11 In Motherhood

In The Trenches: Real Moms Share Real Breastfeeding Experiences

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while now, then you know that I chose to breastfeed Adeline and am very pro-breastfeeding. I previously wrote about my breastfeeding journey in this post, but the long and short of it is this: I exclusively nursed Adeline for 6 months before starting solids, pumped 3x a day 5 days a week at work from Jan-Aug, started supplementing with formula at 10.5 months while still nursing in the mornings and evenings, then said goodbye to breastfeeding for good on her first birthday. It was a long journey, with lots of ups and downs, and it was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever committed to doing. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

{Kati Mallory Photo & Design}

But you know what? That’s just my story, and my experience. No two breastfeeding stories are alike, and everyone’s experiences will be vastly different. As a new mom, I felt like breastfeeding slapped me in the face with a reality stick pretty quickly. I had no idea what I was in for! I thought for sure I was prepared. After all, I have three SILs, who at the time had six kids between them, and who had all been breastfed at one point or another. And my mother-in-law is a Lactation Consultant, so I pretty much had Boobies 101 on speed dial. While pregnant, I researched, read blogs, forums, and books and tried my best to get a better idea of what to expect. What I wish I had spent more time doing though was asking fellow mom friends what their experiences were like. Those first few days and weeks can be dark, and combine the baby blues with the struggles of breastfeeding and it can make you feel like you’re the only one in the entire world struggling! And sometimes, breastfeeding turns out to not work, or be the best option, and that’s ok too! You never know until you’re there, in the trenches of first time motherhood.

So that’s what I’m sharing today! I’ve gathered as many breastfeeding stories (30 to be exact!) from my fellow mom friends as I could, in hopes that they would resonate with other new moms, and moms-to-be. (Turns out, everyone was dying to share their story!) I wanted this to be a resource for first time moms – a sort of refuge for relatable stories and honest thoughts. Some breastfed for a year, some for a few weeks, some exclusively pumped, some did both, some tried to breastfeed but switched to formula, some loved it, some hated it. You are no less of a mother because of how you choose to feed your child, and we all want what’s best for our babies. So let’s support each other, and encourage one another. Let’s judge each other less, and help each other more.

breastfeeding advice

“I’ve had two perfect babies and had two different experiences with breastfeeding. While I was pregnant with our son I knew my body was not my own and I was fine with that. I took care of myself so that I could take care of our sweet boy. What I didn’t realize was my body would continue to be “his” body until we were done breastfeeding. I wasn’t ready for that. I missed my body and honestly, so did my husband. It was all our son’s it seemed. I hated pumping. All I did was feed him, pump, feed him, pump… I was exhausted. I loved that bond, but I just wanted to be done. We tried doing nightly feedings but I couldn’t keep up with that and eventually my milk dried up. I was ok with that. We did formula from about 4 months to a year and our son grew perfectly. I honestly didn’t really miss it.

Our daughter is a different story. I’ve yearned to nurse her through a full year. Not because I feel it’s my duty as her mom and not because I feel I’m a bad mom if I didn’t, but because I wanted to. I was ready for it this time. I knew what I was giving up and I was prepared for that and I was so ready to commit to her during the pregnancy and to feeding her afterwards. I was so excited! It’s been 9 wonderful months and we are going strong! I without a doubt will make that 1 year mark. I did get a bad case of milk blisters with her and that was so painful… But I didn’t pump much when she was first born and I think that helped my sanity and my exhaustion levels. I didn’t feel tied to the pump. The great downside to this is I didn’t have many backup bottles, that meant I couldn’t be away from her for more than a few hours and no nights away… But again, this time, that was a sacrifice I was ready for. I look forward to that year mark when we don’t have to have breastmilk for her and my husband and I can have a night alone, but I also am not ready to wish it away just yet.” – Rachel

“My journey breastfeeding has been a long one. My daughter immediately latched on after birth, and 23 months later… Still going strong. In the beginning the pain was at times unbearable. I kept telling myself it’s what is best for her, I must keep going. I fed her on demand, and she gained so much weight! My little one began eating solids quite a bit later than most because she had an issue with choking on everything she ate. How grateful I was to be able to breastfeed. I had what I think was mastitis 3 times with a fever so high I thought I would have to go to the ER. I wanted to quit. With mastitis you breastfeed to help the infection. It was rough. After she turned a year old I wanted her to be done. There was no way that was happening. I look back and think, yes at times it was rough, annoying, and I wanted to quit. Now I think about the bond we share, and those few minutes I was able to rest her against me and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We keep going because one day I know she won’t want me to hold her close, and I love knowing she is receiving such wonderful nutrients for that busy, growing body.” – Miki

“It’s difficult to articulate the nursing relationship I’ve had with my 2 girls, probably because like any relationship, it is ever changing, always evolving, and comes with abundant joy, hardship, and everything in between! I was fortunate to have a tremendous amount of knowledge of the many benefits of nursing (for both mama and baby), as well as a lot of support from my husband, family, and outside support groups (LLL). That is SO important, especially when things get hard…and they will get hard, no matter how much you and your baby love nursing!

Before nursing my own littles (first daughter for 2 years who weaned gently when I became pregnant, and still currently nursing my 6 month old), I wasn’t prepared for the hardships of nursing (the initial pain of raw, cracked nipples as you and your baby both learn how to nurse for the first time, the feeling of your milk letting down/engorgement, the exhaustion of nursing for the 50th time because they have hit a growth spurt or are STILL teething…the pain of mastitis, or guilt when you are feeling touched out and really don’t feel like a tiny human being attached to you for one.more.second.)! But then again, I also wasn’t prepared for the JOYS of nursing, either! The way my heart would melt in a puddle when my child unlatched mid nursing, and would give me a big ol gummy grin, the bond and attachment I would feel, the comfort to my heart when her tears would turn to instant peace and calm as soon as she found comfort in my arms nursing, the sweet quiet times together nursing that only the two of you share, and the satisfaction I would feel in knowing I was literally giving my child food from my own body to sustain her life. So fearfully and wonderfully made we are!

Breastfeeding truly is an incredible journey, and changed me and challenged me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. But it IS a journey (sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth), and like any journey, no two look the exact same. You and your sweet one(s) will find your way just fine, and will do what works best for you. Enjoy the beautiful challenging journey, mama.” – Natalie

“When I was pregnant with my first son I wasn’t adamant either way about breastfeeding or bottle feeding, but my husband encouraged me to breastfeed. My son was born 7 weeks early and had to be transported to a children’s hospital in a nearby city. That made my decision. I was going to do all I could to give him the best start to life. I started pumping 2 hours after he was born. And I pumped every 3 hours around the clock for the next 6 months. When they allowed him to nurse we would do skin to skin and nurse and then I would have to pump because I was still uncomfortable from having so much milk. By the time he was 2 weeks old I could pump 16 ounces every time I pumped. I ended up with clogged ducts on both sides (worse than childbirth in my opinion!). And then from the clogged ducts I developed mastitis. Mastitis is most easily taken care of by a round of antibiotics which in turn gave me thrush, and then my son got it. Thrush is the devil. It’s so hard to rid yourself and your child of! I eventually got to back off of pumping and get my oversupply under control and my first son and I shared a wonderful nursing journey for 14 months of his life. I have since nursed 3 more sons (I am still nursing my 4 month old!) I don’t believe either nursing or bottle feeding is better than the other. Nursing comes with its own set of issues, and not super pleasant ones at that. But, nothing beats the bond it creates! I cannot be more grateful for the ability to not only be able to carry and sustain life during pregnancy but also completely sustain them outside the womb as well!” – Emilee

“I have loved every second of nursing… almost! There is seriously nothing like having that connection with your baby. Knowing that you sustain them and give them everything they need to grow and protect their little immune systems is such a cool experience. I know other moms who had various issues and couldn’t nurse so I don’t take it for granted. We had a pretty easy start to nursing and I feel privileged to have made it beyond 6 months with the goal of making it to a year (3 months to go)! There are moments when I’m nursing my daughter that if I close my eyes I don’t feel any space between us, like we’re just one being and it’s so beautiful.

