I Hated Breastfeeding & Chose to Stop
BY CHELSEA BECKER, EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR
Like the majority of soon-to-be-moms, breastfeeding was a territory I was nervous about. Would my milk come in? Would the baby latch? Would I produce enough to keep up? Would I be able to produce even though I had a breast reduction? Do I have all the necessary equipment? Etc, etc.
But the one question that didn’t dawn on me until I was actually breastfeeding: Do I even want to breastfeed?
Between the subtle push from doctors and nurses and American culture of ‘breast is best,’ I didn’t spend much time on my decision in the first place. Instead, it was almost decided for me and my questions only surrounded successfully breastfeeding, not the ‘do I want to?’. I had simply assumed I would try to breastfeed without weighing the positive and negatives for myself and my family.
To my ‘delight’ once baby boy was here, I was able to breastfeed quite easily. My milk came in, production was decent, and he latched from the first feed in the hospital. I was a lucky one.
Fast-forward to a couple weeks in and as any new mama knows, exhaustion/emotions/everything set it. The constant feeds were draining me and I needed sleep badly. So, as lots of families do, we introduced a bottle and I started pumping so that my husband could split up feeds. I became best friends with my pump and found myself waking up several times a night to pump to keep my production up. My nipples had a break from my son’s mouth, but they suffered a new kind of torture from the suction of the pump.
The amount of sleep I got wasn’t changing. I was still waking up multiple times a night to pump. I was still in pain. I was still not getting much free time since I had to not only breastfeed but pump throughout the day. I was still not in control of my body and had to question every single thing I ate or drank to make sure baby was getting his nutrients. I was growing resentful of my husband for not having to suffer. I felt tethered to my house because going out in public to feed and/or pump was overwhelming.
I hated it and it was single-handedly disturbing my experience into motherhood.
I truly despised being responsible for every ounce of nutrition my son was getting. I wanted more sleep - I needed more sleep - and I was over pumping in the middle of the night and waking up to wet pads and shirts. I wanted to have a glass or two of wine, or even CBD, without feeling guilty. I wanted my body back and I wanted more free time. I wanted to be a better mother/wife/friend/human and knew I wouldn’t get there with these negative feelings building up inside.
And so I made a decision that would serve myself and my family: Less than 2 months in, I decided to stop producing. I slowly introduced formula and weaned my boobs. I slowly got more sleep and more free time, and honestly, I started being a better mother so quickly because of it.
I won’t lie and say those first few weeks of formula didn’t feel horrible. I’m pretty sure my husband felt like I had given up, even though he didn’t mean to, and even though I had in a way. I felt incredibly guilty even though I KNEW it was for the greater good of my family. I also felt guilt because I was able to breastfeed when so many mothers cannot (similar to the guilt I felt around not loving my body during pregnancy), yet I was choosing to stop for ‘selfish’ reasons.
But just like I had pushed through those sleepless nights of breastfeeding/pumping, I pushed through that guilt. I knew my son would be fine, and a month later, he’s thriving. His belly is full and his heart seems pretty full, too. Overall, we’re a much happier establishment without breast milk.
So mamas - new, soon-to-be, or experienced - I hope you remember to decide what’s best for your family and your transition into motherhood. I ask that you give yourself grace within the choices of parenting. Whether that be how your child gets fed, the sleep training situation, or the million decisions in between. Maybe it’s not what your friends are doing or even what culture suggests is “best” practice. What matters most is the best practice for your family - yourself included.
Chelsea Becker is a San Francisco based writer, creator of becker editorial, and on the editorial team at MU. She’s a new mom to her son Cooper. For her ideas to feel like yourself as a new mama, click here.
Featured Image via The Simple Folk