Breastfeeding – My Little Slice of Hell

My breastfeeding story. When I was pregnant, birth didn't scare me, breastfeeding did.

So as you may or may not have read in my first birth story, my son was handed to me just minutes after being born and I was asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding. Okay, (and to quote Bon Jovi) I’ll give it a shot. Well, what do you know, it kind of worked! He knew exactly what to do just like the baby that instantly started nursing on an oblivious Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon. What was I so worried about?

When I was pregnant, birth didn’t scare me, breastfeeding did. My logic was one way or another they were going to get this baby out of me and I would only have to endure anything horrible for a short period of time, whereas, I was expected to breastfeed for a MINIMUM of three months. The thought terrified me and grossed me out all at once – I consider the word “suckle” one of the most disgusting words in the English language.

After having a good sleep and the drugs started to wear off, my son started to cry. Okay, no problem. Blue Lagoon! Although, it wasn’t Blue Lagoon. This time it kind of hurt and as soon as he was finished he started crying again. Now, I suppose all women are wired to react when their child cries so they don’t let them starve in a sock drawer somewhere but I can’t express the surge of panic I had when he started to cry. It was like chewing tin foil with metal fillings. So I tried the other side, then back again. Now it was really starting to hurt. A nurse came in and asked me if I needed help and I said, as casually as I could “yes, please” and she proceeded to show me her version of the perfect way to latch a baby. In the two days I was in the hospital, five nurses showed me five different ways to breastfeed properly.

By the time I left the hospital I had five different versions of how to breastfeed, a tube system to attach to my breast to supplement feed formula because my milk hadn’t come in and nipples that felt like a cheese grater had been used on them. I was warned not to use a bottle because my son would get nipple confusion and not to use the tube system for too long because he’ll get used to that too. Then I was given a nice “Bye, bye now! Good luck.”

Once I got home, I got a call from Public Health who automatically checks in when you come home with a baby to see if you’re about to drink Drano. I told her about my breastfeeding troubles so she offered to come over the next day to help me out. She ended up showing me yet another way to feed him then proceeded to ask me a variety of questions including whether or not I was I afraid of being hurt by my husband – who had at some point fallen asleep while sitting upright on the couch holding the baby beside me. Then she left. It still didn’t get any better.

Finally on the third day my milk came in. I couldn’t believe it. My body was actually producing food. It was like dispensing jelly beans out of my elbow. I was still in severe pain but at least my son wasn’t crying constantly. So I decided to call Public Health again and see if they could tell me what was wrong with my latch. After all, everything I read said breastfeeding should never hurt. So the woman on the phone told me “No, it shouldn’t hurt but you should expect an exquisite pain.” Pardon? Exquisite pain? Is that like delicious death? No, I would just classify this as “pain pain”. Not only was she useless, I now pictured this 50-something sadomasochistic nurse in a gimp outfit undoing her zipper-mouth to take calls from us frightened new mothers.

Finally, I went to see a lactation consultant at the hospital. I wasn’t too keen on this as I had heard horror stories from friends about these breastfeeding nazis that essentially tell you to stop being such a damn baby and feed your child as nature intended and send you home with a “breast is best” brochure. I think I actually wore pajama pants to the appointment as this was day six of my living hell and I was looking like a worn out bowling alley whore.

She came in weighed my son and told me he was gaining weight then asked me to show me how I fed him. I whipped out my boob because, at that point, she was the only one in the free world who hadn’t seen my tits. (On a side note, I think it’s so unfair that when you’re the most embarrassed about nursing it’s when you’re the least experienced at it so you have to strip down to your torso, use two hands and a pillow just to do it.) Anyhoo, she took a look and said “You’re doing a great job. Your latch is perfect, you just need to get used to it. It’s never easy in the beginning.” Well, I felt like a rock star. I can’t tell you the relief I felt to know that I was actually doing it correctly and that I just needed to get my boobs broken in. It took about 3 or 4 more days after that and the toe curling pain that went along with him first latching subsided and I ended up nursing him until he was around 16-months old. 16 MONTHS. Crazy non?!

The whole point of this post isn’t to scare you. I’m just so pissed that most breastfeeding material kind of fails to mention the bumpy start that a lot of women have. It’s a great way to feed your kid. Hey, I did it with both my kids but I don’t think it’s always a Blue Lagoon experience for everyone and women should be given the support they need if they are trying to get through those dark days to get to their very own Blue Lagoon even if it’s just a Turquoise Puddle.

What do you think? Do you know if there is great post-natal support where you live? Let me know because I know this varies significantly depending on where you are. What are you going to do, bottle, boob or both?

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  • THANK YOU. My baby is nine days old and I still have the "toe curling pain" but it’s such a relief to know that the end is in sight!

  • Omg, laughing so hard because it’s so true! My first time breast feeding felt like cheese grated nipples being rubbed on cement wiy some salt added for fun! No one had told me breastfeeding could be painful! It took me 34 days for the pain to stop and it was the longest 34 days of my life. I dreaded feeding my baby. However, I made it, and nursed my first son for 10.5 months and am currently nursing my second.
    PS. It hurt the second time too!

  • My breastfeeding class certainly didn’t teach me what would happen if my milk didn’t come right away or what to do if it came in mass quantities. The LC at the hospital and all the nurses said baby and I looked like breastfeeding naturals. They didn’t tell me he was screaming all the time because he wasn’t actually getting anything. Once my milk came in, the next LC said we were doing great. Then a week later he was choking and coughing at every feeding. No one told me an abundant supply and fast let down were a thing. My advice to my expecting friends is to give yourself several weeks to get it figured out and for your body to adjust to baby’s needs. Hour long feedings are down to 20 minutes for us in just 2 months time.

  • Well said…! I’m all for talking more about how something so natural can be so damn difficult!! Both my daughter and son were born tongue tied & I had a rough start to feeding them both. Once released my daughter immediately fed well, but it took my son 6 weeks to learn how to use his tongue & for me to no longer be in pain while feeding him. Thank goodness for nipple shields!!! I fed my daughter until she was 15 months & had I not been through all the difficulties with her and seen how it does get better, I would most definitely have given up feeding my son. I was in so much pain. But he’s 11 weeks old now & feeding like a champ. I had great support from an IBCLC with them both. I’m in San Jose, CA. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this! My little girl is almost 2 weeks old and I keep wondering if I’m doing it right! This makes me feel so much better!

  • My Husband and I are from the UK and have emigrated to New Zealand, and I have to say the care over here is awesome! After I leave the hospital, I am to go to a Birthing unit for 4-5 days where they teach me to breast feed and kick start the baby care… I nearly fell over at this news….

  • It’s absolutely painful in the beginning – at least for me it was, from Day 1 through the whole first week of my daughter’s life. But it absolutely does get better! I was nervous I was doing it wrong, but the nurses and lactation consultants assured me I had a good latch, so I wasn’t too worried and continued through it. It’s really important to have peace of mind about it in the midst of your pain – thanks for sharing your experiences, I’m sure it will help a lot of first time moms!

