Breastfeeding can be wonderful and fulfilling. But most mums know that it can also be frustrating, tiring, and stressful.
If you’re feeling negatively about breastfeeding, know that you are not alone. In fact, you might be feeling BAA or breastfeeding aversion and agitation.
What is breastfeeding aversion and agitation?
Breastfeeding aversion and agitation or BAA is a phenomenon that some breastfeeding mothers experience. It includes having negative feelings or even intrusive thoughts while her infant is latched on and breastfeeding. Other feelings that mums can experience associated with BAA include:
- Disgust / Self-Disgust
- Skin itching / Crawling
- Shame and guilt
At the same time, intrusive thoughts that mothers can have specific to breastfeeding and can be associated with BAA include:
- Wanting to “run away” to not stop breastfeeding
- An overwhelming urge to stop breastfeeding
- “Feeling trapped”
- Wanting to pinch or hurt the child so that he’ll stop breastfeeding
- Thoughts and feelings about being “touched out” or not wanting any kind of physical intimacy
Note that these feelings disappear once the child unlatches.
What causes BAA?
Studies on BAA are still somewhat limited, but published works on parenting and breastfeeding have listed the following as possible causes of BAA:
- Hormones. Some mothers have realized that their BAA episodes are somewhat related to their menstruation or even ovulation, which means that it could be hormonal. Some women also feel that the “aversion” is their bodies’ way of suggesting weaning.
- Breastfeeding dynamic. A lot of mothers say that their BAA starts once their infant gets a bit older and yet still maintain their “feed on demand” schedule. The reasons for this could include the difficulty of setting boundaries with their child, or even the fact that the child is less reliant on breastfeeding since he’s older and yet still does so frequently. The breastfeeding relationship is important as it can put undue stress on mums — especially if mums have set unrealistic expectations plus pressure over the fact that she’s the child’s only source of nutrition — these can then manifest as aversion over breastfeeding.
- Sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can affect all of us in a lot of ways, such as chronic diseases and even depression. And in the case of mothers, as breastfeeding aversion.
What can I do to overcome BAA?
There’s no clear cure to BAA, but some mums have said that distractions, supplements, and even social support can help manage or overcome the feelings brought about by BAA. If you feel like you need more help or support, it’s best to discuss it with your healthcare provider.