On the flip side, it is really hard to be the one up all night with her and planning my life in 2-3 hour increments so that I can either pump or nurse. Also I had so many well meaning people tell me, “Oh you’ll lose all the weight so fast! Nursing does that!” Well I need you to know nursing doesn’t actually do that! It’s wonderful but it’s hard, when you want time to yourself, when they start getting teeth, when you feel touched out. It’s all so wonderful but your body isn’t your own and there are moments when I look forward to this chapter being over…and then I’ll cry hard because I’ll miss it so much ha- mom life, the days are long but the years are short.” – Kris

“To put it simply, my breastfeeding journey wasn’t easy. I faced seven cases of mastitis, two ER visits, a three day hospital stay, IV antibiotics for weeks, and countless clogged ducts. During those seven months I had so many conversations with women who breastfed and let me tell you, I’ve yet to run into someone who says it was easy. Even if a mom didn’t experience a recurrent sickness, you can be assured that each has faced her own battle whether it’s been with supply, latch issues, clogged ducts, painful feedings, and much more. When expecting moms ask me for breastfeeding advice, I try to share my honest thoughts without sugar coating my experience. Breastfeeding your baby is hard hard work and a personal choice. If you really want to do it then you’ll have to work at it, but if you find it just isn’t a good fit for you then that is okay too. A lot of people thought I was crazy for putting myself through all I did, but I am incredibly thankful I was able to breastfeed my son as long as I did. Those memories of him wrapping his hand around my finger, while nursing during the night are ingrained in both my head and my heart.” – Jana (Happy Wife Healthy Life)

“I never intended to have kids. So obviously I never intended to breastfeed. I have always been mildly uncomfortable with the idea of it though. I think that moms who do it are amazing and deserve a medal. It just wasn’t something that I cared for. My husband wanted me to at least try it for the first few weeks of his life because he had read that the most important nutrients are passed to baby during the colostrum phase. I agreed that that would be a good compromise. So that’s what I did. I breastfed exclusively for about four weeks. And, please don’t hate me when I say this, it went PERFECTLY. He latched immediately and I had an easy time with let down and making sure he was well fed and growing. I never once got mastitis, clogged ducts, or even bleeding or chafing. However, I HATED it. I was glued to this little human and I couldn’t be gone for more than two hours. Also I had severe PPD and that was a big struggle for me. I had a hard enough time taking care of myself in those early days, let alone, feeding someone else round the clock. I started weaning him off the breast and on to the bottle at 5 weeks and by 7 weeks we were a formula fed baby. I don’t have any regrets about my choices at all. I know that I am a kick ass mom whether my baby is bottle fed or breastfed. He has a mommy and daddy that love him and he lays his head down at night with a full belly of the best that I can give him. It just so happens that my best food for him comes from Enfamil and not my body. For any other moms who feel guilty or are made to feel bad about using formula, I wish that I could wrap them in a big hug and tell them that they are amazing just the way they are. And anyone who doesn’t think so can leave. Period.” – Anna

“My SIL is a champ at breastfeeding (3 kids so far) and her experiences and advice were all I had (besides the typical hospital breastfeeding class led by the slightly crazy but insanely helpful lactation consultant) going into breastfeeding. I was confident that if she did so well, and I knew everything she did, then it would go great for me and my baby. WRONG. Despite every effort under the sun, I simply did not produce enough to feed my baby. I spent multiple days a week for most of my maternity leave visiting the LC, getting advice, techniques, and suggestions for supplements. She was even baffled as to why my supply was low. I loved nursing (after the first few weeks, of course – ouch!) and hated the thought of having to quit. Finally she suggested supplementing – and because of my SIL who is generous with her pump stash, I was able to supplement 1oz bottles every other feeding with breast milk. Casey finally started gaining weight and I was so relieved! The same thing happened with my second son, Cooper, but I was prepared and started supplementing after a few days. I nursed Casey for 13 months and my goal is to do the same with Cooper.” – Lauren

“I always secretly judged moms who quit breastfeeding because of pain or inconvenience, because I knew it all before having children. What could be so hard about feeding a baby in the most natural, healthy way? I took the classes, I watched other people do it, I had all the accessories I was ready. Guess what? It sucked (literally). My nipples were so sore. They cracked and bled, I cried almost every time I nursed. I walked around topless for an entire month because I couldn’t stand fabric touching them. Then I got mastitis. I woke up feverish with chills, and noticed my breasts were large, hard as rocks, warm to the touch, and in severe pain. The only way to get rid of it is antibiotics and more feeding, which is the last thing you want to do. What was the worst part about the entire feeding experience, was that no one could help. The LC, pediatrician, and La Leche League all said I had a great latch. We got her tongue tie clipped and it didn’t help. The only thing that kept me going is knowing it would get better, and that I would be staying home. I would have the luxury of feeding my baby at home, instead of pumping at work like most moms have to. At two months she started smiling at me and that helped. At three months the pain was gone. I’ve never had a moment where I loved doing it. It’s uncomfortable and an inconvenience, but I love my children so I do it. Every month had a hard week that would make me want to quit (teething, distraction, growth spurts, biting) but I never did. I had to quit at ten months because I became pregnant and could not keep up my supply. Now, I’m writing this with my 8 week old at my breast and feeling like a total expert. The pain only lasted a couple of weeks this time and was not nearly as bad. I’m hoping this time I can make it to at least twelve months!” – Mary

“When it came to having kids, breastfeeding was never optional. I decided early on that I would breastfeed no matter what. When we found out we were having twins and I looked at the cost of formula my desire to nurse increased. Honestly I think so much of it is a mind game. You have to be determined to fight through it because breastfeeding is hard. It is time consuming, it hurts, it isn’t always convenient, and it is exhausting BUT it is amazing. I am, by nature, a very determined person and if I set my mind to something I will make it happen. I ate so many nursing cookies and muffins. I took supplements daily to increase my supply. I went to a lactation consultant multiple times a week. I drank over my body weight in ounces of water. I read blogs and books on how to nurse and when I had questions I asked everybody I knew.” – Jenn

“Before I delivered, I knew breastfeeding was going to be my biggest struggle. I spent the weeks leading up to labor reading horror stories of nipple shields, tongue ties, and supplemental devices. It didn’t help that I also have a prolactinoma- a tumor located on my pituitary glad that alters the prolactin I secrete- which in turn affects milk production. So when my sweet little boy was placed on my chest and began nursing peacefully within two hours of birth, I was shocked! Lactation consultants complimented me on my form and my milk soon followed a few days after coming home from the hospital. At our first check-up, my little guy had barely lost any weight. Except for the anticipated soreness (OUCH!) and his constant ability to stay awake, we were doing great!

Things were going so well, that my mom decided to bring me a big ice cream soda (a Cincinnati staple) to celebrate. I instantly had a bad feeling when she placed it in front of me, but being the good daughter I am, I drank the whole thing. And that’s when everything changed. My little boy began screaming after breastfeeding, and it would continue for several weeks. I immediately began researching allergies, but people assured me that it wasn’t a dairy allergy- he was simply too young. Finally we visited the doctor in desperation, where she confirmed he was indeed allergic to dairy, eggs, and soy. I was to cut every form of these out of my diet. That means I was basically a vegan unless I prepared the meat myself (restaurant spices often contain dairy or soy). I was exhausted with a baby who was waking every 30 minutes, terrified to eat anything, and starving myself.

