How I learned to like breastfeeding without ever really loving it

How I learned to like breastfeeding without ever really loving it

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I had to learn to like breastfeeding. I even nursed toddlers when I was pregnant.

I never really got the hang of it, though.

That is to say, that it never felt natural to me. It looked natural to them – and when I looked down at my babies with their suckling little mouths I was emboldened. So I kept at it.

I am not an overt breastfeeding advocate. I think it is a personal choice. I have no issue with formula. I think babies should be fed in any way that makes for a happy family unit.

This is no humble brag, nor do I wish to cast myself as a martyr.

I am writing this only because I think it is okay to have an ambivalent relationship to breastfeeding. And I want others to know that. There seems not just a lot of pressure to breastfeed, but also a lot of companion pressure to love it too. Me? Kind of. Aspects, of it, yes. But completely? No.

I think you can breastfeed without any obligation to love it. I love my children. That is enough. Babies thrive when they are loved and cared for. I, for one, do not think it matters whether sustenance is delivered through a bottle or a boob.

I remember the early days of breastfeeding. They were hard. They were quite stressful. I counted and weighed diapers obsessively. I still remember the lurch of my stomach when a diaper was dry. Breathe. I’d feel again for moisture.

I am avoiding, on purpose, too much information about breastfeeding as hard or painful. I remember that it hurt but in the way I remember that childbirth hurt. In neither case is pain the takeaway. (And the pain does fade).

To be honest, when my firstborn was a newborn I ended up co-feeding with formula. It really took the pressure off as my milk slowly started to come in. Ultimately my son rejected the bottle and went for the boob which is kind of how it started to stick.

My commitment to breastfeeding evolved based upon what made my baby happy.

After multiple pregnancies I had come to the point where I could say I genuinely liked nursing. I still don’t understand when people speak about some hormone that is said to be released when nursing that makes mom feel super relaxed. That never happened for me.

I loved, I suppose, the bond that breastfeeding helped develop. But other things did that too. Breastfeeding was but one aspect of falling in love.

The actual breastfeeding part, and how it made me feel about myself or my body, just never clicked.

I developed a different relationship to my boobs, that’s for sure. Almost everyone local has seen me nursing at one time or another and I never could remember to carry around that cover that some people use. Rightly or wrongly, I began to see my boobs not as anything sexy (ha!) but rather as pragmatic – kind of like hands.

I had trouble weaning, because all my babies liked night-nursing. A night owl myself, I did not mind late-night comfort feedings. But as they got older it felt like it was time.

So if you don’t love breastfeeding, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. You do not need to love breastfeeding to succeed at it – if that is what you choose to do. Be certain to seek any help you need to support the choice you make. It is okay to be ambivalent.

Images by iStock

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: Deep Latch Technique for Pain-Free Breastfeeding (August 2022).

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