OP, i totally relate. I have 3 children, and the 2nd two were easy peasy to nurse, because i knew how! My body knew how! With my 8mth old born at home, the first thing she did was go for the breast, and she nursed all night long, even though i only had colostrum. It was so easy! It didnt even hurt.
But with my first, a totally different story. I told people the same thing as you, it ISNT easy, it painful, its difficult, im tired! the baby wont latch! I called up a lactation consultant several times in the middle of the night, who would come running trying to help the baby latch, to no avail, screaming baby! i was told the baby was starving! (he was) My poor baby. I tried so hard to resist the EASY solution of giving him a bottle which he gobbled up. My nipples hurt,or they were cracked and bleeding, there seemed to be inadequate supply, i was exhausted, every bone on my body hurt. Blood, sweat, and tears sums up those first couple of weeks.
My 2nd and 3rd babies were homebirths, without drugs. My first was a hospital birth, induced with pitocin. My 2nd and 3rd slept by me the first night, but my first was whisked away to the nursery, and nurses pressured me to give him a bottle because i had no milk They tried to get it by squeazing my nipples which HURT.
Why hadnt someone told me breastfeeding was painful and difficult?? I hated it when people said it was easy, they were just liars i thought, its ll a conspiracy, they wont tell the truth.
But i persevered with the right support. One day, i told my mother, i give up, this is too hard, and my baby just looked at me, and then he latched on, and nursed! (i knew that kid was smart) I cry every time i think about that. I was crying then too, and so was he.
From then on, it was smooth sailing. It just got easier and easier. Then i watched as formula fed babies got their ear infections, and colds, smelly diapers, and their fussiness, and so on and so on. All i had to do was put baby (who self weaned at 5) to the breast. He never got an ear infection, he never got sick. He never had problems sleeping. I just nursed him to sleep. It just got easier and easier.
I too was afraid to nurse in public but my pediatrician said to me, just put him to the breast now, and i did. And form then on, i wasnt afraid (funny, because i dont trust doctors particularly) Sometimes it was hard to nurse a newborn in public, but i just did it, and got used to it. Its 2nd nature to me now, and i just nurse wherever i want.
It might be easier to use a bottle in the shortterm, but after awhile, that would get tiresome.
I am so grateful for the support i got. However, i do think the point should be made that it can be difficult, and that is NORMAL, especially when its your first baby.