A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

When It Comes to Breastfeeding Everyone Has the Answer

I haven’t been totally honest with you. I haven’t been sharing my true breastfeeding journey for a while now. I was at first. I was all kinds of honest about how much breastfeeding drove me crazy, how nursing aversion set in and how I felt so touched out. I also shared the triumphs and the beauty. I still share that freely, but something has happened to my expression of the bad days.

I got so sick of hearing, “Well, time to wean!” And even the less obvious but still obnoxious, “You really need to listen to your body and it sounds like your body is telling you it’s time to end your nursing journey. But you have done so great, you should be proud!” Thanks, but I didn’t ask for your opinion and I don’t need your directive on how to feel much less on where I am in my breastfeeding journey.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding.

I got so sick of reading those comments and hearing those snide remarks from random people who I dared express a moment of frustration to. Why are we so weaning focused? It’s like as soon as we latch a baby on it’s all, “When are you going to wean? How long are you going to breastfeed?” Why can’t a person just breastfeed and see how it goes? Why do we have to know the end before the baby can even suck, swallow and breathe at the same time?

I have had struggles at jobs. Real miserable times at jobs I’ve had in the past. No one ever once said to me, “Well, you should just quit!” I’ve had struggles in my marriage and other personal relationships as we all do. No one ever said, “Well, just get divorced!” This is not a normal thing to say to people so why do we say this to breastfeeding moms?

I don’t know. But I got so sick of hearing it that I pretty much stopped posting so much about my personal struggles. It simply adds to my frustration when I am trying to have a conversation with someone about my feelings and they just totally shut me down with their weaning advice.

That’s the other thing. We hate feelings in this country. Especially from women. Express anything other than delight and pleasantries with a smile on your face and everyone goes running for the hills.

Well, I am done. I am not doing anyone any favors by not sharing the whole story. I don’t care anymore what people have to say about my personal breastfeeding experiences. I continue to breastfeed because I feel it is right for my family. That’s pretty much all you need to know about that.

And as for liking it all the time. Give me a break! Guess what? I have feelings. Lots of really big and uncomfortable feelings! And I don’t always like breastfeeding. Actually there are plenty of things to not like about breastfeeding! No one likes it all the time. There are even days when it’s hard to like it all!

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding.

Sometimes my head hurts because I roll my eyes so much at my son asking for “boobie” for the 683rd time today. Sometimes his mouth bothers my nipple so much I pull it right back out. Sometimes I don’t want to breastfeed him at all and tell him “no” while he kicks and screams and tantrums. Sometimes when he starts to stir at night I stare at him with big, glowing eyes trying to send him cosmic sleeping vibes so he doesn’t wake up. Sometimes when I sit on the couch and he turns to crawl toward me I hop right back up. I have gone entire portions of the day standing at the counter so that he can’t reach my shirt. Sometimes I don’t like breastfeeding, just don’t like it at all.

Even after all that I choose to continue to breastfeed. And I will for as long as I feel like it’s a good decision for me. And that’s all you need to know about that. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. And the next time I am expressing my feelings of frustration to you about breastfeeding the polite thing to say is, “I’m really sorry you’re struggling. That sounds hard!”

I share these stories to be a part of this community of breastfeeders who are feeling every feeling on the spectrum. The moms who know it’s not fun all the time. I share these stories so that no one has to feel alone. And so that no one gets the idea that breastfeeding is always like sitting in a meadow of lilies on a sunny day. Actually you should know it’s never like that. Never. Breastfeeding is lonely at times and it’s always hard work. And there are very bad days. But as long as you find any reward in it then march on you badass. And screw all those people who think it’s easier just to wean. Boy are they clueless.

Comments

  1. You are amazing and I feel the same things you do. We will get though it the best way we know How and the way we feel we should .
    I will nurse as long as I want even though at times it flipping annoying as hell

  2. Well said!
    I have been following you pretty much from day one and I have to say your stories , your honesty and your advocacy got me through the hardships of full-term breastfeeding. I totally get what your frustration here! In the first few months when I was struggling with dangerous lack of sleep (to the point where I couldn’t utter a normal sentence and I thought I was literally losing my sanity), my husband and mother ended up asking me why I was not weaning… Well turns out it was the only thing that kept me going at the time (and imaging getting up anyway and having to make a bottle that your working husband does not have the energy to make, or being unable to comfort your child anymore!), and I’m so glad I stuck with it as my daughter had digestive issues and was constipated from the moment we introduced solids, even just fruit and vegetables! Later, at two years she developed a gluten intolerance and stopped thriving entirely (stunted growth, weight loss, severe constipation, tooth cavities, autistic traits, language delay…), then breastfeeding truly became the only thing that sustained her. Today she is healthy and thriving again, thank goodness. But we’re still going at five and a half years, and though it still drives me nuts, I’m not rushing any weaning, and if somebody tells me that I might as well stop now, I usually get my claws out! My neighbors and some acquaintances in my village tread carefully when it comes to this subject, and they usually check regularly by saying “you don’t nurse anymore, right?” and I love watching their faces crumble in disbelief when I tell them I still do, but they know better than to comment after that and probably just gossip to their spouse or friends about the crazy nursing lady later that day! I love your comparison with a job or a relationship and I totally agree that no one would dream of giving such advice about anything else! People’s issues run deep and are too painful to unearth I guess.
    Anyway, keep doing what you’re doing, and try to ignore comments like that! I try to remind myself when it happens that people mean well and are just trying to fix the problem at hand. My husband does that regularly and does not get it that I just need to vent and get his empathy, so he ends up trying to say something that sounds like empathy, but because I prompted it it does not sound right to me after that! What we really need is a hug, so I’m sending you a hug and hope you have a not-so-hard day today!
    You rock!

  3. I could have written all of these exact words right from my own head. And I gotta say- reading this, as I nurse my 2 yo, I could cry. Bc most days, i really feel like I’m all alone on NA island. But this helped me to see there are other mom’s out there on that island with me. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  4. I love the analogies you made when other things get hard, you don’t just quit. Why is that always the advice people wasn’t too give when breastfeeding gets hard? Thank you for writing this.

  5. This is great and I’m still nursing my 3 year old! My only worry is when I say gently go night night without “boob” so he calls it he cries so beyond bad! I don’t allow this for more then 30 seconds. The other night he cried out your don’t want me you don’t want me omg where did he get this from!! I’m worried I can’t wean him myself and when he will be ready. I haven’t slept through the night in 3 1/2 years and he’s not better off waking 3 to 4 times for that comfort. Any advice that’s positive would be great!

  6. Look, good for you. It’s your body and your baby, and that’s it!

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