It’s OK to Dislike Breastfeeding

Dislike_breastfeeding

The plethora of benefits that come from breastfeeding is widely known in the Mommy world. Every day we see campaigns to normalize breastfeeding and try to change the warped perceptions of our society that has sexualized breasts to the extent that public breastfeeding is viewed by some as obscene. These are all great things.

But that doesn’t change that I despised breastfeeding.

I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed my son for a little over a year. Yes, despite my feelings towards that time I still say “lucky” as it is a privilege denied to many. In a recent conversation on social media, I came across a group of women expressing how they missed nursing their infants. At the risk of being shunned, I commented simply “I’m glad it’s done, and that my body is mine again.” Perhaps it’s just cynicism on my part, but I expected to bring out the inner-sanctimommies in the group and get reamed out for my comment. Imagine my surprise when multiple women changed direction and agreed with my statement.

While we’re undeniably right to advertise the benefits of breastfeeding, are we doing so in a way that silences women from discussing their true feelings? Are we pushing the tremendous physical health benefits while depreciating the mental health benefits of sharing our concerns in fear of attack?

I had a rough pregnancy with my son. The months of invasive procedures went above and beyond the amount in a normal pregnancy. My body was treated as a vessel, rather than a separate human being. After months of being poked and prodded, I wanted only two things: For my baby to be safe and healthy, and to be in charge of my own body again.

With breastfeeding, that was not an option, yet I proceeded because the benefits to my child outweighed what I perceived as disadvantages to me.

I didn’t like being solely responsible for feedings, and the sleep deprivation that went with it.

I didn’t like missing out on food I like because it bothered my son’s stomach.

I didn’t enjoy the bovine feeling of hooking up to a breast pump.

I didn’t like that after 30 hours of labour, I had to contend with raw, chafed nipples for weeks.

I didn’t like that I couldn’t go out for an evening without weeks of advance planning.

I didn’t like the tears that came when I accidentally spilled a bottle of breastmilk because that stuff is LIQUID GOLD.

I didn’t like that I couldn’t do any heavy exercise without the risk of lowering my milk supply.

I didn’t like that after everything, my body still wasn’t my own.

And I certainly didn’t like the feeling that I couldn’t express these emotions without being harshly judged by my peers.

I didn’t like breastfeeding, but I don’t regret it; that extra time with my child could never be viewed as regrettable. However, we need to create a safe environment for mothers to be able to practice self-care, by sharing these emotions without shame and fear of backlash. We need a world that promotes breastfeeding while allowing these women to have negative feelings. We need to say “It’s ok to dislike breastfeeding” and listen during the discussion that follows.

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28 Comments

  • I chose from the beginning to formula feed my son. He is 2 and a half months old now and growing like crazy! I applaud the women who make the decision to breastfeed but also the ones like me who for whatever reason formula feed their babies. I chose formula for several reasons: 1) I’m on medicine for depression and other things and don’t want to pass it along to my son, 2) I’m a high school art teacher without really anytime to pump or do things like that, and 3) breastfeeding seems weird for me. Not shaming the ones that do or don’t. Just not the right plan for my family.

  • I’m a FTM due in December and there is nothing that I am fearing more than breast-feeding. It is just something I’m not even looking forward to, and I am so excited to have this baby girl in our lives! Reading your post made me feel so much better about what I was thinking. I have had a few close friends already get on my case about my attitude towards breast-feeding, and I just want to scream. I wasn’t breast-fed, nor my siblings, or any of my aunts and uncles and we all turned out just fine. If our babies are happy and fed isn’t that enough?

  • Just had my daughter 2 weeks ago (3rd kid) and pump when I hurt but other than that do not really breast-feed we almost 70% feed on formula. I feel no shame whatsoever. Millions are bottle-fed with formula and cannot convince me my child will be at A distinct disadvantage because she was not breast-fed. I don’t understand why women love to shame other women this is a great article and I wish more it was written on things like this so new moms don’t feel guilt. Whether you breast-feed or formula feed as long as you’re feeding them it’s good

  • My baby is 2 weeks old, im hating breastfeeding….so tears are coming down from admiting it..lame…i have my baby on my boob 20hs a day, im soo tired, my niples are on fire all the time and it feels like my baby is always hungry. she has gain weight and grown 1 inch, so i guess she is getting what she needs, and thats the main reason im still going, But also because i feel guilty of quitting, of not trying hard enough for her..but everyday i just think about stopping…i had an awful pregnancy, a painfull delivery even though i got the epidural twice, i had a perineal tear even though i got an episiotomy…im just tired of feeling ill and not feeling like my self…

