Breastfeeding was crazy hard — then it clicked #Tough Stuff#babies#breastfeeding#breastfeeding challenges#medical conditions March 14 2013 | Guest post by lea maxwell By: Mothering Touch – CC BY 2.0 Of all the things people felt like giving advice on while I was pregnant, no one ever told me that breastfeeding might be hard. One person warned me that sometimes it just doesn't work, but I didn't really get it. Why would it just not work? Because, well, sometimes, it doesn't. As was nearly the case with my daughter. Before the baby arrived, I had committed myself to nursing the baby for three months, primarily because of her health issues. I went several days (maybe a week, depending on who you ask) past my due date and my doc convinced me to go for induction. I reluctantly agreed. My milk was slightly delayed because of the process of induction. On top of that, my daughter was in NICU for seven days to have a heart condition monitored, so I was trying to nurse a baby who was basically tethered to the bed. The stress and poor diet of a hospital stay didn't help my supply. While I had some helpful advice from lactation consultants, they just kept telling me to pump more. When I said it was painful, they told me to do nipple rolling to give my baby something to latch on to. I went home and begrudgingly supplemented baby with formula, pumping every two hours and putting baby girl to breast as often as she could stand it. I saw another lactation consultant who put me on fenugreek, gave me a lecture about needing to upgrade from the $300 pump I'd already bought. While the fenugreek boosted my supply in just a few days, now I had full breasts and a pinchy baby. We tried all of the tricky holds and body pillows. I saw a lactation doctor who gave the baby a neck adjustment. Nothing helped. After a few weeks I'd almost lost hope and was miserable, pumping about half of the time. Baby's latch was awful, leaving me bleeding and cracked. She'd chomp down and rather than react in a way that would disturb her I'd clench my teeth. I bruised my molars, it hurt so bad — I never even knew that was possible. I joked that the baby was a boob shark, but it was terrible. I was counting down the days until I could stop nursing and dreading each of the 8 daily feedings to come. I was still determined to make it work, until sometime around seven weeks, when I read a story about a woman who lost part of her nipple due to poor latch. I remember standing in the bathroom to air dry after my shower, because it hurt too much to touch them with a towel. That was when I stopped feeling guilty and decided that I was about to go to a complete pump to feed routine. Related Post Breastfeeding without the milk (using the Supplemental Nursing System) I waited for my breasts to change the nine(ish) months I was pregnant -- to grow or change in some way. I knew that they... Read more But then things changed suddenly — my daughter had an unscheduled open heart surgery and a five-day hospital stay in ICU. When she was sedated, swollen and pitiful, all I wanted to do was nurse her. After about three days the doctors removed her intubation so that I could nurse. A nurse helped me pull the hospital chair up close to her crib, carefully moving the cords and monitor lines, showing me how to hold her to me without pressing against her incision. My baby barely woke up, but she opened her mouth when her Momma was near. It was a few days after we were home and I was nursing her on the sofa, when it clicked. For the first time, she suckled, instead of chomping up and down. There was a soft puckering noise as she nursed, her fat hand spread out on my breast. Tears (happy ones!) welled up in my eyes. It hasn't been completely easy, but with time it's improved. In her case, the health issues were affecting her latch. But as she recovered it got a bit better. As she grew and gained head control, it got easier and required less concentration. Now, at 16.5 lbs before her six month birthday she's something of a medical oddity — a baby with a congenital heart defect that is in the seventy-fifth percentile for weight. Yesterday, while waiting for my pediatrician to see us for a "normal" visit, I was bored and decided to nurse the baby. If you had told me four months ago that I'd look forward to nursing the baby, I'd have either laughed or punched you. But, I guess, that's why no one tells you that nursing is so brutally hard. Because, then, you might give up before it has a chance to get good. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by lea maxwell Lea is a roller derby coach turned mom, from Ohio, where she lives with her husband turned accomplice. http://littleteenieweenie.wordpress.com/ PREVIOUS Pi Day decor: Irrationally awesome home goods NEXT Good Vibrations storage unit makes your bedroom look like it's got a glitch Show/Hide comments [ 56 ] I, too, had a difficult time establishing breastfeeding. During this time every breastfeeding mama I knew was sympathetic, telling me their own experiences with painful blisters, bleeding and cracks. I felt like it was a big secret everyone had kept from me. So if anyone asks I am honest – I tell them it hurts like hell. Not forever, but for kind of a long time (like 8 or 9 weeks). I'm sure there are some lucky ladies out there who get through it without any pain, but I haven't met one yet. 3 agree Reply But how do you know when pain is "normal"? After two weeks of dripping tears onto my baby, bleeding and stomping my feet with excruciating pain every two hours but being told over and over again that it was normal and she was latching fine, I ended up in the hospital with my boobs full of pus from severe mastitis and switched to formula. Is it OK for a mom to say "fine, this may be normal, but it's actually not worth this amount of suffering"? 12 agree Reply Absolutely!!! Everyone has their limits. If nursing is supposed to be a bonding experience but it's making you miserable it's time to move on. I don't blame you one bit and I hope you've let yourself off the hook for this one. 7 agree Reply This was me. Today I saw a lactation consultant who finally gave her blessing to become an exclusively pumping family. My husband gave his blessing last night, saying he's known for a while that we'd end up here. I was stubborn and felt like giving up was selfish if it might get better, even though I know everyone was telling me that it's no ones decision but mine. We're not going the formula route but we're definitely done prioritizing breastfeeding. Reply Yep, it hurt like hell for me at first. My first baby, I ended up giving up. My nipples were bleeding and she was losing weight. I pumped instead, and ended up exclusively pumping for 12 months. The bonus to that was I was able to donate milk, which rocked. With my 2nd (and last) I was determined for it to work. She, too, was a chomper. I found some breastfeeding support groups and they helped with her latch. It never was completely fixed, and we still have issues on and off, but I'm a pro at re-latching her now. We found out at 8 months that she was tongue- and lip-tied. However, even though there are still occasions of painful latching–and biting!–I can't even consider stopping yet, I love it too much. She's 14 months now and a happy, healthy little thing who is TOTALLY addicted to the boob and even sings to it when she's ready for me to put it away or wants me to nurse her lol. 3 agree Reply congrats to you for letting yourself do the pump/feed routine–I'm sure the decision was not easy but I imagine it helped you move forward in bonding with your LO. I totally hope this is us in a few months! hooray for singing to boobs. Reply I've been shouting this from the rooftops to all the new mamas I know. Even though it's the most natural thing, both mama and baby still have a learning curve and there are so many complications. Not to mention, the generation before ours largely stopped breastfeeding and so that knowledge wasn't passed down to us. The thing that I stress to new moms is that it's estimated that only 2% of women can't breastfeed. That means 98% of the challenges do have a solution. On Monday, I'll hit the 6 month mark of breastfeeding my daughter and I've also realized that once it clicks, it's also important to talk about the ways breastfeeding can make life easier. Night feedings are easier, getting shots at the doctor are easier, no period for 6 months is SUPER FANTASTIC AWESOME! LoL I wrote a blog post with more ways breastfeeding can be easier, if you're interested. It's so important to share the message that it is hard, that everyone has problems and that breastfeeding can and will click. Not all women will enjoy breastfeeding, but it does get better! 9 agree Reply I have been thinking about all of this a lot lately. I certainly loved breastfeeding from the beginning, but it was more painful and harder in the beginning than I thought it would be. Then, when things got easy (super easy) and painless, it was better than I ever thought it could be. I'm trying to be really really honest when I talk to people about breastfeeding. It's hard and inconvenient in the beginning, but it gets easier (if not just plain old easy) and really convenient once you find your groove. 4 agree Reply what a fantastic story! i think the expectation that breastfeeding should be automatically "natural" versus somewhat of a learned practice (for both mama and baby) is what kills so many breastfeeding relationships before they have a chance to get great. thank you so much for sharing! 2 agree Reply Breast feeding and how difficult it can be, like so many other things in pregnancy and motherhood, are just not talked about much. It's a shame. Thank you for posting your story. We hear all the time about how breast is best but we rarely hear how hard it can be. The more stories and support we can offer the better. 