    • Oh, and I didn’t worry too much about nipple confusion – I gave my daughter a bottle early so she’d take it, I didn’t want her to be too fussy about only nursing. She had a strong latch and loved to nurse, so I gave her a bottle of pumped milk when she was about a month old, cold, and she took it, though she always liked a boob much better. I tried not to use the bottle too often, tho, maybe once or twice a week to start. She never had any problems latching to a boob or drinking from a bottle. But all babies are different, that was just my experience.

  • Seriously! Thank you for saying that it hurt & you were doing it right! I’ve nursed two babies now & it felt exactly as you described for two to four weeks when they would first latch on. Toe curling pain like my nipples were being scraped along concrete! Maybe for others it didn’t hurt or maybe they are all lieing, but I hate being told if it hurts you’re doing it wrong. I nursed my first born for 6 months & my second baby for 11 months. I’m pretty sure I was doing something right.

  • Sigh… This post could not have come at a better time. I am at day 6 today and everything you said is so true. On my second night in the hospital the nurses rushed in around 2am and said my son had lost too much weight. They accused me of not feeding often enough, even though we both had been tracking meticulously and I needed to either immediately pump 15 ml (though my milk had not come in) or supplement with formula. Since then, I have been in this painful guilt ridden breastfeeding spiral with everyone telling me something different. It was such a traumatic start and I have lost a lot of confidence I had initially but I am beginning to feel more confident with a combo of breastfeeding and supplementing.

  • Haha, they told me there was only pain if you did it wrong, too. SUCH A LIE. As miserable with pain as I was, the first comforting talk went so:
    "Can you hear him swallowing?"
    "Then you’re doing fine! Just be sure to air things out and use nipple cream, and it will heal. And no worries, the blood won’t hurt him."
    But hey, with Kid 2, that didn’t happen, it actually WAS pretty easy.

  • This is so great- I too got fairly limited good advice at first, and finally went to an LC, who watched us nurse (several times) and helped tremendously! Now I just tell friends right off the bat, go talk to someone! Doesn’t hurt, and could spare you lots of pain!

  • Love this article….I went through the exact same struggles, and I agree…no one prepares you for it! I also got the "breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt" story at every class I went to, so I felt like I was doing something wrong that first week. Thankfully, it DID get better after a week or two, but I wish I had read this article while I was struggling, because I almost gave up on it! I send this to all of my pregnant friends…just in case they have the same struggles. Love your blog. 🙂

  • this sounds almost exactly like our experience. every nurse had a different technique, and so did the 2 lactation consultants. what saved us was simple luck of biology. my milk came in really quickly (like day 2) and bambina had a good latch instinct. I will say that although everyone had different pointers we were able to couple a lot of it together

  • I just delivered my daughter (my first child) 10 days ago and breastfeeding has been hell (and this coming from someone who had an urgent c section!). We call her chompers. Even if she does latch right, she’ll occasionally chomp down instead of suck or she’ll move during a feed and turn a good latch into a bad one. Don’t even get me started on the pain of delatching (she’ll stay on forever if I don’t delatch her–we once tried to just let her go until she stopped on her own but it went on for over an hour with mostly "non-nutritive" sucks so we gave up). I currently have two bleeding nipples from cracks and "bites" so we’re pumping and using the syringe/tube method until I can see the lactation specialist again (I’ve seen like 5!). I’m so tempted to simply pump and use a bottle but I feel like such a failure–like I should be bonding more with my daughter. It’s nice to know lots of other women are going through the same thing. Any one out there have any thoughts on when to just "give up" and when to "hold on"?

  • I had a postpartum haemorrage and wound up spending two days in intensive care with my first. I’d given him an initial breastfeed between birth and it all going haywire but then obviously he had bottles until I was back on the postnatal ward. I was really scared I’d lost my chance to breastfed. My fear was that if we formula fed my husband would get so obsessive about sterilising and mixing the formula right and getting the temperate precise that I’d murder him and his life insurance company would refuse to pay out on that basis.
    But it went well, even though sheer exhaustion on my part meant there was a mix of bfeed and formula feed at first. Baby switched like a trooper. One advantage of the pph was i spent 5 days in hospital so if i had any problems feeding i just rang for a midwife for advice. I did get the different directions every time but I figured the skill would eventually come for us two and it did. My nipples hurt at first but it was far from toe-curling. The nurses kept pumping drugs into me via shunts in the backs of my hands and that was much more painful. I ordered some nipple shields on a friends’ advice and the day they arrived my nipples stopped hurting. I didn’t even need to take the shields out of their packaging – best £8.25 I ever spent. We went exclusively breastfed by the end of the first week, until I went back to work and he would take formula but not expressed milk so I just bfed when I was around.
    So I’m still bfing baby one, and baby two went even more smoothly.

  • I love this post because I feel so strongly that new mothers are set up with wildly inaccurate expectations of breastfeeding. "It shouldn’t hurt," is probably the single worst thing you can tell a woman who is struggling. Because it hurts. And the baby is learning and you are learning, and it takes time. My first baby, I was also shown by every single nurse I came across, (and my babe was in the NICU for a few days) a different "right" way to do it. My favourite was the nurse who upon seeing my giant, milk engorged, complete-with-bumpy-brown-saucer areola, breast, exclaimed, "It’s like a football!" She then proceeded to tell me that the reason my baby wasn’t latching was because he could feel my depression. Guess who became instantly depressed and hopeless? I called my mom in tears. I had been fed days of ‘nipple to nose’, no-pain ptooie, and my mom came in, grabbed my boob, smooshed it into an up recognizable shape, (a quaffle, perhaps?), also smooshed my son’s mouth into a fish face and jammed the two together. And voila! It was the start of our successful breastfeeding relationship. The nurse came back in and smugly looked at my happily suckling child and took all the credit.

    My next baby, I was more prepared for the probability that things wouldn’t go smoothly, and I’d have strange curling nipples that hurt like hell. I was okay with it, and knew it would be awhile before my new son and I would figure it out. I refused all help offered at the hospital because I had found it so upsetting the last time. This baby was also in NICU, so I had lots of offers. I could feel the nurses watching me, and one in particular couldn’t keep her yap shut and offered me all of her unsolicited advice in a rather panicked tone. My favourite this time was a public health nurse who advised me my son should be latching like we eat an ice cream cone. I don’t know if I can accurately explain what she did to paint the picture I want, but she flung her head straight back and held the air in front of her like a…microphone, and proceeded to lick the air lavishly. I said my thank yous and left, only to have her call me two hours later to ask if I had put my baby back to my breast. I told her I had, it hadn’t gone well so I had given him a bottle. She told me she was surprised because upon me leaving her office she didn’t really think I’d even "bother trying" again. It took a couple of weeks, a bunch of bottles, but my son and I managed to develop our bf relationship. I exclusively breastfed him for over a year.

    I am now pregnant with my third, am expecting a NICU stay, difficulties in the beginning breastfeeding, and an awful experience with the whole lactation crew. How awful is that? I think it is so important for women to hear other real women’s stories. It is okay for things to not go well in the beginning. You are not a failure. It is okay for things to never go well, and use a bottle. Breastfeeding hurts and usually isn’t easy over night. And that’s kinda that!

