What Your Breastfeeding Struggle Says About You

Your newborn has arrived and you’re wading through colic hell, or have one of those easy babies who sleeps through the night. But now that you’re waking up for those late night feedings that come to punctuate the hours of two or four, you’re encountering a new arena of challenges. Perhaps you decided straight out of the birth canal that formula was going to be your route. But if you’re struggling with breastfeeding, know that you and your cracked nipples are not alone.

If your baby won’t latch on


You’re on the phone making FRANTIC lactation consultant appointments and cycling through the tips from the breastfeeding lady at the hospital/birth center on a half hour of sleep. You’ve admittedly fallen down the Google rabbit hole of tips regarding stroking your infant’s lips, alternative positions, and even fancy breastfeeding cushions. You’ve put up a desperate S.O.S on your parenting forum of choice only to receive a chorus of “don’t give up!” “stick it out!” You’re not there yet.

(photo: Clover_1)

If you’re not producing enough milk

breast milk in fridge

You’ve broken down and cried in front of your partner and whatever expert you can afford a few times over this. You’ve tried, according to you, everything to increase your supply: beer, diet changes, and stopped yourself just short of taking possibly unsafe medications. Your pediatrician is just kind of shrugging and suggesting supplementing with formula for now, but you went to WAY too many La Leche League meetings back when you were pregnant to go down that easy. You will continue to torture yourself with for a few months and even drop an obscene amount of money on a pump that makes your nipples bleed.

(photo: markjdcrawford)

If you produce way too much milk and even your baby is like WTF, mom

breat milk in fridge

Your fellow mommy friends/relatives make cracks about hey, how about you feed my baby too, but it’s no joke. You’re “hand expressing,” or as you like to say, MILKING YOURSELF before feedings to get things under control. It’s only when you’re back at the doctor rehashing this ordeal that he or she suggests to nurse even more to keep the supply in check. All you have to say is thank goodness you have a season of “Scandal” to catch up on.

(photo: sulprizi)

If you have mastitis

People told you that parenting was gross but you often thought that applied to, well, your baby and their various excretions. Not you. Not only do you feel like your breast has transformed into one huge pimple, but your doctor is all, “oh this is so common right after birth. Don’t worry about it. Here’s some antibiotics. Get hot compresses. Oh and keeping nursing.” Whaaaa? You’ve taken to your bed like a Victorian heroine and feel like grabbing the cheery “breast is best” lady who was making the hospital rounds after birth and showing how best your breast is now.

If your nipples are cracking

People are suggesting a light painkiller 30 minutes or so before nursing, meaning that you have another added component to your breastfeeding timetable. Not only are you counting back the hours since baby last ate but now you’re trying to time it with ibuprofen which frankly doesn’t do much. That and you also find yourself skeptical that a little blood won’t hurt your baby. Really? You’re up to your eyeballs in various creams that fellow mothers swear by but, more importantly, you can’t believe that you’ve now reached the point in your life where you have to add “nipple cream” to your grocery lists. That happened fast.

If your baby has thrush

Who would have thought that your horizon of yeast infections could one day be expanded! Your baby had it, then you had it, then baby had it, then you had it and back and forth you go in the absolute worst ping pong game ever. You’ve been itching so much and finding random rashes in fun new places. You dared make a pretty vague reference to your pain during your breastfeeding support group and they all looked at you like you had just withdrew a bottle of formula. No? And here they told you those deep, shooting pains during feedings were normal. You’ve been on medication for this crap once or twice already — which haven’t really agreed with you — and now your doctor is talking antifungal cream. CHARMING.

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  • LadyClodia

    With my first son I had all of these except the milk production ones.

    • Koa_Beck

      Condolences, friend

    • LadyClodia

      Thanks. I reasoned that I just got it all out of the way first because everything went surprisingly smooth nursing my second. (I was, however, not going to put up with all of that a second time had things not gone smoothly, though, heh.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      I so hope that is the case with mine, too. With my first, I had low milk production, latching problems on my right boob only ( he ate like a pro from Leftie), and a colicky baby. When I found a formula that soothed his tummy, I stuck with it and lessened his nursing slowly until my milk dried up. So, no engorgement problems for me and an easier transition for him.

      I am hoping things are easier with baby #2, which is currently baking.

    • LadyClodia

      My first always preferred my left boob too, but he would nurse a little on the right.

      I really hope that you also have an easier time with your second!

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      C Man definitely preferred the left. During the day (or anytime I tried to hold him and nurse), I couldn’t get him to latch. Which caused me to be engorged. Which then made latching even harder. Anytime he would latch and nurse from the left, I would get letdown on the right and milk would go EVERYWHERE. And then to try and switch sides was useless cuz he wanted nothing to do with it. But at night, when I could lay on my side and we were both half-asleep, he would nurse from the right. I tried the side lying position with him during the day, too, but if he was wide awake, he would not have it. He is a left boob man. Lol.

  • Justme
  • Bethany Ramos

    That is exactly how my freezer looks – milk for DAYS.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Lucky. My child won’t stop eating long enough for me to pump.

  • LiteBrite

    #1 and #2 were me. After four days of trying in the hospital and getting nothing but a screaming child, I gave up. At first I felt guilty and horrible, but the look on that little newborn’s face when he FINALLY got to eat (even if from a bottle) made those feelings go away.

    • Harriet Meadow

      Yeah, my milk didn’t come in for a week. We tried donor milk in the hospital and then had to move to formula once we were home (donor milk was too expensive). And then it took a MONTH AND A HALF (maybe even closer to two months) of working to get him to latch without a hell of a lot of effort (and a nipple shield). That was freakin’ hard. I’m glad I’m breastfeeding, but I’m pretty sure if I have similar issues with the next one I’m not going to work so hard. There’s nothing wrong with formula.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Hello, number 2. I remember you.

  • Jennifer

    Reglan FTW! Just kidding, it made me suicidal. Awesome times. I wish someone had told me that pumping around the clock for a preemie while recovering from severe preeclampsia might cause production problems. (You think?!)

  • Edify

    Knowing all the other problems women have with feeding, I feel crap for complaining about my over supply problem, but it sucks. I have no intention of pumping this time round and will supplement with formula if I’m not available for a feed. This means I’m not filling the fridge and freezer but I have an infant that struggles with the load when we feed. I’m really over him power chucking on me in the early hours of the morning because of it.

  • orca343

    It says you are not cut out to do the number one thing you are supposed to do…………feed it.

  • blh

    These are pretty much the reasons I didn’t breast feed. If my nipple ever cracked and bled or my boob resembled a pimple I’d pretty much be done with life. I pretty much thought my boobs were going to explode and I’d die when my milk came in. Can’t deal with it.

  • Amstaveley

    Or you’ve never had a problem other than sleep deprivation, a little minor engorgement, or the odd tender nipple through three nursing babies. Ironic that this website is constantly criticizing sancti-mommies then posting such brutal condescension to groups of people who do something that YOU are as equally sanctimonious about.

  • Nikkers

    I didn’t make enough milk for either of my daughters. I really did try EVERYTHING that EVERYONE said and was often told I wasn’t trying hard enough. Guilt guilt guilt. Crying babies because they were hungry. More guilt guilt guilt. Then I supplemented with formula. BINGO. Best decision ever. Both of my girls got breast milk and formula at every feeding and they are perfectly happy and healthy children.

    If they are hungry…FEED THEM. It doesn’t matter how!

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