Are mothers supposed to love breastfeeding 24 hours a day?

August 28, 2011. Posted in: Common Newborn Concerns,What is Normal?

by Glenda Dickerson, IBCLC.
Reprinted with permission from the author.

If there is a day or week where you no longer feel like you are loving or even enjoying breastfeeding, does it mean that this is the right time to stop?

I have felt for years that many mothers wean because they thought they were supposed to love and/or enjoy breastfeeding 24 hours a day. Some of the mothers I have admired the most are mothers that breastfed in spite of not being in love with the act of breastfeeding. They breastfed because they knew it was the right choice for their babies.

Our culture has become so addicted to the concept that we are supposed to only do what makes us happy or brings us immediate joy, that we lose a lot of the good stuff along the way–pride in accomplishment, joy in fulfilling a commitment, feeling of achievement through meeting a goal. I don’t think this means people are more selfish today than they were in the past, I just think they have been taught to have different expectations about what they are supposed to feel and how they should respond to those feelings.

Breastfeeding is the ultimate gift a woman gives her baby–because she chooses everyday whether to continue or to stop. Don’t look at breastfeeding as something you will enjoy or even like all the time, but as a commitment to your child’s health–similar to the commitment of staying married even when you don’t particularly like your husband for a few days, or staying in college when it is really rough for a while. There are peaks and valleys with breastfeeding and sometimes you will thoroughly enjoy it, and sometimes you will resent it–but in the end you will not regret one day that you stuck with it, even though you were not feeling that joy 100% of the time. When you are in a valley, rest assured that the joy you have felt with feeding in the past will reappear and you will be glad you waited it out.

Breastfeeding — it’s too important not to.