  • I am loving your blog and can’t wait to pass it along to expectant friends. I am now 8 months into the wonders of my son and breast feeding. And let me tell you, it has not been easy. He arrived very early, so I had to pump. He received my milk in a variety of ways and was unable to breast fed until close to 2 months old, and then only with a nipple shield. When I was pumping milk I had more than enough milk for him, I even considered donating it to a milk bank there was so much. But then he went to the breast… And my milk left. I struggled with pain and a lack of milk. I got thrush, on it goes. I had so many nurses try to help me, LC’s visit every second day, saw 2 LC doctors. I was told time and again that they were sure I had enough milk. On it goes with the issues. I felt very discouraged and like a failure. In the end I found a happy place where I would breast feed him first and then give him bottles for about 3 feeds a day. I always stuck to my guns about him being breast first, than bottle. We are now a good 6 months into him being at he breast and see it going for a long time yet. It took a strong will on my part to find a way that worked for us. I really wish more people had told me how hard it was to breast feed and that it was okay to have a mixture of boob and formula. I hope all new mum’s know that every day they are able to breast feed is a win and it doesn’t matter if that is one day or 12 months. Find the way that works for you and your baby. Either way will have its struggles, but a happy mum is the best mum any baby can have.

  • Ahhh I’m so happy to read this post. I’m 27 weeks pregnant and being able to breastfeed is really important to me. I don’t want to give up early and I think reading about the problems I might face is so useful! I will stick in there when the time comes. Thank you! <3

  • OMG…THANK YOU for sharing this…I was going over the internet like a crazy person searching for a real breastfeeding story. Everyone shares their ‘blue lagoon’ story as if its the most natural thing out there. I wanted to know how it is as soon as the baby is born and for some it is a horror story, but people don’t feel like they can freely share their experience. And I found this! LOVE your humor and appreciate you openness to share the truth. I’m a first time mom due in a few weeks that also shudders at the thought of ‘suckle’. This made me feel so much better.

  • Love this! It is so true and it is what I’ve been saying to people when discussing breastfeeding and sharing posts about it. So many of us have no clue what we are in for but that its totally worth it if you can get through the mire. But to do that, good help is essential. I saw several LC’s while in the hospital for 5 days and a few after too. We have a tongue tie and then had forgotten how to latch properly. I’d like to share the very wonderful resource we have here in Lincoln, NE, Milkworks! It is a non-profit with the mission of assisting moms to feed their babies. Dr. Leeper heads up the medical staff and she is awesome and the whole staff are awesome support. See Seriously a treasure for moms and sad that there aren’t more Milkworks in other cities/states.

  • Personally, I never really experienced pain, but my first was a preemie, so I spent 3 days hooked up to a pump to 1) get my daughter that "liquid gold" and 2) help my milk come in since she wasn’t with me. It felt weird for the milk to be sucked out, but I never experienced pain. However, when my son was born, that kid practically lived on my boobs. I’m not even kidding. Seriously, in the first week, I would only get 20 minutes between breastfeeding sessions. He liked to eat, and he wanted to suck, and wouldn’t take a binky. Having a kid suck on your boobs for that long day in and day out hurts a bit, but everyone said I was doing great, and he was doing great, and eventually my boobs would keep up with his demand (they did, until he was about 6 months old).

  • I completely agree. Especially about the "toe-curling" pain. That is exactly how I used to describe it. "They" really do a great disservice to new mom’s by saying how natural and good it is for you and your baby and how if it hurts you must have your latch wrong, etc. etc. The truth of the matter is that breastfeeding is excruciatingly painful in the beginning, even with a good latch. I was so insecure constantly because what I was feeling wasn’t what all those breastfeeding nazi’s talk about. IT HURTS. BAD. But then suddenly it doesn’t hurt and it is sort of awesome to feed your kid so easily whenever they want it. I breast fed for almost 9 months, but the beginning what a special kind of hell that no one seems to talk about for some reason. So thank you.

  • I’m a little rusty on this subject since my first "baby" is 37 and my fourth just turned 28 but I remember the process almost like it was yesterday. My first child hurt like hell and my pediatrician prescribed some kind of cream which I later found out had alcohol in it — it probably made the pain worse. I then called La Leche League (I guess they are still in existence) and they recommended I put vitamin e oil on my nipples and that did the trick. I only lasted 6 weeks with my first — he threw up so much my doctor said he was probably allergic to my milk, which I later heard was impossible, and she prescribed soy milk. Frankly, I was glad to be done. My second child was a nice little nurser and I lasted two months until we went to Florida and had to share an apartment with my in laws and I felt self conscious nursing in front of my father in law. Plus, we went out and had a sitter and she gave my daughter a bottle and after two days she preferred that. With my third child I was so fat and depressed that I quit nursing after a few weeks. In my limited experience I could only lose weight after nursing, although people say nursing helps you lose weight. All I know is that it dropped off after I quit. That was great. My fourth baby was in the intensive care unit for a week (strep B infection) and I returned home, tried to pump and he ended up being bottle fed at the hospital. The only people who urged me to keep on nursing was my mother, who never nursed all eight of her children, my aunt (who was a nun) and my pediatrician. Luckily his nurse assured me I shouldn’t feel guilty and the baby should get special antibodies or whatever after 48 hours of nursing. I don’t know if this makes any sense but my feeling is that if you want to nurse, fine, but if you don’t, then don’t sweat it.

    P.S. My husband fired my first doctor for what he felt was incompetence. I found another pediatrician and kept him for almost 25 years.

  • I have to say that after the "lactation consultant" Nazi (no offense) squashed my nipple and thrust it, frighteningly, into my child’s mouth, it was still another 5 weeks of toe-curling, piranha-image-invoking nursing sessions until we both chilled out enough to figure out OUR latching system. Then I breastfed the first for 2 yrs 3 mos, and the second for 3 yrs. Not so bad. 🙂

  • I had 2 totally different BF-ing experiences. My first was a natural, he knew what he was doing from the start (I certainly didn’t so I was glad one of us did!). It wasn’t painful, but don’t get me wrong it wasn’t comfortable for the first few weeks, I figured it was the "getting to know you phase" a little awkward and uncomfortable, but when before in my life had I been producing food for a human! We also called him our chugger, because after about 5, 10 at most minutes he was done. I thought I was doing something wrong because he didn’t eat for very long and everyone else kept saying it took 45 minutes to an hour to feed their kids. Thank goodness for doctors and scales that tell you he is gaining weight!

    2 was a planned c-section, he didn’t come naturally to it, and it felt different, and the latch never felt right, and he was big (over 9 lbs) so holding him with my incision hurt like a B@#$%. Our hospital had a lactation class that I went to and happened to have the coolest lactation consultant ever. My nurses had been telling me my hold was "wrong" but this LC was awesome, not in my face (or all up on my boobs). She first asked me when he was born, when I told her yesterday she said, "what hour?" I was shocked that she wanted that detail but she explained that especially with a planned c-section (not going into labor on my own) that he was not ready to be in the world yet, even though he was here! And the realization that hours, literally, mattered in his adjustment was a cool perspective. She also told me his latch was fine, a little shallow but he was eating. It helped me relax, and a few days (weeks?) later we had a good routine.