Keeping a milk supply up was becoming increasingly more difficult and he wasn’t gaining much weight, so I began supplementing with a special (read:EXPENSIVE) formula around 4 months. I loved every minute of nursing, so a big part of me died the day I gave him his first bottle. He slept a little better, but not much. This would continue until he would only take a bottle at 7 months. I pumped enough to make us through 10 months, until our breastfeeding journey officially closed. Looking back, there were many things I’d do differently. I was an emotional wreck and had little support on how to handle his allergies and lack of sleep. But one thing I wouldn’t change was every sweet nursing session, and I’m already looking forward to the day when (if) I’m blessed to nurse baby 2- I’ll just be sure to have a million allergy friendly freezer meals on hand!” – Laura

“I was set on exclusively breastfeeding my son, but it was not in the cards for me. I struggled with it at the time, but looking back having to supplement formula did not at all make me less of a Mom. Instead, it proved that you need to do whatever is best for your kids even if it’s not your plan. It was my first lesson in realizing how key going with the flow would be! (pun intended..)” – Katie (Live Half Full)

““Breast is best.”  If you are pregnant, or a new mom, chances are you have heard this phrase more times than you can count at this point.  I know that is how I felt throughout my entire pregnancy.  So much so that I knew I would breastfeed for at least 6 months to a year and anything less would have meant I had failed my newborn son.  But, much like any philosophy you have before actually birthing a child and becoming a parent, reality was much different. 

I absolutely hated breastfeeding.  It completely consumed me.  It was all I thought about, and I began to dread the moments my son would cry for me to feed him.  I knew that cry meant I would be glued to a rocker or the couch for the next hour praying he would latch, and my pain would only be at a 5 this time instead of an 8 or 9.  And as soon as that hour was over, I would be counting down the minutes until I knew I had to do it again.  I had finally birthed my child and was supposed to get my body back, but I still felt so lost inside of it.  We had issues latching, so I started exclusively pumping at 1 month, because obviously “breast is best”, and I am a selfish mother if I chose to give him the poison that is formula.

I went back to work when my son was 12 weeks old.  If you have ever pumped, I don’t need to go into detail because you know it sucks.  I knew I did not want to have that be one more thing on my plate on top of a demanding career that I was so ready to jump back into.  So, I started weaning off of pumping and doing formula.  And absolutely everything changed!  Feedings now took 10 minutes instead of an hour.  I was not leaking everywhere.  When he finished a bottle, we could go about our day without having to pull out the pump.  I had a completely new relationship with my son, and we were bonding in a way I feel we never got the opportunity to in the beginning due to my hate/hate relationship with breastfeeding.  There are many reasons women cannot breastfeed.  It may be medical, the baby is just not gaining the weight or you simply just don’t want to.  Please never define, or let anyone else define, your worth as a mother based on your ability or desire to breastfeed.  Doing what is best for you is doing what is best for your baby! Side note: my son was on formula and never gets sick, is a perfect weight and thriving in everything he is doing.” – Jessica

“I want to start by saying that every baby is their own person.  I am a blessed mother of four and each experience nursing has been different.  Different challenges, different successes, different failures, different circumstances, different, they are all different.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew everything there was to know about how I wanted to approach motherhood.  So my beautiful son arrived and I knew I was going to nurse him exclusively.  Bless his little bones, he had a hard time latching.  By hard time, I mean couldn’t do it.  Most likely, he could have had his tongue clipped because he was slightly tongue-tied, but that wasn’t as common six years ago and it wasn’t major.  So I began using the shield and sugar water to get him started and he was able to eat!  He then needed to eat every hour on the hour and if he went over two, he was so worked up he couldn’t latch.  I used the shield with him for two or three months (you typically use that for a few weeks at most).  There were many tears shed over this sweet boy.  It was literally a crisis if I left the house without my handy feeding companion.  When he was six months old I found out I was expecting our daughter.  My milk had started to dry up and I was advised to ween him to not encourage contractions.  Health care providers will give different advice on this.  I know people who nursed through pregnancy, but following a csection, I was ready to take advice.  So at six or seven months I began weening my first born.

When my daughter was born, nursing was still difficult.  I used the shield for about two or three weeks.  She was a good little eater.  I was restricting my diet and exercising.  At about five months I had a back injury that required heavy pain medicine that had a long half life.  I pumped and dumped as best as I could and she used up my freezer storage.  I don’t feel my body recovered after that.  At around six or seven months I began supplementing.  And my supply dried up soon after that.

When my third child came on the scene, I was chasing two toddlers and I decided I wasn’t going to do anything but survive.  So I ate hamburgers and exercised lightly.  He was the best eater yet!  I think the more relaxed I was, the more my body responded in a positive way.  With all three, I felt free to feed my babies whenever, wherever.  I never encountered people being rude about it.  My favorite tool for doing this was the huge muslin blankets.  My babies could breathe easy and it covered me from shoulder to knee.  This was just normal for us.  They needed to eat and I was their meal ticket.  My third made it all the way to ten months, and at this point he was tired of me. He wanted to be like his big brother and sister and wouldn’t sit still.  That little stinker!

Now, as I write this, I have just finished feeding my one month old little boy. He latched and started eating 15 minutes after we got back into our room at the hospital.  I have no clue what kind of schedule he might be following.  If he acts hungry, I feed him.  I’m hoping he will be my best yet!  There is nothing more precious, to me, than the time that is spent feeding these little ones.  I’m thankful that I was able to feed them all, no matter how long or short.  It isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun, but it is good, so so good.” – Anna

“I went into breastfeeding with a completely open mind; the only thing that mattered to me was that my daughter was getting fed.  I will say that my experience wasn’t the easiest. My daughter latched on quickly, but the sore nipples were just the beginning of all to follow. I had tons of anxiety surrounding breastfeeding and whether I was feeding her enough, too much, the pumping woes and all that surrounded that. When my daughter started showing signs of reflux, I couldn’t help but think I was the problem. I tried eliminating things, but it didn’t help. Finally, after still showing signs even with medicine, I decided to switch to formula around 6 months and I couldn’t believe how much stress was relieved.

It’s hard to not stress as a mom, and not have anxiety, but I also felt serious anxiety every time I had a let-down. I never knew it was normal, and every.single.time I fed my daughter, I was overcome with anxiety, which didn’t make me feel my best. I felt more myself after I switched to formula, and never regretted it. I don’t regret breastfeeding; I loved the “bond” and that I could provide for my daughter, but I also feel I had the same “bond” when I fed her with bottles, and it gave me freedom. I loved that my husband could do more (uhm, middle of the night wake ups!), as well. Pumping at work, being out in public at feeding time, always being “on call” is exhausting, and definitely took its toll on me. I wish I would have known that anxiety during a let- down is actually normal, and that sometimes your baby will do better on formula for one reason or another. I am currently pregnant and planning to try breastfeeding with my next, but again, if it doesn’t work and I find myself stressed out (hello other toddler to attend to!), I know I won’t be afraid to switch again to formula.  Never be afraid to try, but never be afraid to trust your instincts and do what you need to!” – Heather (Lunging Through Life)