    • Hugs momma! It gets better and you are doing awesome. No matter what road you decide to take ( nursing, pumping or formula) know that you are making the best decision for you and your baby ❤️

  • My daughter is 3 weeks old, and I had fully intended to breastfeed her, but she was taken to the NICU at birth and given bottles and pacifiers while I was stuck in a separate hospital recovering from an EXIT delivery (c-section on steroids essentially). My baby can’t latch and my milk supply hasn’t come in. I feel so much guilt having to formula feed, and am still pumping after every formula bottle in hopes of getting at least 1 ounce of milk for her a day. I hate pumping, and I wish there wasn’t such a stigma surrounding formula. If any of my mommy friends formula fed their babies, none of them talked about it.

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I am due in just a couple weeks and already feel so much pressure surrounding breastfeeding. I fully intend on breastfeeding, but as a first time mom, a lot can feel overwhelming and the emphasis/advice on breastfeeding already can make you feel as if you are having a hard time learning or figuring it out that you don’t have a safe place to say that out loud without the mommy shamers coming full force. I think that’s why so many moms suffer in silence because the fear of what is on the other side, feeling like they might be judged for not being totally obsessed with everything that is baby. This eased the stress a bit just knowing that even if I do figure it out, it’s ok if I hate it and it’s even ok to say it out loud. Real moms like you are key.. heart not hate. Thank you!

  • I like breastfeeding most of the time. But now I’m nursing a 2 year old and that’s where it kind of changes for me lol. I’m looking forward to getting my body back and I would not be upset of he decided to quit tomorrow.

  • THANK YOU! I’m seven weeks in and I really dislike it but feel like I can’t tell anyone for fear of being judged or told I’m lucky to be able to do it. Labor came early because of pre-ecclampsia and ended in a painful c-section, after which I got pretty sick and couldn’t do much. I feel like I became a feeding dispenser because I couldn’t do anything else. Now, I have loads of milk and breastfeeding isn’t painful or difficult physically, but mentally I’m struggling. I had depression before and have PPD now, and feeding a preemie I’ve hardly bonded or connected with on demand, all hours of the day and night is sending me round the bend. The only thing that’s helped is being able to pump and skip a feed, but that’s limited, because I still get super engorged. I’m so glad your article has helped give me permission to say I don’t like breastfeeding, and maybe to figure out some way to help with that. I’ll likely stick it out for 6 months at least, but I’m going to be gentler with myself and give myself permission to not be all “rainbows and unicorns” about it. Sometimes it really does suck, but all that really matters is that my kid is getting fed.

    • Alice, it sounds like you’re having a rough time! Be sure to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself the space to heal, both mentally and physically. You couldn’t be more right. Your child is fed and cared for; that’s what matters.

  • My newborn is 10 days old today. I hate breastfeeding him, I don’t want to do it. I even went out and bought formula with every intention of just not doing it. But the fear of people going “oh why didn’t you breast feed him?” and the comments, looks, and judgement I’d get for answering with “I didn’t want to.” have made me persevere. I want to sleep. I want to share the responsibility with babies Dad. I want to wear my clothes and not realise I have to get changed half an hour later because I have no access to my boobs, I don’t want to deal with people staring at me because I don’t know how to get my boob out for him without just kind of sitting there with my boob out while he decides whether or not he’s actually going to latch, and I’m far too uncoordinated to try and manage a cover of some sort.

    But at the same time, I don’t want to give up that time with him, it’s the one thing that only I can do for him, it makes me feel like he actually needs me and I can’t be replaced, and it’s right there, I don’t have to go through the hassle of measuring formula and heating/cooling a bottle in the middle of the night and listening to him scream because it’s taking too long.

    I guess I don’t know how I feel about it over all and I’m still undecided about whether it’s for me. I know it’s best for him, I know it will benefit him greatly for the rest of his life. I know if I choose not to do it, I’m being selfish. But it’s exhausting, it’s awkward, and it’s mentally draining as well as physically.

    Thank you (and the other people who left comments) for making me feel like it’s okay to not always like it, and to have my doubts about whether it’s something I will to continue doing.

    • Char, your exhaustion is palpable in this comment. I sincerely hope you get some rest and additional support. Remember that your health is important when caring for an infant too and that if you choose to stop that is entirely justified. I’m so glad this post gave you the opportunity to voice your concerns.

