Feeling Anxious and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is complicated. On the one hand, you may feel a strong urge to feed your baby. And then when you try to, you may not be sure if your milk is actually flowing. Or maybe it’s extremely painful for you because of the baby’s latch, so you dread it. Or you’re not sure if the baby is getting enough during a feeding. Or whether the baby is latching correctly. Or that your milk will come in sufficiently. The list goes on...

You may wonder, how can something that we were evolved to do be so difficult? And, where’s that maternal instinct so many people talk about? If you’re struggling with nursing, try to remember that when we began nursing, we were raising our young in communities and surrounded by people teaching us how to do things. And this idea that we will magically know how to do things isn’t reality for most of us. So try to show yourself compassion if you are struggling.

Breastfeeding may also start to play into our feelings of losing our identity. Especially at the beginning, we can feel like we’re just milk machines. From struggling with getting the baby to latch the first time they feed, to waking up in the middle of the night, to having our breasts feel rock solid and uncomfortable, to milk leakages when we go back to work, breastfeeding ends up taking up a lot of our headspace and energy.

Remember that it will get easier over time. While breastfeeding is very good for nutrition and the baby’s immune system, it’s not always going to be the right choice or feasible for all moms. The pressure to nurse even if it’s just not logistically feasible may make you feel like you have to choose between yourself and your baby, which can make you feel pretty awful. Try to remember that your mental health and wellbeing are also critical for your baby’s health and development.