Breastfeeding Expectations

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is generally recommended. Today I share my story with breastfeeding as well as what a new mom might expect.

I breastfed all six kids. Exclusively. For the first six months.

I don’t say that to brag. I know many, many women who for a variety of reasons are unable to make breastfeeding work for them and their families. And I totally respect that. The key principle is that your baby is well fed. Methods may differ.

Rather, I say that because I want to give hope to new moms out there.

I know that I am probably in a minority in how I fed my babies. Recently, I read some statistics that showed me what a small population out there does six months exclusive breastfeeding. Recommended, but not often done.

I didn’t set out to do it any “special” way. I was not/am not a militant “breast is best” proponent. I never attended a La Leche League meeting. I only got halfway through the big breastfeeding handbooks, and then I felt like I was doing it all wrong.

But, I was the milk wagon for my babies. And I lived to tell the tale.

For the first six months of their lives, I continued to “eat for two” and be their main, no, their only source of sustenance.

Folks warned us with our first baby that if we didn’t give him a bottle in the first six weeks that he would never take one. The implication was that our lives would be ruined. Forever.

Honestly, it was so difficult and painful in those first few weeks of nursing, there was no way I was going to jeopardize his latch or my milk supply (so hard earned by that point) so that maybe, someday, we might leave him home with a babysitter for longer than two hours.

The first one never got a bottle. Neither did the others. At six months of age, they started some solids and started to learn about sippy cups with water. They nursed until they were a year old.

This isn’t the “right” way. This is just the way we did it.

Granted, I was a homebody. And I had chosen to be a stay-at-home mom. My expectations were simply that I would breastfeed my baby. So I did.

Did I go away for the weekend with my girl friends? No, but I never did that before he was born, either. Did I feel annoyed that he wanted to nurse every two to three hours? No, my type-A self needed someone to make me sit and rest before I overdid it. Did I spend lots of money on nursing clothes? No, tshirts and jeans have been my uniform for years.

Breastfeeding felt natural. At least, thank the Lord, after those first three weeks. Once you get through the “bite-your-lip-and-suffer-through-the-pain” stage. Yeah, I know, it’s not supposed to be painful. But, it was for a time. Just saying.

So, if you’re a new or expecting mom interested in breastfeeding your baby, here are some things to consider:

1. It probably won’t be easy.

Few good things in life are “easy,” especially those things that you are just learning. Be prepared for challenges and setbacks.

This applies to breastfeeding, but yes, it basically applies to your entire parenting career, too. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, your baby will have a growth spurt, cut a tooth, get sick, or learn to drive.

Be ready to be challenged.

2. Your life won’t be your own.

Since I chose exclusive breastfeeding, mostly on demand, and opted out of bottle feeding, my time was not my own. Neither was my diet. I knew that if I went someplace without the baby, I would need to be back within the three hour window. With practice and planning, I was still able to get out and do things, but I was mindful that someone else depended on me.

And that I might get a call on my cell phone that was simply the sound of the baby crying.

I took daily vitamins, ate a balanced diet, avoided much, if any, drinking, and basically took that “eating for two” thing pretty seriously. As such, I probably took better care of myself than I had before children and in some seasons since breastfeeding has ceased.

That said, the fact that someone else depended on me was good for me. And taking care of my physical health, well, that was a pretty good thing, too.

And your life? Well, as a mom, you have a new life, shared with the people you love. It won’t be your “own”, but it will be good.

3. It really isn’t as long as it seems.

It’s so easy to count the days away, waiting for the baby to wean, start solids, sleep through the night. In the middle of it, it does seem like it will go on forever. But, it won’t.

That baby there will be eight years old next month. I still wear those pants. See? My Old Navy yoga pants have outlasted three babies breastfeeding. The time goes quickly!

The last nursing session will pass and you may or may not even realize that it’s the last. Last things are like that. They flee silently and quickly. And far sooner than you thought you were ready for them.

Life is like that.

4. It’s totally worth it.

Breastfeeding certainly wasn’t easy. I’ve had my share of late nights, mastitis, engorgement, blisters, and what-have-you. I probably cried and complained more than I remember. My life wasn’t my “own”, but despite the demands and the crying baby phone calls, it was good.

I had a closeness with my babies, an understanding of their needs, and a super power — that my husband did not possess — to comfort them when they needed me. It was very right for me to breastfeed, especially in keeping me connected with my kids and not off doing “projects” as I might have been drawn to, instead.

The days have passed all too quickly. I had a nursing baby for a good 12 to 13 years of my life. Yet, my baby-Baby is on her way to 4 years old. That last nursing session is long gone — and I do not remember it.

While I don’t believe I won any brownie points for breastfeeding, and I’m not sure that my kids’ more-or-less good health is attributed to nursing, I know that I do not regret it. Going without bottles or formula didn’t ruin us. I have wonderful memories of my breastfeeding daze. Amnesia? Perhaps. But, I know I would do it all over again.

And if it’s something you want, barring medical issues, I think you can do it, too.

Obviously, if you are away from your baby for the day due to work or school, then you’ll want to do that bottle thing, but don’t think it’s too hard to breastfeed exclusively. It really is doable!

It’s hard and it’s good at the same time.

That’s the mystery of motherhood.

If you’re a veteran mom, we would love to hear your breastfeeding story. I know that there are many situations where moms wish it had been different or better and many moms for whom breastfeeding did not work, despite their best intentions. I really want this post to be an encouragement to new moms. So, please temper any challenges you might want to share with a heavy dose of encouragement and optimism. Any bashing or absolute horror stories are subject to deletion. Thanks for understanding.

What are your hopes for or experiences with breastfeeding?

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Comments

  1. Great post!!! Thanks for writing that!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. I breastfed my son exclusively for the first 4 months, I didn’t know at the time waiting until 6 months was better. I’m hoping to exclusively nurse my 3 month old until she’s 6 months, however, she already wants our dinner :/
    My son never took a bottle and although I have tried a few times with our daughter, I’m not pushing it. She doesn’t care for it and that’s fine with me. My husband had hoped to share in feeding her, but he understands.
    I really love nursing my children. I have 2 adopted girls as well and I’m sad I missed out on that time with them. The time I spend each day nursing my daughter is precious to me and already seems to be special to her as well.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Thanks for sharing your story! And I think that they mean nursing instead of formula for six months. But, I could have misunderstood. Either way, sounds like you did great!

      • I’m pretty sure pumping and giving your child your milk is a good option when you need to be gone and fits the guidelines of breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months.
        Jessica- Thanks for sharing your story I really have had a similar experience with my four kids. Breastfeeding is a blessing the Lord gave to us moms who might otherwise be distracted to make ourselves busy with other things and miss some of those precious moments with our babies.

  3. Kristi says:

    I nursed both my babies for a year and I loved it. That said it was also difficult -my first baby was nearly 10 pounds at birth and I was young. But I never had a backup plan of the bottle, and I don’t know if that was good or not! We stuck it out and I enjoyed that bond so much with them both (i had mastitis, lots of plugged ducts and enough milk to feed twins). I also had the resource of a lactation specialist and she helped a ton. So new moms, ask for help! Usually a hospital offers help and ask other moms, you need support to be successful.

    • Although the federal WIC program has a reputation for being a place to get formula, they actually really want to help women breastfeed, and have a great lactation support staff that is available to the community, even if you are not on the program. They are great to help out if you are struggling.

  4. Kristen says:

    I nursed my baby for 13 months, and plan to nurse the next one in June. The first 2 months (he is a stubborn guy who had jaundice and didn’t want to learn) were really really hard. But I am so so so glad (did I say that enough?) that I stuck it out. I did some pumping and bottle feeding as well, because of the jaundice thing, and it totally worked for us. If you want to, I think there are lots of ways to make breastfeeding work. My best advice is to find a friend who is also nursing (or has somewhat recently nursed) a baby. Their support and sympathy will be invaluable. You can do it!! Thanks for the great post! Perfect timing to help get my head back in that game!

  5. Lindsey says:

    My first child I nursed for three months with a shield. I couldn’t get her to latch on even with the lactation specialists help. I decided I would rather do it with a shield than not at all. I was shy about nursing in public so I pumped a lot. By three months my supply was almost non existent from pumping.

    My second child latched on about five minutes after she was born. I used a shield a few times on some really painful days. I nursed her for eight months and was heart broken when she started preferring her bottle. IF I decide to have a third kid I would do it the same way. Not everyone is for shields but it was there when it was my only option with #1 and helped make it a little easier when necessary for #2.

    • I had to use a shield for both of mine. My first would not latch on. I thought she wasn’t nursing enough, but everyone told me we’d get the hang of it. But at her 1 week visit, she had lost over a pound and I was told ” Your baby is starving.” I was clueless about nursing! I went home with a pump, used a bottle for a bit… then went to see a lactation consultant, got the right size shield, and she gained weight right away. She nursed fine with it, but she took an HOUR! I hung in there since I was a SAHM, but the whole 1 hour on, 2 hours off thing, was really wearing! She kind of weaned herself at 15mos.

      With my son, I had to pump since he was in the NICU for 5 weeks. Once he came home, I gradually transitioned to nursing. I used a shield for awhile, then once he got the hang of it, he refused bottles! He didn’t take quite as long…only 30-45 minutes. That’s still a long time compared to my friends whose babies take 10 min! By 18 mos. I was ready for him to wean. I went back pumping, and just started giving him less each day. Don’t know if that’s how you’re supposed to do it, but, hey, it worked!

      If we have another child, I will consider solely pumping if the baby takes an hour to nurse. I don’t know if it would work or not, but I hated the fact that nursing took forever! We shall see…

  6. I’ve had a very similar experience to what you described (though only a third of the kids so far!). And I’ve loved it for similar reasons you listed! I feel very connected to my children.

    I completely agree that it *does* hurt those first few weeks, but, like the pain of childbirth it’s so worth it (to me) — but that by no means makes it easy! The painful time period was much less with my second than my first.

    I like feeding on demand because I feel like it helps me learn more about my children’s needs and how they communicate. (This took a lot longer with my first!)

    I also agree that exclusively breastfeeding didn’t “ruin us,” but I’m an introverted homebody who prefers not to go out, so that’s probably part my personality, too.

    I agree here, too: “That said, the fact that someone else depended on me was good for me. And taking care of my physical health, well, that was a pretty good thing, too.”

    Thanks for your honesty and openness in this post!

    • Not all breastfeeding hurts. My baby latched on minutes after he was born and it went smoothly from there on out. I was definitely an independent career woman who had no plans to breastfeed exclusively until that moment. Oh, my!! I was hooked as much as he was. Ha! Yes, it was hard to go out and it was difficult to be the “only” source of nutrition, but it did end much too quickly. One day he drank a bottle of formula and that was that… he decided to end it on his own (at about 7 or 8 months). Wished I hadn’t given him the bottle as that took awhile to get away from him… like years… LOL! He is 19 now and we have an extra strong bond that I attribute to his breastfeeding and his colic… but that’s another story.

  7. I nursed all 3 of my babies for over a year. I loved the special bond that I had with them during that precious time providing something that only I could give them. God provided a way for Mommas to feed their babies, so I figured that’s what’s best for them.
    I got more comfortable feeding in public with each child. With my second child, I got a snazzy cover up and that helped me a lot. People look, but I figured if a mom saw me feed my baby in public, maybe they would try it too. The more it’s done, the more comfortable people will be with it.
    I was always very sad when the time came to move on. I hated giving up that special time with my babies.

