I’ve had this conversation a few times lately. It starts with downcast eyes and is in hushed tones. Sometimes it ends with hot tears and feelings of shame, sometimes it ends with a slow trickle of exhausted crying that comes with being a sleep-deprived new mom, but most recently multiple conversations have ended with a hearty hug and a deep sigh of relief.
I hated breastfeeding, and I just want to let you know, it’s okay if you do too.
I lasted a whole 4 months and 27 days (not like I was counting or anything…). What I wish someone had told me (and looking back now, one friend did) that breastfeeding can be hard. It can be horrible. You can hate every single second of it. AND THAT’S OKAY.
I have a really sunny disposition and always hope for the best, haha who am I kidding? Going into pregnancy/childbirth/breastfeeding assuming the worst would happen in hopes that I would be blissfully and pleasantly surprised. I WAS NOT blissfully and pleasantly surprised by breastfeeding. It was rough. Isolating. It was the hardest thing I did as a new mom. One of my friends likened her milk letting down to “sweet angels pouring milk into your body” I mostly blamed this hyperbole on her new mom hormones raging (surprisingly I still speak to this human) but I longed for this feeling regardless of how silly and cheesy it sounded.
I tried all the things.
Our baby had a brief stint in the NICU and delivering her a few weeks early probably put me on a path to failure, but I was resolved to try. We visited the lactation consultant in the hospital and I used the hospital pump. I brewed the tea, I drank the brews. Brought the hospital pump home with me for a month. I ate the cookies and took the pills. We visited the lactation consultant every 5 days for 6 weeks. I tried the tinctures. Used the essential oils. I fed, I pumped, I fed again. Used the special phalanges, I used the shields. I WAS MISERABLE.
It wasn’t magical for me, and to add insult to injury, Flagstaff is basically one giant public service announcement for you to breastfeed your baby. You can’t be in this city and be around a little baby and not expect to see a mom either bare-chested or discreetly covered in a wrap, feeding her little one without skipping a beat in the conversation/meal/insert mundane activity here. It was heartbreaking for someone like me who wasn’t producing enough to feed her baby and whose baby wasn’t really killin’ it in the eating from the breast department either.
I finally threw in the towel when our baby started to eat purees, but at that point she was drinking mostly formula anyway, and you can’t imagine the joy that decision brought me. I threw myself into making her homemade purees and mixed that formula like a boss. This was something I could do. I actually could feed my baby, contrary to what the past 5 months had taught me. The clouds parted and I finally found joy in nourishing my baby. It was a game changer.
I still got some serious shade from many moms, family members, and my in-laws, but I didn’t care. Breastfeeding your baby is important, but taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your baby is also incredibly important, and you can’t do that if you’re sobbing though each feeding. I let it go on too long, I let me bully me.
My baby didn’t need a martyr, she needed a mother.
To sum it all up, if you had a hard time with breastfeeding or if you’re currently struggling, give yourself grace. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a pallet full of formula, I’m just saying, you’re not alone and it’s okay not to like breastfeeding.