For the record, it's absolutely OK to publicly admit that you love breastfeeding. I don't think there's a damn thing wrong with saying it was easy for you, enjoyable for you, and a great bonding experience for you. No, not everyone has an easy go of it, but I don't think celebrating your personal breastfeeding experience is wrong. Having said that, there are more than a few things that are OK to hate about breastfeeding, too. Just like it's OK to openly revel in all your breastfeeding glory, it's absolutely OK to admit that, yeah, nursing kind of sucks. Pun intended.
Trust me when I say I've been there, so I know how difficult breastfeeding can be. Even once my son and I got the hang of it, there were still parts of nursing that were horribly frustrating and, occasionally, super-painful. Actually, now that I think about it, if anyone wants to send any good-luck vibes, since my second baby is on the way and I’m going to attempt to do it all over again, I’ll gladly accept them.
For real though, I have so many friends who had trouble breastfeeding, I’ve read countless accounts online, and I’ve seen a lactation consultant. Come to think of it, the fact that lactation consultants even exist let's me know I'm not alone in the breastfeeding struggles. While a dislike of breastfeeding (even a temporary one) can weigh heavily on a mom, there are some parts of the overall process that, to me, seem totally normal to dislike. And really, even for those who have an easy, effortless time sustaining a child with their bodies, there are very few things I want to do six to eight times a day for months on end. So, personally, I think it’s totally normal to have a few issues with the whole process.
All The Interrupted Sleep
Is breastfeeding the only cause of interrupted sleep when you’re a new parent? No, absolutely not. However, if you’re breastfeeding you are required to wake the you-know-what up every single time the baby needs to be fed. I’m normally a pretty heavy sleeper, and I never quite got used to the constantly interrupted sleep.
All The Spit Up
It can be messy, smelly, and it can also feel like a personal affront to see some of that precious liquid gold get rejected by your baby’s digestive system.
All The Confusing Diapers
I was a mom who paid very close attention to the content’s of my first baby’s diapers, thinking they held top secret information about his health and wellbeing. Yes, it drove me crazy. It’s not that they can’t have, um, information, but really, there’s a line between paying attention and taking it too far.
I took it too far.
All The Leaky Diapers While Breastfeeding
I may or may not have gone through a phase when I put a blanket or burp cloth in between my son and the nursing pillow. It was one thing to have him leak on me since I could easily change my clothes, but if the contents of his diaper made it onto the nursing pillow, putting it out of commission for a few hours while it went through the wash? That was a catastrophe.
All The Extra Gear
I would have loved to have been one of those moms who could just open her shirt and breastfeed anywhere, anytime. I was not. For a long time, I needed a certain pillow, and I preferred a certain spot on the couch, and I’d go nuts if I didn’t have my phone within reach, which made it tough pretty much anytime the situation required something else.
All The Teeth
I mean, yeah, of course I love my kid more than anything, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t cringe when his teeth came in. Ouch.
All The Tiny Setbacks That Feel Catastrophic
For me, the struggle was especially rough in the early weeks. It could take over an hour to feed my son, which gave me hardly any time between feedings. So, basically, any issues that arose felt impossible to fix in that given time frame.
Plus, the stakes felt extremely high because, hello, we’re talking about your child’s health and wellbeing and sustained health and ability to grow and thrive. Thank goodness for same-day appointments at the lactation consultant.
All The Confusing Nursing Tops
They seem straightforward enough, but seriously, when you’re running on two hours of sleep and you’re distracted by the shrieks of your own offspring, it can be hard to figure out how to unhook your straps.
All The Unquenchable Thirst
Thank goodness for other able-bodied people who happen to be in proximity (shout-out to my husband) and can provide me with some necessary water during a nursing session. I’m pretty sure I would have been severely dehydrated if not for his willingness to help because, well, I always forgot to grab a glass of water before nursing my son.
All The Breast Pumping
Just the thought of that rhythmic motor is sending shivers down my spine. OK, I’m exaggerating, but only a little. Unless you’re used to attaching your most delicate parts to machinery to excrete bodily fluids, pumping is intense, weird, and uncomfortable. I was so thankful the technology exists, don't get me wrong, but I did not enjoy it.
All The Leaking Milk
Speaking of releasing milk when you’d rather not, leaks are an unfortunate side effect of breastfeeding. My best advice: sleep on a towel, wear dark colors, layers, and patterns, and always have a spare shirt in the diaper bag.
All The Flashing
I mean, yes, I totally signed up for that when I committed to breastfeeding my baby, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t moments when I would have rather continued minding my own business (which, let’s be honest, was probably like folding laundry), and not been interrupted.