Be.You.Tiful. Mom Series: Nursing is Not Natural

A seed of insecurity was planted the day I held my first born in my arms for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, there was unexplainable joy and deep seeded love the moment our eyes met, but with it came dark feelings that I didn’t invite into my heart or home. And I made sure that the seed was firmly planted and nurtured every time I received unsolicited advice and when I  compared myself to other moms: abilities, gadgets, nursing successes, weight loss etc…….

The Day the seed of insecurity bloomed.  The cold room was filled with tired moms with fake smiles holding their babies.  I had no idea what was awaiting, past those double doors.  Our pediatrician began examining our son.  His facial expressions were different as he questioned me about his bowel movements, eating habits, etc….  He went to get a nurse and they both examined him and left the room.  Something was wrong.

He walked back in with a serious face and said “You can’t go home with your son.”  Suddenly, time froze, his words and condescending voice just became one long sentence spoken in slow motion.  Finally, I tuned back in and I heard him ask, “When was the last time you fed him?” He was now speaking to me as if I was a reckless, careless 15-year-old mom. It didn’t help that I did look that young, even though I was 28 years old.

“Mrs. Tuten, he is alarmingly under weight.  He was born at 6.5 lbs and he has now lost more than a pound. I am afraid that he won’t make it through the weekend if I let you go home.”

He walked out and I sat there in the cold, sterile room holding my baby, truly feeling like a helpless 15-year-old. 

My crying turned into sobbing, the nurse walked back in to clean up the doctors lack of tact and she began to reassure me that this is not my fault, that this could have happened to anyone . . . but the damage was done.  I didn’t need anyone to help me feel guilty, but now I had a professional confirm that I really didn’t know what I was doing and, for that matter, everything I was doing was not good enough.

I felt shame, embarrasement, confusion and frustration and all I could do was sob as I held my sweet boy.  Surely, this was just a dream.  I must  have slept through this appointment and I am just having an awful nightmare.  I will wake up and this will all be over.

We spent 2 nights in the hospital, what seemed like an eternity.  I watched my baby cry as the nurses poked and bruised his little arms in an attempt to put an IV in him.  His tiny little 5 lb. body lay there with tubes running through him attached to a monitor.  His diagnosis:  “failure to function” or, as I interpreted it, careless mom who was unable to care and feed her child.  What the doctor didn’t know was that I fed him every 3 hours.  That I spent an hour each feeding trying to wake him, stimulate him, play with him in order to get him to nurse.  He was a happy and content child after nursing with no signs of “failure to function.”

That day my spirit of mothering was crushed and I left the hospital with an insurmountable amount of baggage:

Guilit; I should have known he was near death?

Shame; I can’t even nurse my son properly, so what kind of mother am I?

Jealously; I couldn’t watch, much less hear, another mom gloat about their amazing nursing experiences.

And all of those feelings soon turned into resentment.  From that day forward our nursing sessions looked like this: nursing for an hour, supplementing with a bottle, and then pumping.  This all took about 2.5 hours, leaving only 30- 45 minutes of “free” time to get things done around the house before I had to nurse again.  I did this for 6 long and hard months.  Everyone cheered me on in this decision because this was the best thing for my son.  Little did we know that it was the worst thing I could do for my son, myself and our family.  Those six months were filled with exhaustion, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment leaving me drained and depressed.  My husband encouraged me to let go of nursing, but I didn’t listen.  I became a determined, crazy nursing mom – reading anything I could get my hands on about how to make this work, trying all sorts of crazy recipes to make my milk supply increase . . . .

 mommynme

image via demandaj

Now an explanation to what probably got you reading this far, my title for this article. In light of my negative experience I would still choose nursing if I had that choice. My hope is to encourage women to realize that it does take time and effort and to share that we don’t all have a choice in the matter of nursing. Some of us do have to reluctantly go and stand in front of the formula aisle for hours making ourselves buy it for the sake of our baby. I quickly realized what I wished more people would share with new moms, nursing does not come naturally. You do have to learn how to breastfeed your baby and for some the learning process is harder than others.  I equate “natural” to something that does not need my active participation, it just happens. Babies don’t naturally latch on correctly(this is important) and suck to their heart’s content.

