When I was pregnant with my first baby, breastfeeding was a foregone conclusion. It was healthy. It was free. It was environmentally responsible.

It was what my mom did; it was what my friends were doing; it was the right thing to do. Every article, book, and the person told me I should breastfeed.

Oozing Oxytocin
The Bias Against Breastfeeding
When Breastfeeding Hurts
Starting Breastfeeding (The Day 1)
Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties

 I breastfed, and I learned quickly that nobody had given me the whole story. The books and articles and people hadn’t told me breastfeeding would sever me from the society of all humans except one who didn’t seem to like me.

They hadn’t told me that breastfeeding could cause injuries and pain with no real cure except, possibly, absurd persistence.

They hadn’t told me that breastfeeding slows down time so that months of trouble can make the years that came before feel like a sick fantasy.

They hadn’t told me that breastfeeding could make me entirely miserable. I adored my baby, but I abhorred doing what everybody said was best for her.

I was a maternal hypocrite going through the motions of genuine faith.

 So here’s the paragraph I wish the books had included, the secret I wish someone had whispered in my ear, the fact I wish just one of those “Breast is best!” articles had bothered to mention: you don’t have to love breastfeeding.

The moments you spend nursing your baby do not have to be your most cherished. Those times of physical closeness may be the ones during which you feel the least maternal love, and it doesn’t mean you’re a psychopath.

Sometimes the pain in your bosom chases the lovey butterflies right out of your stomach.

 But there’s no stomach for lovey-butterflies like a mom’s. They’ll flutter back when their natural habitat isn’t twisted with tragedy.

A baby provides endless opportunities for plundering the ridiculous bliss of bald infatuation, so find them where you can: some good bets are baby talking, bathtime, snuggling in bed while your poor boobs are securely packaged, and babywearing (as the poor boobs allow).

Sometimes breastfeeding is a candlelit London broil, and sometimes it’s leftover meatloaf at 5 in the kitchen. Honestly, which do most of us eat more often?

The important thing is that the hungry person gets fed something basically nutritious. The health benefits of breastfeeding are there even when the emotional bonuses aren’t. 

Breastfeeding Blues or D-MER is Real
Vitamin D for Breastfeeding Mothers
Leaking Breast Solutions
Breast Pumping and Feeding
Can I Breastfeed While Pregnant

If you’re struggling, you get to decide if breastfeeding’s tax on your happiness is worth paying. Everyone knows a mom doesn’t have to breastfeed, and most people will understand if you call it off.

People are less likely to understand if you keep breastfeeding even though it’s making you really unhappy. But if that’s what you choose, you know why, and you don’t owe anybody an explanation.

You can nurse sad or crabby or bored or jealous and it’s still nursing. Cuddle and kiss your baby when it’s done–you’ve made it through one more time.

 A bad time breastfeeding is as unfair as it feels, but it’s probably not the first unfair thing any of us have to live through. If you’re breastfeeding without loving it, you’re still a mom.

Your baby is still getting the best baby food a mom can cook up, whether that mom likes cooking or not. Good job.