    In my experience, both times took about 2 months before it was "second nature" and convenient to BF. The first 2 months are hard and awkward. Even if it isn’t painful, this is not a feeling you’ve ever had before, and it takes some getting used to (and sleep deprivation sucks!). Babies are also not used to this (yes they have a sucking reflex and all that, but they’ve never had a nipple jammed in their mouth before either!), both mom and baby are learning. By about 2 months the baby can help you out (that neck control thing is awesome!), you don’t feel that it has to be a topless affair to get a good latch, and hopefully by then your other lady parts are also healed so your body is just better able to handle it.

    I think the bottom line is, it isn’t "natural" as in "easy" or you should just know how to do it. Yes we were designed to do this, but we were also designed to talk, but it takes years and lots of help and experience to learn how to do that well! If it hurts, tell someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong though. No need to suffer in silence though. And if you decide to not BF, don’t let people make you feel bad about your choice, just reach-out grab their nipples and give them a hell of a titty twister!

  • The first two weeks were hell for me. Despite my child latching on correctly my nipples were so sore! They bled and were chapped. Even though I let my milk dry on them, they still hurt! I would cry often it hurt so bad. All my kid wanted to do was nurse. It felt like my boobs never got a break…oh wait BECAUSE THEY NEVER DID! Nurses kept insisting I feed the kid in the football hold, which was a total fail for me. However, me and my daughter finally got the hang of it, and I nursed her until she was 13 1/2 months old. She never had formula. As for my son, by boobs and nipples didn’t get that sore. He was in the NICU for 10 days, so he got formula a few times but otherwise he has been exclusively breast fed. He is almost 10 months old, and I am sure I will be breastfeeding him for a few more months. =) Breastfeeding is totally worth it, but don’t be shocked if it does hurt at first!

  • Thank you for this story! I am 33 weeks along and am hoping to breastfeed and expecting it to hurt – it baffles me when most of the stuff I read says that it won’t. My favorite part of your post: "No, it shouldn’t hurt but you should expect an exquisite pain." Exquisite pain? Is that like delicious death? No, I would just classify this as "pain pain". I’m planning to try toughening up my nipples a bit before my baby is born. Crossing my fingers that this will help with the transition to actual latching…

  • Alright Ann,

    I LOVE your site here. I am just entering my second tri-mester, and up to this post, you have been a breath of fresh air.

    That being said, why would you want to terrify me like this? Reading these comments, it would appear that everyone who breast feeds experiences excruciating pain and has to literally damage herself for the sake of her child. I know that people keep commenting that this is "normal" and to be expected.

    Is it also "normal" to not experience excruciating pain that you have to overcome and just put up with until it lessens for the sake of your baby? Am I to really believe that everyone suffers, and it is just a well-kept secret? I have always planned on breast feeding, but after reading all these comments, I don’t feel like I am the person for it. I am just now getting used to the idea of ruining my vagina for this kid, but now I will have to ruin my breasts and nipples too?

    Please, please tell me that pain and not pain are both normal. If there is no hope of pain-free (or very little pain) breast feeding, I’m out!

  • why, oh why… did I NOT know of your site before giving birth!? For two full months, I cried while BF’ing my son… my nipples came off. YES, came off in bloody chunks. I had 5 different people tell me what I was doing was right/wrong… and then boom, one day my kid started opening his mouth and latching correctly. Then it was glorious and he was breast fed till he was almost 14 months old.
    The beginning is truly one of the hardest things I had ever done. I wanted to give up every. single. day. But, I am so very glad I didn’t… the pain is a distant memory. I even loved it so much that when I started to sense he was weaning… I took all kinds of pics of him on my boob. If anyone were to see these photos, they’d think I was a total freak. Oh well… I just didn’t want to forget those special moments.
    But, so… I have a question. I am planning on having #2 sometime in the next year… was it way easier with the second kid? Was it AS painful as the first time around??

  • Oh my gosh I went through the same thing with my first son (I’m pregnant with #3 right now). And I was the kind of new mom-to-be that read EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING there was to read about pregnancy, newborns, and especially breastfeeding. Let me tell you, not a single thing I read mention ANYTHING about the pain of breastfeeding when you first start. I was completely unprepared for it. I was told multiple times from nurses and lactation ladies that my son was the picture of a perfect breastfeeder and that the latch was perfect, so why did it hurt so much?????? And of course being the prideful first time mother who wanted to prove she was the most awesomest breastfeeder ever, I kept the pain to myself. Until finally about a week into it I finally cracked and told my Mom I didn’t think I could do it anymore. I felt like such a failure even having such thoughts, but it That’s when she told me that it was normal and promised me it would go away soon. I couldn’t believe no one had told me this!!!!!! And she was right, around two weeks the pain was gone and breastfeeding was the most amazing thing ever. So now I tell every new Mom this story, and you know what, it’s the first time they hear about it to. Why isn’t this information being given out in all the magazines and articles?

  • Oh, Pregnant Chicken. Thank you for being my favorite blog ever. Breastfeeding?
    My little Howler Monkey wouldn’t latch. I didn’t give up. I didn’t give up when I had to supplement him with formula because he lost over a pound off his birth weight from refusing to eat. I didn’t give up when my supply was so low I was psyched to pump one ounce of milk. I didn’t give up when my nightly routine–every two hours–involved a half hour trying to breastfeed, ten minutes of bottle feeding, and twenty minutes on the pump (then trying to fall asleep afterwards, like that was so relaxing!). I didn’t give up even after spending many hundreds of dollars on lactation consultants who were…marginally…helpful. I didn’t give up even though nearly every feeding involved being screamed at and punched in the face and violently scratched by my little one. I didn’t give up even though he loves taking my nipple under his dental ridge tightly, rearing his head back and shaking it.

    He’s two months now, and most of the time, we’ve got it down. I hear the cracking on my nipples will go away, eventually. What’s really annoying is the nerve damage.

    Breast is best, they say. My second kid is getting the bottle.

  • I too had an awful experience breastfeeding my first child. Felt the cheese grater effect for a full 6 weeks. After the first week, every time she would cry to be fed, I would start crying because I knew what was coming. I endured through those 6 weeks because to me formula was not an option. Unfortunately I got pregnant with #2 when the first was just 8m old and my milk dried right up so formula had to be an option at that point! Gotta love a soldier coming home on R&R to knock ya up. Typical movie story ya know?

