I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for nearly 14 months now. Archie still won’t take a bottle so all of his liquid intake comes from me. He occasionally takes his brothers fruit shoot or drinks cows milk from a straw but if he doesn’t get any straight away, he gets frustrated and it has to be abandoned.
After our fight to establish breastfeeding, I made the decision to carry on feeding until Archie wanted to stop. This could mean feeding him until he was 2 at least and I was fine with that. He doesn’t ask to feed when we’re outside anymore so all his nursing is done in the privacy of our home. (Not that that should matter but you know what people are like!) I loved breastfeeding, watching him fall asleep while feeding was the best feeling. Knowing I could cure any negative feeling he had just by feeding him made me feel like I could do no wrong. I was making liquid gold, I was Superwoman right?
And then I developed breastfeeding aversion.
I don’t remember the first time I felt like it. It’s been going on for a while though and it’s been getting progressively worse. It’s an odd feeling to describe because it’s different for each woman. For me, I get this horrendous knot in my stomach when he latches on. I can’t wait for him to be finished, sometimes I have to take him off before he’s done because I can’t stand it any longer. The constant pawing at me definitely doesn’t help. He’s recently learnt the sign for milk and he knows that by lifting my top up, he gets access. I feel like I have no control over my own body. He’s also developed a really lazy latch so his teeth are making me really sore and he doesn’t stay still when feeding. He’ll wriggle and kick his legs and push himself up, while he’s still attached.
I’ve done a tiny bit of research and there isn’t really anything I can do. For some women, it’s caused by their hormones. It can happen around time of ovulation or their period which obviously can’t be stopped. I haven’t worked out if there’s a correlation for me but I doubt it because it’s happening most of the time. A mama friend recommended magnesium but I have yet to try this. She also said that being on contraception can help. I’m not on any at the moment because of ongoing health issues but I’ll be doing some more research into this because I’m willing to try anything!
They don’t tell you about this side of breastfeeding. It’s portrayed as this magical act all of the time and it’s really not. I still get cracked nipples and I still leak. My let down is still painful and I’m still up between 3-4 times a night feeding him. I can cope with all of that though. Aversion is something I never expected. It’s causing me major mum guilt and I hate it. It’s not explained at any antenatal class or after you’ve had your baby. I was left thinking there was something wrong with me. It was only through my own research and asking on an online mama group that I found out that what I was feeling was completely normal.
I’m not sure how much longer this aversion will last, nor do I know if I’ll continue breastfeeding. I’m just taking each day as it comes and trying to enjoy every feed because it could be our last.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional so any method I’ve mentioned above to try and combat aversion, please speak to your GP or health professional before trying any.