“I absolutely loved all aspects of nursing with both of my children. It was something that I knew I wanted to try when I was pregnant with my first child. Luckily, when my daughter was born she took to it very well and we had no problems. Since I knew I would be going back to work once she was 6 months old, I tried to pump at least one time a day once I introduced bottles at about 2-3 weeks.My daughter was solely on breastmilk through 8 months old (I had also introduced baby food cereal, veggies and fruits). By the time my daughter was 8 months old, I had to begin supplementing with formula due to my lack of being able to produce enough for her. By 9 months, I had stopped pumping and had run out of my stored frozen breastmilk and she switched to formula.With my son, I wanted to try to make it to a year with nursing and pumping so I began pumping sooner and more often to have a big supply available knowing my supply would go down upon returning to work. In addition, I learned of and used supplements such as fenugreek, milk thistle daily to increase my milk supply. Luckily, in doing so, this helped me maintain my milk supply once returning to work. I can happily say that I did make it a year. I nursed him the morning of his 1st birthday and quit cold turkey. Part of me wanted to continue on because I knew I had the supply to. However, I knew my next goal would 18 months and realistically knew that might be hard. Therefore, I stopped with a happy and pleased result of making it my goal, 1 year!Every aspect of nursing I thoroughly enjoyed. I found it very rewarding and enjoyed that one on one time with both of my kiddos. I did not necessarily love pumping but I loved the result of it and therefore pumped as long as I did. To this day when I see a nursing mother my mind goes back to all those precious moments and memories with my children that will last a lifetime!” – Hannah

“With my first little one, nursing stressed me out. I don’t as exhausted with a baby who cried for hours, was difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep, and I quickly gave up and switched to formula as a way to relieve the stress I was feeling and allow for grandparents and husband to help me. With all of the crying, I developed horrible postpartum anxiety. Switching to formula was the best decision I ever made. I was able to get help for anxiety which allowed me to take better care of my little one.

With little one number two, I told myself I was going to go with the flow: breastfeeding if it worked out, supplementing with formula when convenient or out on the go (and pumping when I could to relieve the pressure). Baby number two has been a great sleeper with only mild reflux issues. He rarely cries at one month old, though he does make LOTS of grunts, squeaks and other guttural noises. I exclusively BF number two for the first two weeks, supplemented with formula week 3 when my hubby was out of town and my MIL offered to do a nighttime feeding. (Woohoo!). To be honest, I don’t enjoy BFing. I love the cuddle time with my little man in the middle of the night as well as the ease of simply unclasping the nursing bra when he’s hungry and holding him close. However, having an almost 4 year old who goes to pre k daily, has dance on Thursday afternoons and would like to have SOME of her mothers attention, I find myself less and less wanting to sit and nurse for an hour when I (or ANYONE else) could simply mix a bottle and pop it into baby #2’s mouth. The mom guilt of a needy newborn and a firstborn that’s used to having me all to herself is a tough battle I’m warring. I take my 5 week old to his one month check up tomorrow and I plan to wean off BFing after that for the following reasons:

  1. I’m tired. I am ready to have a little more flexibility with not being the only one who can feed this little man (so maybe the firstborn and I can have some QT)
  2. Breastfeeding makes your nipples sore, tender and your boobs are huge. With all of the healing your body is doing after child birth, having one more thing that is NOT like it was before baby is almost too much for me. I want SOMETHING to feel normal.
  3. I feel confident my little man has gotten LOTS of good from BFing for almost 6 weeks, and I know he will do FINE on formula as well.
  4. This may come across as TMI, but after the stitches have healed, I’m ready to be intimate with my hubby again and nipples spewing milk or breast pads falling out of the bra you refuse to take off is just NOT good for the mood in the bedroom .
  5. We are moving in one week which means the kids will be under the watch of grandparents: dealing with moving, pumping, nursing, engorged breasts, etc would only add to my stress. I’ve done well this time around and have not had the anxiety I had with the first baby, but I never want to get back to that awful place again, so I am taking precautions to prevent the anxiety from returning.

I’ve learned through my two kids that there is no perfect way to be a mom and feed your babe. Just like childbirth, we make a plan and feel determined to stick to it, yet when it happens, the plan sometimes has to change due to unseen reasons. Same for BFing. It does not have to be ALL or nothing. A little bit of both is fine. As long as baby is thriving, you are winning as a mom. There’s no shame in not BFing, BFing for a short time before switching to formula, or even BFing until baby is 2. It’s not about judgement. New moms just need support, to know they’re doing a good job, and to be reminded that a healthy baby AND MOM is what’s most important.” – Amanda

“Our breastfeeding journey began on November 7th, when we welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world. During my pregnancy, being very much a “type A” personality, I researched everything I should be doing from pregnancy to bringing baby home….everything, that is, except breastfeeding. I even read a book about pumping at work. I think I (very naively) thought that breastfeeding was just pretty self-explanatory. Baby gets hungry, give them the breast. I’d never really heard any of my mommy friends talk openly about the challenges or the pain of breastfeeding. I’d never really heard them talk about it at all.

At the hospital, my baby latched almost immediately as the lactation consultant showed us what to do. He ate almost every two hours and very quickly my nipples became excruciatingly painful. By the second day in the hospital, they were purple. The LC came back  and helped us figure out how to widen baby’s latch and that offered very little relief. For the next 8 weeks, every time – and I mean every single time – baby latched, there was an intense, toe-curling pain that shot through my nipples and lasted for about 2 minutes into each feed. I dreaded every single feeding and every time baby would cry to eat, I would feel like crying in anticipation of the pain. I was so devastated. The only thing I’d really ever heard or read about breastfeeding is that it was this incredible bonding experience between a mother and her baby and this was the furthest thing from what I was feeling. I really considered throwing in the towel, but I was too stubborn and everything on Google told me it would get better. At 8 weeks, this proved to be true. I could finally feed my baby without pain.

However, at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 10 weeks postpartum, I ended up with mastitis. Imagine your entire breast feeling like a giant bruise while having the flu. It is the worst illness and pain I’ve probably ever experienced and it even landed me in the ER the second time around. The best way to recover from mastitis is to nurse and nursing through it is very painful. My doctor said that some people are more prone to clogged ducts and mastitis and that once you get it, your risk of recurrent mastitis increases. To try to prevent it, she told me to make sure I never get engorged. This meant getting up at night, even when baby started sleeping longer stretches, to pump just a little until my body recognized that it didn’t need to make as much milk at night. I can now go about 4 hours before needing to relieve the pressure.

We are now 11 weeks into breastfeeding and although I’m still recovering from my latest  go-round with mastitis, I really hope to continue. Knowing how beneficial it is for my sweet boy has made the whole journey worth it and right now, our goal is to make it to 6 months. Even though I didn’t feel thee fairy tale bonding I thought was supposed to happen, every time I’ve considered switching to formula, I’ve thought about how much I would miss that time with my son. I really wish that I had taken the time to ask more questions about breastfeeding. I hope that my story doesn’t scare anyone or dissuade them from breastfeeding, but encourages them to do the research and find some mommy friends who will talk openly about the challenges and the rewards of the whole experience.” – Anna

“I remember being anxious the day our daughter was born about whether I was going to be successful at breastfeeding.  I was very fortunate that she latched on quickly, and the only issue we had was trying to keep her awake while nursing!  I fell in love with breastfeeding because it was a special time that only I could share with my baby.  By no means was it easy.  If she nursed close together, then my nipples would get extremely sore from her sucking, but if she went a long time between feedings then I would get engorged.  There was a span of at least a week where I was so engorged on one side that I would cry every time she needed to nurse because the pain was horrible. Warm wash cloths and heating pads were my best friends until she finally was able to “unclog” me!  Since we were exclusively breastfeeding, I always felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. She took her sweet time feeding, so I constantly felt like she was eating. The nights were the hardest because I had to wake up every time she needed to eat. I did not want her using a bottle, so my husband was never able to take a night feeding for me to get more sleep.  Maybe I will feel differently when we decide to another baby!