3 agree Reply Ack! I cried! I am glad you stuck it out. It hurt for me too, not because of medical issues, just because sometimes it hurts. It's a relationship, and it takes time and effort and patience, but is so effing beautiful 2 agree Reply Thank you so much for this. I'm bringing home my daughter from the NICU tomorrow. We've been learning to nurse once a day & it is so hard! I've had to clench my teeth a few times as well. I hope it clicks for us too! 2 agree Reply Just do your best…if that means pumping/feeding, then so be it. You won't regret pushing through the tough times but be sure to give yourself a break if need be. I sure did! Reply I could relate to so much of this. I think we need to be honest about the difficulties (I wanted to hit someone when I'd read "breast feeding should never hurt!") but also about the hard-to- describe elation when it works. Can I ask you how long until your milk came in? Almost everyone I know or read about says it took too long or was delayed such that I suspect it's almost always a normal amount of time and its our expectations that are off. 1 agrees Reply for me it took like 4 days for my milk to come in. Also, for some people breastfeeding isn't necessarily painful and awful to start, it wasn't for me. I had a lot going for me though, i have a bunch of breastfeeding friends, i got to observe my mom breastfeed my brothers when i was an older teenager, i had great midwives and no birth problems, and also I was just lucky. I had a bit of soreness before my milk came in, but after that it was fine and so far (she's only 2 months old) we aren't having any issues. So while its totally normal to have a difficult time, its not a universal experience. I wouldn't want people not to try breastfeeding because they think it will be inevitably horribly painful. I think its like birth- some people are like "it was a magical experience and painless" and some people are like "that was the worst thing that's ever happened" and for most people the experience is somewhere in between. 1 agrees Reply Mine took about 5 days, which might have been longer due to being induced and given mess and fluids. I agree that I didn't realize it takes days for more than a few drops to come in. That also sets new moms up for dissapointment. Reply Took me about 4 days? I think it can take anywhere between 3-6 days or something, usually, although I bet there are some that take 2 and 7 days! Lots of moms think it comes in right away. It does not. 1 agrees Reply you are so right! a friend of mine just gave up on nursing because she thought her milk wasn't going to come in and it had only been 5 days. such a bummer. her lactation people really let her down. it's one thing to give up if there is a problem, but she didn't even have the information to know if it was a problem. Reply Lots of kudos to you for sticking with it through all the pain and frustration! My little one had a very poor latch on my short nipples for just the first few days, and it felt like it was the end of the world to me. I was so glad to have made contacts with La Leche League while I was still pregnant – it made all the difference to know that there was help if I needed it. One of the leaders was going to come to our house, but at 2:00 that morning we had an AHA moment – and he latched perfectly. Though we still have the occasional issue rear its head, our nursing relationship has been largely successful. I am so grateful to have avoided the pain that some of you describe, but I did want to chime in and say that breastfeeding is not (and should not be) inherently painful. If it is, there is help out there, and not all lactation consultants are created equal. So don't be afraid to try, and keep trying. It is so worth it. I had to laugh at your boob shark comment – we call our little guy the boob dragon because of his dragon like roar of excitement at feeding time. Thankfully, he does not breathe fire. 2 agree Reply I have short nipples as well (and huge boobs), so latching was difficult. My nurse gave me a nipple guard, and it was a life saver. The benefit of the guard is there is no pain, cracking, or blistering. The lactation consultant told me I would eventually get tired of it, but 5 month in I still use it 70% of the time. 2 agree Reply I came here to say this! We had excellent nurses at our hospital who noticed we were struggling to get good latches. They gave me a nipple guard and that helped immensely. It wasn't totally pain free, but I never experienced cracking and only ever had a little bleeding. Also five months in and we still use it, but don't necessarily need to if it's not in reach or convenient. More people need to know about this option, because I would have given up without it. Reply I love mine too! We're only at 4 weeks so far, and everything I've read about the nipple shields is to the effect of "Well, if you HAVE to…but try to get off of it as soon as possible." Honestly though, it's been working great for us. It's not that much of an inconvenience, so it's nice to hear that other people have made it work for multiple months. 