If a particular activity comes naturally to someone, it means she has an innate talent for it.
When something is natural, it conjures up thoughts or images of serenity and pleasure.
Since breastfeeding is natural, does this mean it should always come easily to mothers?
Should it be something mothers love all the time?
The truth is that although breastfeeding is natural, it’s also a learned skill for mothers.
As with learning any new skill, it can take some time to get the hang of it.
There are many reasons why mothers might not love breastfeeding all the time. Does this mean they should stop breastfeeding?
Should we only ever follow through with things that give us joy all the time?
#1: Immediate Rewards Can Be A Curse
Our society seems to have become more dependent on the idea that we should only do what gives us immediate joy and get rid of what doesn’t. Perhaps technology has a role to play in this. After all, we can send a message and communicate with the other side of the world with just the click of a button.
Unfortunately, avoiding things that don’t provide an immediate reward can mean we miss out on many potentially positive things. The fact is, some things take time, and accomplishing them involves a mixture of highs and lows. This is how we learn and grow in all areas of our lives.
There is often joy and a deep sense of achievement and empowerment when we see things through and reach our goals – even if the path to get there is not straightforward.
Even the road to giving birth can be testing. Some aspects of pregnancy can be awesome – when you discover you’re pregnant or feel your baby move inside you. Some of it can be awful – nausea, heartburn and aches and pains.
Nonetheless, we keep our babies in for as long as possible, because we want them to be as healthy as possible – even though many pre-term babies can now survive.
#2: The Choice Is Yours
The decision to stop breastfeeding is up to you. It’s important to do what works best for you and your family.
However, if you want to keep breastfeeding, it can help to know it’s okay not to love it all the time. Many mothers feel this way.
#3: Breastfeeding Often Has Ups And Downs
Many breastfeeding mothers experience highs and lows along their breastfeeding journey. Sometimes they love it and other times they might resent it.
Despite this, breastfeeding gives many mothers a sense of empowerment, especially when the path to get it established isn’t easy.
There Can Be Early Breastfeeding Challenges
For the majority of breastfeeding mothers most of the lows are experienced during the early weeks when breastfeeding is being established. This is when many mothers experience breastfeeding challenges such as sore nipples, mastitis and concerns about their supply.
There Can Be Later Breastfeeding Challenges
Ample Feeds, Little Sleep
Many mothers feel like they are feeding ‘all the time’, particularly in the early weeks. In fact, it’s common for breastfed babies to feed 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. This equates to feeding every 2-3 hours, typically with one longer stretch of up to 5 hours between feeds (for a young baby), and one or two cluster feeding periods.
While caring for a baby can be exhausting, exclusive breastfeeding can help you to get more sleep than mixed feeding or formula feeding.
#4: It Usually Gets Easier
Regardless of how you feed your baby, in most cases it gets easier. Gradually, most babies settle more easily to sleep (especially at night), don’t feed quite as often and take less time to feed. You will also gradually gain confidence in all aspects of caring for your baby.
Natural doesn’t always equal to ‘sunshine and rainbows’. Rainbows do exist but they often come with storms. Even if you don’t find joy in breastfeeding all the time, it doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding, unless you want to.
Many mothers experience breastfeeding challenges and go through times when they resent breastfeeding, but they go on to breastfeed for many months or even years. Seeking help as soon as possible can help. If you facing breastfeeding challenges, contact the Australian Breastfeeding Association, La Leche League or a lactation consultant.
Remember: no matter what, you are the best mother your baby could ever have, and doing what is best for your individual family is important.