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Breastfeeding is hard

April 22, 2014

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I’ve been wanting to write this post since Cielo was born but I thought I’d wait a little to see how things pan out. One month in and I stand by the statement that breastfeeding is hard. And you know what? Every single mom that I have spoken to since Cielo’s birth has said the exact same thing. One even told me she thought it was almost harder than labor itself!

So why is this something I never knew before having the baby? Why isn’t this topic shared in more birth classes and prenatal appointments? Why didn’t my midwife tell me I may have a hard time with one of the most elementary aspects of being a mom? Breastfeeding has been the number one topic of conversation concerning the baby in my household. And after speaking to so many moms and hearing similar stories to mine, I thought it was time we had an open and honest conversation about the trials and triumphs of breastfeeding. I want to know your stories. Did you find it hard to nurse your baby? How did you cope? Were you more successful? What can you share with new moms to help them along?

I encourage everyone to comment on this post (the more advice, stories, knowledge, the better), but let’s all be supportive of each others thoughts and parenting philosophies (including mine). How you feed your baby can be such a hot topic and I don’t believe in parent shaming. We all do what we need to do to keep our kids safe, happy and healthy, right? Right!

So let’s talk about breastfeeding…

Cielo Love First Hours-2

Less than an hour after Cielo was born, she was latched to my left breast with such ferocity. Her suck was so strong. She had done it all on her own and I was so proud of her. I thought to myself, we did it. We’re breastfeeding. I expressed my right breast and saw that colostrum was oozing out. It felt amazing to be feeding my baby from my own body. I felt superhuman. Not only did my body grow new life inside of it, I had given birth– an experience only those who have gone through can understand. And now, I was nursing my new baby from my own bosom. She knew her job and I knew mine. Nature is so amazing, I thought.

By the next day, I had nursed the baby about one million times (no joke!). My nipples were starting to feel a little sore. No one ever told me how often newborns liked to feed. And I was following the “feed on demand” or “breast on demand” philosophy, which states to nurse baby whenever she suckles or roots– this includes baby sucking on her hand, which Cielo would do non-stop! So, I obliged my hungry baby and nursed her…and nursed her…and nursed her. Although I received some guidance from my midwife on how to get her to properly latch and what sensations I should be feeling (deep tugs within my breast and contractions in my uterus), my actual lactation consultant (LC) didn’t see me until the middle of the second day postpartum. By then, my nipples were no longer just sore; they were cracked and almost bloody. I also started to notice that Cielo was getting frustrated when she nursed sometimes and would cry out hysterically, even with my boob sitting in her mouth. The LC decided to check inside of Cielo’s little mouth. She explained to us that the baby had a tight frenulum (tongue-tie) and that we should have it clipped. CLIP MY BABY’S TONGUE?!! I thought. Heck no! That sounded really awful! I asked to speak with my midwife immediately. She came in and I explained what the horrible LC had told us. Our midwife stared back blankly. She said it was no big deal, lots of baby’s have a tight
frenulum and that the procedure was totally routine and performed daily.A tight frenulum is often the cause of a poor latch which is frustrating for baby because her tongue doesn’t stick out far enough to let down the milk she so desperately wants. A poor latch can also damage the nipple. I had never heard of tongue tie and no one had ever mentioned it as a possibility so naturally, I was a bit skeptical.

From the beginning of our pregnancy, Evan and I made the decision that we would not allow anyone– be it a medical professional, a family member or a friend– pressure us into doing or feeling anything that didn’t fit into our vision of a healthy pregnancy and birth. And we wanted to continue that thinking once the baby was here. So, instead of hastily clipping the frenulum, we decided we’d wait, get more opinions and do more research. In all, we sought the opinions of three pediatricians, three lactation consultants, two nurses, one midwife and countless websites, and they all said the same thing– her frenulum was indeed tight and that we should have it clipped.