“Falling in-love. Making poo. Producing tears. Tummy flutters. Goosebumps. Cold shivers. Muscle cramps. Any of these fall neatly into the category of “natural”. Breastfeeding isn’t like that. At all. At best one could describe the production of colostrum as natural. I didn’t give a moments thought to its production, but there it was…ready and waiting when my babies were born. Breastfeeding, like so much of parenting, is learned. And like most things that are worth learning, it hurts. And takes time. And patience. And it almost always helps to have some kind of teacher (even if that teacher is a book).” via Learner Mom

Looking back now, I would tell myself:

  • You’re not less of a woman if you don’t breastfeed.
  • It’s okay if someone has to teach you and your baby how to breastfeed most need a lesson or two or three or four.
  • Mari, all 3 of your kids are healthy even though you could only nurse one of them.
  • It’s not your fault that nursing didn’t work for you all.
  • Look at all those kids on the playground.  Can you pick out the ones that were breastfed?  NO.
  • For the sake of your family and yourself; let it go. Yes, there are great advantages to breastfeeding, but clearly this is not working for you.
  • Nursing can be hard and painful. Your boobs will fall apart from incorrect latching.
  • After children, your life IS going to look different, it IS going to change, so embrace the change.  Stop fighting it!
  • Not to mention your body is going to change.
  • Even if you’re exhausted and all you can manage to do is sit on the couch and flip channels, make time for yourself, for your hobbies, for your interests.
  • Yes, YOU still exist under all that extra baby weight.
  • Have realistic expectations- most likely your baby will not latch on without any help or go to sleep through the night in the first week and you won’t lose the baby fat in a week (so stop trying on those pre-baby jeans, hide them)…
  • No, your baby is not born with this innate natural ability to breastfeed. Unlike all those videos you watched and claim this.
  • You will enjoy your baby a lot more if you haven’t spent 80% of your day trying to feed him, and then feeling resentful, and then feeling guilty because you feel resentful.
  • Everyone will want to give you unsolicited mothering advice. Take it with a grain of salt and pray for wisdom and be you.
  • Throw modesty out the window the minute you walk into the labor room.  You will show parts of your body that you didn’t know exist to complete strangers and nurses will come in the room, grab your boobs like there is nothing to it in order to help you nurse . . . .
  • Whatever you do, for the first couple of bad nursing days stay away from those moms who gloat about the gallons of milk they have stored in the fridge and how their child feeds in 5 minutes.
  • Don’t ever forget, that in the midst of all those dark feelings you LOVED your baby like crazy.
  • Be vulnerable and talk about the frustrations you are having with nursing.  You will be amazed at how many other moms have struggled.
  • Stop the comparison it only robs your joy. What works for another mom may not work for you.
  • You are not perfect- your baby will fall and get bruised (yes even on your watch), he may sit in a dirty diaper for hours, he will get sick, he may even cry himself to sleep . . . .  Life happens.

Above all, pray like crazy. Pray for wisdom, discernment, sanity, love, patience and strength to make it through the day.  Your desire should be to honor Him, not to please your friend who has all the baby bling or be the first mom to fit into your pre-baby pants or out-do that mom who is making gourmet baby food.

You are BEAUTIFUL! Don’t be afraid to be YOU as you mother.  You are wonderfully made by God with different passions, skills and personality, so enjoy basking in His presence as He delights in giving you opportunities to shine, even if the spotlight is over a changing table.

“Let the King be enthralled by your beauty, honor Him, for He is your Lord.” Psalms 45:15

On a side note, we did discover later in life that I produce skim milk. In other words, my milk doesn’t have the fat that is needed for my babies to gain weight and grow.  In spite of all our issues, I am glad to report that I have 3 healthy, handsome and growing boys. I learned after the first child well maybe it took the second one to accept that nursing wasn’t going to work for us. Thanks to God, even though the process has been long, insecurity, jealousy and bitterness are not a daily struggle in my life as a mother anymore!

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43 Responses to “Be.You.Tiful. Mom Series: Nursing is Not Natural”

  1. April 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. Though I managed to successfully nurse all four of the children I gave birth too, I would also agree that it’s not “natural”, in the sense that you can just do it and everyone gets along fine. It is difficult to start, some children don’t latch on well and have to be trained, there are problems with clogged ducts that can cause pain, or become infected (which causes far more pain), and in my (and my mother’s) case, even when the child did latch on well right from the start, it was still very uncomfortable for the first few seconds every time they fed the first week or two. With my last I also had production problems for the first week or two, so even with years of breastfeeding experience under my belt, I found myself in a tug-of-war with my doctor as I struggled to figure out and overcome the problem. And when you have problems, it’s so easy to beat yourself up over them.
    I commend you for all your efforts, and more importantly, for realizing your worth for your children, and for that matter, yourself and your husband, was not wrapped up in your ability to breastfeed.

