My Beef with Breastfeeding

July 22, 2011

My irritation started when I first got pregnant and people started asking if I was going to breastfeed. At first I thought it was sort of an odd question. What does it matter? Why are you asking me this? Do you want my breastmilk? Then I realized that like many parenting topics (circumcision, discipline, nursery school), breastfeeding is one of those things everyone has an opinion on.

There is no denying that breastfeeding is really great for a lot of reasons. It’s healthy, it’s free, it’s convenient. The longer you breastfeed, the lower your risk of cancer. Great! I’m so glad I’m able to do it. It’s a blessing, really. What bothers me is when disparaging remarks are made about people who don’t breastfeed. Remarks about how those poor babies are suffering, not going to be as smart, or how they will surely turn into formula feasting porkers. How absurd! How ridiculous! How very untrue. I know plenty of formula fed babies who turned into wonderful little children and intelligent young adults.*

Furthermore, breastfeeding is hard. It really is. It takes commitment, patience, and sacrifice–and that’s if it’s going well. Some women experience a lot of pain. Some aren’t able to produce enough. Some have to go to work to keep food on the table for everybody else and aren’t able to stop and pump every few hours. Some simply don’t want to breastfeed and that’s okay too. Truth be told, there are times I don’t want to either. Why?

1) It’s inconvenient. Breastfeeding in public is a nightmare. If he’s screaming for his nummies, I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. It is hard to be discreet. How freeing it would be just to sit down and nurse without having to excuse myself to the hot car, viciously uncomfortable toilet seat, or smelly dressing room.

2). I feel left out. It’s always a buzzkill when I’m in the middle of great conversation and need to leave the room to nurse. It’s especially hard when it’s a room full of people and I can hear them laughing and carrying on without me. I am forever yelling SPEAK LOUDER SO I CAN HEAR YOU.

3) I am deliriously tired. 12am and 2am aren’t bad, it’s the 4am shift that kills me. Bleary eyed I walk over to my screaming infant and think, “Are you kidding me? The milk bar is closed.”

Luckily I’ve been able to take steps to combat these three issues in the past few days. For one, I started to pump. Whoever invented that contraption should get a Nobel Peace Prize for saving women’s mental health around the globe. That 4am feeding was so much sweeter when I wasn’t the one doing it.

To combat the modesty issue, Austin fashioned an apron-like curtain to shield your eyes. I really wanted to purchase one of these like everyone else, but I married a do-it-yourselfer with a tight wallet and so now I look like this. Excuse the baler twine around my neck.

There are, of course, many moments when I’m feeding my son and there is no place I’d rather be. In fact, I couldn’t love him more than when he’s finished eating and pulls away with a milk mustache and big grin on his face. What an angel.

But still.

It is often said that breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby. I disagree. The best thing you can do for your baby is love them unconditionally. And that’s the truth.


*My aunt, who will surely be christened a saint one day, has six children, five who are adopted, forcing her to have plenty of experience in formula. If you ever want examples of healthy, smart, well behaved children, you can take a look at them.

28 thoughts on “My Beef with Breastfeeding

  1. Kristy

    Love it! Couldn’t have said it better!! Looks like Austin got on that apron pretty quick!! It does get easier, and at least you have a baby that likes the bottle! Take care!

  2. karen

    i love this post. i was never head over heels in love with breastfeeding, and although i eventually just said, “i really don’t give a crap who sees my boobies”, it IS tiring, especially because I was always working full time after about three months. I was only ever able to make it to 10 months to 1 year, but I am ok with that. Our kids both got formula at times because I just couldn’t keep up, but I tried. And if I can just be completely honest, when my kids were done nursing, the only thing I really missed was the fact that while nursing that I could actually fill out a bra. Maybe that makes me sound like a bad momma to some folks. Those folks can bite me; I’m used to it. Babies have teeth, you know.
    Love you guys.

  3. Lindsey Stiger

    A great post- I too was bothered by the “are you breastfeeding?” question-
    1.- I don’t want to tell you what I am going to do with my boobs.
    2. – I don’t want you to think about what I am going to do with my boobs.
    I wasn’t breastfed as a baby and in my biased opinion, I turned out just fine, maybe even normal! To be honest- breastfeeding freaks me out a tad- none the less I am going to ‘give it the old college try’, that would be if she ever comes out- being a week over due in 115 degree heat…..really sucks.

    1. motleymama Post author

      Ohhhh my. I’m so sorry you are still pregnant and that it is 115 degrees. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable you are! Hang in there Lindsey, you are a strong woman. (And don’t let anyone tell you what to do with your boobs!) I will be thinking of you!

  4. Grace Miller

    I love your honesty and I totally agree that this is something that is an “to each his own”. Breastfeeding always came easy for me and I breastfed all six of our children, but at the time I always felt sorry for my peers who were not successful at the job because it was not anything that they did wrong or incorrectly. For some it just doesn’t work. Period.
    I am really enjoying reading about your journey into parenthood.
    PS Don’t worry too much, you’re doing fine!

    1. motleymama Post author

      Well, I’ve quickly learned that boobs offend people. And if I try to cover up with a blanket, he screams and rutches around and it falls off anyways. This new contraption Austin built should help. It keeps the blanket off his face.

