While every person experiences nursing in their own way, I have yet to meet anyone who has honestly and truly loved every minute of breastfeeding. I have, however, met plenty of women who hated every baby-chomping, nipple-aching, absolutely exhausting second of it. That's not to say that breastfeeding is always completely horrible, because it's not. It is to say that breastfeeding can definitely be completely horrible for some mothers who experience complications or, you know, just don't like it. Which is why,whether you think it's always really awful or just sometimes the absolute worst, hating breastfeeding doesn't make you a bad mom.
It seems like every aspect of motherhood has some sort insidious aspect of it, designed by a patriarchal society to make women feel guilty for feeling anything other than what some nebulous entity has decided they should feel, or making a decision that doesn't follow some pre-determined path. Going back to work after having a baby but also being a stay-at-home-mom; Having one kid or having more than one kid; Enrolling your child in sports or not enrolling your child in sports. And, of course, breastfeeding and not breastfeeding. Perhaps more than any other parenting decision a mother may or may not make, breastfeeding has the unique distinction of falling into several sociologically complicated (and annoying) categories: food and eating, women's bodies, and parenthood. I'm sure there are more but, ugh you guys, I can only get so depressed, ya know?
However, when one shovels all the aforementioned nonsense away and decides not to adhere to certain standards that fictitiously dictate what makes a "good" mother, and what doesn't, one can easily see that loving breastfeeding is not a requirement for being a wonderful, loving mother, and that hating breastfeeding in no way precludes the same.
It Can Be Stupidly Painful
No amount of love a mother feels for her baby can cancel out the sometimes excruciating pain of engorgement, milk blisters, cracked nipples, mastitis, or plugged ducts. Whether or not a mom chooses to push through those issues or not, pretending they don't completely suck and potentially make you loathe every second of breastfeeding, is completely up to that particular mom.
Babies Suck At It Sometimes
This is basically the great secret no one ever talks about: breastfeeding is very rarely something someone just instinctively knows how to do, and that includes babies. A lot of moms feel (unfounded) shame in being unable to breastfeed their babies right away (or ever), when the truth of the matter is that kids are just as clueless as we are. And sometimes, even when we get a basic handle on what we're doing, they still suck at it. We don't hold it against them, bless their hearts (we love you, babies who aren't good at breastfeeding) but it takes two to tango, kids!
It Can Be Incompatible With Taking Certain Medications
Not being able to take medications that enable you to live the best, healthiest version of your own life can be super-hard. Some mothers weigh the pros and cons and decide, for whatever reason, to forgo medication in order to breastfeed. Even though those mothers willingly make that decision, doesn't mean they have to be happy about it, because jeez, it's really damn hard!
It Can Be Triggering
For survivors of sexual assault, breastfeeding can be triggering. For some, it can ultimately become a reclamation of their body and morph into a positive experience. For others, it might never stop being pretty awful. Sometimes, the final result is both of those things at once! Humans are beautiful and complicated, and this particular situation highlights just how complicated life can be.
It Takes So Much Time
Resenting how much time breastfeeding sucks away (pun 1,00,000% intended) does not make you a bad mom. Perhaps you even resent this drain on your time, because it's keeping you from doing fun things with your child, or it's limiting your interaction with your older, no-longer-breastfeeding children.
It Makes Even Minimal Time Away From Your Baby Difficult
Even the most devoted and loving of mothers need a break. Sometimes even kids want special one-on-one time with another parent, auntie, or grandparent, and when you're breastfeeding that can get annoying after even a couple hours. Having to deal with your milky jugs even when the baby isn't around is definitely enough make an amazing mother hate breastfeeding.
It Makes Sharing Feeding Responsibilities More Complicated
Two (or more!) parents can definitely share feeding responsibilities even when one of them is not breastfeeding. That said, I would be lying if I didn't confess that it's way, way easier to do that when there's no nursing involved and any parent can just mix up some formula whenever it's needed. If a baby is on an exclusive breast milk diet, even if the breastfeeding parent isn't directly feeding the baby, she still had to put in extra work to pump milk ahead of time in anticipation of having another caregiver help her out. What's not to hate?! Speaking of which...
Pumping Is The Worst
The. Actual. Worst. Personally speaking, I felt like I was a cow who had learned to hook herself up to a milking machine three times a day when I chose to pump. I had a great breastfeeding experience overall, but whenever I had to pump I hated it.
Even When You Don't Breastfeed, Your Body Remains A Source Of Comfort To Your Child
Even after you've ended breastfeeding (for whatever reason) you can still give hugs and kisses and nuzzles and nibble your kid's delicious little toes. They're still going to run to you when they're scared or excited or feeling extra mushy on a particular day, and you'll deliver every time. That you hated breastfeeding won't matter. Trust me, you'll be totally ready to mom it up.
There's More Than One Way To Feed A Baby
It's called formula and it has nourished a great many fat, happy and healthy babies for decades now! So, even if you hate breastfeeding to the point that you really just don't want to do it, it's seriously not a problem, because hooray for options!
Motherhood Is More Than How And What You Feed Your Child
Repeat after me, nursing and non-nursing moms alike: you are more than your boobs and what they can or can't do. Breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding) is a teeny, tiny fraction of all the things you are going to do and be for your child over their lifetime. Ultimately, it's just a tiny, milky drop in the bucket.