From The Confessional: Breastfeeding Can Be Hard AF, And Your Judgment Is Not OK

by Karen Johnson
Aks Huckleberry/500px/Getty

Throughout my first pregnancy, I knew a few things for sure—I was going to be a super fun mom who popped my baby into the carrier and still lived a fun life—hitting up coffee shops and festivals with my husband, hit the gym frequently, and I’d breastfeed with no issue. I had motherhood in the bag.

Hahaha. None of that came true. Literally not one thing went the way I thought it would go. We stopped going anywhere, because, frankly, it was too stressful for me. I didn’t go back to the gym for years. And breastfeeding was brutal. It hurt, he wouldn’t latch, and I cried about it every day for the first six weeks.

Looking back, I don’t regret that I kept trying, as my baby and I did eventually figure it out and I went on to breastfeed my other two kids after him quite easily. However, that experience taught me to have empathy for other moms—those who breastfeed and those who don’t. That experience landed me firmly in the “fed is best” camp, as I don’t believe any mother should feel she has to breastfeed, nor does she owe anyone an explanation for how she feeds her child.

Because the truth is, although breastfeeding did turn out to be a positive experience for me in the end, (my favorite part being that it was free), that’s not the case for so many women. It can be painful, exhausting, affect our mental health, and it changes our bodies permanently.

Breastfeeding is no fucking joke and all mothers—regardless of how they feed their children—need to be supported, not judged.

Breastfeeding is causing me so much pain , milk bleb , mastitis, shooting pains. I'm so over it.

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Breastfeeding my 3rd child & it hurts so badly I often scream and cry in pain. Never had problems with the other 2 & this is distressing. One latch had me concerned that my nipple had been torn off. This is torture.

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Breastfeeding hurts like the frickin’ dickens. I wanted to go for one year, but after three and a half months I just want my boobs to be LEFT ALONE!

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I am constantly battling clogged ducts while remaining pump dependent for breastfeeding. Yes I have tried everything and I am exhausted and constantly in pain. This is total b@llshit.

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The most frustrating thing I heard when I was trying like hell to figure out breastfeeding was “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.” Ummmm… no, Cathy. It hurts because a tiny piranha child is gnawing on me every all day and night. Can we just admit that breastfeeding can be painful, even if you’re doing it “right”?

B4 kids had nice firm boobies. After 2 kids & breastfeeding for 30 months between them, I can literally put my hands under my boobs and they melt into my hands like a puddle. I'm 27.

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I wear C cup silicone inserts in my bra because after birthing and breastfeeding 3 kids, my tits are nonexistent. Everything I wear looks ridiculous without boobs. Its embarrassing and makes me feel like less of a woman.

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Breastfeeding has been making me not as wet, even when I’m turned on. I’m just too embarrassed to tell H I want to try using lube.

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I daydream of a mastectomy because not having breasts seems better than the mess I was left with after breastfeeding my third.

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It also changes our body, permanently. Our boobs never return to original form, and our vaginas are dry as a desert. But honestly, we’re so freaking tired that half the time we don’t even care.

I want to stop breastfeeding my 9 month old son but I feel guilty about it. He's my 2nd and last baby. I'll never breastfeed again when he's done. His sister got a full year, part of me feels like he should too.

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Gave up breastfeeding a week into DD being born. I’m going to snap at anyone else who questions this, my mental health matters too!

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Breastfeeding was a huge contributor to my ppd and anxiety. I stopped and baby and I are so much happier, so to the next person that judges me for feeding my baby a bottle, I don't apologize if I snap at you.

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If I could go back in time I wouldn’t have obsessed so much about breastfeeding my almost-impossible to-nurse colicky baby bc of societal pressure. We both would’ve been happier those first few months, and it was really nobody’s business anyway.

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It’s no secret that breastfeeding—especially if it’s a struggle due to low supply, or c-section recovery, or having a NICU baby, or having a baby who can’t latch, or a million other reasons—affects mom’s mental health. And her health has to be prioritized, even if that means quitting breastfeeding. Moms should be supported if and when they start, throughout their breastfeeding journey, and when they quit. And they shouldn’t feel guilty when that time comes.

I hate the baby shit. I stopped @ 2 kids cause if I had to go through the 1st 18mo more than 2x u would have to light me on fire cause it would be hell. Constant needs, whining, sleep deprived, constant needing held, breastfeeding, no breaks. HATE IT ALL.

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I am mentally and physically exhausted from tandem feeding my 3 yr old & 1 yr old (over Breastfeeding the 3 yr old). Ive seen my dog when shes over it too, she growls, snaps & is mean to her puppies. Used to judge her but now i understand!

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Breastfeeding is draining the life out of me. My 10 week old screams bloody murder when we even bring the bottle near him. I’m so tired, and touched out. Also have a 2.5 yo. Need a break.

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I am so tired of cleaning, cooking, breastfeeding ( a toddler & baby), changing diapers, working, while being a SAHM, & DD complain i dont give her enough attention, DH complains not enough sex. I dont even have fucking time for me!! Feel like a failure

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Because the truth is, moms are tired. So fucking tired. All moms, not just those who breastfeed. But letting your babies use your body for nourishment brings a mother to another level of exhaustion—mentally and physically—and she needs rest.

Breastfeeding misinformation makes me ragey. You can have a glass of wine every day! You can eat whatever you want! Support should be stronger and much more accessible!!

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Trying to figure out breastfeeding and pumping (for when I go back to work) is more confusing than any college course I ever took. There should be more consistency among the resources that are available.

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I want to go to a LLL meeting or breastfeeding support group to get help, but I'm afraid I'll be judged harshly for having to supplement. So I don't go.

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Breastfeeding moms need support—start to finish. They need resources, education, and to never be shamed if they supplement or quit altogether.

Breastfeeding knocked me on my ass when I was a new mom. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life to date. Thankfully, I had a supportive partner and never felt shamed when supplementing with formula to ensure my baby’s belly was full.

My message to all moms is to take care of yourself. If breastfeeding is your chosen journey, seek help and support and resources and feed that baby whenever and wherever you choose. If breastfeeding is not your path, whether that’s your choice or not, you’re still a good mother if you love your baby and ensure they’re fed.

Because nearly 13 years into this gig, there are two tenets of motherhood I believe in more than anything else:

1) Fed is best. And 2) Mom’s health matters.