Mom Talk: Breastfeeding Wasn’t Magical For Me

Written by

Busola Saka

10:00 am
05/18/18

Zinzi Edmundson, Photographed By Maria Del Rio

We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life, to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Busola Saka explains that although breastfeeding wasn’t the transformative experience for her that she thought it would be, it did teach her more about her resilience as a mother. -JKM

In the past, when I heard moms describe breastfeeding as a magical and powerful experience, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something wrong with me. I breastfed my two little ones for 10 and 11 months, respectively, and not once did I feel the euphoria I heard so many other moms recount. Truth be told, I was a little worried.

I was lucky to have had my children during a time when breastfeeding was becoming the norm. Day in and day out, women were fighting for the right to breastfeed in public without being shamed. Celebrities were posting pictures of themselves in all their breastfeeding glory on social media, and moms everywhere praised them, sharing emotional stories of just how wonderful breastfeeding made them feel, too. Still, nothing for me.

I made the decision to breastfeed solely based on the benefits that research touted: healthier babies, healthier mothers. That was it. I wasn’t breastfed as a child, and I wasn’t around a lot of women who breastfed, either. So, when the time came to make my own decision, mine was strictly science-based. And, I admit that I didn’t do a lot of research on how to breastfeed. In the end, I figured I’d “get the hang of it” when the time came because being a mom is so instinctual. I assumed that because I was a mother, I would have the ability to breastfeed immediately, too, right? Boy, was I wrong.

With my firstborn, breastfeeding began as one of the most difficult things I had encountered in a very long time. He didn’t latch until about three weeks after he was born, and for those three weeks (and more), I suffered through engorged breasts, fevers, and pain. I also developed a love-hate relationship with my breast pump. Things improved after one session with a lactation consultant, but my feelings about breastfeeding didn’t change much. The magic just wasn’t there. My daughter was a different story. She latched on immediately and wouldn’t let go, so I was in a different kind of pain for the first three weeks. And, once again, even after the pain subsided, there was still no magic feeling.

Although I eventually got into a rhythm with breastfeeding, I can’t truly say that I ever truly enjoyed it. Sure, it was convenient most times. And, my kids weren’t always sick save for the common cold and a few ear infections. Thankfully, I also didn’t have too many issues with my milk supply. But, I just didn’t love breastfeeding. I really wanted to feel the magic that so many moms so often describe, but it just wasn’t there for me. So, when others shared how amazing breastfeeding was for them and how connected it made them feel to their children, I couldn’t help but feel defective. I sometimes wondered why I even bothered to breastfeed if it didn’t make me feel like the superwoman of a mother that I thought it was supposed to. I had convinced myself that it was to make me feel like a nurturer and a mother, yet those feelings never appeared through the act of breastfeeding.

Although my experience didn’t make me feel more like a mother or nurturer, it did show me sides of myself that I forgot were there. It showed me that I was tough, resilient, and willing to try as much as possible to do what I believed was best for my children, even without the instant gratification. And, I’ve come to realize that, among other things, these personal characteristics are actually what make me a nurturer and a mother to my children after all. It wasn’t merely the act of breastfeeding. I believe the experiences that make you feel like a mother are many. It may not be breastfeeding, but it could be something else: kissing “boo boos”, an unexpected hug, an “I love you mama”. Motherhood is an experience that cannot be summed up into one singular experience or feeling. It is wildly complex, and it is in this very complexity that all the true “magic” lies.

Are you a mom with something to say? Send us an email to be considered for our “Mom Talk” column.

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