  8. Such an insightful post to a topic that seems to be so hush-hush nowadays. Thank you!

    I nursed my first-born until he was 10 months and my second until she was 9 months. I think I would have preferred to go longer with my baby #2, but circumstances at the time weren’t in our favor.

    You mentioned the one piece of advice that I received from a friend who had her first baby one year before me: if you can make it through the first three weeks, you’re good to go. I’m so glad she told me this, otherwise I would have thrown in the towel at week two with baby #1. If I hadn’t toughed it out with him, I sincerely believe that nursing baby #2 wouldn’t have been so easy (or maybe it was the delirious lack-of-sleep coma that comes with the new baby?). If there’s any advice to give new moms who are struggling nursing, I’d tell them the same thing.

    I also enjoyed the closeness with my babies – so much. The feeling of “they need me” that no one else could satisfy. Sleeping while nursing! No spit up! No foul smelling diapers! Oh the bliss!

  9. Love this post! I also nursed all four of my babies – still going strong with #4 who is almost 2 years old. YES! One of these days {soon} we will work on weaning and I might be a little sad because I’m stopping at 4 and will never nurse again. Only two of my children ever had bottles and only because one was hospitalized at birth and I had surgery after #4. Back surgery after #4 and a child with non-life-threatening health problems {hip dysplaisa} has been all I can take!

    But nursing is so, so important to me – for health of baby, health of mom, health of MY WALLET. LOL!

    I did go to LLL meetings and made invaluable friendships – networked with like-minded women – and learned so much about myself and my children. LLL is there to help in any way they can. I love them and it makes me sad when people think they are too radical to be helpful. That has not been my experience at all. {Maybe I’m one of them though…} Anyway, just wanted to let you know that this post spoke to me! Great job.

  10. Thank you for writing on this!! And your tip on making it through the first 3 weeks is so true!! That being said I had to pump exclusively with my first child because after the first 3 days she refused to latch. I still wonder if maybe she was tongue tied. I thankfully was able to nurse my second child for 7 months and my 3 for 13!

  11. Thank you for the honest post. You didn’t sugar-coat, nor did you discourage. There will be plenty of moms out there who will benefit from this.

    I nursed our first son for two years. He weaned himself a couple weeks before his baby brother was born. He preferred one side, and weaned off one first. That one turned to colostrum so it was like I had two taps: milk and milk lite.

    My greatest challenge was not with strangers, but with relatives. I got quite adamant that in our own home I was not going to be sent to another room to feed the grandson. I was not going to throw a blanket on his head, either. When visiting my inlaws when our youngest son was just a couple of months old, it was a different story. I’d spend hours sitting on the floor of their spare room with baby on a boppy. After our second son came along, I did not wait to be told where to nurse, but sure did not suggest making the eight-hour trip to their home very often. Wanna see the kid? He’s gotta eat, you know…

    Our younger son turned two last week and only nurses a little at night. In a way I feel sad that he is weaning, but I am also proud that he is deciding this on his own. (Is this how it feels to send a kid off to college?)

    Laura

    • Jennifer says:

      I was unable to breast feed my first. Due to some complications at birth, I didn’t get to see him for the first 5 1/2 hrs of his life. And once I got him, the nurses succeeded in making me feel completely inept at both breast feeding and bottle feeding. I actually had one take him away from me to feed him his bottle because I was doing it wrong. Couple that with a MIL who wanted to feed him so she could bond with him (as a new mom, I had no idea that this was abnormal), I never was able to successfully latch him and my milk dried up within 2 weeks. I am now pregnant with my 2nd child and I will be breast feeding this one. I am aware that it will not be easy, thanks in part to articles like this one. But I also know that I have to stand up for myself and my child to make sure that I have support (or at least don’t have unsupportive people around me) in the beginning.

      • What is the obsession with wanting to feed a baby? I pumped for my MIL so she could give the kid a bottle, and it shut her up for a while.

        I am so sorry the nursing staff were so unsupportive. Those first few hours can be so critical. Did the nurses tell you that a baby needs few calories the first couple of days? Probably not. If your milk doesn’t come in right away nobody gets hurt. Colostrum has few calories.

        There are little caps on etsy and ebay with “no bottles” printed on them. They are cute, and you can pack one for your trip to the hospital.

        • Jennifer says:

          Thank you Laura, I will have to look for those caps :) It would be very helpful to have a visual reminder like that.

  12. I have nursed 3 children so far and have been very lucky to have easy nursers. Even so, I have had quite a journey. I approached nursing as something I was going to do with a goal of 6-months in mind. The first few months were extremely rough. Mainly I needed to give up on the idea that my time is my own :) Before I knew it though we were breezing past the 6-month mark and I saw no reason to stop. My first and second both nursed until 10 months every 2-3 hours (and longer stretches at night). They naturally weaned themselves, preferring a sippy cup.
    My third child through me for a loop. He was (and is) a stubborn, strong-willed little guy. I thought my first had been challenging, but boy was I wrong! To sum it up he nursed around the clock every 1-2 hours until he weaned at 15 months! I never thought I would nurse past a year, but it is hard to wean a baby that is still nursing 8 times a day on top of 3 square meals and snacks! :) He did have moments of letting-up only to revert right back. Just out of necessity this baby was attached to me all the time. We even co-slept for a time, just for survival, something I never thought I would do. All this to say that it is so easy to get discouraged when you are breastfeeding. The world tells you what “normal” is – feed baby less, feed baby more, let baby cry – they can’t be hungry, etc. It all comes down to doing what you feel is best for you and your baby. You are their mom and you know their needs best. Breastfeeding can be a breeze, or it can be difficult. Some people fall in love with it immediately, while others (myself included) begrudging truck on at times. I agree with the advice to try and get past the first few weeks and things will get better. Also, having an understanding friend when I was nursing my third was indispensable. She encourage me when i thought I could not go on and wanted to run away screaming. She reminded me that I was a good mother and doing the right thing for my baby.
    Good luck fellow mamas! Motherhood truly is a loving act of service!

  13. I’m no veteran mom – my first turns 6 months tomorrow – but we made it! He never tasted formula, though I have to admit that it was mostly due to selfish reasons (formula is 100% more expensive than breastmilk, and BM poo is much more pleasant). I pumped the occasional bottle to give me a bit of flexibility, but most of the time it was less trouble to just be available!

    I’d like to say, to all those who maybe haven’t been there yet, that it takes TIME! Though “they” may say that it is so natural and easy right off the bat, I would say that, especially first time moms, it’s hard those first weeks, even months. You both have to figure out HOW, you’re sore, you’re tired, you have to figure out how to do it with the cover, on and on! I think it finally clicked at 2 months that I actually ENJOYED it. Now it’s easy and nice we both love it. But be patient! It may take tears and time, but to me, it was time worth investing.

  14. I nursed my babies until they were a year.

    I work full-time.

    With my first child, I had the meanest nurse telling me I was doing this, that and the other thing wrong – she was so mean that I almost gave up. Thank goodness that I was determined that I could do it (I’m not one to give up easy), because after some practice we both figured it out.

    The quiet time alone with my son was amazing. If it was just the us, I would stay in the family room and feed him, if we had company, it was my chance to take him back and have time for just him and me. (it helped me cope with company that wanted to hold him all the time – I was a new mommy, I wanted to spend every second with that precious fellow)

    When I registered, I only registered for the Avent ‘manual’ pump. I was afraid to make the investment in the expensive Medela electric pump – what if it didn’t work out.

    So, I went back to work, where we didn’t yet have ‘Mother’s Rooms’. I spent the first few weeks pumping in the lobby bathroom (it was big and had a chair) – made a lot of people upset that they couldn’t use the private bathroom. Eventually, I got curtains for my office and then would pump in my office. My son took to the bottle reasonably okay. My freezer quickly filled up with bottles – allowing me some flexibility to be away, to have an evening out with my husband while the grandparents stayed at our house with our son and of course, to provide milk to him even while I was at work.

    We started on cereal at 4 months (made with breastmilk) and veggies/fruit at 6 months.

    After 9 months, I dropped the mid-day pumping (but still frequently nursed on the weekends). After 10 months, I dropped the mid-afternoon pumping. After 11 months, I dropped the mid-morning pumping. Then, it was just nursing morning and night. A great way to start and end the day.

    The morning one dropped off around a year. Eventually, my son weaned himself. I think it was about 13 months when we dropped that last feeding.

    My daughter arrived knowing how to nurse – or perhaps it really is true that a baby knows when you are relaxed and it is that much easier. She didn’t want a bottle. We tried several varieties of bottles, several style and size of nipples for the bottles, we had everyone try to feed her – my husband, my son (age 3), my mom, my friend, me – she simply had a preference and a bit of a stubborn streak. My mom watched her my first day back to work, I needed to know that someone would be patient with her and make sure that she took the bottle. After several hours, I guess she must have decided she was hungry because she drank some from a bottle, not a lot but enough to make it through.

    I lingered longer with her, as I suspected that it was the last baby for me. I don’t think she fully weaned until about 15 months – of course, by then it was only bedtime and if I wasn’t there, she simply went to bed.

    I respect that everyone makes their own choices on how to feed their child and I feel bad for those that want to nurse and aren’t able to for whatever reason. You have to do what works for you. I try to be supportive of new moms and share my experiences, because to me it is one of life’s miracles that we can fully provide sustenance for a newborn.

  15. Hear, hear! Bravo on the post. Well put.

    I also exclusively breasted my four, and to this day (my youngest is just over two), I miss it terribly.

    The first time around, it was MISERABLE! I felt so trapped. But, I got a lot of support from a lactation group at the local hospital, and I truly believe that my misery was adjusting to a new baby in ALL respects, and not solely the nursing part of it.

    The second was very hard to nurse because he had reflux. Had I not had that first experience, I never would have been able to do it.

    Three and four were a breeze and a joy to nurse. Like you, I relished the chance to sit on my rear and just be still with baby. How a mommy’s perspective changes with time and more children.

    I would add just a few things…a helpful lactation consultant and the support of other nursing mommies were what kept me going on days where it seemed too much, especially those first two times around.

    If you are thinking about nursing but havent yet started or had your baby, start using Lamsinoh in those last few weeks of the pregnancy to kind of build up the callous now. With those last two, I used that stuff RELIGIOUSLY and held my breast with every single feeding ( even though it was hard to sit still and have both hands non-functional), and it was the easiest transition. Much, much less soreness.

    And, for those of you who have a tremendous oversupply problem, like me…two things….pump off the fore milk for a few minutes before latching baby on. Cabocreme. FANTASTIC! worked like a charm with a LOT of ice (I used those Gerber circle freeze thingies).

    Enjoy! Tired as you may be, babies rock! it really does stink when you don’t have one anymore…that annoying old lady in the grocery story is right, you will actually miss it some day and it will truly seem like it went too fast.

  16. Michelle Y says:

    Thanks for this post. I felt like it was very positive and realistic without being harsh or demanding.

    I nursed my son until he was 16 months old (he’s now 18 months). He didn’t start really eating solids until about 9 months and we really never gave him bottles. We just went right to sippy cups as he got older.

    It was painful for the first couple of weeks, but I was so thankful for other moms who had warned me about that and had encouraged me that things would get better. The hardest part about nursing was having mastitis three times :( But even with that it was entirely worth it. I would encourage new moms to make sure they know the signs of mastitis and to contact their doctor right away if they think they might have it.

