Holly Madison
Lifestyle, Motherhood

My Love / Hate Relationship With Breastfeeding

Originally published on Eonline, March 4th 2016

I hate breastfeeding.

There, I said it. I know that’s not a popular opinion. It kind of astounds me how judgmental people can get over the topic of breastfeeding. It’s as if everyone is expected to love feeding their child nature’s way. The thought of breastfeeding is supposed to conjure up angelic images, like that one of Giselle, surrounded by her glam team, tossing her mane of shampoo commercial-worthy hair as she seemingly effortlessly feeds her child.

Needless to say, that’s not what it looks like (or feels like) for most of us. I am expecting my second child and am planning on breastfeeding again, but I have to say, it’s not the part of being a new mom that I am most eagerly anticipating. When I think back on the time I spent breastfeeding my first child, a vision of me comes to mind as a bedridden, wild beast with matted hair, surrounded by wadded up Kleenex and various stray breast pump pieces next to the most cluttered nightstand imaginable. I’m wearing pajamas I’ve been in for days (I haven’t had time to shower) and my right hand is curled into a postpartum, carpal tunnel syndrome induced, useless claw as I attempt to prop my baby up with my forearm.

I read up on breastfeeding before I started and found out that one session can take up to forty-five minutes and that you should breastfeed 10-12 times a day. Do the math and that amounts to over half of your day, assuming you are lucky enough to get eight hours of sleep! So, as you can imagine, I spent the bulk of several months in one spot, all the supplies next to my bed, watching the entire back library of Mad Men while I alternated between feedings and changings.

Holly Madison

When my daughter was born, I set a goal: to breastfeed for four months. At the four-month mark, I had plans to do some business related travel with my husband. I knew we were going to be busy and that I wouldn’t be able to steal away to the hotel room every hour to feed the baby or pump. After my four months were up, I was proud of myself, simply because I had reached the goal I had set and because I felt extremely lucky to not have run into some of the serious physical issues many women have to deal with when it comes to breastfeeding. Still, even though I was proud of my goal, there were those who liked to make passive aggressive jabs and compare me to people they knew who breastfed longer (interesting note: these were usually people who have never raised a child).

I discovered early on that breastfeeding in public is not for me. I am completely supportive of others doing it, but I tried it once and it was altogether too awkward for me to try again. With discretion as the goal, I snuck off to a sofa in a seemingly out-of-the-way, deserted hallway of the building I was in, with a light blanket covering the baby and me from my neck to my waist. It was still pretty obvious what I was doing. The few people who made it down that hallway would walk by and gawk as if I were on display in a circus sideshow. One couple even made a point of walking down the hall and staring a few times!

I’m setting a good example, I tried to tell myself. I’m making a statement about how it’s OK to feed your child in public. But at the end of the day, I guess I’m not that brave. I felt kind of exposed and embarrassed and haven’t done it since.

So, if I don’t like it, why am I choosing to do it again? Well, to be fair, I didn’t have it that bad. Sure, it’s an unglamorous experience, but I wasn’t afflicted with cracked nipples, clogged ducts or painful mastitis like many women are. I choose to do it because it aligns with the type of diet I keep my children on. Yes, I am one of those super annoying, all organic, non-GMO, Whole Foods groupies. If you followed my private Facebook page, you’d be inundated with those “what’s in your food” posts. I do admit though, I am stricter about what my daughter eats than what I eat. I’m totally guilty of sneaking off to Taco Bell fairly regularly.

Holly Madison

I hope the judgment cast on parents regarding the breast vs. bottle topic goes away. The research I did on feeding methods and speaking to other parents opened my mind to how many factors come into play when making the choice on how to feed your child. In fact, despite the “breast is best” ideals I started with, I ended up having to supplement with formula. Even though I devoted a lot of time to feedings and pumping, I found it difficult to get enough of a supply for all of my daughter’s feedings.

At the end of the day, as long as a child is safe, nourished and loved, who are we to judge breast vs. bottle? Making sure your child is fed is the goal, not beating yourself up because you aren’t doing it the “best” or trendiest way possible.

