Q: I love breastfeeding my son and am so grateful for our time together. However, sometimes I find myself feeling resentful. Am I a bad mom? What should I do?
A: The first thing you should do is realize that you’re not a bad mom—there is nothing wrong with you and you’re not the only one who has ever had the feeling that nursing has completely consumed your life. There’s a breastfeeding saint in every playgroup, but almost all the moms I know have expressed the exact same sentiment you have—the feeling that nursing is tying you down and ruling your life.
So step one is to realize that what you’re feeling is completely ok and doesn’t in any way influence the kind of mother you are and will continue to become.
Breastfeeding is an all-consuming job, but it’s one that’s worth the sacrifice. However, there’s nothing wrong with making that sacrifice a little easier. My advice is this: Buy (or rent) a breast pump that makes pumping easy and start storing up some meals for your little one. (I love Medela pumps—I’ve used both the handheld Harmony and the double Pump In Style, both with great results.) Your baby can get the same breast milk benefits from a bottle and have the opportunity to bond with Dad, Grandma or even enjoy a visit from a babysitter.
Letting your hubby handle night duty, allowing you to get an entire night’s sleep, might help—lack of sleep wears on you in every way, so the exhaustion you’re probably feeling might be playing a part in your frustration.
It’s also a great idea to get out of the house for a few hours every week and pamper yourself at a salon or do some shopping. If possible, take at least a couple of hours for yourself to do something sans baby.
Also take a moment to explore your feelings and see if there is any certain reason you’re feeling a little out of sorts. Is nursing painful? Call in a lactation consultant to see if your baby hasn’t quite mastered the art yet. If you can narrow down a source, you can probably find a way to eliminate it.
And remember that nursing is an incredible bonding experience, so instead of fuming while you feed, take a few deep breaths and look down at your baby. Focus your thoughts, energy and emotions towards your little miracle and see if it clears your angst. Enjoy those sweet little fingers and toes and think about what you’re gaining, instead of what you’re losing. Your baby will only be little for a short while, so enjoy those quiet moments—but don’t feel guilty when you pass him off to someone else via bottle so you can rest in peace. You’ll have plenty of time for quality love in the coming months and years.