    Initially I struggled with feeling tied to the couch every 3 hours to nurse him, but as the months went on I was able to see what a privilege it was to have that time with him. He seems like such a big kid now that it’s amazing to think only 3 months ago I was still nursing him.

    I know that for various reasons some ladies have trouble nursing their babies. I really do feel for them and I have seen friends struggle with this. It makes me so thankful that my experience was relatively easy.

  17. My son Calvin will be 17 soon. I breastfed him exclusively for the first 4 months. He was able to go back to work when I went back for a while so I was able to make it work. It was hard at first, especially when my milk came in the first time. But my lamaze coach at the hospital was great and the first night he was home, when I couldn’t get him to latch, she had me come back in and sit with her so she could help me. That weekend when my milk came in, it was very difficult and I almost gave up and used the formula the hospital had sent home with us. But I’m glad I didn’t give in. It was so worth it!

    I only wish that 10 years later I had been able to breastfeed my daughter. I tried and tried, bought a pump used shields, had appointments with LaLeche coaches and specialists and nothing worked. Eventually I had to give up and I had a hard time with that. I wanted to so badly and just couldn’t and that was ok.

    Chances are, anything worth working for is going to be hard. Don’t give up! You can do it. And it’s so worth it in the end.

  18. Great post.

    I breastfed my first son via regular nursing and breast milk in a bottle after I went back to work. I am a public school teacher, so I pumped during my planning times at school from March to summer break and sent the breast milk in bottles to the daycare. I did regular breast feeding at nights and on the weekends. My supply was enough that I could have opened my own milk factory, so when I went back to school in the fall, I had a large frozen supply of milk. I used that to s-l-0-w-l-y wean him to formula.

    I currently have a 5 week old who I am also breastfeeding. I will have to go back for the last two weeks of school, but plan to continue nursing through the summer. Hopefully I will have a schedule at school in the fall with strategic breaks so I can pump again. If it works out, great. If not, formula babies turn out just fine too! I’m living proof, as my mother was unable to nurse me!

    Good luck to all the mothers out there. Whether you are able to breastfeed your baby or not, you are still the best mother that baby will ever have!!

  19. Great post and love how you made it real.A lot of people who recommend it dont tell the cons just the pros and some of the pros may not even come to pass.I breast fed my 1st for 6 mths would have went longer but he got teeth and like to use them.lol My second unfortunatly only made it 3 mths.Mostly because I was a bit overwhelmed with spreading my time between the 2 kids and my son was really feeling left out due to so many changes in our lives at that time.I just felt it was best.My biggest disapointment in bfing was that my son was so prone to ear infections and had to have tubes twice.The experts said if you breast fed your babies that wouldnt happen but its not true for every case.He caught every thing under the sun and was always sick it seemed.My second that only nursed for 3 mths has only had one cold and she is now 16 mths.I think breast feeding is great and would not take back doing it because all and all I think the bonding process is the greatest benefit of all when it comes to breast feeding.I must say the first couple of weeks is the hardest.Sooo painful but with my second I guess the milk jugs were just more experienced and conditioned the 2nd time around and had no pain at all.I always say dont be afraid to try.Its not as bad as some might think and you may even enjoy it.If bfing isnt for you you can always break out the bottles.Atleast you can say you tried it.I just had a sense of pride that God made me capable to feed my babies all natural milk from my own body and hey,it was free!.Just thought it was an awesome experience all around

  20. Yes, very positive post! I went into delivery expecting to bf my kid – no bottles or formula for me. She was tongue tied and wouldn’t latch. Second baby had jaundice, had to bottle feed. By the time both those issues were corrected, neither wanted anything to do with me! With my first I pumped these tiny little amounts for months. I finally just let it go. I pumped for a couple weeks with the second to make my husband happy but I just couldn’t do it any more. It was very sad for me that I couldn’t breastfeed. I cried like crazy. I also had oodles of lactation consultants and shields etc and nothing worked! And to top off the second kid, he had reflux and milk allergy so it would’ve been impOssible to feed him anyways! Hoping to try again with number 3 (if there is one) but not optimistic. Extremely supportive of anyone who can and does!!!!

  21. Stefanie says:

    I just want to give my experience for those who can’t or those you don’t want to breastfeed. My first child would not latch on and I really wasn’t interested in breastfeeding him. My second child was born at 35 weeks and in the NICU for 10 days. I knew for her she needed my breastmilk to “protect” her. So I pumped and pumped and pumped for her first month. I litterly was a human cow and producing enough breastmilk to feed the entire NICU by my 5th day of pumping.
    Before she was born I took a breastfeeding class and was so excited about trying. Well when she was finally able to try to latch I was producing way too much milk that she would choke because my milk even with a shield came out way too fast for my premie. By week 3 of her life, my OB said I was producing enough milk for a 1 year old and that I was so engored still at that time. He said it was up to me whether or not to stop pumping but he advised it because I was miserable and stressed about it. Pumping every 3 hours, sometimes before that because I was in so much pain and feeding my daughter the bottle was so hard. So I stopped pumping. Luckily with all the milk I produced and froze she was exclusively on my breastmilk until 2 months. For the antibodies it was awesome for her but she really wasnt’ gaining wait. I think my milk was skim.
    My point is even though both my kids were bottle fed, I share the biggest bond with both of them and my husband was able to share in that bond by helping feed them. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t breastfeed or just want to bottle feed. The most important thing is the love and nurture you give your child.

    • Stephanie, Thank you for your comment. Yours was the first to address the issue of your baby not gaining weight. My daughter weighed 6lbs. 15oz. at birth. I was prepared to breastfeed exclusively, but, as an older mom, I was prepared to do what was best for my daughter. While in the hospital , I had the help of a lactaid consultant (who also was available by phone after discharge). Because of breastfeeding, our pediatrician wanted to see our daughter the day after discharge and then every two-three days after that. After feeding, my breasts felt drained, but, with each doctors visit, my daughter’s weight dropped and dropped. It was extremely difficult. I felt as if I was doing what was supposed to be best for my baby but at the same time, it appeared that it was not the best thing for her. Finally, her weight reached a point that we made the decision to pump exclusively and bottle feed her breast milk. We rented a hospital grade pump from our local hospital and I was able to pump enough milk for her to have until she was 10 months. (hospital grade pump was much better than any you can buy.) The one thing that most articles don’t discuss is the difficulty of breastfeeding and the fact that it does not always come naturally. The problems and issues that could occur are rarely mentioned in detail.

      In reading posts, you see the words “unfortunately”, “sadly”, “failure”. Why is it “unfortunate” that someone could only breastfeed for 3 months? Because a massive amount of pressure if put on moms to breastfeed and breastfeed exclusively. Most people fail to emphasize what Stephanie said above. The most important thing is to love and nurture your child. The emphasis shouldn’t be on whether you breastfeed exclusively, give breast milk in a bottle, or chose to not breast feed at all. There are too many moms who define the beautiful experience of motherhood by whether they were able to breastfeed or not. Do what is right for you and your baby.

  22. Kristy says:

    Thanks for sharing your story and your call for encouragement.

    “…my type-A self needed someone to make me sit and rest before I overdid it.” This is exactly me! It was one of those things I didn’t realize I needed… Someone to make me sit and relax.

    For #1 I was nervous about having to go back to work after 8 weeks on maternity leave. I, too, had been frightened by others about the bottle-rejection thing, so I tried giving him the bottle. Silly move! He got nipple confusion. While he would take a bottle, I spent 3 months trying to nurse again. If I didn’t have encouragement from my mom (nursed all 4 of us), I don’t know if I would have been able to nurse him until 15 months. It was hard at times, and I didn’t leave much when I was off work.

    For #2, I was determined NOT to have the bottle problem. I was able to stay home full- time, so I thought that would make it a breeze. Well, my milk dried up at 2 weeks. When the pediatrician said I should supplement with a bottle, I broke down crying right there in the office. It was then I found out that our pediatrician’s office has a lactation consultant on staff. A miracle!! Little did I know he was not really latching properly. Even after nursing #1, I still hd SO much to learn. She gave am a solution to bottle feeding (a small tube I could attach to me that would put formula into his mouth and still give me the stimulation I needed to get my supply back). Her solution, along with an herbal supplement, brought my supply and confidence back after just 1.5 weeks. It was a special time for #2 and me. I had to slow down even more (not always easy with a busy two- yr old underfoot), and we made it to 16 months. He did take a bottle from Dad or grandparents on a few occasions. I found that the Breast Flow bottles worked best for him, as it mimicked the letdown from breastfeeeing.

    After overcoming so much, I was much more comfortable breastfeeeing in public. Hubby was not, though. As he was sharing this concern to me, we were in a play area at a mall with our 2 yr old. And I was nursing #2. He didn’t even notice that I was nursing. LOL!! After I told him that I was nursing, he never made another comment and never had a problem with me nursing in public again.

    Breastfeeeing for me was a big growing up time for me. I don’t say that to say I’m special. Instead, it’s what I needed to learn how to put my baby’s needs first. Like your story, I learned how to take better care of myself: eating enough good food and drinking TONS of water. With #3 on the way, I know we will meet a new set of challenges and that it won’t be easy for the first several weeks.

  23. Alison says:

    I breastfed both of my sons for much longer than socially acceptable ;) Boy #1 tandem nursed with Boy #2 and then we agreed on a birthdate when he would stop. Boy #2 recently self-weaned. Neither boy tried solids until well after 6 months and never had a bottle – so your story is encouraging.

    We battled many issues… thrush, mastitis, horrifying pain in the beginning, but as the months went on it was just easy, easy, easy.

    I also had to do radical elimination diets with both to figure out their food allergies (the proteins I ate were passing through the milk; wheat for boy #1, corn & soy for boy #2). Once I did the elimination diet, I had to eliminate those foods (even trace amounts) until the boys outgrew the allergies (at about a year).

    I would have never made it past the early days without a steel will and sheer determination. I always say that mamas who do it deserve a gold star! :)

  24. I nursed our daughter exclusively for six months and weaned her when she was 13 months. It was hard but it was wonderful. We endured severely inverted nipples and a massive oversupply but the return was massive. And it gets so much easier after the first few weeks!

    • Just to add for those who are new to this and struggling with oversupply or overactive letdown: nursing one-side-only for a while can calm that down without needing the sheilds. *CAN* – not a must, just a tip! Sheilds work well for some but the lack of ‘gear’ required for EBFing is part of its charm to me :)

  25. Great post!

    The first few weeks with Baby #1 were tough – I had to use a shield for a while and had massive oversupply. I worried I’d never be able to nurse without the shield. One day I couldn’t find it and the baby was crying, so we just tried it without the shield. Lo and behold, it worked! We never looked back and he nursed for 11 months (6 of them exclusively!)

    Baby #2 was easy from the start. I nursed him 12 months (exclusively for 6 months). A dear friend of mine adopted a newborn son with some medical issues shortly after my Baby #2 was born. So she put out an SOS call to her breastfeeding friends asking for milk. I had the privilege of pumping enough to feed that precious baby for a few months (in addition to keeping up with my own child’s needs). It’s amazing what the body can do! I increased my supply by 20 ounces a day – and with God’s help and a lot of extra eating/drinking it was possible!

    Once Baby #3 came along, it was smooth and easy, and he nursed for 12 months too. I remember sitting in my favorite chair one night feeding him thinking “this is the probably the last time” and it was. Like you said, it goes by so fast, but is so worth it!