So finally we did, but it was a whole six days after her birth. We’re proud of ourselves for having the wherewithal to follow our guts and do more research on the topic, but sadly, days one through five of our breastfeeding life become progressively worse as a result. Cielo became increasingly unhappy the days following our homecoming from the hospital…as did my nipples. By night three, I was dripping blood from one nipple. I decided, I shouldn’t breastfeed. Instead, I would just pump. Pumping was proving to be more successful. We were feeding Cielo with a syringe to avoid nipple confusion. Between pumps, I would lube up with Neosporin and sit around with no top on so that my nipples had enough air to breath and heal faster. Cielo was still fussy, but she seemed to be getting enough milk to keep her satisfied for the time being. It wasn’t until our fifth night with our newborn that shit really hit the fan. While I was pumping, my left breast began to spew blood into the bottle, then, as if cued by the left, the right one followed suit. Both of my breasts were now pumping large amounts of blood. Too much to feed the baby. It was the middle of the night. Cielo began to cry. I began to cry. How was I going to feed our baby?! That was my job, she was trying to do hers. I was devastated. And scared. I had no idea how to put food in my baby’s belly at that moment. Then Evan blurted out the F word…FORMULA. I looked at him in horror and cried some more. Formula was not part of my vision. It was not part of my plan. I was a natural mom. I labored for 26 hours and not once asked for pain medicine. I spent nine months eating healthy and exercising. I was a breastfeeding mom, not a formula mom. But in that moment Cielo was all that mattered and she was crying out in hunger…and I couldn’t bear it anymore. It was 3am when we hit our breaking point. Evan threw on his pajama pants (inside out– we can laugh about this now) and drove as fast as he could to the nearest open drug store. We hadn’t even opened the three bottles we had purchased “just in case” we ever needed one.

The moment the bottle touched her lips, Cielo was sucking as hard as she could. She inhaled the formula. And then she stopped crying. And then she curled up and went to sleep. She had been up for hours crying, rooting, sucking on her hands…she was hungry that whole time. My heart still breaks thinking of this. In that moment, I understood that maternal instinct of needing to do whatever it takes to keep your baby safe and happy. I would kill. I would die. I would give my baby formula forever if it meant that she was better off.

I left my formula feeding prejudices behind that night. In fact, I left all of my parenting prejudices behind that night. Happy, healthy, safe – that’s my new philosophy. And whatever road it takes to get there, I’ll venture it with confidence.

We formula fed for the next two days while my nipples fully healed. Cielo turned into a whole new baby. She was content, she was full, she was sleeping– she was the kind of baby we had hoped to have all along.

When I finally felt ready to get back to nursing, I started off slow. Nursed a little, pumped a little and continued to supplement with formula as needed. In a matter of a few days, I was back to breastfeeding full-time. Cielo’s latch is great now and I know when she’s getting enough milk. My supply has come in healthily and continues to grow each day. I now even pump once a day for the freezer and I’m still able to feed the baby sufficiently.

AND, if we ever need to use formula again in the future, we will. No qualms about it.

I’m a happier, more confident mom now. Evan has been able to participate in feedings more directly and connect with Cielo during that intimate time. In retrospect, there are a number of things I could have done differently to have avoided all of our breastfeeding woes, but we’re happy with the cards that were dealt to us. We learned a great deal about ourselves, our baby and what kind of parents we want and need to be to keep her happy, healthy and safe.

A few suggestions (take them or leave them):

1) Find a lactation consultant that you like and trust, and consult her as often as necessary. Many LC’s will make house calls or talk you through any dilemmas over the phone. 

2) Find a support group. Whether a friend, family member or postpartum group, seek out your peers to help you. These are women that have gone through or are going through a similar scenario to you. Help each other.

3) Make sure to have the necessary tools for successful nursing– nipple guards, creams and ointments, soothing pads, ice packs, a good pump, plenty of bottles or feeding utensils (there are many alternatives to bottles), etc. 

4) NEVER feel bad for the decisions you have made when it comes to keeping your baby happy, healthy and safe. You don’t have to defend yourself. You are the mom (or dad) and ONLY YOU know what your child needs.  

5) If nursing is your end goal, DON’T GIVE UP!!! Breastfeeding is hard, but the more you do it, the better and easier it gets. Take your time and keep at it. 

I hope my story is helpful to any other moms who are having trouble with nursing. Know that you’ll get through it and YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!!

xoxo, Paola

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46 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2014 3:55 am

    Amen sister. It *is* hard & you’re right – no-one prepares you for it. I had issues with both my babies & struggled for as long as I could. Didn’t help that baby number 1 had severe reflux & would throw it all up again :( No advice, just remember that you’re not alone. Good luck.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      April 28, 2014 3:02 pm

      Thank you for sharing!