  • I’m not sure how old this entry is, but I’m always interested to read others breastfeeding stories. Then you said "toe curling pain"- the exact way I described my breast feeding experience (for at least the first 2 months, then, like you, I breast fed past a year and never had worry about heating up milk or leaving it at home!). Unlike you, I didn’t think much about breast feeding while pregnant, you just put the kid to your boob, and as long as there’s a good latch, it’s all good right? My son gained weight, was interested in eating, and I ended up with 1/4 of my nipple missing withing the first week. People asked if I had cracked nipples, I called it cratered. I dreaded each time that side came up for feeding, held my breath, hcurled my toes, hesitantly put him on, then said a slew of cuss words in my mind (I have never been one to cuss much). Good friends said it would get better, was there for me at all times of the night and had helpful info, and it was working for him, so I just needed to get me through it. I now consider nursing those first two months to be worse than pregnancy and even my unmedicated labor, but for others, one of those first two can be really terrible, so you just meet know! So grateful for our sweet babies :c)

  • This post is great! I had problems as well. One nipple was inverted, the other was flat. I was determined to breastfeed. I have never experienced pain like I did when I first started breastfeeding! And alllll the literature states it should not hurt. What a load. My nipples were chapped and they bled, despite to copious amounts of "miracle goop" I slathered on them every waking moment. I even used a nipple shield, much to the horror of all lactation professionals who said that shields would create problems with my milk supply.

    Yeah, well, I’m still breastfeeding my 13 month old. No shortage of milk here.

  • I am 20 weeks pregnant with twins and the thought of breastfeeding scares the shit out of me. I am planning on breastfeeding as long as possible but all I have heard are horror stories. Thankfully I have a breastfeeding support group that meets twice a week at my local hospital (and its free!!!). My question to you is, what kind of nipple cream did you use? I hear that helps a lot.

  • My daughter is 3 months old. I had excruciating pain, bleeding and cracked nipples, and cried every time she was hungry for the first 7 weeks. Then one day, it just didn’t hurt anymore, and my injuries started to heal! In that time, I had seen two LCs, my OB, and her pedi. We were doing everything right! I wish I had known that it could be normal to just SUFFER for so long, but I’m really glad that I stuck it out!

  • I’m sure La Leche League can be wonderful, but with my second (preemie) child, I had an oversupply issue. I’d been round and round with Lactation Consultants with my first preemie, who’d never been able to breastfeed, and who I fed via pumped milk for the first three months (which ruined my nipples), so with my second I was determined to try breastfeeding again even though I had a toddler at home. Here, lactation consultants cost a few hundred dollars for a consult. I contacted LLL via e-mail with a LONG, detailed description of the issue and a request for ideas or advice. I even said, "I do not want to have to go to the LC."

    Guess what the response was? "You should really see a LC for this."

    I stopped pumping and breastfeeding the next day, switched to formula. And later, I wrote another e-mail to the president of the chapter telling her precisely how devastating that e-mail was for me. My kids are both healthy and the formula vs. breast thing is far in the past, but I wish I could have gotten good advice at the time without going broke for it.

  • Why didn’t this blog post come up when I was googling "excruciating nipple pain breastfeeding" two weeks ago? My nipples were bleeding (!!!) on day 2 of nursing my son, and they still haven’t completely healed. After a case of mastitis, plugged ducts, and pretty much every home remedy I could find (thank you, Internet), I did two things that seem to be working:

    1. My OB hooked me up with this ointment that contains a pain reliever, yeast infection treatment, and…something else (maybe polysporin or something?). I put it on after every nursing and it seems to be helping a bit. It definitely reduced the pain, which is a serious relief.
      2. I ordered a double electric pump (most insurance companies – I think – are now required to cover the cost of a hospital-grade pump, which is AMAZING), and I’ve been nursing on the less ouchy side while pumping on the more ouchy side. So he gets a bottle or two a day and breast the rest of the time. When the Other Boob is healed, I’ll switch. The only problem is that pumping takes forever, and I can only do it when he’s sleeping, and that really cuts into my showering/ eating allowance.

    Thanks for the honest post. I really hope I’m on the home stretch with this stupid nightmare.

  • I had excellent post natal care at Plano Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, Texas (a Dallas suburb). They have free support with LCs for anyone who has given birth there. You can call, make an appointment and they will stay with you through 2 feeding cycles if necessary to make sure you got it. I can’ tell you the number of times I called them during the first year of my child’s life. They always called back that day unless I called during the last hour of the day. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the ladies at A Mother’s Gift. Actually I do know, I would have failed at nursing, period.
    Also I highly recommend the Breastfeeding support group on Live Journal found here –
    Anytime I had an issue I would post there and at least one person had been through it and I would get lots of suggestions on what to do.
    Another great resource is Adopt A Mom – these are experienced nurser (not pros but still) that offer free one on one support to those who ask for it. You are basically assigned a mentor and its personal and great.
    I hope this helps!
    Nursing can be rough going at the beginning. Especially if you don’t have an encouraging adviser, it can destroy a new Mom’s confidence in herself.
    Hang in there moms, it can and will be done.

  • And remember that every baby is different. With #1, BFing was completely natural, from day 1 till 9 months. It was perfect and simply the most normal, beautiful thing. With #2, nothing worked. Severe pain, latching trouble, thrush, cracked nipples……….till 4 months and then it just worked. She’s still a champ at 10 months

  • Just a quick bit of advice for any expecting moms who may stumble upon this, sensitivity does vary from mother to mother, I was fortunate to have very few issues breastfeeding, but one of the biggest helpers I had was my breastfeeding pillow. Everyone talks about boppy pillows, and they have a lot of uses, don’t get me wrong, but there is a much better pillow on the market, made by this company: that actually helps to get the baby where it is supposed to be. All that stuff that says it shouldn’t hurt if your latch is right is pretty much true, but part of latching that rarely gets mentioned is where baby is in relation to your breast. if you have to hunch over and lean down to nurse, its going to hurt a lot more than if you can sit up straight and have a nice support for your baby. Hospital beds are the worst to try and nurse in, and once i brought this pillow in my son took off like a champ.

  • I just love your comparison- " nipples that felt like a cheese grater had been used on them". I have used this EXACT term to all my baby-less or non-breastfeeding friends many times and often wondered if that was too harsh or if I was exaggerating. Thank you for validating my pain; I don’t feel like such a wuss anymore 🙂

  • This was so great to read! Pretty much my exact experience, only I never actually produced enough milk for my baby so I ended up having to do a breastfeed/pump/bottlefeed combo that took about an hour and twenty minutes each feeding. And then start again an hour and forty minutes later. I only lasted 6 months until my milk supply dried up completely (I was pumping every two hours then to try to keep a good supply). I have a good friend who is a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding and plans to continue as long as possible (until her kids go to school maybe?). I kind of get pissed whenever she talks about how easy it is… for some of us it's not! I want more children but keep postponing it as I'm terrified of going through this all again!

  • My friend who has breast fed 4 kids, told me the first 6 weeks were the challenge, but to persevere and it will get easier. I'm at 33 weeks, and plan to bf, but I think I will start to do some research on proper latching techniques. As a side note, I am a physio and have treated some women with blocked milk ducts with ultrasound.

  • This post is perfect!! Thank you for sharing. I'm sure more mom's would work through the struggles at the beginning if they were told it's ok if it hurts instead of being told/made to feel that pain= WRONG/failure/loser. In the beginning brestfeeding is hard and it HURTS!! Just because it's natural does not mean its not awkward. It takes time and practice.

  • I have just now stumbled upon your site and loved this article and the site in general. I got so many different nurses telling me different things as well. From supplementing formula to putting guards on my nipples, to squeezing to try and get milk out. By the time one nurse got done I was sore, red, and my daughter still hadn't latched on. If I had it to do again I would have asked that they leave me alone and give me time to try it alone. It took a while but when they left me to it my daughter would eventually latch on and feed. She is 3 months now and feeding beautifully.

    I am glad to see that you are telling the TRUTH. It is confusing when all you hear is that it should not hurt but it does. My advice, if you want to try it is give it at least two weeks, it will probably have started improving by then. Once my milk came in my daughter didn't seem to suck as hard and she didn't want to treat me like a pacifier as much so I slowly healed.:) Obviously not everyone is the same but I think it is easier to deal with when you know the truth and have a timeline for yourself. If it still isn't working don't beat yourself up, you may need to change your gameplan!

    Before I stop rambling the one thing that the very first nurse (the really good nurses are in labor and delivery I think) showed me was to try and shape your nipple to their mouth and put it in when their mouth is open at its widest. No matter what everyone else told me as soon as I reverted back to that tactic she would evetually latch on.

  • Great article! So much more informative and helpful than most of the information in the bf book I read before delivery! My milk took 2 weeks to come in–imagine THAT! 🙂 But somehow baby and I figured it all out with a LOT of work and a LOT of tears… and then AFTER I had her I started hearing from all these other moms who went through almost the same ordeal. Why didn't they tell me before?? I thought I was the only one in the world who sucked at breastfeeding!! LOL, thanks for the candid truth and touch of humor, it's refreshing!

  • This is nearly the same experience I had. My son is now about 7 weeks old and just comes around getting along in a good way with breastfeading. The first week was hell – my nipples hurt like .. giving birth again and again and again everytime I latched him on… So I fed him with my milk via bottle for about 4-5 weeks and just tried to latch him on once a day when my breast didn't hurt from just looking at it.
    Then I tried it more often and now it finally works. At the beginning my son just didn't knew how to drink correctly and now nature just clicked in… Sometimes it simply needs time.

    You have a great blog! Regards from Germany,

    Sylvia with her sweetest baby Konrad

  • I had two daughters at the same hospital, same doctor. I had no doubt I was going to breastfeed and for the long term. In fact I breastfed her until she was about two and a half, that is when my second daughter was born, now one year still breastfeeding.
    Those are just numbers thrown out there to let you know my dedication to breastfeeding. 🙂
    Ok so my first daughter is born and after 21 hours of labor and then c-section drugged out of my mind on useless for pain morphine the nurses insist that she take a bottle right away. My husband always my advocate told them how that was not going to happen, he knew my feelings concerning formula. (No offense to anyone who decides formula is best for you and your baby, but it just isn't for me and mine.) Finally he makes them understand and in my drooling stupor I manage to get it across too and they send in the lactation specialist. In my state every birth in a hospital comes with one. She was useless! Next one comes in several hours later to try again… useless! Meanwhile my husband has been helping, he has four children from a previous marriage, all breastfed, and he gets the job done. He manages what the specialists could not. He helped me, completely clueless, figure out how to get her latched properly, with no pain, although I may just be lucky in that regard the only time it hurts is with the first tooth. If it had not been for him, I am sure I might have eventually figured it out with all the nurses and lactation consultants help. I am sure she would have lost more weight than she did waiting for my milk to come in and they would have pushed the formula even harder.
    My second child was born 2 1/2 years later as I said same hospital etc. She was taken to neonatal immediately, they did not push formula so much as push an IV through her head. 🙁 I pumped every three hours like clockwork, husband there to hand my supplies, wash pump paraphernalia and warn the nurses of my desperation to hold my baby. She was getting worse not better, and my determination to get the flow started was stressing me out, which the lactation specialists told me was not helping. This time they were fantastic, different women and knew what they were talking about. They got me the size flange that I needed to make it less painful and were a great help in getting the nicu people to see it my way. Eventually after much struggle I got to hold her, she got a little better, then I got to feed her from a bottle but it was my milk, she got a little better. Finally after the fourth day I told them I would breastfeed her from my breast, again husband right there my biggest advocate, and they relented. Within 24 hours they took the tubes out of her head and let me bathe her and breastfeed her in their little mothers room instead of out in the common room area with a simple privacy screen. She was released the next day.
    My main point is is that they got new staff and instead of being given useless advice and being sent home with two six packs of convenient formula and tons of coupons in a handy diaper bag from a leading formula company, I was given great advice and sent home with an amazing breastfeeding binder and a simple diaper bag.
    My second point is that I think my second daughter got better faster because of breastfeeding. And as an added bonus neither one of them has ever really been sick, aside from the littlest being in NICU of course.

  • So true. Breastfeeding can be wonderful and it can also be a nightmare. I was lucky not to have any latch on issues, my little ones took to it like pros, but I did have an awesome old school Russian lactation consultant nurse after my first was born. She smuggled in extra nipple soothing pads and other goodies for me, and gave me some really good tips for managing sore nipples: 1) use Lansinoh cream, 2) turn the hair dryer on them (the nipples)-the heat dries them out, toughening them up, and feels really good too. 3) Change damp pads immediately, dont keep the nipples wet! Air air air them out all the time. I was able to breastfeed my 2 kids for 24 months each so Im really happy about that but it did not come without issues. I had a very abundant milk supply and had to deal with too much milk coming out during "letdown" and had no idea why my babies would cry and turn away upon beginning to nurse. It took forever to figure that one out but it was all worth it in the end. 🙂 Props to ALL mamas, breastfeeding or not. We all have a tough job but having a well-loved healthy happy baby is the goal. 🙂

  • This post is hilarious and sadly….. very true. I am the mother of twin girls…. I was terrified of breastfeeding as I wasnt sure if I was going to have enough milk for both of them. When I first had them I tried breast feeding right away… not sure how much came out. Both were on formula until my milk came in 4 days later…. Thank god!!
    Once I was finally in my hospital room after having a c-section, the nurse carts in this blue pump and a 'kit' that she tried giving me instruction on while I was still in a drug induced stuper. Then she instructed me to use the thing every couple hours to get the milk train going…. after she left the room I totally forgot how to put it together. I never saw that nurse again. The thing freaked me out…. I was pumping and pumping and nothing came out. I felt like a complete failure… not only that, I 'also' got told 100 ways to sunday on how to get a 'latch' with both babies. (not helpful). Once I was sent home (babies were still in the NICU), they told me to go buy a pump so I could bring the milk to the hospital. I bought the nicest one I could find on advisement from many friends. I didnt know any better and put the baby on 'full strength' and gave myself milk blisters…. painful! Once that cleared up I got a berast infection in my right breast…. lol. 3 weeks later everything is working like it should … nothing hurts and I have more than enough milk for the babes. It took a lot of work and needless worry but I got there. Hang in there ladies (and never put a breast pump on max!!!) 🙂

  • This is good to know! I"m 28 weeks pregnant with my first and I'm terrified about breastfeeding. I was emailing a friend the other day and accidentally typed "breastfueding", and laughed out loud at my new word until I realized it might be an omen of imminent doom. My nipples are already so sensitive and sore that my own husband can barely get near them and when he does, I keep a balled up fist on standby just in case he needs a reminder to tread gently. Knowing I can't get by with this game plan with a baby, I'm a little concerned. I want to succeed at this so badly and don't plan on giving up easily, but no one ever does plan on quitting that do they?

