I'm a big fan of breastfeeding. I know the health benefits and I appreciate the bonding aspect of it as well. Although Princess wasn't a good nurser, I still nursed her for a year. She didn't nurse exclusively because she was such a lazy eater that she didn't get enough that way, so she did have formula as well. But when you consider how hard it was to teach her how to latch on and then to keep her sucking long enough to get a full meal, a year is pretty impressive.
I was planning to breastfeed Little Man for a year as well. Now, I want to be done as soon as possible. It's been a nightmare to nurse him since the day he was born. He has problems latching on so I have to use a nipple shield. Then he screams and gets angry if milk isn't pouring into his mouth the whole time so about half the time I have to fight to get him to stay on the breast long enough. I can't take him anywhere because he refuses to nurse anywhere but home. Occasionally I can get him to nurse when we're out somewhere, but usually I end up giving him a bottle. Then I started getting plugged milk ducts, which are pretty painful. One of those led to a pretty bad case of mastitis which took over a week to clear up completely. Since the mastitis, I've been getting a plugged duct almost every day. I also got mastitis again, but since I'd just had it, I knew how to treat it right away to keep it from getting worse.
Breastfeeding has NOT been a bonding experience at all with Little Man. In fact, it's actually kept me from bonding with him somewhat. He has flatout refused to nurse more than once or twice a day for the last week which means I get to haul out the good old breastpump and vacuum out my breasts multiple times a day. Yay. I would love to just stop nursing, but with my issues with plugged ducts and mastitis, I have to go VERY slow so I don't end up with a bad infection.
The lactation consultants and breastfeeding advocates I've talked to have been discouraging me from weaning Little Man. They keep saying that if I just pump, I'll get my milk supply up enough, and I shouldn't be giving him bottles because that's just making the problem worse. I've gotten so many tips on how to get him to latch on, how to relax and enjoy nursing, etc. But, you know what? None of these people are here when Little Man is screaming and turning purple because I'm trying to get him to nurse while Princess is in the bathroom using my toothbrush to clean the diaper pail. So while I still support breastfeeding and believe it's the best option for the baby, I also believe that if it's not working and it's making the mom miserable, IT'S NOT WORTH IT! By the way, the breastfeeding advocates I've talked to all had an easy time nursing, so they really can't judge me for bottle feeding.
And yet, no matter how much I'm looking forward to being done breastfeeding, I'm sad that it didn't work out. I enjoyed nursing Princess and only gave it up at a year because so many people told me that she was "too old" to breastfeed anymore. I know I'll second guess myself later and wonder if I'd tried more, if I could've breastfed Little Man longer. And anytime Little Man gets sick, I'll wish I'd been able to nurse him longer to give him more antibodies. I wavered on my decision to stop breastfeeding for over a month until I got mastitis and decided for sure. But even now, I find myself thinking that if Little Man is my last baby, I'll never get the chance to breastfeed again. However, no matter what decision I'd made about breastfeeding, I think mommy guilt would've kicked in.
Breastfeed if you can, but if you can't for any reason, don't sweat it.