Like many women, I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my son when he was born. I vowed my allegiance to breast milk and proclaimed that I would do whatever it took to give him the nutrition he needed, even if that meant breastfeeding my baby in public. I'm shy about my showing my body, even if I totally support the practice of public breastfeeding; This would have been a seriously big deal for me. Little did I know, not too long after he was born, the nutrition he needed would be coming from a bottle, rather than my boob.
As it turned out, I hated breastfeeding. And not only did I hate it, my body also hated it, as did my sanity. I was unknowingly combating the symptoms of postpartum depression while simultaneously battling my son in order to get him to feed. I was exhausted (like every new mom is) and my boobs hurt and my head hurt, and I wanted to cry and scream for no rational reason at all. (Well, except that all of those things were totally rational reasons to cry. It felt irrational at the time.)
All I could think about was that breastfeeding was supposed to be the most natural thing on earth. I was supposed to love bonding with my son while feeding him, and the fact that I didn't not only not love it, but actually hated it sort of alarmed me. It made me feel like a terrible mother and a terrible woman that wasn't even worthy of motherhood.
When my son was six weeks old, I stopped breastfeeding and sought treatment for postpartum depression. The moment I threw in the towel, I immediately felt relieved. I was sad, of course, the way anyone is whenever something they tried to do ends up not working out according to plan. It wasn't a devastated sadness; I knew my life wasn't ending, and I knew that my now-formula-fed baby would be just as healthy, but it still...just kinda sucked. A lot. But after a few fleeting moments of tears, I felt like my body was my own again. It took some time for me to adjust to the idea that I hadn't let my son down because I quit breastfeeding him.
It took even longer for me to rid my mind of the guilt that accompanied that decision. My son has been fed formula for most of his life and he's perfect. He's thriving and healthy and literally never gets sick. I hate that I let the decision to feed him formula make me feel like a bad mom. I'm a great mom — I just happen to hate breastfeeding (my own experience, of course. Obviously I am 100% in support of other women that breastfeed.), and that is, as it turns out, totally OK.
Here are 12 reasons you shouldn't feel guilty about hating breastfeeding.