss having my boobs all to myself, and to be blunt, all to my husband. It was uncomfortable at first, but within a week or so it wasn’t. For the first 6 weeks he was a really big eater and I was nursing sometimes every 90 minutes. But that passed. Now, as a working mom, that together time is really nice. He plays with a necklace I wear that has his initial and birthday on it. Pumping, I hate, but I do it because I believe in breast milk for a year. I am not sure if you work (probably not with 6!) but pumping makes me really value the speed and comfort of nursing. Thanks for your honesty. I can say that I have a night of many drinks with my name on it in 3 months!

  43. hillary says:

    I loved breastfeeding except when I didn’t. I didn’t love it when my newborn wouldn’t latch and I spent a week pumping and dropper-feeding her until we finally caved and got a nipple shield. I didn’t love it when I got plugged ducts or when I couldn’t find breastfeeding-friendly clothes to wear. I didn’t love it when she was waking every 90 minutes to nurse all. night. long. when she was six months old. I didn’t love it when she rejected bottles of my freezer-pumped milk because I’m one of those lucky ones whose breastmilk is high in lactase so it tasted bad. But in between, all around, overarching, I loved it. I loved her contented little hand patting my breast as she nursed, her sweet milky smile, and knowing I was giving her exactly what she needed. I’m glad I persisted through those challenging first weeks. I hope that baby #2, who should be here in about six weeks, will have an easier time of it, but I’m not counting on it. Now I know that persistence pays.

  44. Cindy B says:

    Thanks for the candor. Breastfeeding has been a struggle for me but not in the same way. It seems my body has a difficult time supplying enough milk to feed my 10+lb babes. Both times now I’ve had to supplement. And before anyone tries to jump in ~ I TRIED EVERYTHING! ~ and give more advice (that’s why I found this page, in the first place). The advice has been actually very helpful just that’s not what this post is about.

    When you’re exhausted from sterilizing bottles, SNS’s (those things can be a pain to clean), from trying to round-the-clock nurse, and have a baby who is not gaining unless you do supplement then breastfeeding can become, to say the least, taxing. Don’t get me wrong I actually have a very strong affection for nursing. I wanted to do it (probably since I saw my mom feeding my brother when I was 10) and I didn’t expect it would be easy but I didn’t expect that my baby would need anything besides my milk and that was deeply disheartening… it made me feel broken. I wanted to give up many times because if I couldn’t do it exclusively then why work so hard?…

    Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband who encouraged me with our first and even though it was never exclusive I ended up nursing our first for two and half years. Now, with our second I’ve only had to supplement 2-4oz a day to help with weight gain. It makes me feel like all my hard work and persistence with the first paid off. Praise God! I’m enjoying this second breastfeeding journey even though it isn’t always easy. :)

  45. Cassie says:

    So, so glad this post is here.
    I never really enjoyed the act of breastfeeding, I was happy knowing that I could nourish my babies, and seeing the love in their eyes as they looked up at me and thanked me was just…awesome.
    but the act…the actual ACT made me uncomfortable, physically it gave me the heebiejeebies…you know, that crawly feeling down your spine when you see a GIANT spider crawling around?
    Not painful, (until they started to chew rather than suckle!) just…oogy.
    My husband noticed how difficult it was for me and hes horrible with body language and facial expressions.
    I didn’t sit and stare into their eyes while they nursed, I would read, play games or otherwise try to distract myself from the fact that someone was sucking on me.
    I love my kids, didn’t love the breastfeeding.

  46. Alissa says:

    I nurse as it’s what is best for me baby not because I love it. I hate buckling up the car seat belt but it’s best for my baby. I hate cleaning the tub but it’s best for my baby.

    Thanks for a great blog, you said it way better then I, I love my baby, love that God gave me the perfect way to feed my perfect baby and I try to be grateful that we can share this nursing experience.