  2. Nancy Chapman permalink
    April 22, 2014 4:13 am

    To this day, I firmly believe that pregnancy was the EASY PART!
    Although it’s been 31 years since I breast fed, I remember the experience as if it were yesterday.
    My nursing memories were positive, frustrating, and challenging all rolled up into my now adult daughter Allison.
    What I did learn was breast feeding is not for everyone. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You figured it out quicker than most. And that’s all about being a Mom, doing what’s best for your baby.
    Enjoy each and every day with Cielo because like Allison, she will soon be 31 and you will wonder how that happened.
    Wishing you a lifetime of unconditional love within your family!
    Nancy

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      April 28, 2014 3:04 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story Nancy! And thank you for reminding me to cherish every moment with baby! I know I’ll look back one day to a time when my baby was still a baby -xo

  3. April 22, 2014 4:19 am

    A great post, I wish you well with baby Cielo.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      April 28, 2014 3:04 pm

      Thank you so much!

  4. April 22, 2014 4:23 am

    I haven’t had kids yet, but I know this conversation well from my friends with kids. There are a million theories on the subject, but I really do think you need to do what you think is best for your child. I’m glad you have abandoned what you think you “should” do for what is best for your family. Congratulations! She is such a little doll.

  5. April 22, 2014 4:30 am

    Whoa, you brought it all right back to me! It was so hard, I was so stubborn, so hard on myself. I determined that it was the plan of nature to breastfeed, if I couldn’t do it then I must be inferior. If only I’d had a lactation consultant. I knew nothing. My doctor did refute the tongue-tie surgery when my mother-in-law suggested it. He said, “That’s barbaric!” I was always a bit smug to have him on my side because my mother-in-law was pretty opinionated. However, I have to wonder that if we’d had my son’s tongue-tie situation addressed, it wouldn’t have been such a rough first 6 weeks for the two of us when he came into the world.

    Very proud of you and all you’ve gone through with your husband and little C. Nice write-up and good level-headed parenting. Take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      April 28, 2014 6:42 pm

      I thought the tongue clipping was barbaric as well but so glad we did it in the end. I felt and saw the difference right away. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Elie permalink
    April 22, 2014 6:24 am

    So happy you are talking about this today. I had a similar situation. When my son was born, he had a hard time latching, I felt my nipple was too small or I was worried he was tongue tied. Like you, I was scared to do any sort of procedure on my baby…luckily, the nurse/doctor didn’t see a tongue tie and one of the nurses suggested a nipple shield ( i used this one, make sure to get the correct size! http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/products/338/20mm-contact-nipple-shield) and that did the trick…

    Unfortunately, by the time i started using the shield, my left nipple was already cracked and bleeding and it wassoooo painful, but i manged to to nurse throughout the pain and my baby was happy.

    After a few days, i got a breast pump and managed to pump the cracked breast/nipple and nurse with the one that wasn’t bleeding (right one), which allowed me time to let it heal.

    I’ll be honest, the first month, breast feeding hurt..i have a very high tolerance for pain, so it mas manageable and for whenever it got too bad a took a Motrin.

    My son is 19 months old and i’m still nursing and i went back to work so it has been a combination of pumping 3 times at work for the 1st year and now i’ll just do it 1 just to keep the milk flow since he is still into nursing.
    My best advise, for new moms, is to go to La Leche League Meeting, which I did when I was pregnant…that helped me to know what to expect and I had heard about things like tongue tied, pumpking, etc. Sometimes it’s good to hear different stories from other moms…the lactation consultant and the staff at my hospital was very encouraging but i got more help from other moms.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      April 28, 2014 6:46 pm

      I had a similar situation with the nipple guard. By the time I started using one, my nipples were already in bad shape. They helped a little but Cielo actually didn’t respond well to them. She’d push the guard out and get frustrated. Once I was al healed I stopped using the guards altogether and I’ve been fine since. I love La Leche League! I’ve never been to a meeting but I’ve consulted their website often and it’s been so helpful. Kellymom.com is another site that has great advice. I’m glad you were able to overcome your breastfeeding obstacles! Thank you for sharing your story! xoxo

  7. IrisMes permalink
    April 22, 2014 8:20 am

    My second son was born just a few days after your Cielo. Breastfeeding my first was, from what I recall relatively easy, and even though I had no issues, due to advice from my mother in law and others, at night we would give him formula. He developed severe reflux, would projectile vomit every other hour, had severe diarreah and was over all an unhappy baby. We then found out he had some sort of intolerence to diary so we had to try what at the moment felt like every soy milk available till we found one he liked.
    Due to that experience for our second both the DH and I got informed, whent to classes and we shared our plans with our family and closest friends, we even got our oldest involved ( wich later proved to be helpful). With this baby breastfeeding has been hard, he wont properly latch on, we had to pay someone to come home after the second day back ( un my country we don’t have the option of having lactaction consultants at the hospital). On top of that we had to deal with everyones opinions about what we should or shouldn’t do for our baby. We’ve been called cruel for wanting to breastfeed exclusively and we’ve had people sear it’s just impossible. Thank God we stuck to our plan and worked things out as a couple, with the help of a syringe and some formula just to get the our baby to calm down and a nipple shield (I’m still having problems with proper latching), thanx to the instructions of our consultant we are doing ok. Butvthats not to say its still hard, babies fuss and cry and move around and somehow we must find a way to be in sync just long enough for them to feed. Im glad you’re voicing your story out, because even though it is rewarding, there’s so much more to breastfeeding than what is said to us.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      April 28, 2014 6:55 pm

