When you’re expecting and thinking about nursing, you hear a lot about the strange consequences of essentially being a human cow. Benefits of breastfeeding include increased intimacy with your newborn, freedom from bottle-related stress (including mastitis, blocked ducts, poor supply, nursing strikes, chapped and bleeding nipples, engorgement, and leakage), and, of course, the possibility of shedding a few pounds. Over the last 11 years, I’ve had the distinct honour of experiencing every single one of the many unpleasant potential side effects of breastfeeding.
However, I was unprepared by the baby’s aversion to breastfeeding. In other words, I’m not referring to the one-month-old baby who went on a breastfeeding strike for three days. What I mean is that I, as a mother, can no longer stomach the idea or sensation of nursing.
You read that right… I was the one with a breastfeeding aversion, not my baby, and it was absolutely miserable.
What is Breastfeeding Aversion in Mother
If you’re a nursing mother, you may have experienced breastfeeding aversion. Breastfeeding aversion is when a mother experiences a strong negative physical or emotional reaction to breastfeeding. Feelings of annoyance, impatience, anger, or even revulsion are all possible outcomes. Furthermore, during episodes of aversion, mothers who have aversion report having intrusive thoughts. This can make it difficult or even impossible to breastfeed.
There are many different possible causes of breastfeeding aversion. It may be due to a difficult breastfeeding experience, such as pain or nipple trauma. It can also be a response to stress or anxiety. In some cases, it may be a sign of postpartum depression.
If you’re experiencing breastfeeding aversion, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant. They can help you identify the cause of your aversion and find ways to make breastfeeding easier. In some cases, you may need to take a break from breastfeeding or even stop altogether.
My Breastfeeding Aversion Story
In 2018, I became pregnant with Lucas. Noah had just turned one at the time, and we were still nursing on a fairly frequent basis. He wasn’t breastfeeding as much as he had been as a baby, but he still depended on it for naps and bedtime. It was reassuring to him, and I was delighted to continue offering him my assistance for as long as he needed it.
My mindset shifted approximately two months into Lucas’s pregnancy. I observed that every time I had to nurse Noah, I became progressively irritated. Simple things like too much noise or the kids racing to the potty irritated me more than they ever had before when I was nursing. I’d start to feel exhausted and needed to put him down in a matter of minutes. And there were moments when I was just plain upset.
This new aversion was triggered by more than simply the physical act of nursing. Breastfeeding would occasionally make my skin crawl and make me want to run away screaming.
But I was determined to get through it. The World Health Organization encourages breastfeeding for at least two years, and I was determined to meet that two-year target as long as Noah chose to continue breastfeeding. Ideally, I wanted to breastfeed Noah until he chose to wean himself. I didn’t want to repeat my mistake with Adeline and push him to quit nursing before he was ready.
Now, I’ve had some short instances of the skin crawling feeling while breastfeeding, but like I mentioned, they were fleeting. They could have lasted one or two feeding sessions and then vanished. Most likely due to having too many things to do or too much going on around me at the time my baby decided they needed to eat. But this… was new…constant. I thought maybe I was experiencing anxiety difficulties since it seemed like my anxiousness was soaring. I had no idea what had suddenly triggered this.
Unfortunately, the emotions persisted, and they seemed to be becoming worse. It came to the point that I couldn’t bear nursing him any longer. Breastfeeding Aversion was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was fortunate in that I never felt pain, but I was always agitated and wanted to leap out of my own skin. Unfortunately, this forced me to wean Noah before two arrived. Fortunately, I believe he was ready for it, and he weaned smoothly and completely by 20 months without any prodding from me.
What Causes Breastfeeding Aversion?
After doing some reading and consulting with my OB/GYN, I determined that what I was feeling was nursing aversion. According to my OB/GYN, there might be many reasons why someone is experiencing this, but there are no true recognised causes. Menstruation, ovulation, sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression, pregnancy, or just being exhausted are all thought to be contributing causes to moms suffering nursing aversion, although little is known about it. She said that a woman’s sentiments might vary from mild to severe. Some moms get the sense of something crawling beneath their skin or of being unable to sit still. While the baby is latched, some women may suffer rage and agitation. Feeling frantic or as if you need to escape or get away, discomfort or agony, and feeling as if you badly want to wean but do not want to wean are all potential experiences.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding aversion is one of those topics that is seldom discussed. Many women are perplexed as to why they suddenly can’t take the idea or sensation of their infant nursing, which may lead to feelings of guilt or shame on the mother’s part. It is similar to the shame that mothers may experience while suffering from postpartum depression or other mood disorders. You feel shattered or as if something is wrong with you since you can’t offer sustenance and comfort for your kid without wanting to crawl out of your own skin.
So, How to Fix Breastfeeding Aversion?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many choices for coping with nursing aversion. Make sure you have everything you could need when nursing, such as lots of water, a snack, your phone, and the remote. Before you settle down to breastfeed, make sure you’re in a comfortable spot and that you don’t have any urgent affairs to attend to. Drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. There have been some studies that demonstrate a relationship between low magnesium levels and breastfeeding aversion, so you may want to discuss beginning a magnesium regimen with your health care practitioner. To prevent burnout, make sure you are taking care of yourself and taking some time just for you if at all feasible, and try to work on some relaxing methods to assist relax you when nursing. Unfortunately, weaning is the only definite treatment for a nursing dislike.
Thankfully, after weaning Noah and giving birth to Lucas, I was able to nurse again without any more aversion concerns. Being pregnant and continuing to breastfeed seems to have been the catalyst for my nursing aversion in my case. I’ve managed to feed Lucas for the last two years. I’m sure she’ll wean herself eventually. But I truly want to let her wean on her own. The good news is that if I start experiencing nursing aversion again, I believe I will have a better knowledge of what is going on and will be able to work through it more effectively now that I am more prepared. But, cross my fingers, I won’t have to worry about that anytime soon.
We must all work together to increase awareness about this enigmatic illness that might affect nursing women. Please share this story with other nursing moms or soon-to-be mothers so they know they are not alone if they experience this. And don’t forget to subscribe for more tales and information on motherhood.