Not enjoying breastfeeding

What if I just don’t like breastfeeding?

Some mothers say breastfeeding is not enjoyable. They may find it too stressful or painful or find that it interferes with their ability to enjoy their baby. Mothers who have been neglected or have faced violence or sexual trauma can find it difficult. Mothers who are uncomfortable with a baby touching their breast may consider using a nipple shield or expressing instead of weaning.  

A) Reasons for not enjoying breastfeeding

Some mothers choose not to breastfeed and not enjoying the experience is only one of numerous possible reasons.

Some mothers do not enjoy breastfeeding. It may:

Mothers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy are less likely to choose to breastfeed (Rocha 2020).

Some mothers may have experienced major difficulties breastfeeding a previous child and feel unable to face a repeat of their experiences (Palmér 2019).

Some mothers may not be comfortable sharing their body with a baby (Morns 2020).

Mothers who have experienced neglect, violence, abuse, or sexual trauma can find breastfeeding difficult and are less likely to start breastfeeding and to breastfeed exclusively (Channell Doig 2020; Kremer 2018; Normann 2020; Stuebe 2019).


Channell Doig A, Jasczynski M, Fleishman JL, et al. Breastfeeding Among Mothers Who Have Experienced Childhood Maltreatment: A Review. J Hum Lact. 2020 Sep 14:890334420950257 

Rocha ADF, Gomes KRO, Rodrigues MTP. Impact of intention to become pregnant on breastfeeding in the first postpartum hour. Cien Saude Colet. 2020 Oct;25(10):4077-4086

Kremer PT, Kremer KR. Breastfeeding Is Associated with Decreased Childhood Maltreatment. Breastfeed Med. 2018 Jan/Feb;13(1):18-22

Morns MA, Steel AE, Burns E, et al. Women who experience feelings of aversion while breastfeeding: A meta-ethnographic review. Women Birth. 2020 Feb 21:S1871-5192(19)31082-0

Normann AK, Bakiewicz A, Kjerulff Madsen F, Khan KS, Rasch V, Linde DS. Intimate partner violence and breastfeeding: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2020 Oct 31;10(10):e034153

Palmér L. Previous breastfeeding difficulties: an existential breastfeeding trauma with two intertwined pathways for future breastfeeding-fear and longing. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2019 Dec;14(1):1588034
Stuebe AM, Meltzer-Brody S, Propper C, et al. The Mood, Mother, and Infant Study: Associations Between Maternal Mood in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Outcome. Breastfeed Med. 2019 Aug 19

Ukah UV, Adu PA, De Silva DA, et al. The Impact of a History of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Breastfeeding Initiation and Exclusivity: Findings from a National Population Health Survey. Breastfeed Med. 2016 Dec;11:544-550