I do not like breast-feeding.
There, I said it. I’d been feeling like I couldn’t say it until I finally blurted it out the other night in a bout of frustration. My baby was going through her first growth spurt, which meant that she was feeding around the clock. Newborns tend to feed every one-and-a-half to three hours, but when they have growth spurts, it could be about every 30 minutes or maybe even more frequently. This is called cluster feeding and it means extremely sore, chapped nipples, not getting anything else done and insanity.
My aforementioned outburst occurred at 3 a.m. a few nights ago. Just as I placed my daughter down, seemingly asleep, she woke up again and started rooting, which left me exasperated because I know for a fact that she’s getting enough milk. My husband was taken aback, but I felt relieved that I had finally said it out loud.
People who haven’t breast-fed think it’s simple, but it’s not. You actually need to go to classes and may have to meet with lactation consultants and nurses to learn how to breast-feed. Initially I thought that was a joke until I actually went to a class and realized how much information I didn’t know. Even with the information, actually trying my hand at breast-feeding came as a shock.
When you first start breast-feeding, you are advised not to introduce your baby to a bottle for at least four to six weeks to avoid nipple confusion. Translation: You are tethered to your baby 24-7 at first, and that can be lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people.
There are some ways around this, like syringe feeding, which I had to allow the hubby to do when I had a dental emergency and baby girl was just a few days old, but that’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card because the more your baby nurses from the breast, the better your milk supply.
As much as I love my daughter, I need to breathe every now and then, and in these first three weeks of breast-feeding, I have felt suffocated, which I wasn’t prepared for. Not even the classes will inform you about this feeling (but other moms felt my pain), and once you leave the hospital, you’re on your own, which can be overwhelming.
For years I had been bombarded with imagery and messages that breast-feeding is the most amazing thing ever. That hasn’t been the case for me thus far. I’m toughing it out because I do believe breast is best, but I do not judge mothers who decide to switch to formula. I’m a work in progress, still searching for the delirious happiness and connection with my child that I’d been told I would feel instantly from feeding. The positive in this is that I feel slightly better and more confident about breast-feeding than I did when I first started, so there’s hope.
Baby and I are both still getting the hang of it, and I am in the process of trying to find a lactation consultant I actually like (that is another topic altogether), so hopefully better days are ahead. However, I need to be honest because when it comes to new motherhood, I’m learning fast that some truths are concealed.
As #blackbreastfeedingweek comes to an end, I’m inspired to keep pushing because the pictures on Instagram are definitely #breastfeedinggoals. Here’s to pushing through one day and one breast-feeding at a time.
Starrene Rhett Rocque is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based freelance writer who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun-toting, B movie heroine. Follow her on Twitter.