4 agree Reply do what works for YOU and your baby! everyone's got an opinion but in the long run you have to figure out what you can work with/tolerate. Hm. I don't think it's that breastfeeding is always hard or painful, though it can be, certainly. I think it's that our society doesn't do enough to support breastfeeding mothers and there is a lack of knowledge about it. I know just as many moms who have had great experiences with nursing. With my first two kids I didn't know much, but I tried to nurse, it didn't last very long though. I was also given formula at the hospital and never told that supplementing would impact my supply. I didn't know about proper latch and so my nipples became sore and cracked. We battled thrush. BUT… With my next two kids, breastfeeding has gone wonderfully, in big part because I was better informed and supported! 2 agree Reply As many other commenters, we had a rocky start as well. My baby couldn't latch. Then she could latch, but only with nipple shields. In the beginning, I mostly pumped and only did one or wo feedings per day from the breast, it was so frustrating. But after about six weeks, my daughter outgrew the nipple shields. She would however pinch my nipples and get them sore. I started to do the night feedings nursing her, which obviously made things easier. Slowly, more and more feedings became nursing sessions. And at four months, my daughter took the informed decision that the bottle sucks and that henceforth she'd only drink from the breast. Ah well. I had actually enjoyed being able to go away for more than two hours or to give a sore nipple a break. But what can you do? We're now nearing the six-month mark, and while my daughter obviously enjoys nursing, I still sometimes have issues with sore nipples. And while in the beginning, I was counting the days until I could stop, it works now well enough to keep going. So new moms, don't get surprised/discouraged by a rough start, as in many cases it is entirely possible to outgrow initial problems. Reply That is not to say that all mothers who have a hard time of it are not well informed or supported. As I said, it certainly can be hard, I know that. But I think the fact that so many women are having a hard time says more about our society than it does about breastfeeding itself. The lack of support… For nursing in public, for pumping at work, for feeding on demand, for child-led weaning, etc. the lack of knowledge about our own bodies, how they work, what is normal and what isn't, etc. and when there are issues it seems you can't win, some are pressuring you to start using formula and other are telling you to keep at nursing. You feel judged either way. We need to be supported wherever we are at on our journey. And one thing I've learned to ask moms now is "are you looking for advice or support" so I can meet them where they are. 1 agrees Reply I had technical support, from nurses, midwives, and a lactation consultant, and none of them could figure out what the problem was. (The latch looked fine, my nipples were severely damaged.) I persisted with nursing for the first year, even though it never got much better, and what I could have really used was emotional support. So, I really, really like the idea of asking new moms what kind of support they think they need. Reply My son was in the nicu for a few months so I pumped around the clock at first. When he finally could begin breastfeeding months later it hurt like HELL. Then I discovered nipple shields. A young nurse told me quietly one day I was feeling particularly discouraged. She whispered 'don`t tell anyone I told you this, we're not allowed to mention them but nipple shields might help. you can buy them in any pharmacy'. I had to buy a few different types before finding one that worked but it improved his latch dramatically. I did notice the older nurses frowned when I would pull them out. The younger nurse had explained that since the hospital was flagged 'breastfeeding friendly (ie received a green light from the organisation la leche) they were strictly forbidden to mention shields, under the pretext that it gets the baby used to the feel of plastic and so they`ll reject the nipple after. NONESENSE! I was shocked to see the strong grip these organisations have on hospital to the point of forbidding such advice. I agree breastfeeding is hard at first and no one (usually) prepares you for it. During my hospital stay I said to multple nurses I wanted to breastfeed. Only 24h after the birth did anyone think of showing me the breastpump. Clueless