  26. Thanks for sharing such an honest post. I felt like a total failure when my daughter was born and nursing was hard because everything I’d heard suggested otherwise. Nursing was natural. It was easy. It was painless. Heck, it was a “womanly art.” But it sucked! I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say a case of mastitis went terribly awry and I wound up in the hospital for five days and have a massive scar on my breast to show for it.

    But there’s hope! With my son, I was determined to try again (although this time everyone was pushing me the other way) and we nursed successfully for eight months, six of them exclusive. It was amazing.

  27. Amanda says:

    I think the most important thing for new moms to know about breast feeding is to do what feels right TO THEM and what is right for THEIR baby. Any number of issues could arise that could change the plan they set out for themselves and breast feeding their baby. There is no wrong answer when your babies health is at stake. I would also say not to have really high expectations, it will be hard. It will be worth it if it all works out though. I nursed for a while and bottle fed too. All are still alive and healthy!

  28. No one told me about shields, creams, or that it was supposed to hurt. All I ever read was that it was supposed to be this easy, wonderful, painless experience. Well, my son wanted to nurse about 18 hours a day, and by the time I left the hospital, my nipples were bleeding and I was done. I also had a 4-year-old and a special-needs 19-month-old to take care of, and my husband was working nights. I guess I figured it qas one less struggle I needed in my life at that point. :) That said, I still missed that special bonding time we had in the hospital.

  29. I had to work full-time so I pumped, but my first had only breast milk for around 8 months– he was slow to want solid food.

    I have PCOS and I LOVED nursing because while I was nursing I didn’t have *any* PCOS symptoms. It was like I was cured. If I could have found another baby to nurse after DC was done, I would have.

    http://www.kellymom.com is an amazing resource for troubleshooting and just knowing what to expect.

  30. Jeanine says:

    This is why I read your blog. Even though you don’t currently have a nursling, you are passing your wisdom along to the rest of us. Lots of days I feel like I need “help” with this mothering thing. Thanks for providing that help. :)

    Though it does make me wonder, especially with some of your other recent posts, are you going to have another nursling anytime soon? ;)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Ha! No, I don’t think so. I believe the six pack is complete. Just passing on my two cents before I get too old to remember it.

      Thanks for your kind words. ;)

  31. Allison says:

    This post mirrors my own experiences with breastfeeding. As I read this. I’m nursing our third baby. He’s 8 months now and eating solids some, too. But he still gets most of his nutrition from me! To new moms – if you make it through that first month, you can make it 6 months! (or a year! Or more…) also, though two of mine had to go an emergency bottles during my own ER emergencies, they continued right back with nursing (and I pumped to keep up supply.) I also found that nursing is just easier – can go anywhere, not have to clean bottles or measure, and it keeps your diaper bag that much lighter. I don’t think the kids are any worse off b/c Daddy never gave them a bottle – they bonded in other ways. Just an encouragement that if we are a very small minority, we are a pleasant one and not all militant. Though I breastfeed exclusively, I still encourage friends no matter how they feed their babies. You just have to do what’s right for you!

  32. Thanks for the post! I also breastfed my 6 and it was never easy!
    The thing that SAVED me was visiting the lactation consultants and also pumping, sometimes for weeks until I could start nursing again.
    I suffered with mastitis many times. :(

    It was definately worth it for me. It saved us we estimate over $5000 in formula costs.

    I invested in the Medela Double Electric pump as I work part time and needed a great pump. I would NEVER have made it without the pump. It paid for itself over and over and over! Then, I sold it for $50 on Craigslist when I was done with it!

    I was able to nurse my babies anywhere from 9 months to 14 months and it was a great experience, even after a rough start at first with every single one!

    I think women think babies are born knowing how to do it and it should be “natural” and not be painful or hard. I would say it is always the contrary! Most babies don’t just latch right on from the get go! The lactation consultants were lifesavers for me and my babies!

    • I’ve heard it described as trying to teach each other to dance, where neither partner has a cheat sheet. Knowing that going in made it easier to cope with any difficulties that came up – I’d just think, here we go learning another step together!

  33. Morgan says:

    I have 4 girls but only breastfed the last one. I tried with the first 3 but always gave up before it got better. #4 is 3 months old and hasn’t had a bottle yet. I was determined to make it work this time so I took the breastfeeding class, asked for help right after delivery, and rested the first 2 weeks. With my others I resumed normal activity (alone) as soon as I got home from the hospital. That led to exhaustion and mild case of PPD. This time my husband (who also was dedicated to making breastfeeding work) took a week off work and lined up help for the second week. Anytime I felt discouraged I called a friend of mine who had nursed 5 babies (she was determined to help me make it work). A few times she raced over to my house to help! I love that time I have with my baby-watching her grow from my milk, the convenience of just feeding her (no mixing a bottle), and sitting down for a little bit to enjoy her sweet face. I wish I would have nursed all my babies but I am grateful that God gave me the strength to make it work this time.

    • I nursed my first for 3 months, but not exclusively. Eventhough I took a class and read a book, I still had no idea what I was doing and my supply vanished to nothing by 3 months. I was sooooo stressed through the whole experience.

      But, my second is almost 4 months old and he is exclusively breast fed. I was determined to be more successful this time! I did more research and it’s going great. Plan to keep it up at least until he’s 6 months. I think my experience makes this time around easier. I know the commitment to expect, so nursing every 2-3 hours is no problem. He actually sleeps better at night than my first did! And all those bad memories of washing bottles, buying formula with hard to find coupons and crying baby while we waited for the bottle to warm up is almost more motivating than knowing the health benefits! I’ll get a weekend away with the hubs or my friends later ;-)

      I wanted to share my story of hope for moms who’s nursing experience wasn’t good the first time. It can work for the second. I thought I just had low supply, turns out it was my own error and easily fixable.

  34. annabelle says:

    I bf all 3 of my children for their 1st year. At about 4 mths I started giving them more foods but no cow milk until after their 1st b-day.

    Some said that it shouldn’t ever hurt but for me the first 3-4 weeks, it did. I think making up my mind before they were born that bf was what I wanted to do helped me push through those first few weeks and continue for their 1st year.

    I try to encourage new moms to give it a try because it did work great for me and my 3 but I know it does not work for everyone.

    Thank you for posting :) this encouraging word for moms.

  35. You have written my sentiments exactly. I think breastfeeding was the hardest thing I ever did – much harder than childbirth itself, because of the time span! I am not by nature a stay-in-one-place-and-relax type of person. I don’t like to stay at home for long periods of time. But I was determined to breastfeed, because I felt it was the only way to go. It’s natural. It’s the way God made us.

    Everyone around me was supportive of my decision, but no one had any experience, so it was left up to me. I was fortunate to have plenty milk, so I fed naturally when I was home, and I pumped (which actually required no pump, as I could squirt milk across the bathroom with one hand, lol) so the babies could take a bottle. After feeding exclusively on the breast for the first three or four weeks, I introduced the bottle, and we never had any trouble with going back-and-forth. I did follow “method” of sorts, very systematic, and was cautious at first.

    I strongly encourage anyone who wants breastfeed, give it a try! It is worth the effort! And if you don’t succeed the first time, don’t hesitate to try again with the next. Every pregnancy, every baby, every situation or circumstance is different.

    Thank you for this post!

  36. Heather says:

    I wasn’t able to breastfeed my first 3 kids, but I pumped and fed them, and contrary to everything I hear, I had way more than enough milk. I froze enough to last my first child until he was 1 and I stopped pumping at 6 months. That being said, I was able to nurse my 4th child and I loved it (after the first month anyway)! I think the lactation specialists at the hospital mean well, but they always made me feel like I was doing it wrong which is why I think I gave up with the first 3. With my 4th, I took him home and just kept at it until it worked and I’m so glad I did. Nursing is something only you can do for your baby and its such a special time.

  37. Brandy F says:

    I nursed my first till he was 8 months then gave him cows milk in a cup. This was 11 years ago. I wish I would of nursed longer and not introduced cows milk so soon but, I was really young and didn’t know much about nursing. Now I have a almost 6 month old and plan to nurse at least a year. I have a very special bond with both my sons. Just saying :)

  38. Heather says:

    I had Gestational Diabetes and Pre-eclampsia, so after an failed induction, I had a c-section. My daughter was 9 pounds. Her blood sugar was a little low, so they brought her to me to nurse before the hour was over. Before I left the hospital, they were bringing me burn victim cool packs because I was blistered and bleeding. The lactation consultants said the roof of her mouth is higher than most and that I was doing everything right. She was two weeks early so when she wasn’t falling asleep while I was trying to nurse, she was screaming because my milk did not expel very fast. Sounds like a nightmare right – it was until I realized that my bond with my daughter was not just about breastfeeding her, so I stopped trying to force her to breastfeed. I pumped religiously (as in, what takes most women 20 minutes to expel took me 45 minutes and I had to massage the entire time) and held her close while I fed her a bottle of breastmilk. We had to supplement with formula, but she always got as much breastmilk as I could produce. I got pneumonia when she was four months old, so I had to stop giving her the breastmilk, but I kept pumping and dumping so I would keep my supply up. She took right back to the breastmilk when we re-introduced it. I pumped until she was 9 months old. I appreciate your acknowlegement that there’s not really a “right way”. The most we can do is the best we can do. I gave her the best I could and at the end of the day I have a healthy almost two year old that I love and that loves me. That’s all that matters to me.

    • I love your saying “The most we can do is the best we can do” — I had a difficult start to nursing each of my three children. After many struggle (and each child was different in their nursing difficulties) we managed to have a long and strong nursing relationship. Some of the best advice I rec’d was to take it a day (or even a feeding) at a time. Ask yourself, can I do this ONE more time? If yes, endure and do it. If no, if you’ve reached the end of your rope, can not take even one more painful feeding, or nipple-ripping pumping session, it’s OK to stop nursing and feed formula. You gave it your best. Be proud of yourself for trying. Mothering a child is more than how we feed the child.

  39. So happy to read this! I nursed my daughter exclusively for 14 months because she refused to take a bottle! She stopped taking one at 3 weeks and never wanted one again! It was really hard at times but I’m so glad I did it. Baby #2 is on the way in 19 days and I have had so many moms tell me that I will NEVER be able to breastfeed this one (they will be 2 years apart) for very long, and certainly not exclusively! It’s been pretty discouraging so I am very happy to read this and see that it CAN be done :) Thanks!! I needed to read this!

    • Marissa says:

      Megan, don’t listen to anyone’s negative reaction. I am currently pregnant with my 6th and my oldest will be 6 years old when she is born.

      There is no reason why you can’t exclusively nurse when you have babies close together. If anything it will force you to take a break from the demanding two year old and bond with your newborn. (at least that’s how I felt). Good luck!

  40. Baby #1, nursed for 6 months.
    Baby #2, nursed for 12 months through three episodes of thrush!
    Baby #3, nursed for 14 months.
    Baby #4 is now 12 months old and she will be my last baby :(. I will continue breastfeeding her hopefully for 6 more months.

    It’s been somethimg so special that I have been able to do for each of my sweet babies and I will be sad to have it end.

  41. Ginger Riggins says:

    I was one of the fortunate ones who breast fed all four of my kids to about 13 months of age. I do miss the baby stage and it does go by too quickly. I miss the smell of baby feet, the smiles given while taking in that wonderful supply of milk. I also remember those first few weeks of “torture”. But in the end it was so worth all the pain, stretch marks and sagging that comes from that wonderful experience! :-) Just before we moved to a different state last year, I had saved one bag of frozen breast milk in the freezer and it really was sad when I had to throw it away. It was like the offical end of my baby stage!! So thankful for the memories!