    Thanks for the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Ha! I could have written this but instead of it getting better after 3 or 4 days it was more like 8 weeks! But here I am, 3 months later still going strong pain free, yayyyyy!

  • Noticed nobody had mentioned trying to breastfeed an infant with A TOOTH!! Yeah, I had one of those! Breastfeeding my first, I was pretty much on my own, I had a severe bout of PPD (which I let get too bad before I sought help, but that's another story). I also had a very unsupportive husband who was extra quick to offer a bottle of formula our first night home from the hospital when I was having issues. COMON! I had just laboured for 39hrs, been induced, had my water broken, a fouled up epidural along with a 45 min long, off the charts contraction…. Give me a break! I battled with #1 for 6 months and finally, after I had returned to work and had no where to pump, my milk went bye bye and he was switched to formula. My #2 was born, c-section with a tooth….aka the razor from hell! At 15 days old, due to a liver issue she was switched straight to a bottle, then we tried to go back, talk about nipple confusion!! That was TERRIBLE! She would bite and bite and bite (no problem normally, but she had this sharp as a razor tooth!) We spent 4 months at the lactation consulant…… I finally gave up…I felt like a total failure, but after pumping every 2hrs for 5 days, she wouldn't latch properly and wanted the faster flow of the bottle. It was terrible. It took a long time to finally give in to the fact that I was feeding my baby, she was finally growing and was healthy. Her liver issue has resolved, they never discovered what exactly it was….she went from the 2nd percentile in weight to the 98th…… LOL!!! 🙂 She's a happy, healthy 2 year old now.

  • I have repeatedly argued that labor and birth aren't scary…breastfeeding is! I had the worst time in the hospital with ten different nurses who would say the EXACT opposite of what the last one had said. It almost got to be a game with us. Our pediatrician had a lactation nurse on hand and that's what ended up helping us. It's been a challenge but I'll make it to 6 months one way or the other. Now, 16 months? You're a rockstar.

  • SO glad I stumbled back onto this blog! I'm on day 12 of what feels like trying to feed a baby alligator and I'm so glad it's not just me. LOL at the percocet comment – I had the same thought. But I only have 1 left!! The pain is starting to get better and latch is getting easier though. I really want to make breastfeeding work and all these stories are giving me hope that it won't always be so tough. My lactation consultant (#3! Add to the same deal with 4 different nurses in the hospital – thank God one really good one) said after about 3 weeks it usually starts to become much easier and by 6 weeks you don't even have to think about it. Fingers crossed!

  • I have to say, out of everything I experienced throughout pregnancy and labour, the pain during breastfeeding was what most surprised me because I, too, had read if you do it right, it doesn't hurt…. Luckily, it just took a few days before it stopped hurting, and I felt like an old pro somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks, and I breastfed until she was 10 1/2 months, which was longer than I thought I was going to…

  • Love your site! My 38 week pregnant daughter made me read your site and i love it. I'm so glad you posted the real deal about breastfeeding. I had nine kids (yes, really nine, all the same dad, none are twins) and it took me THREE kids to finally make a go of breastfeeding. I will never understand why people don't tell you that IT WILL HURT!! (and the lighter skinned you are the worse it will be). And it doesn't matter how many kids you have, it HURTS like HELL every single time. (I was on my fourth and fifthy kids when I got SHARKS who sucked huge gashes in my nipples! YIKES!!) Glad there is such great info out there for new moms these days. Isn't technology grand?!

  • The best advice i give anyone about breastfeeding, is to choose ONE person to take advice from, and ignore all the rest.
    LIke you, I got "help" from 7 different nurses, and got 7 different versions of how to breastfeed – even my new pediatrician had advice, which didn't actually help.
    At all.
    But one, groovy, old-school LC told me not to take it all so seriously, showed me how
    to get her to latch – FINALLY – someone who wasn't afraid to actually grab my boob and
    cram it into the baby's mouth – and…. success.

  • I know more women who have not succeeded at breast feeding (despite doing everything they could to do it) than who have. I am currently still nursing my 7 month old (though we've introduced solids, and he loves them). I feel like such a nerd, because I hadn't given it much thought or research before hand and while I wouldn't describe it as a blue lagoon situation- it most certainly has been successful for me. I worked in a pediatrician's office and knew it was commonplace to at least supplement with formula for SO MANY REASONS. So I shrugged and said, 'I'll try it' when it came time to make the decision for my own child. Don't get me wrong. I cried every night for the first month (or so it seems), and wanted to give up… (I think it was exhaustion at first, the feeding for 45 minutes on each side and then him wanting to start all over 30 minutes later, it was constant nursing). But I stuck with it. I didn't experience that initial latching pain that you and a few others have described. I got that later, like a month or so in to it. I don't know what about his latch changed, but oy! cracked nipples, blocked ducts, and a mildly tongue tied baby made for a rather unpleasant time. I never had trouble with supply, though it did take me an entire week of pumping in order to get enough to go out for a few hours one night. It is so not easy. I sometimes feel guilty, or that it's unfair that I have been able to breast feed exclusively, and didn't really give a shit before hand, while so many women I know were all about the natural route- and have so many issues with supply, infections, and weight gain, that they've been forced to use formula when they swore it wouldn't happen to them. But that's silly, there is no clear cut right way to do this, bring a baby into the world, nurture and rear it, and there's so many judgmental people out in the world and on the internet- that it makes it hard for women, harder than it has to be. I feel lucky and blessed that I had great nurses in the hospital and good lactation consultants there as well. If it had been any more difficult, I'm not sure I would have succeeded. I never sought out the LLL meetings, though I considered it. I never had support outside of those first 5 days in the hospital (I had an emergency C that went kinda badly, boo). My mother bottle fed, and I live a fair distance away from any females one usually calls on for support at times like these. I am rambling… a lot. Sorry. Thank-you for sharing your story. I recently stumbled upon your site and am enjoying your take on things.

  • I was in the hospital for 5 days with my daughter. Between the emergency c section, to my milk coming in late, to her being slightly jaundiced, to her losing too much weight because my milk wasn't coming in, my first few days were hell. we would nurse for 45 mins at a stretch, then an hour and half later, do it again, and again. We had latching problems right from the get go. I was told to let myself air out so that they could dry naturally. when your docs and nurses come in, look at you and grimace because they can physically see the agony on your little milk machines, you know you're in for it. Went home, she was gaining weight beautifully (finally!)but of course, the agony wasn't over. I got mastitis.. twice! in 3 weeks. On a side note to the hospital, when the tv in the emergency room is on, think it might be a good idea to switch channels from a spike 1000 ways to die marathon? (although, i have a twisted sense of humour, i thought it was funny). After 5 months, countless trips to the lactation consultants, docs, medication, pumps, pain, (omg the pain!!) conflicting information, we decided to go to the formula full time. Although, if i ever did decide to have another little miracle, I would do it all again. Call me a massochist..