    • It does get easier Char! My babe is 4 months now. The first 3 months were hard for me due to the sore nipples, time commitment, sore body from sitting so much, & plugged ducts. My nipples finally got broken in & milk supply has evened out. It is hard and I can’t say I love it but I do think it’s worth it.

      • So far we’re persevering – he seems much happier and more content and sleeps better when I breastfeed him vs give him formula. The formula upsets his wee tummy and makes him seem rather uncomfortable. He had a day of formula and then I breastfed him overnight and decided to keep going because I can always change my mind later and stop, but if I give up now, when he’s only 2 weeks old, I may regret it and it’s really really hard to make your body start making milk again. So for now, I’ll keep breast feeding but will let his Daddy give him a bottle of formula around dinner time, or if we have to go out for a few hours at once, mostly so I get a break and so I don’t start stressing about exposing myself to the world because I still can’t work out how to be discrete about it. I know with time it will most likely get easier, for both baby and me and we’re both still learning at this point, thank you for the reassurance and encouragement! Sorry for the ranting.

        • Don’t apologize for venting! I’m glad you found a possible solution. I know lots of women who supplement with formula to give themselves a break. I hope everything works out for you.

  • I feel the same way. I feel very lucky to be able to breastfeed my son who is going to be 8 months in a couple of weeks but at the same time feel like I need my body back. Breastfeeding is great for the baby but it can be isolating and very demanding for the mother. I have made the decision to breastfeed my son till he is one year old and I am sticking me to it but it is hard.

  • I’m a total hippie. Essential oil loving, whole, green, sustainable living, crunchy granola hippie. BUT. I hate breastfeeding. With a burning, fiery rage – I can’t stand it. I had terrible pregnancies, (diagnosed with HG) followed by traumatic deliveries so the last thing I expected was to not only dislike breastfeeding, but to be surrounded by friends and family that kept telling me that I would get over it. That it would become easier. 10 months later, IT STILL WASNT ANY EASIER. thank you so much for representing those of us that struggle bused it through our PP journey. 2 thumbs up girlfriend!

    • Kelly, thank you for commenting! It’s great to hear feedback from parents in all walks of life, especially those that gravitate towards an organic lifestyle (is that the technical term for hippie?) 😉

      It does get easier for some, but if motherhood has taught me anything it’s that there is no cookie-cutter solution or way to do things!

  • I didn’t like breastfeeding at first. I felt isolated because I was shamed by my family, even my husband. I would have to go to a separate room in my own home if people were over and then accused of keeping my daughter away from people.
    This all changed when I took charge of my body and my decision to breastfeed my daughter and say damn everyone else. I look forward to my time pumping at work because not only am I able to still provide for my daughter when I am away but I enjoy the time alone at work without interuption.
    My experience has all been about perspective and I was not about to allow anyone or anything allow it to be a negative experience for me.
    My family and husband took steps backwards when they realized I had no problem standing up for myself. I’m glad I still get that bond with my daughter that no one else gets.
    I can understand why some people though would dislike it. And I can support it and empathize with your feelings, because at one point I disliked it too….but my feelings came from the isolation caused by external sources.

  • Thank you for your honesty! I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding until about 8 months in, after I stopped pumping at work, and my daughter was eating quite a bit of solid food. By the time our nursing relationship ended at 19 months, I was both ready and eager to have my body back, AND a little sad that it was ending. Talk about confusing!

    I completely agree that in our zeal to normalize breastfeeding, we have created an environment in which women who don’t like it are shamed into silence. And that’s not right. Not only do we need to make it okay for women to not like breastfeeding, we need to make it okay for them to NOT choose to breastfeed for that reason. I hear a lot of “Breast is best, but if you CAN’T breastfeed for whatever reason, that’s okay.” But no one ever says it’s okay to not breastfeed because you simply don’t want to.

    • Exactly! And unfortunately, there is still a lot of shaming towards women who can’t breastfeed. I sincerely hope this article opens the door for women to engage in a large-scale venting session.

      Being done with nursing can be very bittersweet, and as you said, so confusing. Especially with all those hormonal changes at play.

  • I breastfed my daughter for 12 months. She self-weaned, no drama, thank God. Now I’m nursing my 2 month old and I’m reminded of what a huge pain in the ass this is. Exhausting, isolating, uncomfortable. I’m glad I’m doing it but I’ll also be glad to be done.

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