    • April 30, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      Becky, so glad to hear your feedback as a successful nurser and to know that tweeking the quirks does apply to even those who have done it 4 times successfully. I appreciate your feedback and kind words. blessings

  2. Jacque Watkins
    April 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Oh Mari! What wonderful and life-giving words you have written, and with such wit and wisdom! And as a labor & delivery nurse I can assure you, breastfeeding is a skill, unique to each mother-baby unit, with no two experiences exactly the same. And even though I exclusively breastfed all 5 of my kids, thank you for your encouraging words to all mothers to shed inappropriate guilt and shame based on unrealistic expectations, and become the amazing, beautiful, wife and mothers they already are!

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      Jaque, Thank you so much for your kind words. Good to know that a professional agrees that “breastfeeding is a skill.”

  3. May 1, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    My only daughter is now 11 and to this day I am embarrassed when people ask me if I breastfed and have to explain that, for whatever reason, my colostrums never developed properly so I couldn’t breastfeed. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I didn’t have a choice but oh the looks that I have gotten! The “pity” stares and the “how did you get to be a mother” looks. Thank you for sharing this! I TOTALLY agree to do if you can but oh how hard it is for those who can’t.

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

      My Whole story Contd,
      Oh I know those looks. I am still amazed at how both male and females feel so free to talk about my boobs w/o thinking twice about it when it pertains to nursing, LOL. I hope with time you are able to find freedom from that embarrasement. blessings

  4. May 1, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Oh, wow. Thanks for sharing this story. I thought that since breastfeeding was “natural” that that meant it would come “easy”–and I was so wrong!

    I think the prevailing message of lactation enthusiastics–that any woman can nurse if she tries–is generally encouraging. But it’s so harmful to women who truly can’t breastfeed their children.

    Thanks for sharing how this played out in your life.

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      Anne, I totally agree that Pro- breastfeeding messages are great and needed to motivate women but as you said it can be harmful. Glad to have you stop by!

  5. May 1, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    Breastfeeding is SO MUCH something that has to be learned! When you see a mother sit down and feed her baby, it looks like she just does it-easy-peasy! Well, by the time you SEE a mother nursing her baby, it is usually that way, BECAUSE they have already been through the learning stages and struggles.

    When I had my daughter, I was surprised by how much there was to learn about nursing!

  6. Jill
    May 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    This was a post that needed to be written!! I don’t have babies yet but plan on starting a family in June once I’m married.

    And I flat out do not want to breastfeed.

    I am so sick of the moms out there who get high and might about their choice and who end up making non-nursing women feel guilty and shameful and like they aren’t a good enough mom just because of one choice. My gramma raised seven children all of whom turned out healthy, productive, God-fearing, and tied to their families – and she didn’t breastfeed a one.

    Thank God we live in times when a woman can CHOOSE how to nuture her child. If breastfeeding were the only way, your prescious blessing might not have made it. Whenter a mom bottle feeds by choice or by chance, she shouldn’t be beaten up for it!! Thank you for this post!.

    • Anonymous
      May 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

      Mari, thank you for sharing. I also had a really difficult time nursing my babies, even though I had a lactation specialist constantly at my side in the hospital with my daughter. I still panicked when her weight dropped noticeably and started pumping. She would not latch on properly and would get tired and fall asleep. I pumped for seven months but still felt incredibly inadequate. I felt that pumping was the least I could do. When I had my son 6 yrs later, I was determined not to give up so easily. This time i was very optimistic because I had breast shields & nipple trainers. I can laugh about that now :) Just like it happened with my daughter, the lactation specialists would congratulate me for getting him to latch on correctly, only to find broken skin & bleeding afterward. I was told over and over again to “hang in there, the first 10-14 days are the hardest, then you get used to it”. My son was very persistent and didn’t tire easily. He’s still that way. But by day 12, I was still bleeding and the pain was so intense I would tremble in pain & sob uncontrollably as I nursed him. Finally, I decided that my emotional & physical condition could not be healthy for my baby and turned to pumping. This time, I was not as hard on myself & sometimes supplemented with formula. At about five months, I completely stopped pumping as I felt like something was wrong. My son constantly had eczema that sometimes flared severely. Doctors gave me ointments after ointments but none seemed to work entirely. I felt like we were treating the result and not doing enough to prevent it. I stayed away from fragrances, fabric softeners, and other common allergens but nothing changed. About a month after I stopped pumping, we discovered that my son had a severe allergy to egg whites, which I often ate directly and indirectly while pumping. So for the first 5 months of my son’s life, my breast milk made him sick.
      Last year, i found out from our Orthodontist that my daughter has an abnormal tongue thrust that probably interfered with her nursing. Breastfeeding may come easy to some mothers and babies but definitely not for all. It was not possible for me and I am ok with that.

