Breastfeeding: Bonding or trapped by your baby?

I’ll admit it. I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding. Gasp! I’m a doula. I’m a naturally minded birth educator that believes a woman’s body is perfectly made for birthing and caring for her baby. I feel strongly against ignoring the natural instinct to snuggle your baby in the name of making a newborn “independent”.  How could I not enjoy the most maternal and primitive thing I can do for my baby: provide food and nurturing.

Well, breastfeeding for me was just plain difficult. I had a colicky 9lb baby who was born hungry and was never satiated. I was blessed with an abundant milk supply which, while wonderful for my ever hungry child, would cause my breasts to feel like balloons filled with rocks. They would leak so strongly that I would soak every shirt I wore even while wearing multiple pads.

i was miserable. I wanted to love it. I wanted to feel maternal. I wanted to bond. I didn’t want to cringe at the thought of having to sit in the rocking chair again for the tenth time in one day.

Then one day, i had a revelation. I didn’t have to love it. Feeding my child didn’t have to be an all encompassing experience of joy. It was food. I was trying my best to give him the best start.  Thats it. I didn’t have to enjoy the leaking porn star boobs. I didn’t have to set a goal of nursing until my little angel self-weaned. I just needed to take it day by day and feed my baby.

I decided I wasn’t going to feel trapped by the rocking chair anymore. I was going to take advantage of the quiet time and do something for myself. I starting reading while I nursed.  I planned vacations, I searched the Internet and stopped counting down the minutes until I could wean without being shamed by the moms group.

To my surprise, I began looking forward to the quiet breaks in my day. My boobs returned somewhat back to normal and so did I. My son grew out of the colic and I made my way out of my postpartum funk. I never had the nursing experience with rainbows and unicorns. I realize now, that is perfectly normal and definitely okay. We found our own way.

Feeding your baby is the most nurturing and parental duty you have as a mother. If it is breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it is still a loving, nurturing act. Be kind to yourself as a new mother. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns.