We often get lost in the joy of being pregnant, the thought of being a new mom. It’s not talked about how much weight and the struggle some women go through. We put on our shoulders the stress of the world. We want what’s best for our new baby.
How many of you have talked about your breastfeeding struggles? Why do we think we can conquer the world on our own, we believe if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist or matter that we can fix it on our own. We don’t want to complain, because we feel we shouldn’t.
After posting Crying over spilled milk… I had so many of you reach out and share your stories, which lead me to think what a perfect post this would be to share your breastfeeding struggles, joys, and the most loved and hated things you experienced during breastfeeding. So many of us moms don’t talk about the struggles. Below you will read their stories. I want to thank all the moms who contributed to this post!
I hope you enjoy all of these mamas stories and maybe it’ll help you in your own journey. Happy feeding!
I knew I wanted to breastfeed above all else. When I had my first, she was a dream. She latched immediately, and I never had any problems with nipple pain or mastitis. I was able to Breastfeed for six months exclusively, but at that time, I was never able to have a productive pumping session. Doubt and fear started to creep in. What if I’m not making enough milk? Is she getting enough? Am I doing the right thing?These times with her were supposed to be such a great bonding time, but they became a source of anxiety, fear, and resentment. I started to dread feeding times. It kept getting harder and harder, not to mention as babies get older, they become wiggle worms, creating a recipe for disaster. I would cry and feel like a failure after nursing. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I began to withdraw from everyone, including those trying to help and comfort me. Around the time she turned almost ten months, I couldn’t do it anymore. The doubt was turning into anger and frustration. I finally realized I mentally could not do this anymore. So I decided to switch to formula. It was so hard, and I beat myself up for a while. I was focusing on how I had felt like I failed instead of realizing what a fantastic job I had done for nine months prior. My mental health was SO much more important than chest feeding. Nursing was hard, and we focus so much on our children to make sure they are growing and thriving that we neglect ourselves. I’m so glad I realized my mental health was more important the second time around. I was able to breastfeed my second for 13 months, and I genuinely believe it’s because I didn’t put the insane amount of pressure on myself to succeed.
Tierney F., Houston, TX.
Daliah was three weeks old when hurricane Ike hit. I had a stockpile of milk in the freezer and lost it ALL when the power went out. It never quite came back after that to be sustainable, and I had to make that decision too. I know it’s so hard, but she’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. And you’ll both be happier without all the stress and pain.
Natalie C., Houston, TX.
Below are the words I had shared with a bf group I had joined. I never want another mom not to know the feeling and feel alone. and I’m done. One week shy of three months. Breastfeeding never worked for my little and me, so I pumped and supplemented formula. My supply dwindled, and I was experiencing so much grief and anxiety from a condition called D-MER. DMER= Dysphoric Milk Ejection Release is caused by inappropriate dopamine activity at the time of the milk ejection reflex. Dysphoria is defined as an unpleasant or uncomfortable mood, such as sadness, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. Etymologically, it is the opposite of euphoria. D-MER is like a reflex. It is controlled by hormones and can not be controlled by the mother. She can not talk herself out of the dysphoria. D-MER is a sudden feeling that “typically” lasts seconds to a few minutes. For me, it lasted 15 minutes at a time, every two hours. I would just be walking to pick up the pump, so overcome with grief that I felt like a part of me was dying inside. It was a real roller coaster of emotions that I had to power through to be able to feed my son. It helped to have someone distract me and talk to me during pumping, so I never wanted to be alone.The last two weeks of our journey had been hell. PPD/PPA hit my husband and me in ways we would never have imagined. Stopping breastfeeding meant I was able to take control, start counseling, and start the medication to help balance my hormones. After two years of hormones, IVF therapy, and now PPD, my body had reached its breaking point. I was physically unable to produce milk due to stress, and that was where our journey ended. Deciding to stop trying (all the milk production meds to help, teas, internet advice, etc) weighed on my heart but mostly because of input around me. It was like the air was thick with disappointment or resentment. I could feel that my son was a happier baby when I wasn’t suffering. Switching was the only way I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We prayed for this baby and went through three rounds of ivf for him to get here. When my OB looked at me and told me my mental health was more important than breastfeeding, it was the permission I needed to stop. Stopping was the start of healing in so many other aspects. Our son never skipped a beat in the transition, and I’m a firm believer that fed is best and mental health is paramount.
Heather Schmid, Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ.
With my first baby, I had big plans to breastfeed. God owed it to me for the long wait and the struggle I had to conceive her, right? Wrong. It was yet another Journey that he tested me. He tested my faith, my marriage and my sanity. After an emergency c-section my milk would not come in, so I had to power pump in the hospital while giving my baby formula, the liquid trash that society made me hate. My nipples covered in little cracks, and when I tried to get my girl to latch, it felt like a million tiny razor blades, making a million tiny cuts all over my useless nipples.My daughter was hungry, and I was so set on breastfeeding. I had to. I was going to be judged if I didn’t. Breast is best, dammit, and this baby will be breastfed until she’s 12 months. At seven days old, I sat and watched the ENT pry open my baby girl’s mouth and snip a tongue tie and then cauterize it. “Are you ready to nurse?” Is what he said after he put her in the state of misery. Of course! I took her, and she latched right on as I looked down at my baby girl’s red face, her mouth surrounding my nipple like never before. It instantly worked! Was this the answer? I thought for sure, we were finally on the road to successful breastfeeding. It was just another bump, and not the last one. Flash forward to the next three and half months of no sleep, baby not going to anyone but me. I was exhausted and drained. I was nursing her, but she was just a tough baby. At her four months check up I about died. I wanted to die. I felt like a terrible mother. “She is underweight, which means she’s not getting enough nutrients, and you’re going to need to supplement so we can get her weight up.” I WAS STARVING MY BABY. I remember calling my mom in tears on the way home. She told me fed is best. She told me we would be ok. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was such a beautiful day! I poured 4oz of water, I scooped a couple of scoops, and I shook that bottle within minutes of getting home from the doctors. My baby girl chugged that bottle. I made her more. She drank 8oz of formula. I remember her pulling away with this milky smile that made every bad thought I had, and every negating thing I’d read about formula disappear. My baby had a full belly! From that day on, I continued to nurse first, but around seven months, she was content with a bottle. She was rolling, sitting on her own, and feeding herself by seven months. She walked at ten months. She was potty trained entirely by two. She’s been sick a couple of times, but overall she’s a healthy three-year-old. She’s now starting preschool at three and can spell her name, knows all of her shapes, colors, most letters and can count to ten. Fed. Is. Best.
Tabetha G. Retired Combat Army Vet., San Tan Valley, AZ. Thank you for you and your husbands service!
I couldn’t nurse from the beginning. Both my kids were formula babies and turned out perfect. I also always thought that formula feeding allowed them to bond more with their daddy! Win, win! Being a mom is so hard, this is just the first of many decisions like this that you’ll have to make for them and yourself. Trust your mommy instincts, and go easy on yourself!
Kristen E. Houston, TX.
Well, I was a cow. I had twins, and I think my body knew it! I started pumping every 3 hours because I had so much milk, and my twins were so small they weren’t drinking enough to empty me. I was pumping about 22oz of milk every three hours. I was also breastfeeding them every three hours and would switch breasts and twins every feeding. I ended up having to empty three freezers and fill them with breastmilk, literally no frozen food in there anymore! It was a blessing because when I was about six months postpartum, I had to have my stomach and hernia repair surgery. I was going to be on antibiotics, which meant no more breastfeeding for me. However, because I had so much milk I was able to give the twins breastmilk (in a bottle) for three whole months after my surgery before moving to formula. Breastfeeding and pumping were my jobs for six months, and the extra three months supply was well worth it!
Erin B. Encintias, CA.
So, both Roman and creed were preemies and in the NICU, and they never really learned to latch. I exclusively pumped for them for six months….my biggest complaint is that I wasn’t given the lactation consulting as I would have, had my babies been with me and not in the NICU. It was a hard time, and I felt like an absolute failure, both times. When Anee was born, and she was full-term, and able to room in with us, I was given the consulting I desperately wanted for the other two. I demanded it, actually. I wanted to breastfeed SO BADLY. And I did, exclusively, but for only three months. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis right before I became pregnant, so I wasn’t able to start any of the treatment medications. After having Anee, and all the after birth hormones, I flared BADLY, and could hardly move. I could barely even lift her. It was a hard time, and I tried desperately to continue, but my body refused. I was in so much pain, despite even pumping between nursing sessions to increase my supply, I started to dry up. I wasn’t producing even an ounce by the third month and had to start supplementing with formula. At that time, I made the hard decision to stop trying entirely and start treatment for my RA. I needed to heal my body so that I could take the best possible care of my babies. After all, I had three in diapers at that time…. Fed is best. I’m a firm believer in that.
Michelle T. Cypress, TX.