      • May 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

        Anonymous, Thanks so much for sharing your story. Hindsight is wonderful, right. If we only knew then what we know now. Glad that you were able to come to a place of being okay with your decision. That is the hardest when you haven’t gotten to that point.

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      Jjill, Yes, I was so very thankful that I didn’t live back in the days when we didn’t have a choice. Not sure what would of happened to our little man. I think I have heard that there were women who would nurse other peoples babies for a living. Interesting.

  7. May 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    I will admit your title did get me at first, but I’m glad I read your post and enjoying seeing your heart on this matter. Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings, Nicole at Working Kansas Homemaker

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      Yes, on my fb post I said “I promise I am not trying to pick a fight with la leche league.” thanks for stopping by.

  8. May 2, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    I had my son and was determined to breastfeed. He didn’t latch correctly, my milk took over two weeks to come in at all and I had to supplement with formula through a feeder while trying to get him to latch. He would break off and scream every few seconds and when my milk did finally come in, he would choke and gasp when the milk flowed too fast. He took forever to nurse, hours at a time. I was stressed out at every feeding and exhausted. Not to mention dealing with pretty severe postpartum depression which I’m sure my stress level didn’t help. It wasn’t until he was about seven months that we both seemed to get the hang of it and he would nurse happily. I would sit staring down at him nursing contentedly and think, “oh, so this is what women are talking about when they mention the joys of nursing.” It was most certainly not natural for either of us. But then I had my next two children and nursed easily from the beginning. Every experience is different and as moms we need to realize that what works for one isn’t always right for the everyone. Thanks for sharing Mari. Much needed wisdom for moms.

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

      Alia, Wow, thanks for sharing that. I am so glad that he did finally latch on and get the hang of it that is not always the case. Way to go for your persistence! Yes, and so true, every experience is different.

  9. May 2, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    Don’t feel bad. My milk is also “skim” milk. Which I had never heard of until it happened to me. I was able to nurse to 12 months. But with the Dr.’s breathing down my neck. She was able to gain weight but not as much as other babies do being breastfeed. Yes, I felt like a failure that I too was doing everything possible but my baby still wasn’t gaining as much as they wanted.

    I think we put too much pressure on ourselves as women. Good job for sticking with it but like people told me you wouldn’t have been less of a mother if you had quit. Most babies are formula feed.

  10. arnebya
    May 2, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    The amount of judgment ascribed to women who don’t breastfeed never ceases to amaze me. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its breastfeeding policy to read in part: “Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.” Then, Michelle Obama said, as part of the Let’s Move initiative, when speaking at a childcare facility about breastfeeding that a way to help moms was “supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed.” The first statement irked the hell out of me b/c it gives the impression that mothers who don’t breastfeed are bad mothers, not putting their child’s best interests first. The reason I got aggravated at the breastfeeding community’s response to Mrs. Obama’s comment was similar: to me, it IS choice. It is a personal choice. I couldn’t care less if a mother opts to breastfeed or not, and I’m a breastfeeding advocate. I breastfed each of my three kids, but you’re right; that shit ain’t always easy or pleasant and sometimes it simply DOES. NOT. WORK.

    That we are oftentimes so quick to judge and shame another person for what she can/can’t do, has chosen to/not to do, sickens me. As for breastfeeding itself being natural — for me, it was, and I assume that can be different for any woman. I agree that the coming in of the colostrum is perhaps “more natural” than the act of breastfeeding itself, but each of my kids latched on and sucked away. But, just like you mention, there are so many things that can hinder and derail your best efforts. Your list is positively wonderful and I hope any mother considering breastfeeding stumbles across it. It will make her feel empowered, secure, and able, something you weren’t given when you need it most. Thank you for giving this to them, for using your experience to educate.

