I always wanted to breastfeed. I thought it was the ultimate bonding experience I could possibly share with my baby. However, once I became a mother my opinions of breastfeeding changed dramatically. Not only was it a completely unnatural thing for me to try and facilitate, I wasn't a way I could bond with my daughter. It actually interfered with the process. If you're OK with the decision to bottle feed, like I was, you know there are feelings on breastfeeding you don't need to explain to anyone. After all, you're the mom, and it's your right to choose what's best for you and your baby.
When I chose to give up my dream of breastfeeding, it wasn't without a lot of thought and consideration. The cons far outweighed the pros, in my case, and with my postpartum depression escalating in severity, bottle feeding is the one thing that salvaged a relationship with my newborn daughter. Along this confusing journey of doubt and regret, I didn't know if it was the right choice or the wrong one. Breastfeeding has long been held up as the ultimate way to feed your kid (even though it's simultaneously shunned in public, proving mothers just can't win regardless), and I let that perception penetrate my mind and sit there. I wanted to give my daughter the best, and the "best" has always been considered breastfeeding.
However, my daughter turned out just fine. Yes, even though she was bottle fed. Crazy, right? While I still wonder what could've been if I'd held on a little longer (or stuck with breastfeeding when my son was born), I know breastfeeding wasn't for me. I wish that weren't true, but it is. With that being said, here are some feelings on breastfeeding I experienced that I truly believe no one should explain to damn near anyone else. As long as you and your baby are fine, that's good enough.
It Can Be Uncomfortable
You don't owe it to anyone to explain why breastfeeding makes you uncomfortable. As much as I wanted to love the experience, I had a strong aversion to nursing. Not only did I hate the sensations, but that discomfort made me feel distanced from my baby, as if it wasn't really my own. I applaud the mothers who don't feel this way, or do but are able to get past it. I just wasn't one them.
It Causes Anxiety
With my discomfort came mounting anxiety over the whole breastfeeding/bonding process. It was hard for me to sit and let things happen and, by the end of it, I was so stressed out breastfeeding was a negative, not a positive.
Even if your anxiety is public knowledge (like mine is), you still don't have explain a damn thing about how it contributed to your choice to take up bottle feeding. Honestly, my stress level dropped when I stopped breastfeeding my daughter, and our relationship was better because of it.
It Triggers Sadness
Postpartum hormones are the worst. You have no control over them, especially during breastfeeding. When I first tried to feed my daughter from my body, I had such overwhelming sadness that it contributed to my anxiety, which then contributed to a resounding feelings of disappointment.
It's all a cycle that circles back around, feeding into itself until breastfeeding starts to feel impossible. Trying to explain that cycle to others — especially others who have either never breastfed before, or breastfed effortlessly — only makes it worse. So, I didn't.
It Can Trigger Regret
I can't speak for all mothers who went to the bottle, but I carried an immense amount of regret once I officially stopped breastfeeding. After giving it my all, and failing, it hurt(s) to think of what would've happened if I'd stuck with it.
While I don't know if it'd be beneficial to my own mental health, I'll always wonder what ways it'd have affected my kids. So, yes, I have regret. But no, I don't owe any further explanation about my decision to stop breastfeeding to anyone.
It Can Be Messy
For me, one of the worst parts of breastfeeding was the constantly leaking breasts. While I don't have to explain how gross this is, or why I found it to be very embarrassing, it should be noted how many shirts were ruined (too many to count), how many nipple pads were purchased (same), and how my baby wouldn't latch.
Everyone has their own threshold when it comes to what they think is "gross" or "embarrassing," and leaking breasts was mine.
It Can Be Time-Consuming
I certainly don't need to explain my time restraints as a working mother (because I pumped for a long time after giving up on breastfeeding), or how much more convenient it was to have my partner trade off on bottle feedings. Some mothers enjoy that personal time with their babies, whether they have the time or not, and that's great. The ticking of the clock made me too anxious to sit, though.
It Can Be Confusing
As I said, I always wanted to breastfeed my babies. It just so happens, I'm not cut out for it for many reasons that need no more explanation. If you are, bless you.
Regardless of how we choose to nurture our children, let us just rejoice in the common denominator that brings us mothers together: we love our kids and want to do what's best for them. Whatever that means.