  • I have 3 children and I have breast fed all of them. The toe curling pain, shooting from your nipples, that you mention… yep, that resonates. Also the intense cramping everytime they latch on for the first 3 or 4 days. Seriously though, after about a week, it is so worthwhile! I love nursing my babies and its a lot easier in the middle of the night than warming up formula. For all you new moms out there…. use nipple cream!!! Its magic, and will help with the cheese grated nipples.

  • You are so right, you need REAL support the first few weeks of breast feeding. My mom was my rock… As she had breastfed me and helped me through my insanity on day 3! Find someone who has been there/ done that who is an encouragement, not a bossy witch. We all know we don't know what the HELL we're doing , at first, so a new mom doesn't need to be bossed… Just encouraged! Thanks for this site… It really is what moms to be and moms who are need:)

  • I, like so many others, was never told how difficult breastfeeding could be when I was about to have my first babe. I also went through the ringer, mostly because of low milk supply. I tried and did everything I could, all the while feeling resentful that I wasn't forewarned how common it is to have issues with breastfeeding. I wish I could've read this post then. I would still do it all over again, but instead of feeling like I was a failure for having so many issues, I would've felt like a champ for overcoming most of them.

  • I am due May 4th, and really want to nurse. I read a ton, and watch videos to learn. I however know that it won't be easy, but its important so I am going to give it my all. I can't wait, but am scared of the initial pain. I will also pump a little later for bottles.

  • I ended up, after doing everything, EVERYTHING (and freaking EV_ER_Y_THING) to exclusively breast feed my son, using formula and breastfeeding as much as I could on top. We did that until he was 11 onths (and I was 4 months pregnant with my second. I went to LCs, breatsfeeding clinics, my midwife, took herbs and prescription drugs, the lot. But the thing that gave me the confidence to do what I needed to was the online forums at The moms there are awesome, and unlike the in real life groups there is ALWAYS someone who has been in your exact situation.

  • I love you blue lagoon reference. Because when I remember one night, my daughter woke me up, she was only eh, 2 days old and breastfeeding was really difficult for me. And I was SO tired. I turned on the tv and as I was struggling to latch my child to my boob, Blue Lagoon comes on. lawlz. I think I ended up watching the whole thing…struggling with my child the whole time. I think. lol.

  • Thanks, Erin! I was so happy for the shout out from Cool Mom Picks so I’m glad you found me and you like the site!
    Holy cow I can’t believe your mother breastfed twins for 16 months. That is DAMN impressive. It sounds like you’re you’re friends are lucky to have such supportive resource in you too.
    Thanks again for the love.

  • Love your blog – saw the link on and have been browsing for 30 minutes! I so love this post for its honesty. I nursed my son for 13 months but nearly quit at 10 days (and then at 6 months, and then again at 10 months when he went through a nursing strike … yada yada yada). It was terribly difficult and painful. I was so lucky to have my mom close by – I am a twin and she tandem-nursed us for 16 months, so was a wealth of information. For every one of my friends who has subsequently called me with a nursing question or problem, I have tried to be encouraging but also realistic about the challenges!

  • This was posted on the Boob vs. Bottle post and I thought it might be helpful here too:

    "I found the website a lifesaver if you need info/advice on how to make breastfeeding work for you. The forums are amazing too. That said, they wouldn’t appreciate your five benefits of bottle feeding."

  • I love this sight!

    I breastfed 4 kids and had a good variety of "issues"- just want to encourage folks to check out their local La Leche League chapter –

    these groups are led by moms who have "been there"

    I have read some posts (not here) accusing La Leche League leaders as being "breastfeeding Nazis" (ick) but my experience, as well as thousands of others, has been the opposite.
    The leaders get to know you, work with your own goals and ideas and just try to make breastfeeding positive for everyone involved. oh – and they help you decide when and if you should move toward bottle-feeding pumped milk or formula, and they don’t make you feel bad about it…

  • Thanks for the post. I am 34 weeks prego and I am totally baffled by reality of breast feeding. I want to do it, but it sounds horrible. Nice to know I am not alone and it could turn out better than expected.

    • I took a breastfeeding class at 34 weeks and it made me feel much better. Except that it didn’t actually help me in any way once the baby arrived. In my experience, it’s one of those things you’ll just have to try when the baby arrives (with help from docs, LCs, and friends). I know it’s hard not to, but don’t stress about it now. There will be plenty of time to stress later. 🙂

  • My doctor who delivered my son that came in to check in on me in the hospital and asked me how the whole nursing was going. I told her not so great and expected her to launch into a huge tirade about how breastfeeding was the only way to go but she just shrugged her shoulders and said "stick with it for a week and if it doesn’t work then don’t beat yourself up about it." Strangely enough, that permission to switch to formula gave me a lot more confidence than if I’d have been given the usual all-or-nothing speech and I stuck with it.

    I’ve had friends that have had blisters, cracked nipples and other horrors that should not be discussed at the water cooler and they were made to feel like failures because they "gave up". To those people I would like to suggest they hold a lit cigarette to their belly button every two hours for a few weeks and see how long it would take for them to "give up".

    Now you’re gone and gotten me all riled up again ; )

  • Freakin’ hilarious, as usual. I’m sitting here looking like an idiot in the middle of a coffee shop laughing out loud.

    I think if I had read more posts like this when I was struggling with breastfeeding, it would have really helped. I understand why breastfeeding advocates don’t want to scare women off from nursing – and for some women it really DOES come easily, all Brooke/Blue Lagoon and sh!t…but for so many others, it IS a struggle – and it helps to know that you can get through it and succeed.

    In my case, there was no happy breastfeeding ending, but there was definitely a happy ending, when a few of the masses of LCs I consulted assured me that I had done what I could and I just wasn’t meant to breastfeed this particular kiddo. Formula saved my butt, and my baby’s cute little butt. Still, I think breastfeeding is such an amazing thing and I am always thrilled to see stories like this where someone prevailed – and has such a great sense of humor about the whole debacle.

  • Funny – my blog yesterday was titled "A story about my boobs"… we have some crazy kind of booby mind meld going on.

    When I first started breastfeeding, I had 3 different midwives come to my house to help me, I had phone counseling with a La Leche League woman, another La Leche League woman came to my house, and I saw a Public Health Nurse twice at a breastfeeding clinic.

    I did my research, yo!

    I really, really wanted breastfeeding to work for me – and it was a pure nightmare at first. Whenever my daughter would finally latch on and start eating in those first few really difficult days, I would burst out crying.

    You’re right – it’s really, really hard. And I wouldn’t suggest any new Mom try it on her own. I tried a whole bunch of different resources and found the nurse at the breastfeeding clinic to be the most helpful for me.

    Now my daughter goes from the breast to a bottle of pumped milk like a champ. She likes to eat! Just like her Mama.

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