My goal was to exclusive breastfeed for 6 months before introducing solids. I am happy to say that we were able to make it, but she significantly dropped in her percentile weight.  I remember feeling like a horrible mother because I felt like I wasn’t giving her enough to grow. I also started back to work when she was 6 months, so the stress of life was hitting me hard. I am a teacher, so there was only one time during the day in which I could pump. Every single day was a battle with my mind because I was never able to pump more than 5 ounces (on a good day), and I knew it would not be enough. I was still breastfeeding her in the mornings and when we were home. Around 8 months, my husband and I decided it was best if I exclusively pumped to make sure she was getting enough ounces.  That was one of the hardest decisions in my life because I was not ready to stop sharing that bond, but I was finally able to wear normal clothes again since I wouldn’t have to nurse in public!  That only lasted about 3 weeks before I completely dried up and had to call it quits.  I tried power pumping and eating oatmeal every morning, but nothing seemed to help my supply.  I was really sad we did not make it a year on breast milk, but it was also a blessing that I didn’t have the stress of not being able to provide enough for her.  I truly loved breastfeeding, and I hope I am luckily enough to be able to do it with our next child.” – Kaley

“Breastfeeding is about the most unnatural natural thing ever. I knew that I want both of my kids to have all of the benefits of breastmilk, but (even with the second) breastfeeding was challenging for me. With Baby #1, she breastfed exclusively for three weeks — just like the books recommend to avoid nipple confusion. Well with the exception of the first night at home when my milk hadn’t come in, she was screaming like a banshee and (after tears from everyone) we gave her some formula. For three solid weeks, I felt like my nipples were going to fall off. Then I discovered what a nipple shield and obscene amounts of lube could do. I was a working momma and ended up exclusively pumping, which I didn’t even know was a thing before kids. We continued with breastmilk and pumping for the first year.

My plans were to repeat exactly with baby 2, but God’s got a real sense of humor and creates no two children exactly alike. My milk came in almost immediately, but this time I had to pump from day 1 because baby was in NICU. My supply was very abundant and his appetite was tiny. In no time, we had a freezer full of milk. And then we discovered his dairy intolerance. And soy intolerance. And tongue tie. And weight gain issues. I was considering switching to formula after all of that, then when he was almost 2 months old, Daddy had a hospital stay and an emergency appendectomy and I call it quits on breastfeeding. It was too much for me to handle. Our formula experience was a journey too, but I’ll stick to talking about breastfeeding this time. Just last week I packed a huge cooler with dry ice and over 1,000 ounces of milk meant for my four month old son, and sent it to babies in need. I loved providing breastmilk for my children. No matter how difficult it was, I felt like I was doing the best thing. I’ve lost my breast is best mentality though. FED is best, no matter how you do it.” – Allison

“The creams, hot compresses, massages and stressing about when your milk will come in. The aches, sensitivity and fevers. The pumping washing, sterilizing, pouring and freezing. The packing, organizing, spilling, and the tears. The planning, preparing, the remembering and then there is the forgetting. The dips in supply and the fear. The co-sleeping and cluster feedings and then the not sleeping at all. The jealousy and the wishing and nope, you can’t wear that pretty dress hanging in the closet. Because of the leaking? The looks from co workers when you go into the closet to pump – “You’re STILL breastfeeding?” The teas, dozens of supplements, and dieting but also making sure you’ve eaten enough calories. Not to mention the amount of water you must drink! Then there is that moment you mix your first bottle of formula with tears streaming down your face because you didn’t produce enough for the next day at daycare.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby but I had no idea how big of a commitment it would actually be. You see these beautiful pictures of mothers with their delicate, smooth skin, sitting in their milk baths surrounded by floating petals nursing their sweet, fresh babies – what a perfect moment! Our journey has been far from that – we struggle daily.

When asked about my breastfeeding experience, two significant moments come to mind. The first, was the first moment I was able to nurse my son just 3 minutes after he was born. I examined him, cried for him, and told him over and over how much I loved him. I felt empowered and proud and the happiest I have ever felt in my whole life. I just gave birth to this beautiful boy and now I can provide for him! I felt like super women! I will never, ever forget that moment. The second most significant moment was the first time I had to give him formula. For me, the thought of formula made my heart race, brought tears to my eyes and made me panic. I didn’t even have any in the house for emergencies. Looking back, I think I was trying to cope with PTSD (it’s real, folks). I had gotten a stomach bug and my supply took a huge hit. I had only pumped enough for one bottle and my boy needed four. I had to do it, had to give him formula. And to my surprise, he was okay! I don’t know what I expected to happen but nothing did. He was happy and full and he still loved me!

Yes, there are long days and late nights but the moments that I get to scoop my son up to snuggle and nurture him are unbeatable. We are still going strong and nursing our way through his first year. We have our ups and downs and trust our handy dandy formula will get us through our downs. Only him and I know the sounds the house makes at 2 o’clock in the morning. At almost 10 months we already have our little inside jokes – I love looking down to see him smiling at me. Oh, and that phase when the only way he would nurse would be if his finger was up my nose. And when someone tells me that he is such a big boy and “what do you feed that kid?” My heart explodes because it was me! It makes it all worth it.” – Cailey

“Both of my kids have very different breastfeeding journeys. Silas, who is now 3, was born 6 weeks early and came home close to 3 weeks after being born still unable to latch. So for the first 6 months of his life I fed him solely by pumping. It was like having twins but instead of 2 babies, it was a baby and a breast pump. It was exhausting but as well as formula not financially being an option for us, it was really important to me that he was breastfed even before he was born. Even more so after he was born since he was premature. One day, at would probably had been my last attempt, at 6 months he just got it and decided he would finally latch. From then on I really did enjoy breastfeeding him. I breastfed him until 18 months and I stopped because I was pregnant with Lennon. I had no intentions of tandem feeding and I wanted Silas to be far enough removed from it that he didn’t associate Lennon with stealing his milk. We were already down to just a morning feeding so I thought it would be easy peasy. And it was, for him. My boobs hurt for what felt like months but was probably only a few weeks.

After a 6 month break, I started the breastfeeding journey again with Lennon. She was a breastfeeding champ. She latched and nursed so we’ll just minutes after being born. When she came home it was miserable because I felt a stinging pain every time she nursed and my uterus contracted. I felt like every time she nursed I had flashbacks of labor. And she nursed ALL the time. That’s all she wanted to do. And she was so little when she was born and dropped more weight than doctors like. She came home weighing 5lbs 8oz (less than my premature baby weighed at birth). I nursed her all day and all night. Nothing about those early months of breastfeeding felt sweet or enjoyable. Eventually she didn’t nurse as much at I did enjoy that time…until she discovered her love of pinching and then biting. Even though I still don’t really have too many sweet moments with her and breastfeeding, at 15 months I still nurse her. A lot of it is out of laziness on my part. I know she would be a hot mess if I stopped and I’m not ready to deal with that yet. We do have some silly moments, like when she pushes my head to force me to watch or to force me too look away. She unlatches a lot to say “peek-a-boo”. I’m not really sure when I’ll stop but I know I’ll miss it when I do, even though it feels a bit like a burden now. Oh, and she still wakes up to eat at night 🙄 and please don’t tell me how to get her to sleep at night because trust me it won’t work. She literally throws up when she cries (one of the reasons I haven’t weened her yet).” – Brittany

“Breastfeeding always seemed so easy. I got the books. I had my pump well before Hank arrived. I took the classes. Then the second he came out my mantra changed from “Breast is Best” to “Breast is Hard”. I remember the lactation consultant throwing a nipple shield onto the foot of my bed and saying “he needs to be off this in the next three weeks”. After several hundred dollars with “the best lactation consultant in Nashville” I though we had everything fixed. Then reflux reared it’s ugly head. After that, dairy allergy. Breastfeeding was absolutely destroying my happiness as a new mom. Instead of that happy sleeping baby everyone pictures, I had a screaming, puking baby that was only happy if he was sitting upright in my arms. I refused to give up though. I would do whatever it took.

