Breast is best… but for who?

Now before all the breast feeding advocates get upset, please know that I am a huge supporter of breast feeding. I think that there are so many positive advantages to breastfeeding, however it needs to be a good fit for both mom and baby. For me, breastfeeding was not a good fit for anyone. I struggled with both my children and eventually threw in the towel after three months of frustration, tears and anger. Looking back it still bothers me that I had very little to no support from fellow mothers. As I mentioned in my article, Pregnant…let the judgment begin, I thought that I was entering this wonderful world of motherhood where we would all support each other through hardships. I was shocked when the challenges that came along with breastfeeding was half the battle. It was dealing with the constant negativity that came from other moms, that was so disheartening.


Have you ever noticed that one of the first questions any mother will ask you after you’ve given birth is ‘Are you breast feeding?’. For a new mother, this is so overwhelming. It’s bad enough that you are sleep deprived and recovering from the physical and emotional demands of giving birth, now you have to answer to a whole panel of other moms. I felt so much pressure to breastfeed that I honestly did it out of guilt. Maybe not at first, but after weeks of constantly getting asked if I was breastfeeding, I seriously was just doing it just so I wouldn’t have to answer ‘no’ to the dreaded question. It was horrible. I remember one night I was so exhausted and upset that I sent my husband to the Toys R US, five minutes before closing time, and demanded that he not come home without a breast pump.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of all the problems I had, but I will say that breastfeeding was one of the hardest parts of those early months with a newborn. And pumping when you also have a two year old toddler, is just a side order of insanity. I wish I would have felt some sort of support from other moms. It seemed that everyone I talked to would tell me how ‘easy’ it was, or how it was such a ‘bonding’ experience. I must have been the mutant mommy, because neither of these words seemed to even remotely describe how I felt about breastfeeding.

When I would open up and share with other moms, I would get the most unhelpful comments and discouraging advice. ‘It’s not supposed to be easy’ or ‘You just have to stick with it’, or even better, ‘You don’t want your baby to be unhealthy, do you?’ Believe it or not, these are actual quotes. The comment that bothered me the most was when a so-called friend said to me, ‘Don’t you want what’s best for your baby?’ The comment brought tears to my eyes. I thought about how I had been forcing my cracked bleeding nipples into my child’s mouth while demanding, ‘Why won’t you just eat?’ Seriously…is this what was best for my baby? I can tell you now that it was not what was best for my baby, myself or my family. Now, for all you soon-to-be moms out there, don’t be discouraged, I know lots of mothers who didn’t struggle at all with breastfeeding. You just need to figure out what is best for YOU.


Looking back, I wish I would have never breastfed my daughter. I was miserable. I feel that I missed out on those precious moments and I can never get that time back. But what I can do, is be honest with other moms, so that they don’t feel guilted into doing ANYTHING that isn’t working for them. I am not embarrassed to tell other moms about my struggles, because what I needed to hear was something other than how easy breastfeeding  was. I think mothers should do what works best for them and their family, because after all a happy mom = happy household. If you can breastfeed and are happy doing so, that’s amazing. Any mom who is that dedicated deserves a pat on the back. If you need to formula feed, that’s great too. Boiling water, sterilizing bottles and mixing formula on a daily basis is also a lot of work. Seriously, we need to stop focusing on our differences as mothers, and redirect our energy to supporting and encouraging one another. Next time you visit a friend or an acquaintance who’s just given birth, instead of asking her if she is breastfeeding, why not ask her how she’s feeling. What better way to support another mom, by letting her decide what she needs or wants to share with you.