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  • Reply Patsy Yeager March 11, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Everyone is different, if we were the same we would be all androids. How boring would that be. Yes, breasting feeding is very painful, especially in the beginning, those little precious people, have suction power, and when the teeth start coming, oh boy…hurts. I breast fed all my babies, and they quit at different stages. Oldest one, nine months, he preferred drinking out of a cup. Second one, 10 months, he was born with teeth, that disappeared. Thankfully. And the youngest, 11 months, she did not want to quit. But the teeth, made me break her of the habit, as I was working a full time job, to support all three. Would never change anything, they are grown responsible adults. With families of their own, making me a grandmother, and now for a the past five years, a great grandma.
    Congratulations, on the new baby Holly, you are at the top of my list of being a great Mom.

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply Kara March 16, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you for this, for I too am someone who doesn’t like to breastfeed. I just had my third baby (all boys) and all 9.5 pounds of him, and I can’t keep up with the demand. I have fought off cracked and bleeding nipple and the thought of him getting close to my breast, makes me shake with pain. So I pump when I can and supplement with formula. Do I feel bad? Sometimes, but I know that I am doing what’s best for both of us!! Good for you for making it that long and congrats on the new baby to come. We as women should be lifting each other up, no matter the situation, not knocking each other down!! Lots of love!!

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Lots of love to you as well.

  • Reply Rebecca March 16, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I’ve been fortunate enough to breastfeed my little one for almost 22 months (I’m cutting her off when she turns 2!) But I feel the same way…it’s not at all “magical” or enjoyable for me and I’m ready to be done! Everyone is different and you should be so proud of yourself for reaching your goal, and planning on doing it again with baby #2. Way to go, mama!

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you! 22 months – amazing!

  • Reply Aida March 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Holly.
    My first experience with breastfeeding was awful!! It hurt, I cracked and it was just painful. I did for less than a month. My son was a 9 pounder and too greedy. Now for my second boy breastfeeding was a breeze. It was just an amazing experience. I was only able to do it for 2 months because I had to go back to work. But it was great. It will vary from child to child. Kids are very different and so are the experiences we will have with them. You are a great mom. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Thank you so much! You sound like a great mother yourself!

  • Reply Sydney White March 17, 2016 at 12:43 am

    To each their own I guess. Everyone has their own story. For me it took me three babies to be comfortable breastfeeding in public uncovered. My first two I only breastfed 2-3 months because I struggled with my milk supply and sore nipples, which I used a nipple shield to prevent (I came to the conclusion that the nipple shield decreased my supply). My third I am happy to say I have breastfed for 9 1/2 months and we’re still going. I have to say I love this experience. I still struggled at first but I was able to push through the couple weeks of sore breasts (nipple cream helped so much) and after that baby girl figured out how to latch without hurting me and we’ve been fine ever since. I love being close to her, her falling asleep in my arms, comforting her, the convenience of having milk ready for her whenever she wants. I don’t regret my experiences with my other children, they were wonderful in their own ways but I think I would regret not having one child who I successfully nursed. That’s my experience. Glad you’ve figured out what’s best for your baby.

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      I think it’s a really different experience for everyone and we should all be empowered to do what is best for ourselves and our babies. TY!

  • Reply Cheryl Lynn Gomez March 17, 2016 at 3:16 am

    Well said ! I breastfeed my third child the longest aka 4 months it was extremely hard but people don’t discuss is how hard producing breast milk is . I tryed everything , drink more water ,fenugreek (by the way makes you gain weight 😯)., also old wives tales ..I even pumped when my baby was sleeping and still couldn’t produce more than 2 ozs .. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone but those who can succeed for a long period of time I saw more power to you .. 🙂

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      It can be really tough! Thank you for your kind note:)

  • Reply Megan March 17, 2016 at 4:37 am

    Thank you for you honesty Holly, I wish more moms would be brave enough to say things like this! I have a 14 month old and we are down to 1 nursing session a day and I can’t wait for her to be weaned completely! I used to think there was something wrong with me, like my maternal wiring was off because I didn’t get a warm snuggly feeling from breastfeeding. Leaky boobs, pumping, obsessing over how much milk is in your freezer, missing out on half your closet, worrying about something you ate effecting your baby….I can go on! I find a lot of women trying to justify an end to their breastfeeding journey – low supply, illness, etc. You can put me in the “over it” category! #momswhohatebreastfeeding 🙂

