Posted: Sep 17, 2013 11:00 AM
Yes, I'm a childbirth educator and doula who nursed both of my kids. But I also know it's not worth being miserable about breastfeeding — for you or your baby.

Many people think doulas and childbirth educators are tree hugging, granola crunching, breastfeeding Nazis. You know what? Some are. I'm not.

I wanted to give up nursing. Twice. About two weeks in with both babies, I sat up in bed in the middle of the night, sobbing. One baby wouldn't stay latched, and I had plugged milk ducts. One baby would only nurse on one side and I winced before he latched on because it hurt like hell. Both times, my husband reminded me we had samples of formula. Both times I cried, "no," because I really (really) wanted to nurse for at least six weeks. Both times a lactation consultant helped me and I nursed my babies for at least one year. That ended up being the right decision for me and my babies — me and my babies.

The decision to continue breastfeeding — or not — is deeply personal. Moms need to clear out the clutter of others' opinions, say bye-bye to guilt, and do what they feel is best.

Moms need to clear out the clutter of others' opinions,
say bye-bye to guilt, and do what they feel is best.

I worked with a first-time mom who had issues breastfeeding. She not only worked with me, but also her OB, a lactation consultant and her baby's doctor. Her baby seemed happy — this mom did not. During each visit together, I would ask her how nursing was going, and she rarely answered, "well," — if she answered at all with her voice instead of sobs.

Finally, after a few weeks of getting to know her — and knowing she was pretty darn miserable about breastfeeding — I asked a simple question:

"What do you think about breastfeeding?"

Her answer was simple:

"I don't know if I want to do it anymore."

baby bottle

I was a little taken aback when she started crying — not because of her decision — but because she was relieved. Tears of joy, not frustration.

She said I was the only person who asked what she wanted to do. Everyone in her life had an opinion but no one had really taken the time to find out what she wanted. All of the breastfeeding consults, doctor's appointments, books and even online articles like this one won't make one difference if a mom can't take a deep breath and clarify what she wants to do.

My experience with this mom taught me the true meaning of the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy." She ended up doing a combination of a little breastfeeding here and there along with feeding her baby bottles of expressed milk and supplementing with formula.

Mom and Baby thrived. Happily.

Read more about breastfeeding

Ouch! When breastfeeding hurts
Breastfeeding tips for working moms
Breastfeeding after breast surgery