      Congratulations on your son! And yay for March babies! Thank you for sharing your story and I’m sorry you had a hard time nursing your baby (and acid reflux with the first doesn’t sound like fun either!). Glad you were been able to stick to your plan and work things out though! I think sticking to it is the only way to get over the hump so good for you! xoxo

  8. Renata permalink
    April 22, 2014 8:25 am

    I completely agree with you – breastfeeding method was never discussed. All I knew, and what everyone told you, was that you had to breastfeed, but no one told me how or how difficult it was going to be. And not difficult in the beginning, but throughout the months as my baby grew and changed. In my case, in the beginning, breast feeding was not hard. After a couple of tries in the hospital, she latched on and we were off! After 2 months, I knew we had to transition to the bottle as I was going back to work after my 3 month maternity leave. That was when we had some difficulties as she preferred breast than bottle. After concurring that hurdle, and I was back to work, my milk supply started to go down. Nothing was coming out! I cried, thinking I was doing something wrong, or that I was not pumping enough at work and just nervous about the whole situation. Oh, and pumping at work is a whole other story! I finally decided to switch to formula – no guilt!

    My advise, do what’s right for you and the baby so that you are happy and enjoying this experience. Don’t worry about what other people are doing with their babies or what they may think of you. Every baby is different, and so is every mom.

    Wish you lots of luck! And remember, as soon as you figure it out, it all changes again! :)

  9. April 22, 2014 8:47 am

    Yes, breastfeeding can be hard, and exhausting, and tiring! There are a lot of romanticized ideas about breastfeeding out there, that leads many to think its just so easy and wonderful. That’s simply not true. You hear from a lot of breastfeeding mothers speak of it as being such a wonderful experience, and it is, but they fail to tell you the hard parts of it. I think its human nature that we do this, because as negative as humans can be, we don’t like other to know we are or have struggled in a certain area. Its just like having a baby or kids in general, people tell you on a surface level how hard it is, but they will tell you so much more about how great it is.

    I’ve exclusively breastfed my son for 6 months (he turned 6 months today!) and I’m so happy I have. I plan on doing it for at least 6 more months, if my body will allow. I love it, its great, and I know its best for him. However, breastfeeding has had its ups and downs, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

    Stay strong mama, and you’ll blink and your little girl will be 6 months, then 5, then 13, then 18 and we’ll wonder where the time went! The first few months of baby’s life is hard for both mama, daddy, and baby. Everyone is adjusting! :-)

  10. April 22, 2014 8:55 am

    My first was tongue tied. I had never heard of it! My husband was too apparently but they formula fed and so we never knew about it. It’s actually something we joke about now because he truly can’t get a sentence out without slurring his words if he’s too excited and talking fast :)
    At the time, though, I was so scared. I was a very young mom and didn’t know anyone else who nursed and I didn’t have a lot of people who believed in me or supported my decision.
    It took three days until I was able to get her tongue lasered. There was a healing and relearning process for both of us and we eventually figured it out and nursed for 13 months. I just gave birth to my second (5 days ago) and we’re doing great. We battle the same fears and learning curve but we’re doing our best. I asked every nurse and doctor to check his tongue because I was afraid of reliving that pain, but he’s not. That doesn’t mean we won’t face any of the other many obstacles before us.

    You’re right that people need to share about the struggles of nursing. That way we won’t feel so deflated and alone when we come across a completely common problem. Thanks for the post! And congrats on your little love.

  11. April 22, 2014 12:44 pm

    Great post! For me breastfeeding was hard in the first weeks, but then it went well and I still do – my baby girl is 7 months now. :) Good luck with Cicelo!