me never even thought I would need to breastpump since my son was intubated. It really pays to be informed beforehand, even in hospital settngs 5 agree Reply i had the experience with my first girl of having been warned so much that breast feeding can be painful at times, to the extent that when I was having painful nursing sessions I tried too hard to tough it out, assuming it wasn't any worse than what anyone else feels. In reality, when I did give in ten days after the pain started (I am talking about pain bad enough that I was shaking and in tears just BEFORE the latch because I knew it was going to hurt so badly..) I discovered that I has a plugged milk duct. While these are common enough, I regret that I didn't seek help sooner. Thankfully once that was resolved i went on to have a happy BF experience till she was 13 mo old. This goes back to what others have been saying- without more open dialogue and support for new mamas, we can at times be left a bit more unsure and confused than necessary. now with my second baby girl, born nine days ago as a late preterm babe, I am much more inclined to seek out any help I need to feel successful in breast feeding her. better late than never! 2 agree Reply So glad things are working out for you and your little one. Yay for boob juice! Breastfeeding was easy as pie for me, for both my kids. They latched on right away and nurse(d) like champs. No soreness, no bleeding, no nothing. 2 agree Reply Me too! (See my post below.) I want nervous pregnant moms reading this to know that it can work out like that, too. Be prepared for problems, but nursing might not be a huge battle. 1 agrees Reply Ditto for me. I actually had the opposite experience, in a way: I had heard all kinds of stories about how difficult and painful it can be and braced myself for the worst… turns out, for me it was easy & totally natural. I originally had a goal of 6 months and ended up nursing until about 13 months with hardly any issues at all (although it was an inconvenience pumping at work when I did go back full-time!). I know a big part of that was luck, and I also went into it with lots of support from my midwives, my doula, my mother who had nursed all 4 of us kids, and I had attended some La Leche League meetings prior to delivering too. I hope people take advantage of the resources available and go into it knowing that it may be difficult, but it is not only worth it it's pretty damn amazing all around. I never thought I'd enjoy it. Also, nursing right away even before your milk comes in is still extremely beneficial: not just for practicing (both for mom & baby) and bonding, but because colostrum is produced prior to milk supply. Your body knows what it's doing–colostrum is yellowish and thicker, and is so nutrient-rich and perfect for brand new babies. Milk comes in when the baby's ready for it. 1 agrees Reply You are a rock star! My son didn't have any medical issues but breastfeeding was so hard! It took five months before it finally clicked and it made me so happy. We ended up nursing until he was 14 months when he self-weaned because my supply dried up since I was pregnant. Now I'm nursing my daughter who is 3 days old. Not gonna lie, it's been tough again. The nipple pain is brutal. 🙁 But I'm hoping it will get better quickly! 1 agrees Reply congrats! at least now you are enduring the difficulties knowing the benefits that can come down the road. as a first timer, I didn't know whether it would ever get better. hope you remind yourself about that little light at the end of the tunnel. Reply Thank you for putting it out there how hard it can be. I am still struggling at 8 weeks. Not from the (there is a little) pain, but low supply and the aftermath of supplementation due to being late preterm and then treatment for jaundice. I pump(ed), have all the herbals and even the domperidone, but still don't meet my little ones expectations for production. I want to keep nursing but don't know how to make a workable plan for partially breastfeeding partially supplementing. My baby meanwhile is getting less and less willing to nurse and I don't have a lactation consultant I feel like will help. I even feel guilty when we use a bottle without trying to nurse. Also, how does anyone do it when they go back to work? and how do you pump 10 times a day to increase supply when you're home alone with a baby who just wants to be held. It's all really hard and confusing. 