After I returned to work, I placed Hank with a nanny who quit after a month. He was too hard. He screamed all day. I constantly felt like a failure because my son now not only was miserable himself, but he made everyone around him miserable as well. I wasn’t able to make enough so all day I was constantly drinking blue gatorade (gross) and Mother’s Milk tea (even worse). I bought a new pump. I did everything I could but still day after day my baby was screaming. My mom and husband finally sat me down and told me like it was. I was turning into a crazy person. I was obsessed with what I was eating, what I was drinking, how much I was making, how much I wasn’t making, when I could pump, when I couldn’t pump. My life was consumed with trying to make it work and in the meantime my sweet son began to giggle and sit up and play with toys and hold your face and try to give it kisses. All these things I was missing because I was so consumed with “Breast is Best”. So one night on the way home from daycare I stopped at Publix and bought a thing of formula. I hid upstairs and prepared for the worst while my husband fed him. Hank drank 7 oz and for the first time ever he was happy after he ate. That was all I needed to realize that my son needed me to be present before he needed breastmilk.

Last week I finally broke up with my pump. It was the best decision of my life. Now instead of looking down at bottles the weren’t filling up with milk I get to look down at my son. I am finally getting to know him for the first time. He’s happy and it’s not because he’s breastfed. It took me 6 months to realize that breastfeeding doesn’t make you a good mother. Being present makes you a good mother. I hope he always knows that I loved him enough to give it my everything for 6 months and that I also knew when enough is enough.” – Laura

“I have loved breastfeeding, but it didn’t start out that way. Before my daughter was born, I was set on breastfeeding. So when I couldn’t get her to nurse in the hospital after she was born, I was so sad and frustrated and felt like I was already failing. Despite multiple visits from hospital lactation consultants, she just wasn’t eating enough when nursing, so I pumped during our 3 night hospital stay and pumped/nursed for the first 3 weeks at home. She was always so sleepy and would fall asleep while nursing, so we’d take all her clothes off, put a cool cloth on her, whatever we could do to wake her up when it was time to eat. I was in a lot of pain from nursing (never experienced the bleeding some people do), and cried during most nursing sessions because of the pain and frustration that she would’t eat enough. For the first 3 weeks, nursing sessions took 1 1/2 hours each time.

After 3 weeks, I finally talked myself into calling a recommended lactation consultant to come to our house and help me. This changed everything and while the lactation consultant was here, my daughter ate more than she ever had in one feeding. And after that visit, my daughter nursed SO much better. I wish I had called her the moment I got home! I think I felt defeated about not being able to figure it out on my own, which is why I put off calling. But those first few weeks of motherhood would’ve have been so much better if I had asked for help sooner. Friends had told me that breastfeeding was one of the hardest parts of having a baby, but I guess I didn’t believe them. My daughter is now 21 months and still nursing pretty regularly. Nursing a toddler was never my plan, but she still isn’t a good eater and needs more calories, so here we are! I remember hearing someone say (right after my daughter was born) that they LOVED nursing and I thought, “how in the world? I can’t wait for this to END.” And now, I’m sad for when it does end! It’s been the sweetest time to spend with just her.” – Erica

“For my entire pregnancy I was so excited about breastfeeding! I read excessive amounts of breastfeeding books and articles, and loaded up on all the best accessories, supplements and nursing tops. The fact that we as women have the capability to produce the most powerful superfood in the world is amazing. It is absolutely incredible to me that our bodies can do this. But what happens when a new mothers milk just doesn’t come in? Or the squirmy little newborn just can’t quite latch right? Or perhaps the worst feeling for a new mom – the baby isn’t gaining any weight. The latter two were true for me and my brand new bundle. After meeting with multiple lactation consultants it was determined that my baby had a lip tie that was strongly restricting his ability to suck on a natural nipple. So we began using a nipple shield to emulate a bottle while he was still getting the liquid gold from his mama. It seemed like a miraculous fix at first! He suckled away, seemed less colicky, and I finally got to see that perfect little “milk drunk” face I had been dreaming of.

And then my husband had to go back to work, and my mom wasn’t staying at our house anymore. I quickly realized that it took at least four arms to hold on the shield, hold the baby, place the baby on the boob and hold a cup under the other boob (I started out with a huge supply and lots of leakage!!!) I quickly became depressed that I couldn’t keep up with the regimen. And to top it off, my son was still incredibly behind on the weight charts. He was also extremely colicky and unhappy, spending most of his time screaming. I wanted so badly to be the super mom that exclusively breastfed for a whole year. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me! It wasn’t fair!! Breastfeeding had become the hardest thing I had ever done. It made labor seem like a piece of cake. After just a couple weeks of this madness I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to torture myself anymore. The most important thing to me was that he was gaining weight and happy. Also very important – that he was getting as much of my milk as he could. So I went and bought an anti colic bottle, kept my pumping regimen up, and dumped that “liquid gold” into that bottle and let him have it. And that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Now I was able to measure every ounce he was taking in and he wasn’t having to burn more calories struggling to suckle than what he was getting. The changes in him were almost immediate! Now don’t get me wrong – it certainly wasn’t a quick fix. It was hard having to pump every few hours all day every day – often while feeding him his bottle at the same time. He did gain weight, but still remained in the 15th percentile for months. Until he was placed on a reflux medication, he was still very colicky. But once he finally hit 10 pounds (which felt like it took years), he started sleeping better, eating more, and crying less. I continued pumping exclusively for six months until my supply plummeted and I was just so exhausted with the process. I gradually switched him over to a high quality, sensitive stomach formula. And guess what? He was fine! He was more than fine; he actually started to get fat!

I was one happy mama. It had taken me some time and a lot of trouble, but I had learned so much. If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped to the exclusive pumping sooner. And I also wouldn’t have beaten myself up so much for giving my son formula! It’s so silly that women feel like such failures over something like breastfeeding! The days are long, but the years are short. I strongly encourage mothers and mothers-to-be out there to remember this. Whether you breastfeed for years, or formula feed from the beginning, try to put it into perspective. Those days of nursing and bottles are hard and precious. But they are fleeting, and the little details of how you take care of your baby are ultimately just specks of the bigger picture. Focus on the beautiful being you brought into this world! Look at what YOU MADE! Trust your instincts, they are always right. Love you sweet little squishes like you are made to do, and the rest will fall into place.” – Anna

“Breastfeeding has overall been a very positive experience for me. As first time parents, my husband and I took a hospital sponsored breastfeeding class which was very informative.

