It's no secret that breastfeeding is wonderful and astounding and beneficial to both the mother and the baby. In fact, most women are told they should breastfeed as soon as they become pregnant, and for good reason. Still, the need to #NormalizeBreastfeeding has kept some honest conversations from occurring; conversations that are necessary; conversations that let women know that there are things no one actually likes about breastfeeding, so if they find themselves not enjoying every single aspect of feeding their child, they can know they're not alone. They're not "bad mothers" or somehow "defunct," they're just normal human beings who value space and body autonomy and, you know, sleep.
I know it's not necessarily the "right thing to say" but, in my experience, breastfeeding isn't all it's cracked up to be. The benefits are undeniable and I'm certainly glad I chose to do it. However, and like anything beneficial and helpful and pretty great, there were certain parts of breastfeeding I definitely didn't enjoy. Nobody really warned me about the not-so-fun parts, though, because encouraging women to breastfeed has become so pervasive that honest conversations about using your body to nourish another human being, have fallen by the wayside.
If I were to do it all over again, I absolutely would choose to breastfeed. However, the next time around I know I'll be better suited to deal with the ups and down of breastfeeding, because I know they actually exist. Instead of getting frustrated, I'll know that the following things will, in time and eventually, pass.
Feeling Like You Have No Idea What You're Doing...
If it's your first time breastfeeding, chances are you don't have the slightest clue what you're doing, and that can be frustrating and scary and even a little detrimental. I know that, as a new mom, I was looking to gain confidence any way and anywhere I could, and breastfeeding was a big part of feeling like I was comfortable in my new role as "mom."
Whether you took a class or not, just because breastfeeding is "natural" doesn't mean it comes naturally. That's the worst.
Learning How To Get Your Baby To Latch
Studies suggest that babies are born with an instinct to breastfeed, however, that doesn't mean it all goes according to plan. Problems latching, tongue and lip ties and a slew of other complications or situations can make it difficult for you baby to latch, and keep a latch. Sometimes, just like you, they need time to learn. Ugh.
The Moments When Breastfeeding Is Painful
Let's be real: sometimes, breastfeeding hurts. Whether it's a baby cutting teeth or mastitis or a clogged milk duct or engorgement, breastfeeding isn't always pleasant. It's OK to dislike these moments because, honestly, who likes being in pain, right? Just because you don't like discomfort, doesn't mean you don't like breastfeeding in general.
Breastfeeding On Demand
I can't speak for everyone, of course, but sometimes you just don't want to breastfeed. I mean, you do, because you want to feed your baby, but some privacy and time to yourself and a moment when you're not being touched by a tiny (albeit, cute) human would be nice. Sometimes you just want your space so you can feel like an actual human being, but when you're breastfeeding on demand (or just breastfeeding, or even just being a parent) that's not necessarily an option.
Having To Hold Your Baby With One Arm
Who does this?! I mean, if you're not a character on a television show or a movie, who honestly can do this for an extended period of time? Tell me. Teach me your ways. Because you must have arms like Michelle Obama.
When Breastfeeding Is Kind Of Boring
Breastfeeding is magical and amazing and a true bonding moment between you and your child. It's also, you know, kind of boring. The novelty does wear off, sometimes and eventually, and it can feel like a chore instead of a privilege. It's alright if you're not in awe every single time you breastfeed.
I don't think there's a parent in the world that doesn't wish they could experience just a few more hours of sleep each night (or even week, for that matter).
Honestly, sometimes those night feedings are the thing of dreams. It's just you and your baby and silence, and you get to hold them and look at them without anyone else around. It's calm and peaceful and truly a surreal moment that makes you realize that, yeah, you're a parent, now.
Then again, there are those night feedings when you're so exhausted and almost delirious from lack of sleep, that you just can't. You're frustrated and tired and it's hard to see the beauty in a midnight feeding.
Breastfeeding In Public
Thanks to a society that sees breasts as sexual, and not functional, breastfeeding in public isn't necessarily the most comfortable experience. I don't know very many women who actively like to breastfeed in public; they just breastfeed wherever and whenever they have to because their baby is hungry, and needs to eat. It's that simple, yet it becomes a big deal and, as a result, can be a pretty unpleasant experience for so many breastfeeding women.
Leaking Breast Milk
You will inevitably ruin a few outfits and bras because of leaking. Yeah, that's never fun.
That You're The Only One Who Can
Then again, that's kind of awesome. When you're exclusively breastfeeding, you're the only person in the world who can feed your baby. When that isn't slightly annoying or exhausting, that's insanely cool. Good on you, mom.