2 agree Reply I feel your pain! Let me say that when my girl was new all I had time to do was feed and pump…sometimes eating or drinking my own meals in the meantime. But that does get better because they start eating much more effectively and less often. See if you can get help from loved ones to handle any non-feeding duties. I handled "input" and my husband handled "output". I can't speak to going back to work…but I will say that life with a baby got much easier around 3 months…around the same time most maternity leaves expire. They tend to sleep more and eat less by this point…hopefully. Persist in your hunt for a solid lactation consultant…I could have decked a couple of them for making insensitive remarks but when I finally found a good one I hugged her! And do not feel guilty!!! Everyone has a limit and a point of diminishing return. I was about to give up and the timing just happened to pan out…had it not, I'd still be pumping to feed. There's no reason to feel guilty if you've given it a solid try. 2 agree Reply Thank you so much for the support. Sadly my maternity leave was only 6 weeks, and punctuated by some all day job interviews and related traveling. Good for babies long term, terrible for breastfeeding short term. We're also struggling bc she came early enough that she was extra sleepy for many weeks, and still prefers to eat and sleep, which does not help w. milk transfer! But you are right, I should search for another lactation consultant. Reply I also had a short maternity leave (7 weeks) and struggled through the whole thing with nipple pain and low supply. We supplemented with formula when I couldn't pump enough for his needs (he was and is a HUNGRY baby!) and I got a ton of crap from lactation consultants and BF support group leaders who told me this would ruin our nursing efforts. It turned out to be the best thing for us. First, since he had always switched between bottles and the breast, he had no trouble taking a bottle at the baby sitter's when I went back to work. I pumped at work, and his caregiver always had backup formula on hand if my milk ran out. When we were together we nursed and it got easier and less painful in a pretty short time (The best advice I got was to give breastfeeding at least 40 days before I decided to give up altogether. That timeline was spot-on for us as to when it got significantly better). Now he's a 20-month-old who eats everything and still nurses at bedtime and occasionally for comfort. I am here to tell you that it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing and you don't have to feel guilty if you kid gets some formula from time to time. We were able to build a great breastfeeding relationship and I hope you and your daughter can too! 2 agree Reply If I am honest, she gets primarily formula. I pump around 10-12 ounces on a great day, and when I first had a weight check, she was getting only .5 oz from nursing. She gets more now, but nothing close to the 3-4oz she pounds on a pure bottle o' formula feed. I have some less busy days ahead, so we decided to keep going through them with the medication and see if she can pick it up on the nursing if we slowly cut back on the supplement. We'll see. I am so happy it is working out for you, mama. <3 I never realized how much I would LOVE nursing my baby. 1 agrees Reply Wow, THANK YOU for posting this. My daughter also had open heart surgery (once at 4 months and again at 15 months) and nursing became so important afterward. We, too, struggled with nursing, but because she could not gain weight. As a "cardiac baby", her heart was overworked and she kept falling asleep during nursing. We supplemented with a bottle of pumped breast milk fortified with formula. But after each surgery, she refused everything but the breast. I don't regret supplementing with bottles, and feel secure in that my daughter's health and emotional wellbeing needed both. Congratulations on your success! 2 agree Reply sounds SO familiar! people told me about "heart babies" getting fatigued while eating, but they didn't warn me that it might be the cause of her poor latch…glad your LO's eating/heart stuff are all on the mend! Props to you for supplementing–sounds like it was the right move. Reply We had a rough start to breastfeeding, mostly because I have flat nipples, and my daughter had a poor latch. It's a learning experience for mama and baby! We worked things out, due to an incredible support system: our midwives, family doctor, the lactation consultants from public health, a mother's group, and friends and family that didn't mind helped to get baby latched and to check her latch while taking care of everything else in my life. I also found the internet could be a great resource…some of the time. Kellymom and youtube videos, awesome. Parenting forums were another story ("do this!". "don't do that, that's all wrong!"). One final thing: if your baby is having trouble latching, check for tongue AND lip tie. Lip tie is an example of "lost knowledge": while everyone we talked to knew that tongue ties could cause feeding problems, no one ever suggested a lip tie could do the same. Our daughter has a pretty significant lip tie that resulted in a poor latch and her taking in too much air during feeding. It's worth getting checked out by your pediatrician, dentist, ear nose and throat specialist, or IBCLC. 