  11. May 2, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    My first baby was born 5 weeks early – I was induced because of pre-eclampsia. She didn’t have a suck reflex yet. The only way to get her to suck was to stick a bottle nipple in her mouth. The nurses and docs in hospital tried everything to help me breastfeed, but it simply wouldnt work and I finally asked for a bottle. I didnt want my baby to be hungry. Anyway, the short version was my mild didnt come in and I bottle fed her. She is healthy, at 11 is the same height as me, very athletic. She was also a well socialized baby because anyone could feed her. Every mom should be able to do whatever works for them without fear of judgement.

  12. Thanks for this post! I have 5 kids and tried breastfeeding two of them. My first child was born with disabilities and health issues that required a stay in the NICU and needed to be formula fed.

    By the time I had the next baby (13 years later) I was determined to breastfeed him. I had nerve damage from an old injury on my right side and when my milk came in it caused excruciating pain on that nerve. After struggling through and working with lactation consultants (unsuccessfully), I finally switched to formula.

    With my next son I decided to formula feed. While I was in the hospital after delivery, a lactation consultant came and talked to me about breastfeeding him. I told her that I would rather formula feed. She went ahead and marked that I was breastfeeding and they didn’t give me any formula. So I struggled to feed him, but he couldn’t seem to get enough. After an hour of him screaming almost nonstop and me struggling to feed him the whole time, finally a nurse came and asked what was wrong. After I told her the situation, she brought me formula and said that particular consultant had a reputation for being very pushy.

    I used to feel a sense of shame when someone would react incredulously at the fact that I wasn’t breastfeeding. Now, after two more children it no longer bothers me. My children are very healthy, happy and highly intelligent. I hope that other women will take into consideration that physical health of the baby is not the only consideration when considering whether to breastfeed or not. But rather, the whole picture of physical and emotional well being of both mom and baby. I am happy I formula fed my kids…it allowed me to peacefully feed my little ones with no struggling and lots of snuggling.

  13. May 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Thank you for this! I shared it on Facebook and sent it to a new mom trying this whole breastfeeding thing out! I adopted my 4 children, so they were clearly all formula fed and are just fine! I have had to fight against the formula is poison La Leche Nazi’s I have come in contact with when they are touting their Breastfeeding is Best agenda and I know I did what was BEST for my kids too!!

  14. Di
    May 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story! I have four kids, the oldest is 18 and the youngest is 8. I attempted to breastfeed all four and was unsuccessful each time! In fact my first had difficulty latching on (due to a neurological problem diagnosed years later the prevented a proper suck) and she would pull back suddenly which was not pleasant on a raw breast! I quit trying when my nipple actually ripped open and needed several stitches!! The lactation consultant at the pediatrician still wanted me to keep trying- uhhh, no thanks! Next child was “failure to thrive” which meant he did not gain weight yet instead of suggesting formula, they said “nurse more frequently”. 3rd child refused to nurse after about 3 days and screamed constantly (probably due to frustration from trying so hard to nurse and never getting a full tummy) 4th child had poor sucking reflex and was hospitalized. I also did the nurse, bottle feed, pump routine while caring for 3 other children. When he was 1 month old, I also found out that I make only “skim milk” – My poor older children would have been much happier if I could have let go of the guilt and just accepted that breastfeeding is not for everyone no matter how hard you try! I remember feeling so guilty giving my child a bottle in public! I KNEW everyone was thinking I was a “bad” mom. Now I look at my kids and realize that while breast may be best in most cases it certainly is not in every case. Fortunately all my kids are now happy, healthy and well adjusted. As my sister once told me “they don’t ask if you breastfeed when you enroll them in kindergarten OR in college…” :D

  15. May 3, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story, I can’t believe the doctor was so insensitive. There is too much guilt around any woman who doesn’t breastfeed, for whatever reason.

