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What happens when you don’t want to breastfeed?
I used to think that everyone should breastfeed if they were physically able to.
My grandmother used to issue frequent reminders when I was growing up: “You should always breastfeed your children. Don’t forget that.”
And so when I had my first child in 2011, that’s what I did. Except it wasn’t the wonderful, life-changing experience I had heard it was.
Truthfully, I hated it.
I think the best way to describe my feelings towards nursing is like that option on Facebook: “It’s complicated.”
(That’s why I loved the graphic above with the hearts coming out of rain clouds. It can be depressing or painful but sometimes you try to push through that out of love for your child.)
Back to my experience with breastfeeding…
Every single time my milk let down, I felt a wave of sadness or homesickness. It didn’t last long– under a minute. But it was happening each and every time I nursed and I quickly developed a dislike of breastfeeding.
I found myself thinking multiple times a day, “I don’t want to breastfeed.”
I learned that what I was going through was called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or “D-MER” for short.
Knowing that it was something happening in my body helped me deal with it somewhat, if that makes sense. I guess it made me feel like I wasn’t imagining it.
I continued on with breastfeeding until my daughter was eight months old. During that time, my breastfeeding struggles never went away.
It wasn’t enough to make me quit breastfeeding, but it definitely turned me sour on the nursing experience.
Other women face a similar yet different response to breastfeeding, known as “breastfeeding aversion.”
“A level beyond. It’s grating. Creepy-crawly. It causes unshakeable repulsion and disgust, can trigger phobias or psychological unrest. A mother suffering through nursing aversion tends to feel upset at herself rather than her child or anyone else.”
Yeah…I’m thinking if I felt an unshakeable repulsion that I would just quit right then and there. That sounds AWFUL!
Formula for everyone!
And then there are the women who experience pain when breastfeeding.
Let’s get real– a tiny little creature sucking on your nipples ten times a day can really hurt.
A bad latch, thrush, a clogged duct…all of these things can make nursing really terrible.
If it’s supposed to be an enjoyable bonding experience and you’re grimacing in pain the entire time, how great could it be?
…Or You Just Don’t Want to Breastfeed
But when it comes down to it, does the reason even matter?
What I’m trying to get at is that my opinion on the topic of breastfeeding has changed drastically since I’ve had kids.
Don’t want to breastfeed? Don’t do it!
Would I still encourage women who are on the fence to try breastfeeding? Of course.
I mean, why not? It’s free, it’s nutritious, and it’s convenient. Did I mention it’s FREE? (Honestly that was the biggest attraction for me. Formula is f*cking expensive!)
If it works for you, that’s great. But if it doesn’t, don’t beat yourself up about it.