An Uncomplicated Life Blog: On Why Breast Feeding is "Hard"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On Why Breast Feeding is "Hard"

All of my fellow mamas out there have read about it. Most women have heard it. Daddies likely have read about it or heard it from their wives. And I'm about to tell you (again); yes, breast feeding is "hard."

What does "hard" mean though? It's not like you have to think about making milk. You have to feed your baby somehow, so what's the deal with boobies being so challenging? Oh my friends... It is hard in ways I had never imagined before!

Why #breastfeeding is hard: so many pump parts to clean!

Here's the deal: your entire life becomes structured around your boobs and feeding your baby. The. Whole. Thing. Every. Last. Part of it.

Let's say you have someone to watch your newborn and you can escape to a salon to get your hair/nails/etc. done. Great - what a necessary relief! Except, you need to plan. Will you be back in time before the next feeding? Did you pump enough if you won't be back? Have you eaten enough today to produce enough milk? Water - pack water! Dehydration affects supply! Think you're just going to escape out the door quick and grab that last minute appointment? Think again, mama. You need to PLAN. And you need to act on the plan, which is the time consuming part.

 Or what about this scenario: Whoohoo, mama isn't pregnant anymore, now get her a cocktail! Actually, get two. Three? Whatever she wants, right? Wrong! Unless you planned and pumped ahead, you're stuck in the one glass of wine zone, and with one glass of wine comes about three extra massive glasses of water to make up for it. If I decide I want to have some wine after a long day, I needed to start to plan that around noon so that I can pump and save some milk for later- there is no impromptu happy hour for mama. And then I need to make sure I can stay awake and drink enough water to make up for the dehydration of the wine PLUS what I should have been drinking anyway. And then, besides being up every few hours (likely with a headache) to feed Henry, I need to get up and pee with all that water consumption. And if I don't wake up to pee, I wake up THINKING about how I should be peeing, and therefore am dehydrated, and therefore need to get up anyway (likely with a headache) to get more water.

Why #breastfeeding is hard: so many pump parts to store!
And after they've robbed your available counter space, the breast milk storage and pump accessories will take over cabinet space too.

If you hadn't noticed, breast feeding mamas become camels. There just IS NOT ENOUGH WATER! It's not even that you're thirsty; but if you don't pound the glasses of H2O, there won't be fluids for your baby, so get to drinkin'! Put water all over the house, put it in your car, leave bottles everywhere, because you cannot run out of water as a breast feeding woman.

This still doesn't sound all that hard, right? I think it boils down to one thing: There are NO breaks for a new, breast feeding mother. No night's off, no impromptu fun, not even any sleeping in (if you're lucky enough to get someone to cover baby duty for you for a few hours) because you'll need to pump and/or feed. For first time mamas, the change from "your life revolves around you" to "your life revolves around your baby" is shocking. And exhausting. And there is no break, no night off, no one else to fill in for you for even one minute.

The benefits of breast feeding are ENORMOUS. There simply is no comparison to formula: breast feeding wins every angle of every argument. Even formula derived from cow's milk is so far from the quality and nutritional value/makeup of breast milk, they're on two different planets. I'm committed to feeding Henry 100% off the boobie until he's six months or so because of the obvious benefits. But dang, y'all. I didn't know it would be so exhausting, so annoying, and so emotionally hard! Not to mention how sore my poor abused nipples are!

Lake night #breastfeeding snuggles
Makeup-free, late night snuggles with my Henry

More so than diapers, lack of sleep, or crying (to be fair, Henry rarely cries!) breast feeding has been the most challenging part of being a new mom. Since I'm the food source, if Henry is hungry, I don't get to brush my teeth in the morning. Most days I don't eat until noon or 1pm. I have to make trips to the kitchen in the middle of the night just to drink water when I'd much rather be sleeping. Hell, sometimes I have to wait an hour to "go number 2" just because I'm busy feeding/pumping, and my needs will always come second to breast feeding.

But I'm ok with that! Because I know I'm giving Henry the best possible nutrition (and you know I'm a nutrition nut) and I mean - look at this guy! He's worth every second of how "hard" breast feeding is.


  1. Paige you look gorgeous in this picture!

    1. Awww, thanks Heather! I was happy Kirk captured this little moment :) Also, when the heck are we hanging out again?!

  2. Came across your blog on the High Five for Friday link up while passing the time during my pumping break at work. It's so true, breast feeding is such a labor of love but so rewarding at the same time. Keep up the good work! What I have seen, is it does a get a little easier as they get older. I still drink a small pond of water every day, but the soreness and frequency of it eases up a bit. All the best and looking forward to following along.

  3. This post cracked me up. SO TRUE. I nursed/pumped our first for a year and am now expecting Baby #2 any day and am remembering how hard it is. So worth it, but so stinkin hard!

  4. Ive been nursing my son for over 18 months with no end in sight and it is easily the HARDEST thing I've ever done!