    • Reply Holly Madison March 17, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      Thank you Megan! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  • Reply Meghan March 17, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Wow, I thought I was the only one who felt this way! I’m a first time mom & my son is 10 months old. He is still breastfeeding & even though this may sound really bad, I can’t wait for it to be over! It’s hurt from the beginning, I’ve never had the best supply & I was bummed when I wasn’t filling my freezer with endless bags of milk. I congratulate you & anyone who breast feeds or makes an attempt at it because for some it is uncomfortable. Thank you Holly! Congrats on #2!! <3

  • Reply Erika March 17, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    FINALLY a celebrity opening up and being honest that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone! I had similar feelings as you on the subject but was met with harsh statements from others. I saw in the end if it works for you great but we shouldn’t judge those who it doesn’t!

  • Reply Britt B. March 18, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Such a well-written (and funny) depiction of exactly what breastfeeding is! I always tell people it’s a million times harder than pregnancy, labor and birth. I’m currently breastfeeding my second baby…he’s 3.5 months old and I plan to make it to a year like I did with my first. I too, can’t do it in public – I’m too uncoordinated, my boobs are too big, and I just don’t feel comfortable. Kudos to you for meeting your goal with beautiful Rainbow and best wishes for your new little one on the way. xx, Britt

  • Reply Sara Baudo March 18, 2016 at 1:30 am

    I can’t agree more. I was obsessed with being able to breastfeed for a year. In the end, I made it about 7 months. I was pumping 4 hours a day just to meet my son’s daily feeding requirements. It was awful…..and I felt like a POS because I still had to supplement him with formula.

    Your reality check, Holly, is honest and fresh. Thank you!

  • Reply Lacey March 18, 2016 at 5:49 am

    LOVE your honesty!! My daughter is 18 months, still breastfeeding and I am at the point now where I feel I need to stop for my own sanity. I totally get what you are saying!!

  • Reply Jennifer April 2, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. My daughter is 10 months old and my goal is one year. Do I enjoy it? Not really. But I do it for my daughter. I don’t get why people have to shame moms for not breastfeeding. I understand why moms decide not to continue with this journey.

    By the way, I am completely awkward with the public nursing. I do not know how people can do it discretely.

  • Reply Ashlee April 7, 2016 at 5:21 am

    I literally can’t thank you enough for also putting your hand up and saying it wasn’t really the best experience for you. I felt so awkward/exposed/embarrassed myself and personally wouldn’t even breastfeed next time. There needs to be more women unashamed to admit that. I felt so alone at the time (my daughter Sadie is almost two now). And was so judged.

    By the way, I am loving your open and honest blog. I have laughed so much thinking to myself “oh my god that’s what I thought!” Or “no way, same!”, almost like you’ve been reading my mind.

    • Reply Holly Madison April 18, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Ashlee, I’m so happy that you could relate!

  • Reply Amy Sokol April 9, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Congrats on making it to your goal with your daughter! I have three daughters and each one I’ve had completely different breast feeding experiences with. My first I set a goal for four months (like you!) and we made it. My second I hoped to breast feed for longer but she couldn’t latch (learned later it was because of her thick upper frenulum)…I pumped for 8 months for her…whew that was hard. My third daughter I just hoped to breast feed and not have to pump….the beginning was so hard and I hated it but magically it got easy and well she decided to breast feed for three years. I never ever expected to be the mom of a toddler who literally asked for “Milky”. Well now my breast feeding journey is over and I miss it but I like having boobs to myself again too! You seem like a great mom and its obvious you love your daughter….that’s what matters!

  • Reply Nina August 19, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Thank you! The world needs more of this, talking more openly about breast or formula feeding creates a supportive environment for us mothers. We all want the best for our families and we need to accept that these choices might not be best for others.
    Also formula nowadays comes really close to breast milk. There’re organic alternatives on the market like on myorganicformula.com, which are free from GMO-ingredients, antibiotics and hormones.
    Kind regards,

  • Reply WallieDollie November 22, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    My daughter is turning 4 months old tomorrow and I’m officially starting to ween her off the boob. I’m happy to have done it for 4 months, but like you, I’m not a fan lol. Thank you so much for being honest. I’ve loved you since forever! Congrats on everything!!

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