The first week of breastfeeding was quite painful. We met with a lactation consultant that first week which was a game changer. She was able to show me how to adjust my son’s latch to relieve the nipple pain. He never had problems gaining weight, so that was a blessing. I had a few plugged ducts in the beginning, but thankfully I recognized them in time to avoid mastitis. We are 12 months down the road now and still going strong, but we had a biting issue around 7-8 months which was not fun. Also, between 10-12 months, he was just such a busy baby that it was occasionally hard to keep him focused to get full feedings during the day which in turn decreased my milk supply. I work 3 days a week, so I have been pumping 3x per work day and have added extra pumpings on other days to save enough milk to leave in bottles for him on those days.

Though the biting and pumping were challenges, this whole year has been worth the bond that has been created. I’ve greatly enjoyed the quiet time and eye contact with my sweet baby. It is amazing to know that the milk my body has been producing was what kept him alive and growing until he started solids at 5 months. He has had minimal illness this first year, even with being in group care 2 days per week. The extra calorie deficit created by breastfeeding definitely helped me to lose the baby weight quickly. I’ve actually been under my pre-pregnancy weight for months now, but I have had quite an appetite. It has also been a huge deal to have a supportive husband and family.

If I get the opportunity to breastfeed a second child, I would do at least a couple things differently. I would freeze more milk at the beginning when the milk supply is so great. I’d also leave more bottles of breastmilk available so that Dad could do some night time feedings. We introduced a bottle at 4 weeks, and I could’ve caught up on some sleep once Dad could participate in feedings. He was always willing, but I rarely left bottles for night time feedings.

I’d advise a first time, breastfeeding mom to find a mentor mom or two that have been down the road already. Utilize lactation consultants!!! Also, my two favorite products to use during those first couple of weeks to manage nipple pain and plugged ducts were hydrogels and Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy.

Currently my 12 month old nurses about 4x per day. I’m planning to slowly drop the 2 middle feedings during the day so that I no longer have to pump at work, and we will start whole milk. I plan to drop the morning and night time feedings when we both feel ready. I feel sad but excited about the freedom of this next season. Blessings to those of you who are just starting out!” – Jessica

“Well, where to begin? I, like some moms, wanted to try breastfeeding. The realist in my knew that it would be a tough task but I was fiercely determined to try my best. I thankfully didn’t have any issues with latching. Whew. However once the night turned into days, I realized I wasn’t producing enough milk. What?? This isn’t suppose to happen! I’m supposed to be gushing milk from the giant fountains that my boobs are. But no. I would pump and pump and pump and get about 1oz. What a let down (LOL). But seriously I was discouraged about the lack of milk but I had a good friend who encouraged me and guided me. It led to a lot of pumping to stimulate my milk glands and when I say a lot I mean every 2 hours I would feed, then I would pump. This went on for 5 days. FIVE. But on day five the flood gate, or milk gate, swung open wide! Five days is a long time to wait for milk, so in the mean time my baby didn’t starve…we mixed what little milk he was getting with formula and supplemented for the first week.

Once my milk did come in I entered into a whole new ball game. I was having SUPER harsh letdowns and the poor kid was choking. Ughhh. So for a few weeks I had to pump BEFORE I fed him to get my milk to let down THEN let him latch and eat.

I know, I know, it all seems like so much work, and it is, but the skin to skin time and that sweet special bond between you and your baby is seriously the sweetest. I look back and I miss that time now for sure. Here are some tips from my experience. I hope they are helpful.

  1. Find a friend, sister, nurse, SOMEONE to be your go-to gal. This should be a trusted and reliable person that has breast feeding experience. I had a good friend from college who already had a baby and had experienced many of my trials. She was a great source of comfort and knowledge. She never made me feel like I was failing, even though at times I did.
  2. The first few weeks you are in survival mode. Breastfeeding isn’t as easy or glamorous as the movies make it. It takes a lot of time when you are first starting out. I remember being up around an hour at a time in the night for the few few weeks because it just took too long. If you can’t beat them, join them. I had my set up ready to go each night. Everything I needed right by my chair – diapers, wipes, remote. I usually watched tv while he nursed. Sometimes I was really tired and would fall asleep. Just embrace it. You can’t change it.
  3. Check your pride at the hospital door. Seems easy right? I mean everyone and their mom has seen your nether region at this point so it shouldn’t be too hard at all. Breastfeeding is hard. You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to know it all. If you need help, ask for help. This isn’t limited just to breastfeeding. If you need help around your home or with meals so you can focus on feeding, ask.
  4. No pain, no gain. For the first few weeks your entire body will hurt, from nipples to your private region (or your abdomen if you had a c-section). I promise it’s temporary. Your vag will heal, your nipples will acclimate. In the meantime, keep the lanolin and those cooling gel pads nearby to keep your nipples (and yourself) happy.

The early days of breastfeeding take a long time. Be patient. But you know what, if you get to that point where you think it might not be for you, that’s ok too. There’s no law that says you have to breastfeed. There are a lot of options. You can breastfeed exclusively, breastfeed and pump and give them bottles, you can breastfeed and give formula, or you can go just the formula route. People have opinions about what is “right” but what is right is what you choose for you and your family.” – Amber

“I approach parenting, including breastfeeding, with these two sayings in mind: 1. “If I can, I will; if I can’t, they’ll still be ok.” 2. “A happy baby is a healthy baby, and happy babies come from happy moms.” They just help remind me to not let the pressures of being a “perfect” mom get in the way of a happy, fulfilled family life.

Before I can share my short-lived breastfeeding story it’s important to know a few details of my pregnancy. When I was pregnant with #2 I developed something called cholestasis. Basically there was a build up of bile acids in my liver which overflowed into my bloodstream. This caused severe nausea, indigestion, acid reflux…everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, I ate came back up one way or another. I developed food aversion to everything, and towards the end, I completely stopped eating. Unfortunately, the food aversion didn’t immediately go away, and even now, over a year later, I still struggle with it. I can look at most food and instantly taste the acid/bile in my mouth.

So now I’ve had my baby, and it’s time to breastfeed. I wasn’t eating well, but the first two months of breastfeeding went along fine with my son gaining weight like normal, and I was able to build up a small freezer supply. At this point I decided to go back to work. I only work part time, I’m off by noon, and the offspring usually don’t wake up until 9:30/10 so going back wasn’t ever really a huge deal for me. It worked out that I would nurse my son around 3:30 am, at 6 I would pump a bottle for my hubby to give him later, and I would head off to work. At the halfway point at work I would pump another bottle for the freezer, and then he and I were both ready when I got home. When he was around three months old I remember thinking that he was still sleeping A LOT, but I just brushed it off as different babies do different things. So it’s business as usual up until this point. My supply is fine, I’m adding to my stash, the kid is eating like normal, but he is on the smaller side. That’s ok though, his dad was the smallest in his class until he was a sophomore in high school so I didn’t really think too much of it.

About a week before his 4 month appointment, I was at work, pumping along, when oh my dear sweet Jesus what was THAT, and why is there blood in my breastmilk?! Ok, don’t panic, we will just finish this boob, the pain isn’t that bad. I finished pumping, moved on to my other breast, and I was fine. Ok, that was weird, but I thought there might’ve just been a little damage to a blood vessel. Well, three or four days later, I’m at home nursing, and WHY ARE THERE SHARDS OF GLASS COMING OUT OF MY NIPPLES?! I was in tears. I toughed through the feeding, cause babies gotta eat and all, but it HURT. I did this for three days, because “Luke has an appointment soon, and I’ll be fine.” No, I was stupid. Don’t ever do this. I had thrush, and it was awful.

Finally it’s time for his four month appointment. When the doctor came in to talk he showed us Luke’s growth chart. There had been absolutely no growth in height or weight since his 2 month appointment. At this point we discussed my breastmilk, Luke’s appetite, his feeding habits, and possible medical issues and family history. As a group we decided to give breastfeeding another month, but after that, if we didn’t see any growth, we would be sent to the hospital to have blood work done, and to have Luke tested for possible medical issues, including dwarfism.

