Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Breastfeeding – The Mental Aspect

I mentioned that I had a lot of mental issues with breastfeeding.  I figured they deserved their own post. I’m hoping that by being completely open about this, others will read it and recognize that they aren’t alone (if they had similar problems) or be able to share with somebody that they think is going through the same thing.
First off, one of my major issues was with being “needed” all the time.  I don’t like it. I didn’t like that I couldn’t leave her for fear she would need to nurse and I wouldn’t be around to do it. I didn’t like that every time she was hungry I had to feed her, I didn’t like the constant need need need.  I didn’t realize this would be an issue. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew that she would need to eat every 2 hours or so. I thought I mentally prepared myself for this.  

I remember a couple of times I would be sitting on the floor with the baby, having her do tummy time.  Myla, our dog, would come over and sit right next to me, touching me, wanting attention, and I was in such bad shape I would cower and just shake and cry. I would tell my husband to make her go away.  I didn’t want to push my dog away, this was new for her too, but I couldn’t handle being needed by the baby and the dog. I needed space too.  Most evenings, when Husband arrived home from work, I would be in my running clothes, ready to get out of the house. I just needed to get away for a bit and I could go for a short run if I had just fed her.

Another thing with breast feeding is doing it when away from home.  I think that right now there is such a stigma against it.  You have those on one side who are so against it, don’t want to see it, don’t want to know it’s happening.  Then you have those on the other side who say it’s such a natural thing..go ahead and do it in public.  I was very uncomfortable doing it in public. If I was in somebody’s home, I had no problem doing it.  But in public, no thanks.  It took me a long time to finally get over this and to start doing it (and yes I was completely covered the entire time).  Once I did it a couple of times, I was ok with it.  But before that we would schedule everything around when I would have to feed her so I could be home.
What was also hard for me was that I always had trouble producing enough.  At first I was able to produce enough for R, that wasn’t a problem. However I had trouble producing enough to be able to pump and feed her.  The days I would try this, she was super crabby and want to eat more often.  We decided to start supplementing with formula once a day, not only to give me a break from feeding her but also so I could pump and start a stash for daycare.  Several months in, once I went back to work and was pumping more and nursing less, I started to produce less and less. 

One of the hardest days for me so far was one Saturday afternoon when I nursed R and she was super crabby and we were unable to calm her down 30 min later.  Out of desperation we made her a bottle and she drank 6oz.  She was starving!  I realized at that moment that I could not provide for my daughter. Ok, I could, with formula, but not by breastfeeding.  As hard as it was for me to breastfeed at first, realizing I couldn’t provide enough for daughter was even harder.  

I often wonder if the issues I had with my thyroid, my depression, and the amount of working out I did all played a role in how little I produced.  As you can guess, this brings about it’s own guilt. If I stopped working out, could my body produce more? If my thyroid wasn’t crazy, could I produce more? If I was happy and not sad, would a trigger go off and allow me to produce more?  All these demands and guilt I put on myself, just made the mental aspect of breastfeeding so much worse.


  1. Thanks so much for writing this, I'm 6 months along and am expecting to breastfeed, but I want to hear these kinds of things before so IF they happen I start off knowing I'm not alone. THANKS!

  2. Congratulations Amber! I hope you have zero problems! Or at least only one or two as there are bound to be issues. haha! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. If you send me an email, etc. I'm willing to share my cell phone number and you can text me.