I hit major depression, trying to breastfeed my daughter! As a new mom, I was desperate to breastfeed and do it perfectly! Rose had other plans. Nobody talks about your baby not latching and the pain of a bad latch and exclusively pumping. The nurses and lactation specialists in the hospital mean well, but you aren’t learning anything when they shove your boob in your newborn’s mouth and say, “that’s how it’s done.” I would shoo people out of my room for fear of judgemental looks as I broke down, begging her to latch. YouTube owes me a check for the COUNTLESS searches and hours of watching tips and tricks videos! Finally, after I relaxed and let people help me and heeded suggestions…we had a latch. Fifteen months of the best breastfeeding experience ever! We had to buy a second freezer to hold my stash! Pumping was the worst!!!!! I’ll never pump again. Our second daughter latched perfectly! Couldn’t handle my milk…of course, right?! This time I didn’t fight! I couldn’t stand to see my baby in pain! I told everyone to “stuff it!” and opted to go the formula route. Her tummy instantly healed, and she was such a happy baby! When I was alone and had time to feel emotions, it hurt, and secretly I tried to pump and mix the milks, but it just wasn’t working. So I said bye to the pump and manually let all my liquid gold go down the shower drain so I wouldn’t get those glorious clogged ducts or mastitis….I cried. Hard. Now I have two very strong and HUGE healthy girls! And a clear, healthy mind and heart on breastfeeding!
Stephany P. Needville, TX
Ever since I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Having PCOS, I knew there was a chance of me not being able to, and I was ready for that dreadful news once she arrived. Thankfully, however, that was not the case. I was blessed with great milk supply, and Lane latched on without a problem since day one. However, no one told me how painful it was going to be. My nipples quickly became cut, raw, and bled. I cried every time she woke up to feed and clenched my teeth once she started. My husband would look over and say, “I’m so sorry, babe. Let’s do formula; it’ll be easier on you”.
By day three, I couldn’t tolerate the pain. My nipples needed a break. I gave her formula for a day and then continued to breastfeed after that. No matter how much nipple butter I slathered on, the pain wasn’t going away. I couldn’t even put a shirt on. But I wanted to continue because this was a goal of mine. And I did, I pulled through. All my other mom friends said it would get more comfortable. Well, after two weeks, it did. My scar tissue started to build up, and I was soon going numb. It wasn’t easy, but unfortunately, you pull through. Just give it time but also don’t feel guilty about stopping or supplementing with formula. You have to take care of yourself first. As long as the baby is healthy, they will be fine!
Sara Bennett Houston, TX
When my first son was born, I vividly recall attempting to nurse him and feeling so lost. What do I do with his head? What do I do with my body? How is this supposed to work? I had a great team of LCs who helped me throughout my stay in the hospital. We worked on pumping, SNS, nipple shields, and we went home the only sort of knowing what we were doing. It was weeks of pain, seeing LCs, using shields, pumping, taking a break from actually nursing to EP, and eventually, after about ten weeks, we were in a groove, and breastfeeding was easier. At six months, I decided I didn’t want to pump anymore, so we kept our bedtime nursing session only until one year when I decided, again, that I was done. When my second son was born, he nursed beautifully from the moment he was born. We didn’t need an LC, I rarely pumped, and I never experienced pain. It was a wonderful experience. And then, at six months old, my son decided he didn’t want to nurse during the day anymore. He only wanted to nurse at bedtime, but even that was a struggle to hold onto. He weaned himself from daytime, and then ultimately weaned himself from the night time, too, at just shy of nine months old. And he let me know he was ready by incessantly biting me, with no amount of repercussions stopping him. He knew what he wanted (or didn’t want), and that was that.
In total, I spent nineteen months of my life breastfeeding, and while I am so happy I was able to do it for my boys, it was not the magical, beautiful, or easiest thing it appears to be. By six months old, both of my boys were getting a combination of pumped milk, formula, and milk from the breast. And our pediatrician was always supportive of the system we had in place, at all ages. You often hear “fed is best,” but really, it’s “fed is a requirement.” Feed your baby. End of story. It has to work for everyone.
Lynn A. West Chester, PA.