  42. So many encouraging stories! The breastfeeding journey is an unselfish one that’s for sure, though I would say my feeding formula wasn’t all selfish either. I was 19 when my daughter was born and completely new at everything. I got easily overwhelmed and didn’t try very hard. I will say that positive encouragement makes it easier for me to want to try better next time. Thanks for this post!

  43. Great post and so true. I’m currently breastfeeding #5 and they’ve all nursed between 10 and 15 months. I don’t regret one single minute of it, and looking back it’s such a special time. Stick with it you’ll be glad you did.

  44. Sigh. I hated every minute of breast feeding my first child. I wish someone had taken the time to tell me that I was having her latch on improperly. It was the worst 6 months of my life, really. I wondered why I hated this “natural thing, ” and felt like a bad mother. Actually, I felt like putting my foot through the floor every time she latched on. :) The painful memories. haha. Honestly, I believe there needs to be serious doses of grace in the whole breast feeding discussion. We all want to be good moms, and sometimes it is this lack of grace that stops people from seeking help.
    My oldest is 18 today. And I am totally going to commiserate with her when she starts nursing her own babies someday…or I am going to support her decision to bottle feed.

  45. Mary Beth Lopez says:

    I have nursed all 4 of my children. The first 2 I nursed for 6 months and worked full-time. Yes, I was that Mom that took the pump to work with the little mini cooler and thanks to accommodating bosses, took 2 nursing breaks during the day to keep my supply going. Yes, it was hard, but I was determined and after those first few weeks, it became much easier.

    I gave birth to a stillborn son, Samuel as my 3rd child and I had enough milk to nurse the entire wing of babies at the hospital. THAT was painful!! In so many ways…

    3 years later, I was blessed with twins. At 39 and already having suffered a stillbirth, I was immediately considered high risk. I nursed the twins for 4 months. It was very hard, because I only had about 45 minutes between feedings. Whew! But my Mom and my sister would spend the night (for 2 whole months). They would change, burp and put the babies back to sleep so I could get as much rest in between feedings as possible. I felt like the walking dead! Lol! But I didn’t have any problems nursing them other than the sheer time to took to nurse 2 babies! And I probably complained more than I should have as well because they both had colic! :( But we did survive it!! I do remember days when we all cried and I would tell myself “I can do this — they are only going to be 8 weeks old for one week out of their whole lives!! I can do this!” Hahaha!

    I also believe that if you want to do it, you can. If you try and it doesn’t work, praise God that your baby is healthy and don’t sweat it!! You have to do what is right for you, your baby and your sanity. If that’s not nursing, then no judgement here!! It IS hard, but it IS worth it!

    God bless you in your decision — whatever it is!

  46. Candy J. says:

    My first 2 I was a working mom. I nursed them for the first 11 to 12 months. I had to supplement despite my “F” cups. I could only pump maybe 6-7 oz / day at work. Baby # 3 is now 9 months and has been exclusively nursed up until 4.5 months when she started grabbing for food and smacking her lips at the sight of food. I never could get her to take a bottle. It is hard. But it’s only for a couple more months, and she is probably my last baby, so I relish these moments.

  47. Thanks for sharing! I’m pregnant with our first, and I’ve been wondering what to expect from breastfeeding.

  48. Courtney Holcomb says:

    I LOVE nursing babies, I could do it for the rest of my life. Well, if I haven’t had so many problems.

    With every child has come mastitis (4 children) and plugged ducts averaging weekly (yes, seriously close) when nursing exclusively. I produce enough milk for twins, despite my original AA training bra size (which gets to a fabulous B if I’m lucky! lol)

    Baby #1 I started a bottle during the day at 7months to ease the plugged ducts, and it worked. I still got the satisfaction of nursing at night (I LOVE not having to lose sleep when feeding babies).

    Baby #2 Didn’t ever need supplements! This was fabulous.

    Baby #3 Starved when I got mastitis at 2 months, so she had formula for a couple months until she wouldn’t take it anymore, evidently my milk was okay for her after 2 months of trying to boost.

    This latest baby, #4, has changed my world. His latch was terrible (I homebirth, midwives aren’t lactation consultants, and the consultants are at the hospital). So after a week I went to the hospital to visit the consultant, risking mastitis, since mastitis is a Staph infection. (I can name exactly where I picked up staph every time I’ve had mastitis.)

    She was a great help, but that night I got mastitis, and my milk supply dropped. But I didn’t know it. Next week’s baby check up (at 2 weeks) he was 1/2 # below birth weight (this NEVER happens with my babies). My midwife said he was a “silent starver.” So terribly sad!!! So we put him on formula and within a day he perked up, communicated and cried and moved more!

    Well, 2 weeks old and on a bottle, this rocked my world as a hardcore nursing mamma. Then I realized that 3 of 4 babies have been supplemented. Humm. Well, as sad as I was that my experience wasn’t to my perfection, I chose to be THANKFUL that I would be able to nurse my boy a couple times a day and THANKFUL that there are options to easily and healthfully keep my boy growing strong :) (even at $120/mo, ouch, thankfully we are almost done with that, he is 14 months). And on this schedule of a couple nursings per day, plugged ducts didn’t exist, I wasn’t producing enough to cause a problem.

    I considered medication to up my supply, but I enjoyed being more comfortable. This may sound bad, but when you can’t even lay down in bed because the breast will shift and ducts will plug, it is nice to have less reasons to see the chiropractor or go crazy from lack of good sleep.

    There was still problems, from his latch issues, nipples healing (bleeding, shields, pain). I still spent many hours hiding in my room trying to make the little bit work. I did this while 3 children 2, 4, and 6 were “raising themselves” in the other room. Thankful they can get PB & J for themselves, and are great kids, but still it was a difficult time, they needed more of me.

    All in all, my perspective has shifted to being thankful for the time I have had nursing my babies, and thankful for the help when I need it :)

    • Wow, I only got plugged ducts when my daughter didn’t nurse enough, not the other way around! And I know some women produce perfectly well with baby at the breast but can’t pump a thimblefull. Just goes to show that it’s different every time!

  49. I agree wholeheartedly with this group of mothers: Breastfeeding your baby is something incredible, and words can barely convey the special experience shared between mother and baby while nursing.

    I’ve been nursing mine for nearly seven months so far–and hope to be able to continue for the first year–despite being one of those mothers who physically cannot exclusively breastfeed.

    I’m writing to encourage readers that even if you find yourself medically unable to exclusively breastfeed, it’s often still possible to nurse at least partially–it’s usually not all or nothing.

    As someone who went into motherhood expecting a learning curve but also expecting to be able to exclusively breastfeed until starting solids, I was devastated when I discovered that I was among the rare group of women whose bodies did not develop properly enough during pregnancy to produce a full supply for their babies. I wish I had gone into motherhood more aware of the fact that some women physically can’t produce enough milk and that there was a possibility I could be one of them–if I had, I still would have worked for it, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been so heartbroken when it happened to me.

    Here is my story, with hopes that it will encourage someone out there who finds herself in similar shoes yet still wants to breastfeed her baby.

    I had no option but to start supplementing when my son was just three days old. For months, I worked with one of the best lactation consultants in town to boost my milk supply as much as I possibly could–I started by pumping after feedings to stimulate production, and then added herbal supplements (fenugreek, blessed thistle, goat’s rue), did a series of acupuncture sessions with an expert in women’s health, and then finally tried domperidone, a drug that often helps women with low milk supply. It was work, but totally worth it.

    In those early months I wanted so badly to be able to breastfeed exclusively, but eventually accepted the fact that though I could not build a full production, I had worked so hard to boost my supply and that it did make a difference. Even if my son would continue having to drink formula, at least I had worked that hard to give him the best start with the breastmilk I was able to give him. Today he’s a healthy and growing boy who’s thriving. He loves nursing, and does it several times a day, and he also loves the bottle, which he eats voraciously.

    My recommendation would be to go into motherhood expecting to be able to breastfeed exclusively, but also with an awareness of the various issues that might come up. Have the number for a lactation consultant on hand, and don’t hesitate making an appointment–it’s good to catch problems early so you can start fixing them right away. And finally, don’t give up. I worked so hard to get to this point, and it was all totally worth it.

  50. Dawn T says:

    I’m with you in that I enjoyed nursing our five babies on their schedule. Our third was a more voracious eater and I couldn’t wait for him to be done nursing, but we made it through that year. :0) I had an added blessing from nursing in that our second son had severe food allergies. At three months, he had hives all over his body and at five months, he was diagnosed w/ allergies to milk, soy and corn – all foods found in formulas. Thankfully, I was able to stop eating those foods and we had a healthy baby again. I have alot of sweet memories and thankful I was able to take the time (not everyone can). You are right, even though it was 9 yrs of my life in pregnancy and nursing, it’s over and it now seems like a brief moment in time. Great post!

  51. Thanks for all the encouraging words! I agree with everyone else who says the most important thing is to do what you know is right for your baby. If you’re not a mom yet, you may not understand that yet, but after your baby comes, you *will* have mommy intuition. You’ll know if your baby (or your sanity) needs some formula, and please don’t beat yourself up about your choice! (Don’t let anybody else give you guilt trips either.) I love the statement “Worry will kill you faster than food will” and I think the same goes for breastmilk vs formula. It’s easy to stress out about it so much, and if you do that, you’re making it that much harder to enjoy your baby during that super-cute, super-FAST newborn stage. In general, breast is best, so go for it! But if your situation calls for something else, make the change and get back to enjoying your sweet baby.

    That said, I’d MUCH rather breastfeed than bottle-feed. I love not having to take extra paraphernalia with me when we go out; night feedings are SO much easier (even though I do get up and go to his room to feed), and it’s free!

    Y’all have left some great comments, and Jessica, I’ll be forwarding this post to a friend. Thanks!!

  52. Great information, Jessica! I nursed my children exclusively for the first sixth months, too, and continued nursing until they were a little over a year. I was a little nervous about it because at the time no one in my family had ever successfully breastfed. One thing that helped me a lot was advice from a friend who had breastfed three. I would encourage new nursing moms to seek advice/ encouragement from someone whose opinions they trust. Lactation consultants can be helpful, too, if a mom is having difficulty.

  53. Kristin says:

    I like the spirit of your story.

    I had similar experiences with my 4 children, all of whom I breastfed for a while, the last until he was 3.

    My first baby was born with a congenital heart defect, diagnosed in utero. We knew he would have surgery upon birth. Because she knew I wanted to breastfeed, my mom STRONGLY encouraged me to talk to a lactation consultant (Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he was having the surgery, has an incredible team). I got some great encouragement and direction from her before the baby was born such as, “get that pump in your post-partum room and start pumping the minute you can.” This helped my husband and I know what to do when other well-meaning nurses said “you don’t need to pump, you really need to sleep.”

    I kept pumping with that Cow-milker machine every 3 hours on the dot for the first week, because I am first born and I always follow instructions. The nurses gave him him a bottle of breastmilk (colostrum, really) for his first taste of food at 1 week old. Once he tolerated that well, the lactation consultant helped me teach him how to latch. It worked and despite mastitis for which I had to be hospitalized, he nursed heartily and hungrily for the next 2 years.

    I’m not saying that if you follow a certain set of guidelines everything will go the way you hope. I’m just here to say how sometimes pursuing and getting the right help can make all the difference.