  16. motivatedmommyoftwo
    May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    This was a great post, stopping by from the wow me Wednesday link party, I am a mommy of two and I breastfed both of my babies. But it was not an easy process, it was trial and error. I did choose to supplement my kids with formula while my milk came in and was enough to fill them up. I heard from the nurses and the lactation consultant not to supplement because that will make them confuse and refuse to nurse, I am thankful that my mom was there to advice me other wise and she told me to nurse first if the baby showed signs of still being hungry than supplement. Best advice ever. I did have problems with latching from both kids and even though I had figure it out with my first, it was like starting all over again with my second. Breastfeeding is a choice, not mandatory for new moms to do.

  17. Flour Me With Love
    May 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear that you had a rough time, however it’s so good to hear that your little ones are all healthy and adorable! Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday :)

  18. May 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Thanks for this! We had a bad nursing experience and I ended up choosing not to nurse my second child. It ended up being a good choice for us. Just like everything in life, even nursing is effected by the fall. I had a friend with a similar experience to yours. She had no idea that the nursing wasn’t working until she brought her baby in and found out he had lost weight. Your story will be encouraging to many, keep telling it. Blessings to you!

  19. May 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    i really related to this post. i wasn’t able to nurse either, and i dealt with those same emotions–i had a friend who had a baby around the same time and had no issue with nursing at all. it broke my heart, and i felt like such a failure that i couldn’t do it. i still think back to those first three months where i kept trying and trying, to no avail, to the point of my lactation consultant saying i should throw in the towel.

    now my girl is seven months old and ridiculously healthy and wonderfully happy. there is so much more to being a mom than how you feed your baby.

  20. May 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    When my son was first born, he had, as the doctor called it, a “lazy suck”. He didn’t latch on, he just waited for the milk to squirt right into his mouth. I ended up wearing a bottle nipple over my own nipple just to get him to suck. It took about 3 weeks but he caught on. It was a bit unconventional but it worked. I think that because we don’t live in multi-generational families or as a close community such as in days long past, new mothers don’t have the experience that first time mothers of long ago had…..I think that nursing is natural but we modern women just don’t have the opportunity to learn it by example anymore…..

  21. Carol
    May 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    NURSING IS NOT NATURAL: I totally agree………believing that nursing is a natural instinctive process, and my heart goes out to you experiencing such an unfortunate set of circumstances, including the fact that your milk was ‘skim’ as it were.

    I tried to nurse my first son and ended up with excoriated painful nipples, and a dread everytime I took him to my breast…after a week of discomfort, anxiety and pain, I switched to the bottle. All my births were by vertical c-section, so it seemed easier to forgo the added pain and stress of nursing. With my next 2 babies, I easily gave up nursing for formula. By my fourth pregnancy, however, I was in the mindset that I would try harder, because I really do believe breast is best. Success….it was still painful initially, but I endured and my son nursed well until he weaned himself at one year. With my final baby, I suppose because I now knew that the pain and discomfort of breastfeeding can be temporary, and I was now ‘experienced’, he nursed and comfort nursed until he was 3 and a half years old. I so enjoyed breast feeding, however, it took 3 babies to finally succeed.

    I remember thinking way back then, hell no, nursing is not so natural that baby just latches on and drinks and voila, baby thrives… Yes, I did feel bad that I switched to the bottle and envied all the nursing mothers I saw…. In a way, I think that I made up for my earlier ‘failures’ by allowing my 5th son to nurse as long as he wanted; of course I didn’t tell anyone that I was still nursing a toddler+, as raised eyebrows were the norm, when I was nursing a one year old. I hear that now there is much more support for the art of breastfeeding…. But it is still, for many women, not so easy and natural, and this fact should be addressed for new mothers that it is not a personal failure.

  22. May 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Beautiful post! I so should have read this when I couldn’t nurse my son seven years ago. There was just no milk. I was devastated, and the nurses and doctors made me feel awful. I finally decided that what he needed more than breastmilk was a happy mother. So, I quit trying and moved him to formula only. When my daughter was born last year, I just knew I wouldn’t nurse her, but life is funny… her nursing experience turned out the exact opposite. She was a champion nurser and ten months later I’m still doing it. Even then, it took SIX weeks for it not to be painful for me. The first two or three weeks, I cried every time I fed her because I hated it, but kept going because she loved it. Ten months later, I enjoy it. She’s been on formula during the day while I’m at work since she was 12 weeks old, but I never felt guilty for that because my son is the smartest kid I know and he never had a drop of breastmilk.

