I'm by no means an expert on breastfeeding. I failed miserably with my first baby. My second breastfed for 14 months and I'm currently breastfeeding my 5 month old. I don't judge those who choose not to breastfeed. I totally understand.
From my experiences here are the stages of breastfeeding.
Stage 1 - OUCH - This stage occurs during the first two weeks of babies life. If you can make it through this stage, you can do anything humanly possible. Putting an extremely sensitive part of your body into a sucking machine is not fun. I won't go into the gross things that can happen but think blisters.
Stage 2 - DOUBT - I believe every nursing mom goes through this stage. Your baby will go through a growth spurt and be fussy and crazy demanding milk. You'll doubt your supply, start googling like crazy and buying Feengreek and Mother's Milk Tea (which is actually pretty tasty), and trying other really crazy things to increase your supply. By the time you start consuming all of this stuff, you body will be producing enough milk to keep baby happy through the growth spurt.
Stage 3 -SLEEP - It's a memorable night. You lay awake waiting and wondering. "What's going on?" "Has something happened?" You crank the monitor up listening for breathing or any little noise. You're breasts are so full you won't chance moving because you're afraid you'll spray milk across the room. Your baby has slept all night without breastfeeding.
Stage 4 - ALERT - You'll be nursing away and suddenly the baby will turn his/her head to see something going on, forgetting to let go of your breast, yanking it around. Your baby starts to take interest to the world around him while nursing. The baby will continue to do this over and over causing pain and much frustration. This is especially fun while trying to nurse discreetly in public.
Stage 5 - TEETH - Back to ouch. I think every baby just wants to test that new tooth out at least once. One good chomp is all it takes to make you really doubt this whole breastfeeding thing. But yet, time after time, we, as moms continue to keep putting our breast back into those gangly tooth covered mouths bite marks and all.
Stage 6 - WEANING- I'm not sure who this is harder for. Mom's have endured the above stages and even after all of that have enjoyed the experience of breastfeeding. After all the tears from plug ducts, mastitis, and bite marks; and the hours of laying awake resenting your husband for not lactating you find it hard to stop.
There must be something really magical and special about breastfeeding to make woman endure it for months, a year or even longer. That or in my case, I just really hate washing bottles. :)