How I dealt with nursing aversion and what to do when breastfeeding makes you angry

How did I deal with my nursing aversion?


Not very well. To be fair: at the time I had no idea that such a thing existed. After I became a CLC, I started following various FaceBook groups and pages around Lactation and Breastfeeding and one of those pages is Breastfeeding Aversion and Agitation Awareness.  I saw this video that the author of the website posted and I had an "Ahhhh" moment of "Oh! That's what that was all about".

Put simply: every time my 2 year old went to nurse I wanted to put my head through a wall.  Nursing made my skin crawl. Nursing was nails on a chalk board. Nursing was a form of slow torture. And Nursing made me angry.

So how did I deal? I would hit my head with the palm of my hand. I would pinch my forearm. I tried deep breathing. I tried distraction. I tried telling myself that I loved my child and she wasn't using me. I tried EFT tapping. In the end, hitting myself on the head with the palm of my hand was the one that worked.

This was not the lovely picture I had of nursing my child. My breastfeeding relationship until this point was going pretty good. I'd made my breastfeeding goals of: 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and now 2 years. I loved nursing my child. But I was now 3 months pregnant and wanting to put my head through the wall.

I decided to wean. I thought that this aversion was permanent.  Hard to say if I had support whether or not I would have kept nursing. I would like to think that if someone had told me that I was going through a nursing aversion then I would have kept nursing, because at least that would mean I wasn't crazy, or angry, and that I loved my child.

One day after my son was born
By the time my son was born, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to nurse him. I thought that him latching would fill me with hate and anger.

BUT.

It didn't. Nursing was fine. Just as it was when I first started nursing my daughter.

The trick? Every time my daughter would come near me while I was nursing my son, my skin would crawl.  My agitation and anger would bubble. By this point, I finally realized that I had a nursing aversion issue with my daughter, so some deep breathing and telling myself that it was just the aversion talking helped me get through it. I didn't need to put my head through a wall after all.
I can nurse with my daughter near!
My son is now nearing 2 years old and I'm ever aware and fearful of another aversion. When I start to feel even a little bit agitated, I set a limit. Be it time, or not at the dinner table, or absolutely NO TWEAKING!

Some suggestions for what to do if you find yourself in the middle of an aversion?

  1. Remind yourself that you are an amazing momma. 
  2. You love your child and they are not using you. You are gifting them your milk.
  3. Find a distraction strategy: EFT, deep breathing, scrolling through FB. (I wouldn't suggest hitting your head with the palm of your hand - that made me feel insane).
  4. Talk about it. As soon as I started telling my husband how I felt, he helped to distract my daughter so I could get my shit together.
  5. Set limits. If nursing at the dinner table makes your blood boil, then tell your little no. It's really  ok to say no. 
  6. Remind yourself that you are an amazing momma. 
I am an amazing momma
There isn't much out there on nursing aversions and agitation. But here are some resources I've found through the years.  And remember: Megan and I are always here to help. The Local Latch is meant for mommas to find help and resources throughout their ENTIRE nursing journey. 





--Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC, and CAPP-OB Certified

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