  54. Ha! The “crying baby phone call”. I thought my husband was the only one who did that:-)

  55. Kristin says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you were able to breastfeed all of your children. And women definitely need encouragement during what, I’m sure is a difficult time in life. You mentioned that each mom needs to do what’s best for her child; that’s awesome! We can only do what we can do. I just want to tell new moms out there that you don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t breastfeed.

    When I had my first son, I had a lactation consultant meet with me in the hospital because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed properly. (My milk ducts never fully developed and they told me when I had surgery to correct this that I only had a mild chance at breastfeeding.) To my joy, the consultant told me I was lactating and that my son had a great latch. Life was good! Until 7 weeks later and my son was still 2 pounds under his birth weight. The doctors assured me I was producing enough (they turned out to be idiots), but I went to formula-feeding only. He quickly caught up to his recommended weight.

    Then I had my second son and a new lactation consultant assured me she could get me to produce for this child; I would breastfeed every 3 hours while pumping before and after every feeding. We did this for one month and I was only able to produce 2 ounces of milk in an entire day! Definitely not worth it.

    Long story short: some moms breastfeed, some moms bottle-feed, some moms are all-natural, some moms need some convenience in their lives, and some moms can try as hard as they can and just have to deal with what God grants them. It doesn’t matter how you feed your child; love is what will make them grow.

    • This is exactly what formula was invented for. It’s a life-saving intervention for that portion of families who can’t do it old-school.

  56. Thank you!!! I adore you for this post. I am a new mom to my sweet one month old daughter and am breastfeeding exclusively. I needed your reassurance and encouragement… and honesty. What a blessing!

  57. I nursed both of mine exclusively for 6 months also and until they were 1 year old. I still worked full time and spent all my breaks pumping. I sometimes couldn’t find somewhere to pump, so I did it standing up in a bathroom(gross I know, but I didn’t touch anything). It was a pain to carry all that extra stuff to work every day but I did it because I wanted to and in no way regret it at all. A few months after I weaned my son, he got pneumonia 3 times in a row and his immune system was very low. I wish I had nursed him longer. Great post, I am impressed(I know you aren’t bragging, but i’m still impressed about doing it for 6). Numerous people kept asking me “are you still nursing him?” as if it was unthinkable. I just smiled and said “yeah, for now”.

  58. I’ve shared a number of my breastfeeding stories on my blog, but essentially here are the nuts and bolts: We did it. We made it past a year with both of my babies (another is due in August!).

    Did we have challenges? You bet. My first had latching issues, but with the right help from two different lactation consultants, we pushed through and made it work. From two weeks on, she nursed like a champ.

    My second was a born eater from the beginning, but had emergency lung surgery to save his life before he turned 6 weeks old. Yet the only milk he had was breastmilk, even through that feeding tube. It was a very scary time, but I knew pumping constantly was the only thing I could do for my newborn. The lung they removed has grown back and he’s healthy as a horse.

    I love your story, and I agree that nursing affords us the ability to rest every few hours during those early weeks when we really need it. My best advice with nursing to be determined, but know that challenges are within the realm of normal. Push through and get the right help. But like you, I also believe that a good mom feeds her baby. Period.

  59. I needed this today! I am in the midst of exclusively nursing twins that are 5 weeks old. I exclusively nursed the my last two children but nursing twins does not compare. Today, I felt totally depleted mentally. I wanted to run to the nearest Walmart grab some formula and prop them up with a bottle. However, like you, I also need a reminder to take a break and though it is not always easy, nursing allows me to do just that. A friend of mine calls “built in rest periods.” Thank you for reminding me of what’s “best” for me and my babies!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Hang in there, friend! Take some extra naps (if you can) this week. And make sure hubby knows to pick up any slack. ;)

  60. Very good post, excellent points.

    Here is my story: http://mylittlebitoflife.com/?p=1204

  61. Melissa says:

    Thanks for writing this! I nursed my first son for two years (and I run around in circles where this is common) — with my second son, he (and I) had terrible thrush from the get-go. I tried all different things — mainstream medicine, homeopathy, change of diet, etc. — and nothing worked. It hurt so bad! After six months I started supplementing with formula — and felt like I was buying crack. He weaned from the breast entirely at 10 months and it was so sad — never a real good experience for either of us.
    Now that I am a childbirth educator I am glad to have the experience of doing both. I can say with confidence that breastfeeding can be hard for the first six weeks — but after that it is WAY easier. Washing bottles, warming bottles, making sure you always have (expensive!) formula in the house — it’s a pain.

  62. Courtney says:

    Oh…breastfeeding! I really struggled with breastfeeding! But I did it for 6 months with my first daughter and 8 months with my second. The first two months were really challenging, dealing with physical pain, being tired, etc. And with each I went back to work full time when they were 4 months old and had terrible results with pumping despite my very best efforts. I’m incredibly stubborn, and I kept at it despite the obstacles and I’m so glad I did. There were lots of hard times, but there were many times that I would say it was easier than bottle feeding. For new moms, I would say to try your best to ignore all the pressure and absolute statements. Do what you can physically and what makes you the happiest mama, and really, that is enough!! I had so many of the same physical obstacles with #2 but I was so much more confident and relaxed about the whole issue. If only we didn’t have to experience it the “hard way” before we get to that place as moms!

  63. Great post. As a BFing mom of my 8mo 4th son, I totally echo what you wrote. It is not always easy. It’s not always convenient to have to nurse every 3 hours. There are times I’m tired of it (especially since I’ve been either pregnant or nursing continually for well over 3 years). But that being said, I LOVE nursing. I love having him close and seeing him stare up at me and having that bond. Since this is probably my last baby, knowing I’ll be done nursing forever in 4 months makes me a little sad.
    For those new moms, you can do it! It’s totally worth it. You’ll never regret having made the decision to BF!

  64. I really enjoyed reading this. I breastfed both of our children – our eldest until around 14 months and our youngest is just finishing up now at around 20 months. I agree with all you other moms out there – when you are a first timer you have no idea what to expect and it can be hard going as part of the overwhelmingness of having this new person so dependent on you.

    I was blessed in that I always had a lot of milk – when friends I knew felt like they didn’t have enough and had a consistently sad and hungry baby and so gave up more quickly. Although having a plentiful supply wasn’t without the dramas of waking up soaking or leaking through multiple pads and t-shirts and cardigans… And I got mastitis both times which was no fun at all.

    But I would not have changed it for the world. The time that they need you like that goes by so quickly, and being a stay-home mom by choice brings with it the option to savour these little moments. I have read articles that say exclusive breastfeeding has a lot of benefits, especially for boys, and ones that say it makes no difference. For me, I think it did make a difference, even should there be no discernible benefit for the little ones – although I know that had my body not worked to make it so things would have still been fine.

    I did find that people wanted to challenge my decision to stick at it for a longer stretch, especially as most moms I knew combined breastfeeding with at least one formula feed by between 1-3 months. Neither of our children slept very well until well over a year, which solicited a lot of advice to formula feed in the evening to get them to sleep through, or so I could go out again, or so I could regulate their routines more efficiently. But I wanted to hang in there if I could – inviting though an unbroken night of sleep would have been. In this respect it was a great help that neither of our two would get the hang of a bottle – I expressed a lot with my first and endeavoured to get him to take a bottle because Daddy wanted to help with feeds but to no avail. He would take about 10mls when I had painfully and boringly expressed 150mls – so not such a concerted effort second time round… And you can get through with broken nights and they both sleep fine now!

    If you have the choice to breastfeed and want to then it is a truly wonderful and amazing thing – even considering the difficulties – such a short and precious stage of life. I would definitely do it again should we have another child.

    Thanks for posting such an eloquent piece exploring the topic so openly.

  65. Breastfeeding was a great experience for me to bond with my twin daughters. Breastfed them both exclusively until 6 m.o. and were done by 15 month. Would hate to delude you and would tell the truth-it was not easy in the beginning. I had C-section and people at the hospital were not optimistic about my ability to feed 2 at a time…
    Didn’t have almost any sleep for about 3 first weeks. I know it would’ve been easier with formula-it usually keeps babies asleep for a longer time plus father can help. But I was determined to continue BF and never regret it. Good luck to all the new mommies with the breastfeeding!

  66. Great, realistic post! ;)

    When I was first pregnant I read a list of 101 Reasons to Breastfeed. (http://www.notmilk.com/101.html) That really motivated me to make it work and educate myself the best I could before he arrived. I didn’t see myself nursing beyond the recommended 12mo though.

    My biggest challenge with my first was that he was colicky and just generally fussy all the time. Thankfully my Dr assured me it wasn’t the nursing that was making him that way. And I felt like it was the one thing I was actually doing right for him. He absolutely refused all bottles and pacifiers when I introduced them around 4weeks old. Oh how we tried to make him take them! I was so frustrated.
    BUT we did just fine without them. My second kid was more receptive to the artificial nipples, but at that point it was just easier to nurse the baby since it was what we were used to.

    I nursed both my boys exclusively for almost the first 6mo. (They both started grabbing food a couple weeks before 6mo exactly.) Then I did the same with some water and solids and continued to nurse. The first weaned around 2yo and the second is still nursing a couple times a day at 2.5yo.

    Oh and I totally thought La Leche League was a weird concept when my MIL suggested going. However, once my 1st was about 10mo I decided to check it out both to meet local moms and to get some info on nursing an older baby. They were so nice and down-to-earth that I stayed. I am now a LLL Leader for that group. :)

  67. Jenifer says:

    What a great post!!! Breastfeeding is hard to learn, but the benefits are so worth the effort. It is such an amazing bond. I had many problems pop up in the beginning, from my son’s jaundice to a cut on my nipple to low milk supply, but lived through it with plans to nurse my next child!! I nursed my son until he was 13 months old, exclusively for 5 months. I had to do some pumping for bottles when I got a cut on my nipple, which was a stressful time. But my son was so flexible. Breast or bottle, as long as he got his milk!!
    The most important things I learned are; 1. Take your time learning. Not only do you have to learn how to nurse, your baby has to learn how to eat!! And you’re just getting to know each other. Take it easy and try not to stress!!
    2. Stay hydrated!! Can’t make that milk if your aren’t drinking enough water!!!
    3. If you’re uncomfortable with something, don’t do it. I had a nurse, while I was still in the hospital, insist that I use some kind of hard plastic shield thing. I hated it, but she kept insisting. It ended up causing me quite a bit of pain. I don’t know why I didn’t just tell her no, I won’t use that thing!!
    4. I’ve never met anyone who regrets breastfeeding. I have met many women who regret not breastfeeding or only breastfeeding a month or so.

  68. I have a 5-year-old, 2-year-old, and an 8-month-old. I nursed the first two for 14 months, and I’m loving nursing my last baby boy.

    It was tough with my first. He was jaundiced and sleepy, and he couldn’t latch on one side in the hospital. I asked every nurse there to help me every time I nursed, but I still couldn’t get him latched on one side by the time for checkout. Thankfully, I knew to ask for a nipple shield. I saw a lactation consultant that weighed him before and after nursing to help me feel better about my milk supply. I nursed him with the shield for the first 8 weeks until he got strong enough to do without it. We made it through, and I was so glad that I hadn’t given up.

    The second baby was a piece of cake after that. =) And so was the third….

    Those first weeks with my first were hard… but they were such a short period of time compared to the rest of my breastfeeding years. It helps to get perspective on how long these tough first days really last.

    I’ve really enjoyed nursing overall, and I’ll miss it when I wean my last baby boy. I always encourage every mom I know to give it a try, though I’m VERY careful not to criticize if it doesn’t work out. Whether you breastfeed or not isn’t a measure of your worth or competence as a mother…. but it really can be a sweet and wonderful part of the first year.

