Real Talk :: Breastfeeding Sucks


Breastfeeding is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Hands down. It requires more discipline and sacrifice than the most restrictive diet or exercise regimen I’ve ever tried.

Let me be straight with you, I haven’t actually ever been successful with any diet or exercise regimens. And, I haven’t really tried. My husband and I did Whole 30; we made it 21 days before falling off the wagon. I give up foods or bad habits at Lent each year… I always end up rationalizing opportunities to cheat. I can’t even complete an Instagram yoga challenge, and yoga is just about my favorite thing in the whole world!

So, my track record for success with self-discipline, sacrifice, grit, persistence, determination—whatever moniker you place on this personality trait or social-emotional skill—hovers right around zero. I don’t have the stick-to-it-iveness that I admire in people who do things like “set goals.” Never have, never will. With lots of introspection, counseling, and self-help mumbo jumbo, I have worked to quit fighting my nature, and instead, cultivate professional and personal opportunities that capitalize on my spontaneity and impulsivity.

Fast-forward to right this moment: my baby is two months and one day old, it is 5:22 a.m., and we are rocking in the dark, both covered in splotches of damp spit-up residue.

[Let me pause here and tell you how much I adore my baby. I love her so much I sometimes cry while gazing into her eyes. Here is a picture of her. She is perfect.]

Back to breastfeeding. It is not my idea of fun. This is not the time when I look lovingly at my child and sing praises for how blessed I am to be able to nourish my baby from my breast during these sacred, quiet moments. This is not the time I dig deep and focus on self-actualization. 

This is the time when I curse myself for ever having a baby and messing up the good thing I had going, when I curse my baby for not being asleep, when I start fantasizing about the day she is five years old and I can no longer recall what 3 a.m. looks like or 2.4 hours of sleep feels like.

I hear the people say, “Soak it all in. You’re going to miss this!” or write in new mom Facebook forums, “I am overwhelmed with the joy of growing a person with my milk from my body!” or post on Instagram with the caption, “Time, slow down!”

And to all of them, I say, you are crazy. (See this.) Breastfeeding is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to be free of it.

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Sarah Townsend Leach is a fundraising, communications, and leadership professional living in Collierville and working with clients around the country. Sarah grew up in Nashville and has lived in quite a few places, but thanks to visiting grandparents in East Memphis throughout her childhood and attending Rhodes College in Midtown, this has always been a second (and now a primary!) home. Sarah and her husband John met through both of their work in the Episcopal Church in 2015, and she is a mom to Poppy (June 2018) and Ann Townsend (October 2019). Follow her journey through new motherhood: focusing on learning how to be a parent and finding her new work-life balance out in the burbs. Sarah loves exploring, being outside, yoga, and crafting (all of which she has no time for now that she is a toddler mom).


  1. I get it – trust me I really, really, REALLY do!!!! I was only able to nurse for 6 weeks with my first born (he got teeth that early, I’m not kidding) and 3 months with my second (I had to go back to teaching, try pumping just once with a classroom of children waiting for you or in the faculty bathroom, nope). But with my youngest son, I made it 6 months. It does get easier and I do miss those sweet moments, BUT I remember crying with pain in those early months (yes months) and being SO TIRED of bland food and no wine. I remember just wanting my body back – it is so hard. How do you explain to someone how it feels to be walking around with cold tea bags on your nipples – or frantically searching for a baby (any baby will do) to nurse before you ruin yet another shirt?

    Hang in there sweet friend! You will get through this, and believe it or not, you will look back on these days with a sigh of longing. Somehow the memory of the pain, exhaustion, and feeling like a dairy cow lessens…I’m not sure how it does, but it does. And you’ll have more to hang over Poppy’s head when she’s a teenager…(-:

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