  47. Ashley Amigoni says:

    Jessica, I always love how eloquent you are at wording your thoughts, feelings, advice, and experiences. My breastfeeding journey with my 13 month old daughter has been filled with ups and downs. When I express this to my significant other or to family, their replies usually boil down to, “So why don’t you stop? You need to put yourself first sometimes. How can she be happy if you are not?” I calmly reply to them that even though I dislike it sometimes, even though it hurts here and there, and especially even though she still wakes up to nurse several times a night, I’m doing it for her. Her needs are more important than the temporary feelings of annoyance and discomfort that I sometimes go through. I live for those nursing sessions where she will stroke my collar bones softly, where she will smile while nursing, and my favorite–when she will walk up to my usually seat, pound it with her chubby hands and sign, “milk” excitedly. Breastfeeding for me is a love/hate relationship and I couldn’t be more proud to say so. Because honestly, I do believe that it is what every mom experiences whether they formula feed or breastfeed.

  48. Sherry says:

    I never minded nursing. Only times I really hated it was when my over supply and over active let down became hard to deal with. I recently started hating nursing though. I am pregnant again, 4 months in, and just hate the feeling. I nursed 6 months into my last pregnancy before I no longer could take it, but my nursling was 15 months at that point. This current nursling is not even a year. I while I hate the feeling, I hate being touched, I still feed her, because there is nothing else I would give her. Plus I selfishly want to tandem nurse, to help with the massive over supply in the first 6-8 months

  49. Heather says:

    I think women need to have a truthful perspective about breastfeeding, that not all women love it. It’s important that the woman who is going into breastfeeding for the first time, will know that she’s not out of the norm for not liking or loving it. That mother may feel like a failure for not having that euphoric feeling that some mothers have had, and end up quitting. I think it’s better for woman to know breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Knowledge is power! And it’s also a comfort for the mom who may feel bad for not having that same feeling that other breastfeeding moms around her, have. The first thee months were so painful for me, I certainly didn’t love it then. Once it stopped hurting, I did end up enjoying it and getting that warm nurturing feeling. But now that my son is 31 months (2&1/2), I’m really ready to be done, but I keep on going because he still needs it, whether to meet nutritional or emotional needs, it doesn’t matter…as long as he still needs it, I choose to let him decide when he’s done. But there are some nights as he nurses to sleep that I’m just really ready for him to be done. I think without having a community of fellow nursing mothers to talk to, I might feel guilty and bad for feeling this way. I love that you shared this. It’s too bad so many mothers judge other moms. We feel the way we feel, there should be no guilt.

  50. brie says:

    When i was pregnant i knew that i would breast feed, no matter how hard it would be, how much pain i was in. I knew that i wanted to be a mother who nursed her lo. When my ds arrived it didnt feel like anything. Just a sweet baby looking up at me. A week later my nipples were cracked so bad that when he nursed i smelled the blood. I cried for 3 weeks of breast feeding, dreading every single time he cried to eat. Finally, we discovered he had thrush which wouldnt allow my cracked nipples to heal. They gave us an antibiotic and the next day my milk was almost completely gone… The antibiotic decreased my milk supply so bad that he was attached to me all the time. I stopped taking the antibiotic and had to start suppliamenting him with formula. I was HEARTBROKEN. I continued nursing, pumping, supplimenting, taking herbal suppliments. A month went by and my lo decided he didnt want the bottle. I was terrified he would lose weight again but the doctor told me he must have been getting enough from me and didnt need the extra from the formula. Were going on 7 months of ebf and he is a happy healthy baby. At about 3 months i finally felt the happy feeling from the over abundance of love between us.

  51. Ruth says:

    I really had to fight the tears while reading this. I hated it too, but I’d recommend it to anybody. I still feel guilty about making my son quit at 26 months, and surprisingly, he still remembers it with enthusiasm 7 months later. Hopefully, I will have gained more patience by the time baby #2 comes along.

