I have something to confess: I don’t like breastfeeding.
I breastfed my son until he was 14 months, and plan on continuing to bf my daughter until at least that age. And I don’t enjoy it. I know there will be some of you out there saying that something must be wrong (the latch? A tongue-tie? positioning?). Maybe some of you will even be wondering if I have postnatal depression, and that’s why I dislike it. Do I hate it every time I sit down to feed my daughter? Not at all. Do I feel proud of my efforts? Absolutely. Do I gaze down at her and feel like we have a special bond because of breastfeeding? No, I do not – we would have had that regardless.
Here’s some of the reasons why I don’t like it.
I over-produce milk, which I keep being told is a blessing, but means changing my nursing pads every few hours and constantly leaking milk. It means having to express (yes, I know that produces more milk, sometimes I have no choice). And it means I am very susceptible to mastitis and especially thrush (the most painful thing ever, in my opinion).
I dislike breastfeeding because of the dependence my daughter has for me, for ravenous hunger, for milk squirting on the poor stranger who has the misfortune of sitting next to me.
I hate the constant discussion about it, about debates over feeding in public and ‘nurse-ins’. I hate people thinking I judge bottle-feeding because I breastfeed or, even worse, strangers who feel they have to defend why they didn’t (it was your decision and, frankly, I don’t care).
So why do I do it? Why do I put myself through it? For this reason: it’s not about me. I don’t have to like it. No one said every part of mothering was going to be fun (hello, labour anyone?). I’m a breastfeeder who dislikes breastfeeding. That is my infant-feeding journey; it has nothing to do with anyone else’s.