  69. Everyone’s different and I totally respect that and hope everyone makes choices that satisfy best their own needs and the needs of their special, individual children.

    For me nursing was really easy. We went exclusively for 6 mo. on both kids but both presented many food allergies. My husband and I have TONS of allergies, kids significantly less (thanks to bf’ing!) Then tried solids on and off and continued to bf for 2 years on both kids. Entirely breast to cup, no bottles involved. No mixing, no packing, no messing, no reactions! Night times were a breeze. If I had enough sleep I would scoop them up for nighttime feedings or if I was just tired that day, hubby would drop them in my arms in bed and I’d doze that way. Super easy, super kind, completely cost efficient.

    The MOST important thing is to remember that feeding your child is a nurturing moment, it helps develop their attitude towards food. Doing it lovingly without stress-however that is- is way better than trying to do something that other people tell you is “right”.

  70. Kristy Otts says:

    I nursed my first baby for 8 weeks. He had reflux and I had to go back to work at 12 weeks. It was so difficult to give that baby a bottle. I felt like a complete failure. Baby #2 was born 2 years later. I was a stay home mom and determined to breast feed. He loved to nurse. He nursed every 3 hours until he turned one. It was magical. Baby #3 came along 3 years later and he was a great nurser. He did have a tendency to bite. He was also a jokester from the get-go and would nurse just long enough for my milk to come down, then grin and quit. He nursed for one year and went straight to a sippy cup. It was very sad to realize that my nursing days were over. Those were some of the sweetest times spent with those baby boys!

  71. Great post and an encouragement to me today, in the midst of still trying to get my baby girl to nurse well enough to be sustained by nursing alone at almost 4 weeks old. Thankfully, she is our 5th and I’ve been down this road before so I am able to keep it in perspective this time and have shed less tears…these newborn moments pass so quickly. Breastfeeding is wonderful, but, yes, it can be SO difficult!

    My experience (in as few words as I can manage).
    Baby #1 – Would not latch, we sought out lactation help for a few weeks but he just couldn’t get it, I was stressed out from being a new mom and opted to pump for 6.5 months.
    Baby #2 – Struggled again, she would latch but was weak and did not have strength to suck, so back to pumping and bottle-feeding expressed milk. With lots of lactation support she caught on at 5 weeks and she nursed until 14 months.
    Baby #3 – The kid was born and knew how to eat from the get-go and he nursed until 16 months.
    Baby #4 – We thought things were going well, until he was about 10 days old and I just had a check in my spirit and felt the urgency for a weight check. He had dropped 1 lb. so I started pumping and bottle-feeding again, though I was greatly discouraged. At 2 weeks old he was admitted to the hospital for a fever and infection, which could have contributed to the poor nursing. Anyway, when he was getting well nursing did not improve, but I kept with pumping and bottle-feeding and he finally got it at 7.5 weeks and wasn’t weaned until 18 months.
    Now Baby #5 – seemed to have a great latch and suck right after birth, but dropped almost a pound by 5 days old. So I’m back to attempting to nurse her several times a day, pumping and bottle feeding. I am praying we can get successful sometime soon. The biggest challenge this time around is simply the time it takes to do all that trying, pumping, bottle-feeding and then washing all the bottles and the challenge that is in managing the rest of my responsibilities as a mom.

    Based on my experience, my advice to a new mom struggling would be:
    1. Seek out skilled help (lactation consultants) and emotional & practical support from friends and family (you need cheerleaders, help with household tasks, a hand with bottle feeding or washing a couple times a day helps, too).
    2. View the short term struggle as just that, keep your eye on the long-term benefit.
    3. Enjoy that newborn baby because they grow so fast and there is so much more to being a great mom than how you are getting that baby fed….keep up the good work, Mom, you can do it! (I’m telling this to myself in this very moment).

    • It is so valuable that you’ve shared that pumping was a bridge solution for your family! So many people switch fully and never try to go back, and it’s encouraging to hear your story.

  72. Forgot a critical benefit – it’s MUCH CHEAPER!!! Formula is so super expensive – breastfeeding is WAY easier on the wallet. That always kept me going when nothing else did :).

  73. I think more new moms need to hear it’s doable and it’s not one size fits all. It seems like many people have a bad experience and are made to feel like they are doing it wrong etc etc. On feeding #1 the lactation lady came in and asked her was I doing “it right.” She didn’t offer any guidance at all. SHe just gave me a breast shield and said use this. So I did. We ended up using the breast shield for 53 weeks. Yes everyone looked at me funny, but whatever, it worked and my baby was breastfeed past his first birthday. Yes I wish the lactation lady had offered me some guidance and support instead of the shield, but in the end I accomplished the goal I set out to, so it counts as a win!

  74. Great post, Jessica!

    I nursed all 5 of mine exclusively for 6-9 months, depending on whether or not the baby would take any other foods. The total years of nursing was huge: almost 13 years, partly because of the children’s health issues.

    It was a tiring, but I, too, valued the nursing time as a time to forget about the to-do list and just rest.

    And it was challenging at times. Without support from La Leche League, I could not have done it, especially when I had too much milk for my second child, leading to dreadful colic. La Leche League’s support during this time was heaven-sent. If you have any issues with breast-feeding, I would definitely contact them…although I’ve heard that they are not the same organization they were.

  75. What a great post. I gave up nursing Jackjack (the chewer) after just a couple of weeks. Never felt guilty and never looked back. When Little Peanut came along, I wanted to try again…and we were successful! Going back to work complicated things a bit, but we just take it one day at a time. :o)

  76. Christine says:

    I breastfed my 1st two children. We tried for a 3rd for a lot longer than I wanted to and during that dry spell I was with a friend while she was nursing her baby and the sounds of nursing almost made me cry, it made me want to nurse a baby again so badly it almost hurt. There is such a special bond with your baby when you are forced to sit and hold them close for 6-8 times a day! It is worth the 3 weeks of toe curling pain!

  77. Shannon says:

    I was just nursing my very tall 16 month old before naptime thinking, I don’t think that I will regret nursing her, even though lately I feel a little over the nursing thing. She never liked a bottle and now she can tug at my shirt in public and say “urse, peeeeeeaaase”, and shows no signs of wanting to wean anytime soon. I love nursing, but sometimes I want to just want to be done!

  78. I’m a working mom and managed to nurse my first 2 children for 12+ months. They were both in the NICU after birth and had to start with bottles. We overcame the hurdle of introducing nursing and was able to nurse until they were ready to quit! Its totally worth it! #3 will be arriving this summer and plan to do the same thing. All I can say is the Medela Freestyle pump rocks my socks off!

  79. I have three children. I wanted to nurse my firstborn so badly, but we just could not get the hang of it. I guess we gave up too early. The nurse was horrible, she even wanted to cut the bottom part of my daughter’s tongue because she thought that was the problem. UGH! My son came along less than two years later and I tried once again, but I figured out that I am the one that is not comfortable. So I spoke with the nurses (in a birthing center) and I tried pumping. I had so much milk I could feed every baby there I think! So I pumped and bottle fed my first son for about eleven months! I still felt the connection to him because I was feeding him exclusively until he started on some baby food. My husband could get up at night and feed him, so he could still feel that connection also. We could go out at night and we did not feel so attached. My second son was born eleven weeks early, so I had no choice but to pump in the beginning while he was in the NICU. I pumped until he was about seven months old. We even had to go buy a deep freezer because I had so much milk!

    Every mom and baby is different. Every situation is different. However you feel comfortable is how you should proceed. There are options and I will forever be grateful to the nurse who suggested pumping and bottle feeding.

  80. Thank you SO much for giving a very even & honest look at this. There are SO many “militants” as you mention and I think it makes it harder on new moms! I desperately wanted to exclusively nurse my kiddos, but discovered that I actually have a medical reason making it impossible for me to do so. It was devastating. Here’s my whole story with it: http://www.momendeavors.com/2011/03/when-breastfeeding-doesnt-work-part-1.html
    I wish I would have found posts like yours at the time to get some less judgmental, honest portrayal of things!!!

  81. Love this post!

    I really wish I had been warned just how much it can hurt. With my son, nursing was a real struggle but I was determined that I would do all I could to make it work.

    Out of pure stubbornness I gave myself a goal of 6 weeks: I’d keep trying and doing all I could for 6 weeks. Then I upped my goal to 12 weeks. And by the time we got to 12 weeks nursing was so much better that I was glad I’d stuck it out. He ended up nursing for 16 months.

    (Our nursing troubles were due to not being able to latch on immediately. He had to go to the NICU and I wasn’t even able to hold him for a day or two. I was stuck trying to establish a supply using a pump, and that was no fun.)

    I’m currently nursing my daughter who is 10 months. I was all prepared for the initial pain and difficulties that I experienced with my son, but instead it was SO much better. No pain, a great latch right away, and my supply has always been fine.

  82. Jennifer says:

    I am a working mom who was a bank executive with a brand new baby…and I breastfed for the first year. Our daughter has never tasted formula. The key for us was a good Medela pump, plenty of ziplocked milk bags and a heavy dose of determination. I even pumped while away on business trips, packed my milk in a cooler and FedEx’ed it home to be delivered the next business morning. Was it inconvenient at times? Sure – but our daughter is happy and healthy and the benefits will last her a lifetime. I’d say that’s worth it. Thanks for a great article!

  83. Shanna says:

    After reading many of these comments, I just had to throw in my 2 cents’ worth. I am a first time mom exclusively nursing my 5-week old. I know this sounds very new, but you can’t believe the ups and downs we have already had.
    I am a nurse and was adamant about breastfeeding exclusively. I was as concerned about nipple confusion as everyone else, but I also knew that I would eventually have to pump and give her bottles in order to go back to work. I actually had a really crappy experience in the hospital (my own hospital!) when she couldn’t latch on and my lactation consult was severely delayed. I was making lots of colostrum, but couldn’t get it to her. Add the stress of my baby being low birth weight (just under the 6 lb. mark) and the conflicting information I was getting about how long I should nurse at each time and I lost it. At this point, the nurses brought me a pump while I was (still) waiting on the lactation consult. I gave her a bottle of expressed milk without any qualms because I was so excited to get something into her.
    The important thing is – yes, she had a bottle within the first 48 hours and yes, I had to use a nipple shield for a few weeks and yes, she took a pacifier, but guess what? She now takes my breast without the nipple shield and switches back and forth happily between breast and bottle no problem. She mostly gets bottles when we’re out (I’m not confident enough to nurse in public yet, but we’ll get there!) and occasionally so Dad can feed her and get some practice before I go back to work. She only every got 1/2 oz. of formula the day we left the hospital – for my convenience and sanity. Otherwise, she is exclusively breastfed by my definition and as long as she and I are happy about it, that’s all that matters.
    Also – find out if your pediatrician has a lactation nurse. Mine did and she was a lifesaver!

  84. I never bought nursing clothes either. The only thing special I ever bought was a button up the front dress for a wedding we had to go to (family member) while I was nursing. Made that day just a little bit easier.

    My 4th child was my hardest to nurse – I thought I had it all figured out by then. Turns out a lot of nursing is the baby not the mom. But we did it and I nursed her for a year.