  12. April 22, 2014 2:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. Breastfeeding is tricky to start with and so many give up because they are not given the support or education before and after their precious baby is born. I had one baby that was really hard to feed, one that was a piece of cake and one that was so devoted to breastfeeding she would never, ever, feed from a bottle. But I am so glad that I fed them all. Here is Australia, most new mothers don’t leave hospital until their milk has fully established, which is often where things can get a little tricky for baby. I encourage you to share with others both your struggles and achievements at feeding. A hint for the next little while: Often around 4 months babies are super interested in the world around them and become distracted when feeding, and some mums stop feeding at that time. I used to go somewhere quiet and boring to feed for a couple of weeks til this phase was over. All the best as you continue the wonderful adventure of parenting Cicelo! My three are 18, 16 and 12 now and I miss the sweet newness of when they were babies. margaret

  13. Julie permalink
    April 22, 2014 2:23 pm

    Thanks for bravely sharing your story! This is such a great post about a topic that’s rarely spoken about (but should really be addressed more!) I haven’t had children yet, but when I think about pregnancy I’m more scared of the prospect of breastfeeding than I am of the actual birth!
    Best of luck to you and your little one :3

  14. April 22, 2014 3:13 pm

    my daughter also had a tongue tie- cut on day 10. I’ve written a couple of posts about this- and the impact i feel those first 10 days of agony have had on my mental health . She is now 9 months and we are still breastfeeding. I am incredibly proud of myself for making it this far. if you are interested then please have a look. x

  15. April 22, 2014 3:18 pm

    I really admire that you guys stuck to your guns about what you wanted to do. I hope you and baby Cielo are recovered and well adjusted by now too.

  16. April 22, 2014 4:17 pm

    Ha! Nothing like parenthood to demolish all of your plans (God laughs when I make plans :) ) Truthfully, I was one of those mothers that never had any problems breastfeeding. I ran a little low with my second baby (I think I was tired) so i just focused my efforts on increasing my flow and it all came good. I love how determined you are, and I was very happy to hear that you have been able to start breastfeeding again. Just do what you can. Really. :)

  17. April 22, 2014 4:35 pm

    This is a really wonderful post. I don’t have children, but I really enjoyed reading this and it’s so informative. I had never before heard of tongue-clipping, but I’m so glad that Cielo had the procedure and is now doing so well. Sending this post to my friend who is expecting! Best wishes and congratulations on your new little one. Both of you look beautiful and healthy!

  18. April 22, 2014 5:39 pm

    Thank you so, so much for sharing. I went through this exactly when my son was born. It was horrific and I’ve been so confused about why people say they love breastfeeding. I appreciate your honesty and GOOD FOR YOU! Parenthood is all about flexibility!

  19. April 24, 2014 9:33 am

    Reblogged this on angelica robles.

  20. Lladira permalink
    April 25, 2014 12:39 am

    You are defiantly not alone. When I had my 1st I felt horrible. she was 3lbs and I couldn’t have her naturally I had to have an emergency c-section and all I ever heard from other moms was that people that had c-sections never know what it is to give birth to a child. My c-section was horrible and I felt every single thing they did I even passed out of pain. then to top it off I wasn’t able to breast feed because my milk just wasn’t ready since she was a preemie. So we did the next best thing try to pump and give her what ever I could but she was bottle fed. To top it off I wasn’t even allowed to feed her myself since she was in the NICU and her nurse fed her. With time I started to ignore what others said and figured as long as she’s healthy I was fine. It worked out better for her anyways since it allowed her to spend time with Daddy during feeding times and they bonded a lot. She’s such a daddy’s girl. My 2nd was breast fed and I incorporated formula since I was provided some for free and she was picky only wanted to be with mommy. So every child is different and all we can do is take it as it comes. Good Luck with your gorgeous baby!

  21. April 28, 2014 7:52 am

    I’m so glad you wrote about how hard breastfeeding is. I’m expecting twins in July and have been stressed out about breastfeeding, especially since I’m only taking 6 weeks off of work. It makes me feel better that there are other great Moms out there who need to supplement with formula, because I know that I will probably have to do so and I don’t want to feel guilty about it. I’m so glad that you have found the perfect combination that works for Cielo. Beautiful baby! Keep us all posted!

  22. April 28, 2014 7:54 am

    Reblogged this on hopefulandhungry and commented:
    Wonderful post by loveandcupcakes. I’ve been a little stressed about being able to breastfeed and this blog makes me breathe a sigh of relief. I’m not going to let myself feel guilty about supplementing with formula, especially because I’m sure I will have to. Read on….

  23. Ayanna Small Lathan permalink
    April 28, 2014 8:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am an RN, a supporter of breast is best, and breastfed both of my children. Breastfeeding for me was a positive experience, I did not have any difficulties with breastfeeding and at times did give my oldest formula, my second baby refused formula and a bottle (which was a little frustrating). However, I do agree that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone but I do think people should be able to make an informed decision. Meaning understanding the benefits of breastfeeding as well as some obstacles that women and babies may face with either breastfeeding or formula. I think it is important to share these stories because women can learn from them. We do not live in villages anymore in which multiple women help raise children and shared advice with each other. We need to create these villages, online may be the place to do it.