  23. May 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    I’m glad you have a story to share that will be of encouragement to other mothers who may struggle with breastfeeding. And thank you for sharing it at WJIM.

  24. May 7, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    I’m so sorry you had such a rough time. Thank you so much for sharing though. It’s definitely something that everyone needs to keep in perspective.

  25. Trish @ Mom On Timeout
    May 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I am so sorry that you had to experience this! My first child was in the NICU for 8 days when he was born. He was bottle-fed during that time while I pumped religiously. It took weeks, and weeks, and weeks, to get him to nurse well and I always felt such trepidation each time I got set up with my boppy and would try to feed him. I was scared of the rejection. My second son nursed like a champ for the first 9 months. One day he bit me and I screamed. Not at him, just in pain. He never would nurse again. It was devastating. I tried several times a day for the first few months and then continued to pump for another 10 months. I did the best I could and so did you. Thank you so much for sharing your story at Mom On Timeout.

    –Trish

  26. May 18, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Thanks so much for posting this!! I SO wish I would have found resources/support/posts like this when I had my first. It was devastating to learn that I couldn’t produce enough milk and with all the judgement/propaganda out there, I felt even worse. Ugh! This is my story: http://www.momendeavors.com/2011/03/when-breastfeeding-doesnt-work-part-1.html

  27. Laura
    June 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I disagree a bit- nursing is natural for some.
    But for others, like you and me, it isn’t. In my case, I don’t have enough milk glands (IGT). I had signs of this starting in puberty and when I had questioned my pediatricians or various ob/gyns over the years I received an overwhelming, “Oh, it’s just normal.”
    It wasn’t until I failed at breastfeeding my second child that I realized my problem. It was so disappointing and disheartening… quite a big blow!
    Well fast forward to now… my babies are all beautiful. (Baby2 has made a full recovery from her mommy starving her.) I am expecting Baby4 soon. I will nurse her a little bit, like I did with Baby3. But for her to actually get nutrition, I’ll bottlefeed.

    Thank you for sharing this post! You are honest and brave! I have been thinking about doing a similar post on my own blog or otherwise starting a whole different blog of my breastfeeding struggles. I just haven’t had the courage to do this yet.

    God bless all of your babies!

  28. July 17, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    What a great article! Thank you for sharing your heart. My friend shared this with me to read. I am pregnant, and he will be our first-born. The moment I announced we were pregnant, “Congratulations!” followed by what to do and what not to do came out of the mouths of well-meaning people. Most people are insecure, so if they can “get you on their side” it gives them a false sense of confidence. I definitely agree that you have to pray about it and do what’s best for you and your baby. My mom only nursed me for 3 months, and I’ve been healthier than most of my friends, whether they were breast-fed or not. My grandma had eight healthy children and couldn’t breastfeed. She said her doctor told her she was a dry cow, and she can even laugh about it. ;) Your sons are so handsome!

  29. jill
    November 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    i have 2 beautifully children; 1 was bottle fed and 1 was breast fed!! Can you image they both are loved the EXACT same amount?? The first time around I wasn’t learned in the art of nursing. Thanks be to God for maturity and wonderful patient, kind friends!! Who never gave up…even when the questions seemed hard to ask!!

  30. Heather
    December 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    I think we are in the same playgroup but I haven’t met you yet. Thank you for writing about your experiences with breast-feeding. I had a beautiful healthy little girl 6 weeks ago so I’m in the midst of learning to be a mom… and breastfeeding is one of the things I’m learning is hard to do for some people like me. I’ve heard so many people say they had so much milk they didn’t know what to do with it and it made me wonder if there was something wrong with me. I would nurse my baby one each side for 10-15 min and she would still be hungry. Afriend suggested that I put her back on the first breast and I’ve also been putting back on the second after but she’s still hungry after. I have been supplementing with formula since the second day she was born because I nursed her for an hour one night and she wouldn’t stop crying after from hunger! I’m glad that she has always expressed when she was hungry because otherwise I would have had the same problems you had with your first. I’ve also gotten really frustrated with all the advice about things I should drink to make more milk. I tried to follow all of it at first but it started to make me crazy and I didn’t see a big change in the amount of milk I had. I try to pump when i have time to stimulate milk production but if i don’t have time, i try not to stress about not pumping. .
    Anyway, i understand what you went through and it encouraged me to read your blog. Look forward to meeting you! heather

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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