I have four children, and when I was pregnant with my first nearly 15 years ago, I 100% knew I would breastfeed. I was ready for it all. I had all the breastfeeding essentials and a breast pump to have excess frozen milk for my baby when I wasn’t around to nurse. And even though I know it makes no difference what size your breasts are, mine are large and look perfect for nursing a baby. Breastfeeding was going to be a snap.
After my son was born, the nurses put him on my chest to begin to nurse, and I instantly felt uncomfortable with the whole thing. It was not at all what I was expecting. No, I didn’t have a sexual aversion to it. It just didn’t feel right and was a nursing aversion. But that was only the first time, so I convinced myself things would improve. He was a NICU baby, so I was pumping from the get-go. While I wasn’t in love with this, I kept it up for him.
Settling In Didn’t Help the Nursing Aversion
As time passed and we settled in at home, I continued to try and nurse him and get into breastfeeding. But the more I tried, the worse the nursing aversion became. Many people claim it is the most natural thing for a mother to do, but I felt like an animal. It didn’t feel good, and I know it wasn’t a pleasurable experience for him either. He may have only been a few weeks old, but babies can sense these things, and he knew I didn’t want to nurse him.
Breastfeeding became a chore and something I dreaded. Instead of bonding and loving time with my child, it made me want to cry. And the guilt. Oh, the guilt. I felt like a monster. It felt like everyone I knew was breastfeeding their babies, and it was going perfectly for them. I’d get together with a mom and her baby, and she’d whip out a boob, and the baby would latch, and it was no big deal. But here is where the real guilt came in: I wasn’t jealous. I didn’t yearn to have that relationship with my baby. It was the total opposite. I just wanted to quit. So, I did.
Giving Up on Breastmilk
I gave up breastmilk altogether. I didn’t want to do it, and I was forcing myself. This nursing aversion was miserable and gave me such anxiety. I continued to pump for a few months so he would benefit from breastmilk, but without the breastfeeding part. Guess what? I wasn’t nuts about this process either. Back then, the pumps were clunky and huge, and bottles hung off your breasts like you were being milked at a farm. Pumping made feedings twice as long, and as soon as he drank a bottle, I had to pump more for the next one. The middle of the night feedings could take almost two hours if things weren’t going my way. Enough was enough.
When I returned to work after three months of maternity leave, we had no form of breastfeeding. I felt like I had been released from a proverbial prison. But it didn’t last long enough because I got pregnant again and delivered his brother two years later. I knew what would happen at the hospital and fell victim to the nurses’ suggestions and, quite frankly, pressure. This time, I didn’t even mess with the breastfeeding part. I went straight to pumping. It was a relief that I didn’t have to mess with the uncomfortable part, but I was still a slave to that machine.
However, it only took maybe two months. He was happy and thriving and transitioned quickly to formula. I felt that same guilt and shame about giving up the breastmilk for my second son, but I convinced myself it was okay. And it was, but I didn’t stop there. I had a third son and faced that familiar dilemma. But this guy was a character, and he made it easy to quit.
Nursing Aversion Wasn’t About Supply
No, I wasn’t having a tough time with supply. I produced more with him than any of my kids. I had plenty of frozen milk to feed him when I wasn’t around because I was pumping like crazy. We gave him the formula to supplement before I went to work because I didn’t plan to pump during the day, and he was hooked. He would soon spit out breastmilk anytime we gave it to him. He hated it and refused to drink it. I promptly put away the pump and vowed never to look at it again.
Early Decision with No. 4
When baby number four came along, I was older and perhaps a bit wiser. I knew I had a nursing aversion and hated the thought of breastfeeding, and I didn’t want to hook myself up to that darn pump. I decided early on with my daughter that she would be formula fed. And I was positively okay with that. I didn’t allow myself to feel guilty for using formula. I would have three sons to take care of and a baby, which wouldn’t work for me, and I didn’t want to be unhappy. When the nurses brought her to breastfeed, I politely declined. I told them about my situation, and they didn’t bat an eye. There was no pressure to do what I didn’t want to, and it was a relief. She was formula fed from day one and is just as healthy as my boys. I have no regrets.
So, all the moms who hate breastfeeding: you are not alone! There are plenty of us who couldn’t make it happen. The last thing a new baby’s mom needs is to put undue stress on herself. Caring for a baby is hard work, and you must do what is best for your family. If you must remind others that it’s none of their business, do it. Too bad if they don’t like it, you are the mom, and you make the choices. But it’s important to be fair and show the same respect to breastfeeding moms. We are trying our best to ensure our babies are happy and healthy. But remember, your physical and mental health affects your baby. Take care of yourself and give yourself some grace. It will all be okay.