    Also as a professional who works in the field in which we here stories of granny midwives keeping a long fingernail to clip tongue-tied babies frenulum’s, we need to be cognizant that our patient’s may have never heard of a frenulum or this may be the first time they have ever held a newborn. We need to practice mindful medicine that is thoughtful of new parent’s in the challenges that they may face.

    A newborn although a joy can be very difficult and the experience of motherhood can be isolating when your going through difficulties. No one ever talks about these things. Again thanks for sharing your story. I am happy that you and your family have found your groove.

  24. Jen K permalink
    April 29, 2014 2:27 pm

    Ugh. I feel your pain. Literally. I feel it. My first (now four) was born 3 and a half weeks early. My water broke immediatietely following my baby shower. Funny, right?! He was sluggish when born but livened up pretty quickly. We thought all was good. Being early he was an impressive 8 lbs 4 oz. he was happy and seems to be nursing okay at the hospital. What did I know? I had never done it before. When it was time to leave the hospital he was right at borderline for wright and jaundice but they let us go home. He slept great, we thought we were golden. At his pedi check up the next day or two later we had the wake up call. He had lost a lot of weight and was quite jaundice. After seeing the lactation consultant they quickly admitted us both the next day. My poor little guy was now under weight, not latching and severely jaundice. He spent a couple days under lights as I wept because I was failing him. It was awful. Out delivery ward was overcrowded and there was not attention paid to us. Had we been told we needed to supplement with formula we both would have avoided the stress of a hospital stay. We continued to supplement and my guy finally regained his birth weight at 6 weeks. He is now 98% in weight and a healthy boy. It felt like forever for us to figure it out but we did. My daughter was born a little over a year later and we had no issues. She is still nursing at almost three and I have the new problem of how to get her to stop!

  25. Dara permalink
    May 1, 2014 1:22 pm

    Paola, she’s a doll! Jon and I send our love and congrats!!

    Breastfeeding can certainly be a bear. I too wanted to be a breastfeeding-only momma. I was determined to breastfeed for the first year of Jordan’s life, that didn’t happen. In fact, I was only able to successfully breastfeed for about 4months, then it all went kaput. What happened? Well, I had to substitute formula ONE time, and after he had a bottle he never took me back. It was heartbreaking. It wasn’t that he chose or preferred formula over my milk, it was that he preferred the bottle over my breast. I remember this moment vividly. No matter what I did, or how hungry he was, he would not latch on. In retrospect, I think it was the shape of the nipple I used the one time I had to sub formula – it wasn’t similar to the shape of a woman’s nipple, instead it was one of those long and pointy nipples. Anyway, next time I have a baby I’ll be sure to be more careful with the type of nipple I buy in the event we need to use a bottle. And, with regards to formula, as much as I was anti-formula too, I have to admit it became a saving grace. By the time Jordan was 6 months there was no freaking way I could have pumped enough milk to keep that boy full!

    I hope you have continued success with breastfeeding! Oh, and a tip that saved my nipples from cracking (and as an added bonus is free and 100% natural), rubbing some of your milk around your nipple after feeding. It was a tip someone along the way gave me and it worked wonders (our bodies are so awesome!), I never had cracks or bleeding.

    <3 Dara

    PS My girlfriend had a tongue-tie when she was born and had to have it snipped. Go figure!

  26. May 1, 2014 9:11 pm

    wow, this post is so well written.
    nothing can prepare you for the stresses you encounter in your first few weeks of motherhood – whether it be feeding issues (your experience sounded just awful!) or any old ‘i don’t know what the hell we should do now’ issue.
    motherhood can be scary business. hope some new mums find this post – so they know they are not out there alone. X

  27. May 1, 2014 9:56 pm

    Yes, it IS hard. Those who haven’t tried have no idea!! I’m impressed that you didn’t give up, that you supplemented, and got back to the “right” thing for your precious baby-love. Way to go, Mama!!! I only nursed 7 months, but maaaaaaan that was something. In fact, you’re so awesome I need to nominate you for the Liebster Award!!! Here’s the link: http://themomentsmatterblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/i-won-the-liebster-award/ Have fun with it, don’t stress to get it done asap, and keep on being such a great mom. :)

  28. May 4, 2014 1:14 am

    This is a great post. I don’t have children, but I worked as a doctor in paediatrics for a few months and I used to see so many mums and their babies come through to us with the same difficulties you had. Breast is best is widely encouraged, but I don’t think mums are told that breast feeding may possibly not be the option for them until a problem is encountered. It’s a complex issue and I think it’s one of those topics that possibly should be discussed in more detail pre-natally with expectant mothers.

