Feeling Meh About Breastfeeding Again

My family will welcome its fourth (human) member in about three months. Among the uncertainty of how we’ll handle two kids, the topic of breastfeeding is top of mind. I breastfed my son for fourteen months, supplementing with some formula around ten months, and I’ll breastfeed again if all goes well. I completely respect that some moms use formula, either by choice or because they were unable to breastfeed. I feel blessed that I was able to breastfeed my son, and while you never know what will happen, I’m assuming it will work out again. Here’s the thing: while there was plenty to like about breastfeeding, there was also plenty that was just kind of a pain in the butt. (Sidenote: I have zero medical training, am not a lactation consultant, blah blah blah, but I AM a real person who did this, and I don’t think it’s as glamorous as all the beautiful Pinterest “Breastfeeding Tips” images would like you to believe!)


{The Good}

First, the good stuff: we’ve heard it all before, sometimes in posts that are far more obnoxious than I care to be, but I’ll state the obvious. There are health benefits to both mom and baby, bonding that occurs when mom and baby are nursing, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than having to buy formula, and of course, if you are nursing, it really doesn’t require any preparation (aside from setting up a huge mound of pillows and boppies those first weeks at home). I lucked out and had a pretty good experience, really enjoyed the bonding aspect (though I know that bottle feeding moms AND dads also bond with their kids while feeding!), and definitely saved a lot of money. I’m keeping this part short, only because information about benefits about breastfeeding are easy to come by. It’s the next part that’s tougher to find…

 erin breastfeeding tumblr

“Breastfeeding is always beautiful and intuitively easy. Plus, everyone gets a fun crown.”

{The Bad}

The bad stuff: ohhh, the emotion of it all those first few weeks. The stress of being responsible for your child’s growth without knowing exactly how much he is eating, at a time when you’re already working through some crazy hormones, can be really overwhelming. Every well intentioned visitor asks you at the first cry “Do you think he’s hungry?” or “Are you sure he’s not hungry?” or some degree of that question as if you weren’t thinking about feeding this baby almost every waking second. Some people who are bolder, and less subtle pretty much convince you that because they can’t see exactly how much baby is consuming, he must be starving. Top that off with the fact that you’re likely to experience at least SOME level of discomfort for the first few weeks (I will forever be grateful to the one lactation consultant who told me that anyone who said it shouldn’t hurt at all at first was nuts), and I’m not surprised that some women decide not to continue after the first week or two.

Once you get over that hump and start to feel a bit more confident, it’s awesome, but there are still plenty of challenges. Some babies don’t easily take to a bottle, and my son was one of them. I felt totally trapped, as I couldn’t leave my son for more than a couple of hours for MONTHS until we finally made progress with a bottle. Then when I went back to work, I had to figure out the whole pumping/working balance, which was TOUGH. Many women can’t work while pumping, so they actually have to stay at work longer and away from their families longer in order to pump – I can see how that doesn’t always make sense for them.


{This Time Around}

That said, I know I’ll do it again, and even though I can admit there are plenty of societal pressures to breastfeed, it’s a decision that I’d make regardless of what anyone expects of me. I think breastfeeding is like a lot of parental experiences: you take the good with the bad and just hope you’re doing the right thing. This time around I’ll probably be a little less nervous the first few weeks, and I’ll have the perspective to know that 40 minute nursing sessions and the pain don’t last forever. But I’m planning to also go in and be easier on myself this time. There is nothing like the paranoia and pressure of being a first time mom to ruin moments that should otherwise be special, and I am hoping to ease up on myself more this time. That means:

  • No guilt if baby needs formula, especially in the beginning.


  • Encouraging baby to take a bottle early, and consistently. (I have tons of friends whose kids also struggled with bottles, yet I don’t know a single baby who stopped nursing after a bottle! I’m sure it’s happened, but not to a single person I know. However, I know several moms who have felt totally trapped because they were not able to leave their house for more than an hour or two while their child was nursing.)


  • No set timelines on how long I will exclusively breastfeed. I’d love it if it works out that I nurse this baby as long as I did her brother. If not – no guilt.


  • Trying to get more comfortable nursing in public. I admire women who do, but by the time I got comfortable nursing without a million pillows around me, my son started getting really distracted. Let’s just say there was nothing “modest” about nursing a baby who was distracted by the slightest sound! It’s worth trying a little harder this time, but only time will tell how it all works out.

You can read article after article about how wonderful, easy, and blissful breastfeeding is. I don’t think these articles do most of us any favors. I’d rather be up front and say: regardless of how you feed your child, you’ll probably encounter some kind of struggle or feeling that you’re doing something wrong from someone who made another choice. You do the best you can, and make the best choice based on the cards you’re dealt. If you decide to breastfeed but don’t love every minute of it, you’re not alone, and it’s okay. It’s okay to stop if you want (especially if you’re truly miserable…I really believe “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and we all need to take care of our physical and mental health!). If you do decide to continue, it’s okay to be honest about the fact that not every second is pure bliss. I think the best gift we can give each other as moms is to be honest with each other about our struggles and assure one another that it’s okay to admit when things are hard.


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