My name is Kimberly. I’m a birth and postpartum doula. I help women every day to have the birth and postpartum experiences of their wishes. Many of these women wish to breastfeed, and I happily help them latch their babies, troubleshoot at all hours and listen to them talk about their own unique experiences.
But I have a deep, dark secret…
Breastfeeding wasn’t enjoyable for me.
That’s right. I nursed both my children, and my second one is actually still nursing. From an outsider looking in, my nursing relationship might be seen as the picture perfect scene aboard the easy train. I specifically remember getting a breastfeeding photo shoot in the beautiful tide pools of Hawaii with my second born to try to cherish and enjoy the moment. The pictures yielded were beautiful, and everything that I imagined breastfeeding to be before I started doing it myself. What people didn’t see in those photos, was the teething, distracted baby I was trying so hard to keep latched for one photo by singing silly children’s songs as he attempted to pick my nose.
For me, breastfeeding is not easy. It was never easy. I absolutely thought it would be, though. From hospital staff, to lactation consultants, to other doulas, to articles shared on social media, I was convinced that breastfeeding would be the easiest thing I’d ever done. It is always promoted as such a natural thing. Natural is defined as “existing in or caused by nature.” By that definition, breastfeeding is natural. But I don’t see the word “easy” in that definition at all. Why do we promote it that way?
For some women, breastfeeding does come incredibly easy. I was not one of those women.
I was the woman who fought to latch a tiny baby who was supposedly post dates.
I was the woman who stomped her feet every time the baby latched to cope with the pain.
I was the woman whose husband left for six weeks for a training, and had to troubleshoot alone.
I was the woman who was seemingly blessed with oversupply, but developed clogged ducts and mastitis, since no one was around to help hold my fussy baby while I pumped.
I was the woman who thought she had thrush for months, before finding out she had a rare phenomenon called Reynaud’s.
I was the woman who wished her baby would stay asleep in public places so she wouldn’t have to nurse him.
I was the woman who lost too much sleep and resented her husband.
I was the woman who desperately tried to bond with her baby through breastfeeding, but it normally didn’t happen.
I was the woman who lived her postpartum journey feeling like less of a woman because what was natural didn’t come easily.
But I’m not any less of a woman than any other woman on this planet. We don’t ever have to enjoy every moment of motherhood, no matter how natural it seemingly is. I feel so blessed to live in a world where there are so many different options out there that suit each family. There are different variations of normal and different feelings we can express. Navigating those feelings in whatever ways we see fit is what makes our journeys unique. If our feelings about everything were consistently positive, it would make for a very boring world. As a mother, I choose to shoot for feelings that are valid, and this World Breastfeeding Week, no matter how you chose to feed your baby, I encourage you to do the same.