    Saskia / girlinbrogues.com

  29. May 8, 2014 5:12 am

    Breastfeeding for sure is one of the hardest things about being a mother! I never imagined something so natural could be so freaking hard!

    You totally aren’t alone! I went through a very similar experience with my son [now almost 15 months] except we didn’t find out about his tongue tie until we were 3.5 months into difficult, painful breastfeeding! My IBCLC was my lifesaver & definitely the biggest reason I kept nursing to meet my goal of 1 year! The tongue tie was such a nerve-wrecking thing! Though I think I was much more traumatized by it than my son!

    And the same thing happened where no one ever talked about the bad stuff! “Oh its a great bonding experience!” or “I loved every minute of it!” I was so anxious about breastfeeding, since I was the first in my family to do so. And everyone spent so much time reassuring me about how awesome it would be. Then it wasn’t! I had a friend tell me when my son was months old that she’d purposefully not told me about the hard times because she was worried it would scare me & make me not want to do it. While she had a valid point, it would’ve been nice to know it’s not always perfect going into it. It would’ve avoided so many feelings of failure & questions of what I’m doing wrong.

    I think more moms need to write about their experiences just like you have! We need to speak up & all support one another! Good job mama! :)

    You can read about my similar experiences here, if anyone’s interested:

    http://agreathousewife.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/overcoming-obstacles-breastfeeding/

  30. Sasha permalink
    May 8, 2014 10:18 am

    I had a really hard time with my daughter and almost gave up. I am so glad I did not. After you make it through the hump both you and your baby will experience one of the most precious and intimate moments together. With my second it was a breeze, he started nursing just minutes out of the womb. I think the difficultly lies 99% with us. :-)

  31. May 19, 2014 4:10 am

    Beautiful and honest post. Being a parent is hard, period. So many of our choices, especially as women are judged. I had two wonderful natural labours but struggled with breastfeeding. With my first child, I was feeding every two hours because my baby was losing weight and I wasn’t producing enough milk, yet I was still encouraged only to breastfeed. It wasn’t until the lactation nurse came and saw me and said to the midwife why is this child starving that they gave him the formula he so desperately required. We are so eager to do everything right as first time parents we forget to listen to our bodies and our hearts. When I had my second, I listened only to me, the feeding was still difficult but the experience was relaxed and natural. When I did turn to formula, I didn’t feel guilty because I knew I had done all I could. At the end of the day a healthy and happy baby was my only priority.

  32. May 25, 2014 8:40 pm

    You are not alone! When I had trouble breastfeeding I felt so helpless. I blamed myself for not trying hard enough. After two weeks of pumping (I would get about an ounce after 30 or 40 minutes), I had to give up. I felt guilty, I felt like a bad mother. It didn’t help that I was surrounded by people urging me to keep trying. I was miserable, the baby was miserable. We went to formula and it was such a relief. My son is 8 years old now, and recently passed a intellectual giftedness test in the 97th percentile. He has no allergies and is generally amazing. Of course breastmilk is best- but for goodness sake, I wish women would stop killing themselves to provide it! Thanks for your honesty and bravery!

  33. June 4, 2014 12:22 pm

    I posted my journey with breastfeeding, about 7 or 8 weeks into it, a few months back. >> http://ambroright.com/my-personal-journey-with-breastfeedingso-far/ << It's definitely very hard, and I don't think there is enough support for women to KEEP TRYING! It does get easy, and now it's second nature. I couldn't imagine NOT breastfeeding! I am still sad that it didn't work out with my first baby, though.