Where to start, IVF is tough, but breastfeeding is just as tough. With my first daughter, Keira breastfeeding was complicated at first because she was so small, and my milk supply didn’t come in for five days, which made my whole journey start on a bad note. We bottle fed Keira until my milk came. It hurt like hell! Keira would breastfeed for almost an hour, 30 mins on each side.Keira was a fantastic baby and slept through the night from the day she was born, which is great but brings on other pain. Engorgement, wet bra, shirt, and bedsheets. So I would wake her up once a night to feed. It wasn’t until Keira was almost two months, and my sister told me she used a breast shield to stop the pain when she fed her baby. Once I used the breast shield, everything was excellent from that moment forward. I breastfeed her until she was nine months old and got teeth and bit me. I screamed at her so loud it scared her, and she didn’t want to breastfeed any longer.When I was about to have my second child Samuel, I made sure to find all my breast shields, clean them, and put them in the hospital bag. Once Samuel was here, my milk delayed coming in. With COVID here, we only stayed in the hospital 26 hours after Samuel was born. So I didn’t get to nurse him much and never saw a lactation consultant before we left. But I still had in my head; it’s going to be easy this time, I already knew about the nipple shield to help with the pain. Never did I think it wouldn’t work because my son would refuse to feed when I had the breast shield. So I had to breastfeed without anything to protect my nipple. I would just cry while feeding Samuel. So I decided to start pumping and feeding him my breastmilk bottles. So I would pump for three to four days then try breastfeeding again, which was still really painful. I finally reached out to a breastfeeding group on Facebook and asked some questions. I mentioned that his tongue seemed short, and someone said to take him to a lactation consultant to see if he has a tongue-tie. So I did, she said the way I breastfeed was perfect, and she wouldn’t make any changes to how I was feeding him, but she thought he did have a tongue tie. So on Monday, July 27, I brought him to the pediatric dentist, which confirmed he had a tongue tie, and she also said he had a deep/high top pallet. So they fixed the tongue tie while we were in the office. Nothing can fix the deep pallet. Breastfeeding still hurts very much. I’m told it could take a few weeks until I notice a difference. So I breastfeed Samuel and try to distract myself while feeding him by watching tv or looking on my phone to try to keep my mind off the pain. Once he’s done feeding, the pain lingers long after Samuel is a sleep and I am trying to sleep. My nipples feel like they are on fire, which keeps me awake. I hope it gets better as he gets older. I don’t know how long I can deal with the pain. Hopefully, I will have a pleasant breastfeeding journey soon.
Erinne T. Austin, TX
The day Harper was born, she started nursing perfectly then, as the day went on, she declined. She started screaming every time I offered the breast, so we started syringe feeding, which led to giving her a bottle and formula. It wasn’t our plan, but fed is best. I started pumping in the hospital and at home since she wouldn’t latch with or without the nipple shield until we tried again when she was nine days old. I was so excited finally one step closer to exclusively breastfeeding, except she was super fussy, gassy and didn’t want to nap at all. I was so drained physically and emotionally. I cried every time she refused to nurse. After a few days, I had stopped forcing it and just pumped what I could and gave her a bottle. I felt so defeated and didn’t understand why I couldn’t give my baby what she needed. After much deliberation, I decided we should see a lactation consultant and see if she could help. Harper was a few days shy of being a month old when we found out she had a tongue and upper lip tie. I felt so bad because I thought she wasn’t eating enough, which wasn’t the case at all; she was trying so hard to nurse that she would eat what then pass out. Harper was working so much harder than any other baby, plus she was getting a lot of air that explained why she was fussy and gassy all the time. The following week we got her revision done, and she still refused to latch, but she was already eating much better from the bottle. Harper was a different baby, started sleeping during the day, and better at night. It took her over a week before she started rooting, which she had never done before I was so excited. Little did I know both of us relearning how to breastfeed was going to be much harder than I anticipated. Before our next lactation appointment we decided she wouldn’t get a bottle, it started fine but ended horribly for me. I was so drained emotionally didn’t have much left for my partner or her. She nursed nearly every hour as if she was cluster feeding or a newborn all over again. I couldn’t put her down for more than two minutes because she would scream. After calling the lactation consultant crying, it dawned on me I shouldn’t be putting that much pressure on myself or Harper. We are both relearning together, and it can be extremely frustrating not understanding why she is crying whether she’s still hungry or if her tummy is hurting her. I have to give props to my lactation consultant she is fantastic and knew exactly what to say no matter if I choose to breastfeed exclusively, pump or formula feed all that matters is that Harper is fed and happy. Found pumping to be less stressful, and I’m able to give her all of my attention without being frustrated. I didn’t like feeling how I was feeling and didn’t want to send myself down a rabbit hole that would lead to postpartum. I didn’t know breastfeeding was going to have such a stronghold on my emotions. It’s something I always wanted to do, but I didn’t have that connection; everyone talks about. Could be because we had such a rough start. I’m seven weeks in my breastfeeding journey, but I hope we make it to at least three months we will take it day by day.
Hannah B. Beaumont, TX