Not enjoying breastfeeding. Any tips for making it a better experience?

Hollie - posted on 07/11/2012 ( 7 moms have responded )




My baby is now three months old, and exclusively breastfed. I know breast milk is the best thing for her, but I've got to say, I do not enjoy breastfeeding at all. This is very disappointing for me because I was actually really looking forward to the experience while pregnant.

Specifically, it makes me feel really tied down. I get basically no milk from the pump, and there is no set pattern to her feedings. This means that it's hard for me to take even an hour out to exercise. Several times when I've done this I've come home and found she has been screaming with hunger for my husband for the last half hour, and there was absolutely nothing he could do. She is usually the hungriest in the evenings, which is when my husband is home.

I also hate how I can't have an occasional glass of wine with dinner (something I used to really enjoy and was looking forward to starting again when pregnancy ended) because she will probably have to eat less than two hours later.

I also don't feel comfortable feeding her in public, which means any outings have to be impeccably timed, and I'm usually totally anxiety-ridden the entire time because I'm worried she'll get hungry and have a meltdown. I know you'll probably tell me to suck it up and feed her in public, but I guess I'm just not that strong of a person. I fear public disapproval.

Everyone tells me "it gets better" but I'm beginning to wonder when this is going to happen. No other mom I know seems to have these issues, and I'm just wondering if anyone else feels this way? Any tips on how to make it more bearable?


[deleted account]

It sounds like your daughter is a cluster feeder. My daughter was until she was introduced to solids. She fed every 30-45 minutes for 15 minutes from 3pm until 6:30pm. It drove me insane. But she needed it. I just made that time in my day my rest period, I would sit on the couch and watch tv, read a book, or play a videogame. I after a while I found it a bit more enjoyable. I also found that once I allowed her to cluster feed during that time, she could go longer during the rest of the day.

My son, didn't cluster feed. But he loved to eat. He would have short feed sessions 5-10 minutes, and then want to eat again in 2 hours. I don't get a lot from pumping right now either (I got a lot with my daughter). But he is getting a lot. At this point he is eating solids but right before they were introduced he was eating 10 minutes every 3 hours.

As for exercise (or me time) feed right before you go, then right when you get back. If possible join your local Y, many have a child center who will watch your child while you work out. That way there is less time between feedings.

I agree with trying to feed in your car when you are out if you are nervous. There are different covers available. I like the ones with a loop to hold the cover over you. If you get a comment from someone while covered, ignore them. In all of the time I've breast fed my kids, (20 months total between the 2) I have never once been asked to leave a place, nor asked to stop feeding my child. I've gotten weird looks, but honestly after a point it is kind of fun to make up what that person is thinking.

Krista - posted on 07/11/2012




You're not alone. I know a lot of moms who feel tied down by breastfeeding. So don't feel bad for feeling the way you do. It's like when people talk about how wonderful pregnancy is, and you've got some poor woman who is sick and miserable her entire pregnancy, and feels guilty for not enjoying it. Not every pregnancy, nor every breastfeeding, is going to be unicorn farts and roses. Sometimes it's really damn miserable.

With regards to the feeding in public thing, I can relate. I'm not comfortable nursing in public either (and I'm sure as HELL not going to some stinky washroom!) Can you possibly nurse in your car? Or if you're at a mall, go to a store that isn't busy and ask if you could use their breakroom or a spare change room? That might be a good compromise. Or, have you tried a nursing cover? I know there are some asshats who disapprove of public nursing, but the usual caveat is "be discreet", so I really can't see anybody taking issue with you if you were nursing with a cover. Maybe practice first in a semi-public spot like your yard, until you get used to it. And honestly, for any disapproving look you get, you will get at least ten looks of approval and probably a few " sweet!" comments. Try to focus on those.

As well, I'm wondering -- what kind of pump do you use? Hospital-grade pumps tend to be a lot better at extracting milk. You can usually rent them fairly cheaply. It might help you get a better result from pumping (and as bovine as it sounds, I've heard some mothers say that pumping in an on-all-fours position gets better results).

As time goes on, she will become a bit more consistent with her feedings -- I know that day seems very, very far away right now, but it WILL come.


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[deleted account]

I hated breastfeeding my son and so I stopped. I understand the whole "breast is best" thing, but if it's making me miserable and resentful then it might not be best. I switched to formula and felt much better because others could feed him and I wasn't tied down.

Hollie - posted on 07/15/2012




Thank you so much for all your comments, ladies. I like the idea of feeding her in the car when we go out. I also recently found out that the Sears at my local mall has a nursing room, which I plan on using. My pump is a Medela, which I think is supposed to be a good one. Unfortunately I only get about 1 oz every half hour.

I am going to try to stick this out and have faith that it will get better. If we get to six months and I'm still feeling this way...well, I'm not sure if it would be worth it for me to go on like this for a full year. I feel like I haven't been able to enjoy my daughter at all, which is no way to live/parent.

That said, I worry the guilt and shame over stopping for such a selfish reason would make me feel even worse.

Sigh...I guess sometimes you just can't win...

Dove - posted on 07/11/2012




It may help you to know that her feeding 'pattern' (or lack of) is entirely normal.

Also, pumping output is not a good indicator of supply. I pumped for 20 minutes once and didn't even get half an ounce... yet on the breast, my son gained 12 ounces in 3 days. ;)

Some women actually do have a glass of wine while breastfeeding. It's not something I would do, but then again... I don't drink any alcohol at all anyway.

I did breastfeed in public the last time around, but before that I was only ever comfortable feeding a baby in the car. It's comfortable, rather private, and you can have the a/c or heater as needed.

I can understand you wanting/needing a bit of a break and that evenings are your only time for this, but if you give it a bit it WILL get better. Perhaps until that time comes you could take a walk or something else on your own that will only take about 30-45 minutes... and leave right after you feed.

Katherine - posted on 07/11/2012




Pumping sucks. I think the turnaround time for me was right around 4 months when it started to improve. I think most lactation consultants would not frown on a small glass of wine at night, in fact some recommend a beer to help with let-down.

As far as nursing in public goes. If you wear a belly band to cover your midsection and then just yank your shirt and bra up, most people won't even know you're nursing and if they do, MOST folks who aren't stuck in Jr. High mode will be supportive. Check out a local La Leche League meeting. You can take them with a grain of salt, but they'll have some great ideas. 4 months old is still a newborn. Strap her on with a baby carrier and take a good long walk..,that counts for a workout. It's true, babies own you for a few patient, they're only tiny for such a short time.

Tina - posted on 07/11/2012




You've done well to do it as long as you have. Breast is best but not for everyone. You're definately not the first mum not to enjoy it. My mum simply couldn't do it. She couldn't bare it. Others have been in your place. It doesn't make you any less of a mother or anything we each bond with our kids in our own way. If you're not comfortable doing it. You're not comfortable simple. Of course there's always going to be someone giving you a lecture/hard time. it's none of their business they're not in your shoes. My cousin managed to both express/bottle feed and breast feed her baby took to it well. The choice is yours what you want to do. Breast feeding has positives, so does bottle feeding. If that's something you're comfortable doing and it's something your partner can do and help with. I guess it's a matter of weighing up the pros and cons for yourself and your partner.

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