  34. June 4, 2014 9:44 pm

    Thank you for this post which makes me feel better with my decision. My little one is 8 weeks old and I have been feeding her formula due to insufficient breastmilk. However, I am not giving up too and will pump and latch with whatever I have. It is not an easy journey but was definitely the best. ;)

  35. July 27, 2014 8:53 am

    Wow. I admire this post a lot. I am not a mother, but it makes me feel better knowing that its ok to change your plan; like you said, whatever it takes to make your baby healthy, safe and happy. Congratulations on being a mom. It sounds like you are a pretty good one. Good luck in the future :)

  36. August 11, 2014 11:25 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog and am glad I did so. I am about to be due soon so you can imagine the anxiety I am feeling. I’ve always thought that breastfeeding is the most natural way to go and how hard can it be till I heard so many stories from co-workers and friends on their struggles. I realised I really do agree with you that as long as baby is safe and healthy, that’s all that matters.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      August 13, 2014 7:23 am

      Hello! So glad you found this post helpful. Congratulations on your soon-to-be baby! It’s such an amazing, unforgettable and incredibly hard working time in a mother’s life. Breastfeeding may be difficult at first, but don’t give up!! It gets SO MUCH BETTER!!! Cielo is 4 1/2 months now and we’ve been exclusively breastfeeding since she was about 4 weeks old with no problems!!! In fact, I LOVE nursing her now. No doubt, it’s been the hardest obstacle to tackle but I am so happy that I stuck with it and that we overcame our issues. Good luck!!! xoxo

  37. KateC permalink
    August 25, 2014 2:15 pm

    I stumbled upon this post and your blog thru Pinterest. I’m not even quite sure how but the title immediately caught my eye. And even though I’m not yet pregnant your story resonated with me. I come from a large family of six and my mother was a huge advocate of breastfeeding. She always made it sound like the most simplest and beautiful part of being a mother. For her it came so easy…so I thought. Sure she mentioned one of my sisters being tongue tied and having to have it snipped a few days after birth. And there were stories of teething children (did I mention she was a huge supporter, lol) who bit her here and there. But it was never a big deal. I think after six kids you have a way about you that makes it all seem so simple…when it’s really not.

    I have three older sisters and when they started having children I finally saw and heard more. I think because my mom came from such a different generation it was their belief that things weren’t that hard and if they were you didn’t admit it. She would speak of child labor the same way…”it’s hurts some but then it’s over and you’re fine”. As if that’s all there is to get thru. It wasn’t until I saw what a raw cracked nipple looked like that I realized my mom might have been painting her own portrait of things. I assumed that if she breastfed six children that naturally all my sisters would follow suit with ease. Unfortunately, one of my sisters simply couldn’t breastfeed her first child. She tried for weeks and then emotionally gave up. She felt like a failure but had to push past it. When her second child was born she was determined to make it work and somehow did. I imagine being a first time parent is challenging enough and those first few days home are exhausting, exhilarating and emotional. Something has to give.

    I came from a family that never seemed to question…you breastfeed…it’s your job. And while they didn’t openly judge other women for using formula there was some unspoken superiority. I always assumed women who didn’t breastfeed simply made the choice. As if they didn’t feel like bothering or they were uncomfortable with their bodies. I finally started to see there is much more to breastfeeding and it’s different for all women. Are bodies aren’t all the same. I’ve heard a lot of stories firsthand and it’s given me a better understanding not just about breastfeeding but being a mother. I think no matter what the outcome you are connected in the shared journey.

    I had forever assumed I would be just like my milk-abundant mother and breastfeed my children no problem. Now that I hope to be approaching motherhood soon I worry about breastfeeding… a lot. There are other things to worry about of course but this is my biggest concern right after natural childbirth. There is this immense pressure of wanting to be something you always imagined yourself being but fearing it might not be possible. I can picture myself sitting in a rocker holding a newborn crying. I’ve romanticized breastfeeding like it’s earning a badge of honor. But there are no guarantees and that’s frightening.

    When I hear or read stories like this it both scares and reassures me. I think I often miss the bigger picture and that is you need to do what’s best for your baby. We might need to break thru some barriers and let go of our visions of perfection. Realizing we’re not always superhuman and we have limitations is a bigger personal triumph than forcing ourselves thru a difficult situation unnecessarily. I truly hope that for me breastfeeding will be the answer but if it’s not I need to find strength and move forward.

    Thank you for sharing your story and being honest. It takes courage to put it out there. And it doesn’t sound easy but you made it. I would have never thought to attend LLL meetings while pregnant but it makes a lot of sense. It seems like most women aren’t told to ever think about the act of breastfeeding until after they have their baby. I would love to find out as much as I possibly could beforehand so I felt more prepared. Also, thank you for noting it’s possible to ‘surrender’ to formula while you heal your breasts. I always assumed it was all or nothing but it’s good to know it’s possible to do a lil of both while you adjust.

    I’m glad you and baby Cielo are doing well. God bless.

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  1. Breastfeeding is hard | {love+cupcakes} Blog | New, Health and BeautyNew, Health and Beauty
  2. Friday Favorites: May 30th 2014 - Pine & Plum

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