The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of My Breastfeeding Journey


Breastfeeding isn’t something I’ve really talked about, even though it’s been a huge part of my life the last five years between two kids. When I was pregnant with my first, I didn’t think about it much and wasn’t sure if it was something I would do. As I am wrapping up my breastfeeding journey with my second and final child, I’ve been thinking about how I’ll remember these days. I’ve seen mothers write about their challenges breastfeeding, and I’ve also seen stories that talk about how rewarding it can be. But for me, it wasn’t just challenging or rewarding. The truth is that there have been so many highs, and so many lows, and a full range of emotions. The hardest parts were much more emotional than physical.

Above all, I think the most important thing that I want to share about our journey is that it’s unpredictable. Here are 30 emotions I experienced that I hope will help support and inspire moms considering this path.

  1. Uncertainty that breastfeeding was something that I even wanted to do. Honestly I just decided to give it a try after just giving birth.
  2. Agony the first week or so with the amount of pain. And I know many women suffer a lot longer!
  3. Grateful that the pain subsided and was almost nonexistent the second time around.
  4. Determination to keep going. Once I knew what I was capable of, I started making goals and quitting was not an option. I’ve always been pretty competitive, but never imagined the sense of determination I’d have around breastfeeding.
  5. Thankful for the friends, lactation consultants, and strangers who helped me through the rough patches.  
  6. Relief that both of my babies seemed to catch on pretty easily.
  7. Devastated at doctors appointments when they questioned whether my son was gaining enough weight. He was tested for failure to thrive and we did weekly weight checks at the doctor for several months.
  8. Aggravation with our first pediatrician that was less than supportive. Luckily, we made a switch early on and found a doctor that was a better fit for our family.
  9. Confusion when both my kids would not take a bottle at daycare. My first never really got the hang of it, but luckily my second did after a couple of weeks. No one told me that some babies refuse bottles!
  10. Powerless when I literally cried with a lady at Buy Buy Baby, buying all of the bottles they had – hoping I could find a brand my baby would like.
  11. Isolation when I snuck off to an empty room or the car to breastfeed. It can be very lonely! It wasn’t until my second child that I became more comfortable nursing in public.
  12. Regret that I wasn’t more confident breastfeeding in public until my second.
  13. Happiness at how supportive people were when I did breastfeed in public. Maybe I was just lucky, but I received nothing but positive comments and support.
  14. Overwhelmed and over-touched. I had many moments where I felt like my skin was crawling and I couldn’t do it for one more moment. Luckily my husband was a huge help during these times.
  15. Stress at work when I had to leave a meeting or show up late due to pumping.
  16. Discomfort at work when I decided to wait to pump due to a deadline, busy day, or meeting I felt I couldn’t miss. 
  17. Limited in the number of clothing options. Most dresses do not work for pumping or breastfeeding. There is definitely a wardrobe strategy involved!
  18. Proud I pumped just enough with my first – usually with only a day’s supply in the refrigerator, but I was able to keep up!
  19. Psyched that I was able to donate to another mom and baby who was in need the second time around. It’s crazy enough to look at your own baby who has been nourished completely by you. But to do that for a stranger is hard to put into words. 
  20. Excitement at the convenience. While dealing with a pump isn’t the easiest, I loved the convenience of not having to prepare bottles during outings. We are a family that likes to be out and about a lot – even with a newborn.
  21. Exhaustion that I’d never felt before. With my first, he was up every 2.5 hours (or less) for the first year and of course only wanted me.
  22. Amazement while looking down at your baby at all hours of the day/night and knowing that your body has provided the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
  23. Longing for the journey to end but also for it to keep going. I believe it’s entirely possible to feel both at the same time!
  24. Irritated that breastfeeding can still be a taboo subject.
  25. Hopeful that the more we talk about breastfeeding, the more we can continue to normalize it.
  26. Satisfied that I’ve worked hard and done my best.
  27. Admiration for other moms who have also embraced this journey!
  28. Passionate about starting to talk more about my experiences and sharing more with others.
  29. Surprised that we’ve now passed the one year mark with my daughter. I never intended to nurse past her first birthday but it just hasn’t felt like the end yet.
  30. Unsure of how our journey will eventually end, but knowing we are down to our final days.

Some day soon we’ll finally end our journey. Not sure if it will be my choice or hers. Or if it will be completely sudden or continue to be gradual. It’s making me tear up a bit just to write these sentences so I know I’m not past the emotional piece of it. No matter how it ends, it’s been a special piece of our lives and of my journey as a mom.