There Is a Bitterness That Comes With Breastfeeding We Need to Talk About

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It had only been a few days since I brought my baby home and I was already feeling exhausted. No sleep, and no effective way of communicating my emotions. I, like many other mothers, presumed the hardest part of having a baby was birth. But those weeks that followed were much more emotionally and mentally intense than the sum total of my hours in labor. At the center of all my frustration was breastfeeding

  • Although it’s great that breastfeeding is becoming more popular among new moms, there is a growing number of misinformed parents. 

    I was one of them. After birthing my baby I latched her on almost without trying and the nurses smiled and told me to, “keep doing that.” The problem was that I had no idea what exactly I was doing. By the second week home I already had family members requesting to feed my baby girl with a bottle of pumped milk. I almost began to feel obligated to pump. I felt that I had to prove to everyone that indeed I was making enough milk and they too could take part in the process of feeding her. 

    So, there I was, after every nursing session, pumping my breasts until they were empty. I already spent so much time holding my baby, feeding her, changing her, and then pumping. I felt like I spent so much time isolated, feeding, then pumping, just to feed her again an hour later. Unbeknownst to me I was about to undergo a monthlong journey of being in almost constant discomfort. 

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  • When a mother starts breastfeeding, her body works on a system of supply and demand.

    The more that the baby nurses, the more milk she will make. This way, the child always has enough milk. This is key to understanding why pumping and breastfeeding on demand in the first days after birth can be too much. I was feeding my baby on demand almost every hour, and then also pumping every hour. This meant my body was receiving the signal to make double the milk I really needed. I started overproducing milk and had no idea what to do. I was engorged for almost an entire month. It was like walking around with two leaky basketballs on my chest. Looking back, it’s laughable, but in the moment I was infuriated. 

  • I was mad that no one had warned me about pumping during the first days of breastfeeding. 

    I was annoyed because although I had what felt like gallons of milk being pumped out of my breasts, my daughter didn’t want a bottle, she wanted me. On top of that, I was constantly being questioned if the baby was receiving enough milk from me. The icing on the cake was that throughout this entire process, I had not known how to do a deep latch. This is when the baby properly attaches to the mother’s breast to receive milk without putting the mother in pain. Typically, when a mother is experiencing a lot of pain in breastfeeding, it is because her baby has a shallow latch. With each feeding I grew more and more bitter. I was tired of being in pain. I was emotionally defeated and had no idea when the discomfort would end. Fortunately, YouTube and Google were incredibly helpful. I was able to take the right steps to breastfeeding without pain and bring down my milk supply so I wasn’t overproducing. 

  • Although I will always advocate for moms to breastfeed, my first month of breastfeeding felt like an ongoing practical joke on me and my boobs. 

    A lot of social media pages make breastfeeding seem so beautiful, and it can be with the right information and support. But for some moms, there will be frustration. There might be bitterness that they are the ones who have to stay up late and feed the baby. There might even be resentment towards your partner for not being able to help as much as you need. Hopefully, more moms will receive the education they need to breastfeed without so many hardships. But for the mamas who do experience breastfeeding struggles, in those moments of bitterness, remember, your milk is still so sweet