  85. Alison says:

    Good article!
    I am a mom to 7 dc. My oldest is 14yrs and my youngest is 5mos. I wanted to be a SAHM from the start… just because that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to breast feed my son so I did. I tried to give him a bottle once or twice but it was too hard so I gave up lol!
    I laugh at this because I feel like I breast feed by default, it’s just easier for me and well, I’m a little lazy (though the first two weeks hurt!). I remember my mother fussing at me that I needed to give my first child a bottle so I could have some “me time” I remember thinking, “isn’t that what a shower is for?” I was just laid back about the whole thing.
    Fast forward 14yrs as I sit and nurse my latest addition and I am surprised to hear that more women don’t exclusively breast feed, not because I’m some lactivist, but just because I’m lazy lol! If you can breast feed easily enough and you get to be at home (which isn’t for everyone, I know) , why not? (please note, I’m only suggesting this if it is what you WANT to do, not what you “should” do)
    I exclusively breast feed my kids until they are around 7-10mos… Because I am lazy lol! I hate having to sit at the table and feed my baby 3 meals a day for very little gain. So, by waiting until the baby, has some teeth, is interested in food, has lost that annoying tongue thrust reflex, and can self feed (normally around 10mos) I just don’t bother. Once they can do these things they love sitting at the table with everybody and it’s fun for all of us. All my kids have thrived. I generally wean around 16mos, and it normally is a very simple process.

  86. I love this post. I am forwarding it to my sister-in-law who is about to give birth to her first baby. I have three kids, breastfeeding my 7-month-old currently. With my first daughter I was determined to breastfeed. No other woman in my family had done it and I knew how much money it would save us and how good it was for baby. However, I must admit the money thing was a big driving force. We had a very rough go of it in the beginning with sore nipples, cracking, mastitis, and some crazy engorement, but I pushed through it and she leared and I learned. One day it just clicked! None of my babies have had a bottle. I waited too long with number 1 because of all of the problems we had. I wanted to overcome those before I gave her a bottle, but by then she wouldn’t take one. It was totally fine with me. I know it was a bit crazy for a caregiver if I was away when she got hungry, but I hardly ever left her with anyone and I think I did a pretty good job of planning around her feedings. I also realized how quickly time goes by and how much I will cherish that time with them. What is a year in light of their whole lives? When number two and three came I just didn’t even bother with a bottle. It is so much easier to me to just put them on the breast. Nursing in public was a bit awkward at first, but practice makes perfect. People do stare a bit, but I agree with another poster that the more it is done in public the more accepting people will become of it. I don’t, however, like the guilt placed on moms for either not breastfeeding or for breastfeeding. There seems to be a double standard. The “you better do it, but don’t do it in public” attitude or the gasp of “your not breastfeeding, how could you” attitude. You have to do what works best for your family. Thank God there is formula for women who can’t breastfeed. Good luck to all the new moms. Find a friend or lactation consultant and don’t give up!

  87. I loved this post! I am currently nursing our sixth child who is seven months old. I’ve nursed all of my babies exclusively for the first six months, and then anywhere from 10-22 months total. Four of my babies have been “easy” nursers; Two have been *very* hard…and the hardest one was my sixth! It took a good month before she would latch on quickly, and I spent many nights with very little sleep trying all of the tricks to get her to calm down and nurse. I kept thinking that I should have this down pat by now, but my pediatrician told me, “There are two players in this game, and one is a rookie!” My advice for any mom trying to nurse (whether it’s your first or your tenth) is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Lactation consultant. Friend. Mom. Pediatrician. All of the above. There are lots of tricks to help with difficult newborns, and lactation consultants or veteran nursing moms can give you lots of tips. One other thing–even if you are not going to use a bottle, rent a breast pump for the first few weeks. It’s a life saver! Breastfeeding is so totally worth it. :)

  88. Great article. The “time is not your own” is especially important to remember. I know I get most frustrated with my kids when they are “intruding” on my to-do list (i.e. like right now, when I’m trying to type this, but my 9 month old guy wants to be held!). I’ve learned to do less and enjoy your family more!

  89. I nursed my first dd for 11 months, my 2nd dd for 15 months, and my son for 21 months. It’s just what we did. I never really thought that much about it, but I’m oh-so-glad I got to do it.

    I wrote a bit about our child-led weaning “approach” here. (It involves books!) —> http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/2012/03/15/read-aloud-thursday-the-dlms-top-picks/

  90. I have been breastfeeding my 4 month old and it hasnt been easy for me. I actually wrote about my story recently here:

    http://www.onedayatatime-kenia.blogspot.com/2012/04/feeding-my-babies.html

    I think it is important as women to support each other through this time. Like you had said, there is not a right or wrong way. However, for moms that are trying to breastfeed it is not always easy and all help, support, encouragement and advice is needed sometimes.

  91. I am currently nursing my first son, who will be 8 months old next week. I exclusively nursed the first 3 months, but my supply wasn’t enough for him, so I did supplement with forumla as well. He is now around 70% breast, 30% formula. I’m dreading the day that I have to stop nursing! So far I’ve been blessed to keep producing milk! My advice to new moms is to push through the first few weeks, they were rough for me as well, but it is oh so rewarding in the end!

  92. Heather Siani says:

    Thank you for this post! I actually read it at 4:30 am while breastfeeding my 1 month old. This is my first baby and i just determined yesterday that not only do I have a blocked duct but my little princess has reflux. It’s been a long day. :) Just wanted to say Thanks for the encouragement!

  93. Just wanted to quickly post, although my reply is not timely, that if a woman is having a hard time breastfeeding, as I did, they can consider the choice to pump exclusively. I did it for a full year for twins—I did need to supplement after the first 4 months. I mention this because it is not well-known that most of us, with a lot of diligence, can keep our milk supply up that way. I know this is not the exact subject of your post, but I think some women might choose to feed breast milk this way if they know it’s an option, so I spread the word when I can.

    For the record, at a LLL meeting I attended the members and facilitator all said my supply would definitely dry up using a pump exclusively. Now I know that was just hearsay—they all breastfed directly of course!

    If I had it to do over, I might persist longer in getting the latch right with both babies for the physical benefits, but I am proud of my choice nonetheless to give the girls superior nutrition.

    Janet

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Great job! Thanks for sharing your story. I think somewhere in the comments, there’s another mom who did the same as you. Proof that it can be done!

  94. I’m a little late to the game for this post and doubt that anyone will ever read through to the 120th comment (ha!), but I had to share. My daughter turns one in 9 days and we’ve managed to give her only breastmilk (and solids, of course) her entire life even though I work full-time. We nurse nights/weekends and I spend a crazy amount of time with my pump. But I just love nursing her. It’s always been in the plan to wean at one year to give me a break from the pump – but I never once thought that I wouldn’t be ready for the end. The thing is, now that the one year mark is looming, I find it hard to face. I’ll ditch that pump faster that you can say “Medela” but I’m going to cherish the nursing sessions that remain. We will most likely have to wean soon if we want to give her a sibling and I’m okay with that. It’s really been a magical experience. Sure, there were times at two months, four months, six months when I wondered if I could possibly pump one more time. There were times when I wondered how much longer can I sacrifice my body knowing that another baby would likely (God willing) be right around the corner? But I wouldn’t change a thing and I say little prayers that every mom and baby can experience what my daughter and I share(d) this past year. I admit, though, the thought of having my body to myself for at least a few months sounds WONDERFUL! :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I read your comment. ;) And I think this post and the comments will be a great resource for folks to stumble on in the future. Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s wonderful to hear how folks make it work.

  95. Elizabeth says:

    I nursed 2 of my 4 kiddos successfully. I remember being so frustrated with my daughter & myself because we just “couldn’t get it right”. My wonderful lactation consultant gave me the best advice, “Liz, just remember ‘you’ve done this before, but your daughter hasn’t.’ Calm down, be patient, and guide her.” Somehow that made everything better.

  96. I breastfed our daughter exclusively til 7 months when we introduced solids. She’s actually still breastfeeding (although obviously much less) and she just turned 2 (my goal was to breastfeed until 18 months minimum and reevaluate; guess we overshot that). I expect she will wean any time now because I’m pregnant; she’s dropping feedings on a weekly basis and I expect my supply will dwindle soon. I’m looking forward to breastfeeding the next baby as well. :)

  97. I just had my third child a week ago. I breastfed my other 2 ex. for 6 months and then for a year. I seem to be having a harder time with this one and was feeling frustrated. Then I ran across your post on facebook. Thanks for the encouragement.

  98. Before my daughter (now 14 months) was born I heard two kinds of stories when it came to breastfeeding. Either it was the most simple natural thing or it was absolutely impossible. I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Breastfeeding will be a challenge, but a manageable one that’s well worth it. At least, that’s been my experience with my one baby. We’re not done nursing yet either.

  99. I want to be that mom!!! She just won’t latch, now I pump what i can and give it to her but it seems even with feneugreek I’m drying up. One sad mama over here

  100. I agree that breastfeeding can be an incredibly wonderful thing but I hope everyone remembers that it’s not always a choice. I wanted to breastfeed. I truly truly did. I breastfed my first child exclusively for the first 2 months. I suffered cracked nipples because I knew it was worth it. I fed him on demand, sometimes it was every 20min, because I knew it was worth it. But I had concerns. Why were the feedings only 10min tops? Was he really supposed to be hungry so often? Why did I feel like I didn’t have enough milk? Why when I tried to pump did nothing but a couple of drops come out? EVERYONE, from nurses, to lactation specialists, to my mom, told me it was fine. There was nothing to worry about.
    At his 2 mos appt, he had gained 1 oz since in one month. Told the Dr. about my concern with my milk supply. He said I’m sure everything’s fine with you but let’s get his blood/urine tested. After going to the lab and getting his foot pricked and a urine sample (that was insane) I decided to go with my instincts and went to the store and bought formula. That 2mos old infant drank like a camel. When I went back 3 days later for test results, he’d gained 1 lb. I had unknowingly been starving my child. I took all the pills they recommend to boost milk supply, something like 6 pills 3x a day and I continued to nurse him, but I had to supplement with formula. The pills didn’t boost much. I had to stop nursing at 4 months. I was dry and had nothing left to give. I cried. I was also very upset and disappointed in myself. And now I’m left wondering, could those 2 mos have deprived him enough that it contributed to him being on the Autism Spectrum? I’ll never know.

    It was different with #2, I had so much milk that after he ate I could pump and get a full bottle. No idea what happened with the first, but #3 was the same. I could feel the difference but I tried to nurse again. We watched her carefully. She didn’t gain weight in the first month. I had to give formula again.

    So as wonderful as some find it, even with all the struggles, it does not always work- even if you keep trying. So please be very careful and don’t judge those that aren’t nursing.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Thanks for sharing your story. It can work out lots of different ways, and it’s good to hear about them all.

  101. LOVE this post! My son was born 5 weeks early and as a result of being in the nursery for 2 days before I could see him (I had high BP and they needed to get that under control before I could go up to see him) he started out with a bottle. I was pumping and they would give him everything I took to the nursery, but he was familiar with the bottle and every time I would try to nurse he would just get cozy and fall asleep. I decided that if he was getting the same milk from the bottle that he would be getting from me, I was ok with that if it meant he could come home (and we would continue to try when we got home). I pumped exclusively and offered him nursing at least once per day, when he got to 6 weeks it was like someone flipped a switch and he wanted nothing to do with the bottle anymore! I am SO SO glad that I was patient and was determined to give my baby the opportunity to nurse, when giving up would have been so easy. The sleepless nights and days of exclusively pumping were well worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat! Seeing him triple his birthweight in 4 months, and catch up on the growth chart even for his ‘uncorrected’ age is just amazing to me!

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