I’m not good at breastfeeding.
I make plenty of milk, tons of milk; that’s not the problem.
I nurse in public discretely though I’m not ashamed of it. Sometimes people will have whole conversations with me before they notice that I’ve been nursing the entire time. I’ve got the holds and tips and tricks down. I attend regular La Leche League meetings mostly to provide support to other moms.
I’ve nursed 3 babies (all added up, I’ve nursed 28 months) and *knock on wood* we’ve never had too much of an issue.
So why do I say I’m not good at breastfeeding? Well, because most of the time, I don’t actually LIKE breastfeeding. In fact, sometimes, I kinda hate it. Predictably, as soon as I typed that, I am flooded with guilt. So many women have so much trouble and it comes so naturally to me. How could I say something like I “hate” nursing? I cringe at how ungrateful I sound.
Maybe, before I had kids, I had an overly romantic idea of what nursing my baby would be like. (A false expectation of parenthood?! Shocking!)
I suppose I pictured myself as a Mary Cassatt painting: staring lovingly into my baby’s eyes and thinking how grateful I am for this moment of bonding.
But the truth is, that beautiful moment of bonding is waaay too frequent on any given day. I hate pumping and I work full time, so there’s no way around it. I miss my non-nursing clothes. A lot. Babies pinch and wiggle and grab your face and hair… or stop nursing suddenly and take a look around, exposing your full nipple to the free world. They can’t hold their own breast like holding their own bottle… my list of breastfeeding grievances is long; I’ll spare you the 4 paragraphs of complaints I just deleted.
Basically, it comes down to this: I can only revel in the beauty of the mother-child relationship for so long and then there are places to go, people to see, and other mouths to feed (thankfully, they eat solids).
But here’s what I remind myself about all of that (plus the deleted paragraphs): it’s okay not to love everything that comes with having kids. Many women hate pregnancy (I love it) or the terrible twos (love that too!). Ages and stages come and go and I won’t have to breastfeed forever.
So despite my huffs and puffs, here are 5 most selfish reasons I breastfeed my babies:
1. I have a vanity issue. Yep. You’ve heard before and I’ll say it again: breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract which makes that post baby belly drop down a little faster; milk production alone burns 300-500 calories a day (free french fries!). Anything that causes you to burns calories just by breathing is worth a little boredom.
2. I have an irrational fear that my son will forget me. Let me repeat for all the new and working moms out there: this is a completely irrational fear. Bottle or breast, my son will not forget me. But when I’m gone 45 hours a week, it’s a little comforting to know that I’ve got something over nana.
3. I haven’t had to put the big kids to bed in 4 months. “Sorry, the baby is hungry, have fun putting the kids to bed honey!” I may or may not have gotten out of other household duties as well (I have).
4. Breastmilk poop doesn’t smell nearly as bad as formula poop. I’m not even kidding. We cloth diaper, so this is a serious factor.
5. It teaches me a lesson- in patience. Truth be told, I could use a little boredom in my life. I often have too many things going on and if I didn’t tie myself down (or weight myself with an 18 pound 4 month old) I might not stop.
We’re committed to at least a year, and I know from experience that it does get easier. Once I am not his only source of nutrition I’ll feel a little bit better. When don’t have to pump anymore, I’ll feel better still. And eventually, he won’t want to nurse at all, and when that day comes, when I realize he’s weaned entirely…
I’ll be just a little bit heartbroken.
Do any of you have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding?
Does it make you feel as guilty as it makes me feel?