So for the next two weeks I made myself sick trying to eat as much as I could, trying to increase my supply, because we thought maybe Luke just wasn’t eating enough. We also started using my stored milk, forcing him to take bottles that he didn’t want. In this time I’m also going through the hassle of trying to get rid of thrush for both of us. I was miserable, he was miserable, and nobody wanted to eat any more dang food. Then one day I noticed that there was very little, if any, fat in the milk I had thawed. I ended up thawing three more bags of breastmilk, and not a single one of them had noticeable amounts of fat. Sometime over the course of those two months I had stopped producing fat in my breastmilk, and without it Luke just wasn’t growing. That day, at 4 months and two weeks in, I sent my husband out for Luke’s first tub of formula, I packed up my breast pump, and I gave Luke his first bottle of formula while we gazed adoringly into one another’s eyes.

I probably could’ve powered on for a few more weeks, possibly even getting to a point where my breastmilk was the only source of nutrition my son needed, but he had surgery scheduled for two weeks after I packed up my breast pump. At that point, my biggest concern was making sure he was healthy going in to and coming out of that. I wasn’t worried about what my son was eating, as long as he was getting everything he needed out of it.” – Brooke

“Before my son was born I was honestly more nervous that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed than I was about actually birthing him (ok, maybe that is a bit of a stretch). But my mom was not able to breastfeed and so that put a lot of fear in me that I wouldn’t be able to either. We started off strong and after being totally shocked when my milk came in (I didn’t know my boobs could get any bigger!) we fell into a pretty good rhythm for the first few months. I even loved the early morning hours, just me and him. And then mother nature returned and I experienced low supply for the first time. It was HARD and Jude was teething/growing at the same time. We both spent a whole week crying and being frustrated. My two best friends during this time of lower supply were pumping and Mothers Milk tea that I found at Kroger (tasted nasty but definitely did the job). So every time my period comes around I usually have to pump more and drink some tea.

My son will be 9 months old on the 4th and we are still at it, something I honestly never thought I would be able to say! My biggest piece of advice would be to not give up. We still have rough days (especially now that we have introduced solids) but I keep at it. I would also tell future mommies to trust your baby and your body. They WILL let you know when they are hungry and your body WILL make enough if you are diligent. We plan to continue nursing till his first birthday and then we will take it a week at a time after that. I LOVE nursing and even though it has caused me to shed some tears now and then, I’m not sure that I would do anything differently.” – Hannah 

“I was blessed with two very successful breastfeeding experiences. I know part of that was just anatomy and part was goal setting. I told myself I would nurse my first until she turned one. I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding really, besides it was best for the baby. It was painful at first but I really enjoyed the ease of it after the initial hump. I got pregnant with my second and worried about supply and providing for my unborn baby since I was pretty thin…but we somehow made it to 15 months weaning naturally as my milk dried up. I had a three month nursing break before baby number two arrived and we are still nursing! My first even got an ounce or two for several months because I pumped extra in the mornings. This round my goal is to make it 2 years, which is a month away. I am crossing my fingers my milk will last!

Yes, there were many challenges such as reflux, dairy intolerances, mastitis, colic, and constantly worrying about supply, but we somehow did it without having to supplement. I found it helpful to talk with a lactation specialist at the very beginning, eat lots of good fats like coconut oil, eggs and avocados, and only ask questions of those who had success nursing. I believe our mind is very powerful over our bodies so I would literally ask God to help me provide what my child needed when it felt like my supply was lacking. He answered! I have two beautiful thriving healthy girls and am so happy I was able to nurse them!” – Laura

If you made it this far, I hope this post has somehow encouraged you, or you know someone it would! Be sure to pin for later. And thanks to everyone who contributed!

Keep it up, mommas!

Follow on Bloglovin


  • Reply
    Heather @Lunging Through Life
    January 27, 2017 at 7:15 am

    What a tremendous breasfeeding resource!!! Pinning!
    Heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Friday Favorites: Halo Top, Whole Foods Opening, Bruegger’s Birthday, and MoreMy Profile

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      January 27, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Thanks for contributing!!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I LOVED THIS POST! I read every word. Thank you for pulling together such a resource! I will be pointing friends to it for years, I’m sure.

    Life threw a huge wrench into our preparations for baby #1 when our house flooded as I was 28 weeks pregnant. Renovations on a tight schedule meant that I didn’t attend the classes I had planned or get to have the house nearly as ready as I’d hoped. I went into the hospital planning to “wing it” with birth and breastfeeding. Against all odds, the strategy worked! We had an easy time establishing a breastfeeding relationship that lasted almost 14 months when I got pregnant with #2. Pumping at work was not my favorite, but we had no real bumps in the road. These stories do happen!

    My favorite memories are from the time he was one month to six months old when we resorted to (gasp!) bed-sharing so that we could all get better sleep. I was so surprised how much both my husband and I enjoyed having the little guy there with us. Bed-sharing is something I never thought I would do, but parenthood has a way of humbling you! I think all of the ladies here have driven home a single point: every baby and every parent-baby pair is different and what you do out of love for your child is the right way to parent!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      January 27, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I’m so glad you loved it!! Sounds like you’ve had quite the journey too! 🙂 So true, parenthood will humble you in ways you never thought possible!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Great resource! I bottle fed Amelia from the beginning, and even though I was made to feel guilty for months, I don’t feel guilty for our decision anymore. I think it’s a misconception that formula fed babies aren’t able to bond as quickly with their moms, because that wasn’t and hasn’t been true for us at all. I had postpartum anxiety and having extra help with feedings during the day and at nighttime was really helpful for me. I don’t know if I’ll do the same with our next baby, but as Anna said above, no mom should ever feel guilty for not breastfeeding!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      January 27, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Agreed!! There should never be any shaming for making the decision that’s best for you and baby!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    What a great resource for those who need that extra encouragement – I know I will reference this many times and will tell other mommas to as well! Thanks for letting me be apart of it!

  • Reply
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot
    January 27, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Thank you for putting this together! This is definitely something I’m anxious about because you never know how things are going to go. Right now, I’m trying to stay calm and not stress over it before it’s even time for it.
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Foodie Friday: Kale Salad with Orange VinaigretteMy Profile

  • Reply
    Katie @ Live Half Full
    January 28, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    This post turned out great! So glad to be a part of it!
    Katie @ Live Half Full recently posted…Five Good Things #4My Profile

  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I am a first-time mom about halfway through pregnancy (19 weeks along!) and this was so helpful. I am trying to be as prepared as possible for a natural hospital birth and strong start on breastfeeding. I have read a MILLION birth stories to prepare for childbirth – to give me an idea of what it’s like for most women – but it’s been hard to find many breastfeeding stories.

    All of these have made me realize that breastfeeding is a lot like childbirth…you may have the perfect Birth Plan, but life happens and you have to be flexible to what you and your baby need. The “Birth Plan” or “Breastfeeding Plan” may have to be altered or even completely ditched once you get in the middle of the experience.

    It is so hard to let go of plans. Your stories have helped remind me to have “open hands” with my birth and breastfeeding plans, to focus on what is best for me and baby in the moment instead of holding on tightly to plans that may or may not really fit us.

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      February 1, 2017 at 12:13 am

      Hi Stephanie!! Congrats to you!! How exciting! I’m so glad this was helpful to you! I really hope it gives you a little peace of mind, and helps you feel more confident going into things! You are going to be great! 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge