My breastfeeding journey was filled with problems and difficulties and mind-numbingly frustrating moments and, according to the majority of my friends, my experience was not unusual. Yet, with mantras like “breast is best” permeating mom culture, it’s easy for breastfeeding moms to think they have to feel a certain way about breastfeeding. The reality is, not unlike a Facebook relationship status, breastfeeding is very complicated and, in many cases, very challenging.
The good news, however, is that mothers are starting to talk about their complex and fluid feelings concerning breastfeeding, and feeling more and more comfortable about not (always) loving breastfeeding. These days, I’m seeing conversations about how much of a struggle breastfeeding can be, and while it's sad that women are struggling, it's also somewhat comforting to know that I was not alone in my struggles. As those conversations continue to spread and involve more and more women, breastfeeding mothers are finding themselves feeling more comfortable being open and honest about the insane journey that is feeding another human being from your body. Though, along with the struggle, come come waves of conflicting feelings.
Now, I’m not an expert on feelings or anything, but I’ve been known to have them, and they certainly affected my breastfeeding experience. Here’s a breakdown of some of the common assumptions new moms (myself included) can find themselves making and, in turn, shaping how they believe they need to feel about breastfeeding. Hint: You don't have to. Like, at all. However you feel about your breastfeeding experience is valid, so don't let anyone else (including yourself) tell you different.
That Breastfeeding Is Blissful
Before I became a mom, the image I had of breastfeeding involved silent snuggles, soft blankets, and low lighting. The reality? Um, I suppose that sometimes those things are involved, but it took months to get that comfortable. Months.
That They’re Doing It Wrong If It’s Not Easy
I've heard the joke about breastfeeding being the most unnatural, natural thing ever, and I have to agree with the sentiment. At times, it felt downright impossible. Still, struggling with it doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. In fact, you're probably doing many things right by fighting to do it, in my humble opinion.
That Breastfeeding Is All About The Baby
Actually, breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for the mother, too. These are facts. It's okay to acknowledge them.
That They're To Blame If They're Unable To Breastfeed Successfully
There are, like, a billion reasons why someone could struggle with breastfeeding (yes, that's a scientific estimation), including a number of them that are out of a mother's hands. Let's not play the blame game, okay?
That They Have To Breastfeeding For A Certain Length Of Time
Yes, there are recommendations, however, recommendations are different than requirements. For example, I recommend that every install blackout curtains before their kid arrives, so you can sleep whenever you want. Is it required by law? Not yet.
That Breastfeeding Is Always Convenient
Along with the myth that they're supposed to love everything about breastfeeding, comes the idea that it's always a joyous and welcomed part of one's day. Even if breastfeeding ends up being something you do 10-15 times a day. The fact of the matter is, almost anything that happens that often can spring up at inopportune times, preventing you from doing, well, anything else. It's okay to acknowledge that this is challenging.
That Breastfeeding Isn't Exhausting
Yeah, no. Breastfeeding is totally exhausting, as are most parts of parenting a baby.