Breastfeeding is Not Beautiful

Dear Daughter,

One day when you have children of your own, you’ll realize that breastfeeding isn’t beautiful. It’s a mix of many things. “Beautiful” is an over-simplification.

Sometimes we’ll be sitting in the rocking chair together in the middle of the afternoon while your older brothers chase their grandma outside and we hide from the heat with the curtains drawn and the shades down and the big ceiling fan rattling around on its highest setting. You’ll be chubby and alert with big blue eyes, smiling at me from under your mop of curly hair. I’ll talk to you and you’ll nurse happily and all will be peaceful and right in the world.

Sometimes we’ll be nestled down in bed and your brothers will be sitting next to us and we’ll all read books and they’ll cover you with kisses and you’ll coo at them and dribble milk everywhere, and we’ll all laugh.

Sometimes it will be the middle of the night and everyone will be fast asleep and you’ll be awake and nursing and I’ll whisper to you how beautiful you are and how much I love you. (And the next day will be a weekend and your daddy will be an awesome daddy and the perfect husband and will let me sleep in because he knows you kept me up all night.)

Sometimes, though, breastfeeding will be difficult, a chore, something that forces me to stop the things that I want to get done. Sometimes you’ll flail your arms and kick your feet and fuss and yell when you want to nurse. Sometimes the hours are endless and my nipples ache and I smell of breastmilk and baby poo and I want a sh0wer and your brothers are bickering again over who gets to play with the toy that they’re supposed to be taking turns with.

Breastfeeding is much like motherhood. So very very very very worth it, even though it’s not always perfect, not always lovely, not always convenient, and not always easy. Breastfeeding isn’t a one-time event. It’s not defined by each time you want to eat. It’s a bright streak of color woven into the patterns of motherhood. It intertwines with everything else.

I no longer think too carefully about every outfit that you or your older brothers wear. I don’t strive to make every meal that we eat “beautiful”. Instead I pick the moments to focus on. I pick the “beautiful” moments that we have together, I pick the days when our meals will be beautiful and not just nutritious. Your brothers choose the days when they want to dress up, or dress different, or play in the sandbox in a suit and tie.

Life is not movie perfect. You don’t work your way through difficulties with perfect tempo only to break though all of the problems and live life happily ever after. Breastfeeding isn’t perfect. It’s life. It’s messy, it’s awesome, it’s difficult, it’s lovely, it’s pleasant, it’s peaceful, it’s annoying, it’s inconvenient, it’s close, personal, intimate, totally worth it.

One day when you’re nursing your first, your second, your third.. Whatever number of children you have.. Let go of the notion that breastfeeding is “beautiful”. Breastfeeding is just a part of life. It is not “beautiful”. It is multi-dimensional. It changes and it shifts, just as life does.

It is how it is supposed to be. It is worth it, because you are worth it. I don’t need every moment to be beautiful. I don’t need everything to be “perfect”. It just is. And I am profoundly happy with that.

<3 Mama

7 thoughts on “Breastfeeding is Not Beautiful

  1. I sit here nursing my own sweet one while reading this. He has recently taken to struggling and grasping and grabbing, pulling, and fighting during many of our daytime nursing sessions. He’s nosy and impatient and he pulls back and tried to rip my nipple off but I love every minute of it. I guess I’ve never thought of breastfeeding as beautiful. I’ve thought of it as necessary and natural and wonderful. Beautiful it’s not always… but it is so many other things. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

  2. I’m laying here nursing my 3 month old daughter, reading your posts (backwards) with tears in my eyes… pleasant tears as your posts are lovely!

  3. Oh how I agree. The better we get at it (my babe is almost 3 months) the more beautiful and easy it feels. But I remember starting out it wasn’t beautiful. Cracked nipples – insane pain.. lengthy newborn nursing sessions.. my babe nurses all night long now and I am really trying to enjoy it more and more as I know this time is fleeting.

  4. Hello there !

    Thank You…you made me feel normal. I have read and heard from many as Breast Feeding being the most beautiful thing for a mother and I used to feel miserable as I have been struggling with it. Everyday I used to feel I am doing something wrong as I am facing difficulties when all others enjoy breast feeding :)

    I had series of milk blister, sore nipples, engorgements and what not ! :)

    Now I can read from your post that breastfeeding as life is not a beautiful dream but a reality :)

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