  52. Dorothy says:

    I have loved breastfeeding and I have HATED it. Pumping was the absolute worst, there were so many days when I wished I’d stop responding to my pump just so I could quit pumping. The beginning didn’t work so well and I hated it. I continued with the hope it would get better. It did.

    By four months, we had a pretty good thing. We had lots of thrush, which was finally fully cleared by 6 months. And once again the nursing itself was pretty good. I still sometimes had anxiety because I’d feel trapped and wanted to wean starting at a year. One year came and I couldn’t do it, because, my son obviously loved it so much. The same at 2 years and 3.

    Now I’m pregnant with number 2 and hope my milk dries up and he weans. I don’t really want to tandem nurse. Now he is nursing once a day. So while I do hope he weans, I don’t think it will be the worst thing ever if he doesn’t.

  53. Shannon says:

    In the beginning I did not enjoy it. I just could not get the hang of it. I pumped for my first child because he was g-tube fed, so I did appreciate that I was able to nurse my second, but it was hard. The first few months it would take up to an hour just to get him to latch on. Needless to say, I was not getting much sleep. I refused to give up though. I reminded myself that it was the best thing to do for my baby. I reminded myself how my first son got extreme reflux once I stopped pumping and switched to formula. I reminded myself how much I wanted to nurse when I was pregnant. I struggled through it, and once I got the hang of it (and he got the hang of it), I loved it. Did I love not getting much sleep? No. I loved knowing that he was getting the best nutrition possible, I loved the cuddle time that we got, and I loved that it could calm him down even after he got a shot. I ended up nursing for 22 months, he is 3 now and I still miss it.

  54. Frankie says:

    I feel this way everyday. My LO is 2 weeks old today. I can honestly say I do not enjoy breastfeeding. I dread every. single. feeding. I feel bad for it, but it’s how I feel. It’s reassuring to hear others feel the same.

    Everyone says it will get better, I will enjoy it etc. But I don’t think I will. I can’t stand how much time it takes, and it breaks my heart that it is time I could be spending with my 1st (he’s not even 2 yet). I loved bottle feeding my 1st. The way he looked at me, and snuggling to sleep. My mom promises me there will be a moment like that. She said “there will be a moment when he puts his hand on your boob, and looks up at you with so much love, and you’ll realize that it is worth it”. I missed bottle feeding so much that I pump and give a bottle while my oldest eats his breakfast.

    What gets me through it? And why I haven’t quit? Going to the doctors and seeing the weight gain, and my LO thrive from something that comes from me. Then hearing the doctor say to me, when I tell her about my blues when it comes to nursing, that I must be doing something right.

    I just take everyday as it comes, and I am determined to continue. But, in all honesty, I really don’t want to. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am doing what’s best for my baby. Even if it means I have to choose between a good latch and my toddler throwing a PlayStation remote across the room (shhh my husband doesn’t know).

    Thank you for writing this. It really does make me feel better to know others feel kind of like me.

  55. Sarah says:

    While I, a first time mama, really do love nursing my little man, I think it’s wonderful that you are bold enough to be honest about not loving nursing. If I didn’t enjoy it, I would be relieved that there was someone who felt the way I did. As it is, I find it refreshing that all nursing mothers regardless of their relationship with nursing can find support through your posts. Keep it up!

  56. Errica says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My daughter is almost 3 months old & I keep waiting for those warm fuzzy feelings other moms & friends of mine talk about with breastfeeding. I don’t have those feelings & I honestly don’t love or even like breastfeeding sometimes. I do it because it’s the best thing for my baby, because it’s free, and because she likes it & it comforts her. I have felt like a freak of nature because as much as I WANT to love breastfeeding and as much as I WANT those warm fuzzy feelings, I just don’t have them. It has made me feel inadequate & like a terrible mom. Reading your post makes me breath a sigh of relief, it’s not just me & I’m not a monster for not loving breastfeeding. Thank you!! I needed this post right now.