      1. Jennifer Jo

        Yeah, boobs do make some people uncomfortable but I tend to not care too much what they think because:

        a) it oughtn’t [it’s what boobs are for, dagnabbit!]
        b) breastfeeding is really hard and I’m not going to make it any harder for myself
        c) when my baby is hungry I have an emergency on my hands and no time for fumbling
        d) I’m kind of ram-y and bull-headed

        FYI, I think you’re doing an awesome job. And Austin’s nursing bib is super creative. (Maybe you could market them on etsy?)

      2. karen

        i’m with jennifer on this. just fling them around. who cares. i mean, seriously. the are big mounds of fat and glands (and other stuff that perhaps your medical schoolin’ husband could state more scientifically). whoopdie freakin’ doo. And if it bothers people, maybe you should “put a blanket over their head.” (I stole that from somewhere).

  5. Bec

    Can you please share the story of when you fed Waylon while sitting on a toilet seat?!
    Smart thinking with pumping for that 4:00 feeding. Do you feel really full in the morning when you wake up?
    LOVE the bottom picture.

  6. Marisa

    I’m telling you – Come to Nicaragua!!! Women whip out their boobs like it’s their job! On the bus (try squeezing past a breastfeeding women to get out of your seat), in church, the side of the road…anywhere! What works best is wearing a really skimpy tank top with no bra and then just pulling the neck of your shirt down and whipping out your boob. I haven’t seen many babies with pacifiers or toys or anything to calm them down when they get fussy – just old fashioned nummies.
    Adam wants me to tell you that at his workshop today, a women breastfed her 16 month old son 3 times during 2 hours and still fully participated in the workshop.

  7. Rose

    Well said!!
    You have such a beautiful and honest way of writing, Kate. I look forward to reading your blog.
    Love really is the most important thing.

  8. Amanda

    Thank you Kate!! I feel the same way. It is much harder than anyone warned me it would be. I just keep hearing the same thing over and over “It gets better!”. Really!??? When?? I have to talk myself into sticking with it every day and I’m in week five. More than one person has asked me – Don’t you just love it? I feel guilty saying no. So I say, not yet, followed by… I’ve heard it gets better. [Sigh…]

  9. Sara

    I lovvved reading this. As someone who is unable to breast feed, I hated that, “are you breast feeding?” question. I always felt like I had to launch into this lengthy explanation about why I couldn’t and how much I wish I could…It’s nice to know there are non judgmental breast feeders out there, thank you for that.

  10. Lisa B

    Great Post. I love that you are a breastfeeding mom who gets it about formula feeding. Not too many of those. With my first I went 4 weeks and made the switch that time formula was easier. I couldn’t get the hang of nursing at home let alone in public. With my second we went 3.5 months and I just got over the nursing around people or in public thing. If they were in my home especially they could leave the room or just deal with it. I usually covered up though for my own modesty & the little guys distraction.

    Great post loved reading it.

    1. motleymama Post author

      Thanks Lisa!

      Yes, I’ve gotten over the whole breastfeeding in public thing by now. A few strangers have definitely seen my nips, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable.

  11. Beth Ann

    I stumbled across your blog through “E Tells Tales” and this is one of those moments when I am glad comments are allowed ;) because I want to thank you for writing this post because I really needed to read it today! I have an almost 4 month old and have been breastfeeding since he was born…although it has never been easy. Most recently, I am having issues with supply and on top of all the other issues I won’t go into, I am trying to accept the fact that maybe breastfeeding isn’t working out for us anymore….and I’m trying desperately to let myself off the hook. The guilt of not being able to make it to a year breastfeeding, or even to 6 months, is overwhelming…but so is the stress that breastfeeding is causing all of the time. Among breastfeeders, formula is often treated as the enemy. I feel like a terrible person for giving it to my son….and yet I know many formula feeding moms who are the best moms I know and I don’t think any less of them as mothers. Thanks for being open minded and thanks for the reminder that being a mom isn’t about how you feed your child, but how you love them. (Sorry to unload.) THANKS.

    1. Kate {motleymama} Post author

      Unload anytime, Beth Ann. Breastfeeding is tough shit, and if you’re also going through other things–it may be too much stress for you and your baby. Cut yourself a break, you’re doing a great job.

    2. Nicole

      Beth Ann, I completely understand. It’s okay. I breastfeed my last two sons and I only made it two months. There were many reasons why it didnt work but I tried to the very last second to make it worthwhile. In the end it was wearing on me and effecting my whole family. Stopping was the best decision for us and a such a relieve when I stopped. At the same time I felt horrible, like I failed. The best thing you can do is LOVE your child. Breastmilk is great but babies can and will thrive with formula it that is what you chose. A happy mama… makes a happy baby and a happy home.
      FANTASTIC post motley mama!

  12. Pingback: When Your Baby Hates Breastfeeding. | Kate Baer

  13. Tanya Barry

    Kate, thanks for this article—your writing is a breath of fresh air. Do you happen to know what formula your aunt recommends? I am just now looking into formula supplementing for my 7 month old, but am not seeing any great reviews about the options.


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