1 agrees Reply My friend and I were just talking yesterday about how much we struggled with breastfeeding at first and how easy and it is now, and how much we love it and know we will miss it. The first few months are hard. Even if you have a lot of things going right (my son was a champion latcher and always hungry, I have no issues with supply) it's still hard as your body figures out this brand new thing. It does get better! Reply You know, I always read things like "No one told me how hard it would be," and I think that is changing for new moms. Because when I had my baby 15 months ago, all I had read, over and over, were articles like this–articles and posts warning about complications, moms telling me, "no one tells you how hard it is." Except me, apparently. Everyone told me it was hard, all over the internet. By the time I had a newborn, I was quite afraid something would go wrong, but determined to fight to breastfeed, just like this mom and many other moms whose stories I read. They overcame all these obstacles. I would too, I told myself. Anyway, my kid came out, latched on, and then just ate. No pain, no problems. We're still nursing 15 months later. So ladies, sometimes it IS easy. Obviously, there are lots of people who experience pain and complications–and if no one told you it can be hard, you should definitely be prepared for that. But don't be utterly terrified. I think there are a group of moms out there for whom breastfeeding was easy, and I feel like their voices might be the minority now. I also feel like, sometimes, we might be freaking pregnant moms out a little bit with too many messages of doom. It can be hard, but it can also not be hard, so YMMV, ladies. I had lots of support. My mom had breastfed all three of her children, and so had my mother-in-law. Everyone in my family and everyone I knew nursed and regarded it as normal and worth it. Some had problems, but everyone was on board with nursing and I think that helped. I read all the breastfeeding books (instead of birthing books) while pregnant, and I watched the videos of a good latch on Dr. Newman's website. Those helped too. I attended the pre-birth breastfeeding classes offered by my local lactation consultant. I checked out pro-breastfeeding websites like Kellymom and Mothering and read what the moms had to say there. So my best advice? Prepare yourself when you're pregnant if you can. Read up on breastfeeding. But don't despair yet! 3 agree Reply I'm so happy for you that it eventually worked out — and very happy that all the health situations worked out, too. That must have been such a scary ride for you, your baby, and your family. I, too, had a difficult recovery from induction and C-section and such, and despite an intensive lactation consulting experience and a hell of a lot of work and stress and misery, we never got the hang of breastfeeding. I was heartbroken. But we did try for a little over three months. On one hand, I wish I'd stopped trying a lot earlier, the whole thing was so painful and frustrating. On the other hand, sometimes it does work out after a long while (as in your case), plus I know I did my very best. 1 agrees Reply I think the only regret you'd really carry is if you didn't try at all. 3 months is enough to help baby get the real benefits–pushing yourself past your limits is not going to help you connect with your baby. Good for you for recognizing that it was worth the effort to try, but knowing when it was time to let it go. Reply Learning to breastfeed in the hospital must be the worst! My babe and I had an easy time learning to breastfeed, but he had a long hospitalization starting at 7 weeks, and from then on we struggled. The hospital staff really try to be supportive, but I had such a feeling of grief over losing our breastfeeding relationship while he was hospitalized. And those pumps just don't work as well as baby's sweet mouth. I'm glad it finally clicked for you, though. You are a warrior mama. 1 agrees Reply This post brought tears to my eyes. Though we're just strangers – I am so proud and happy for you and your family. You are an amazing mama. 1 agrees Reply Thanks for writing this. I have a 5 month old son, and it took us the first 4 and a half months to get feeding sorted, and we still occasionally have to mix up a little formula. He was in the NICU too, and has a terrible latch. Thankfully I got great support from lactation researchers and consultants, and I managed to hang in there til now. Now we are having a little problem as teething starts, and he is fussing at feeding, as sucking is making his gums hurt, so we are doing some feeds expressed milk bottle feeds. I know what you mean about that moment when you really connect with your baby by breastfeeding. Thanks for telling your story. Grouchie 1 agrees Reply yep–same here. teething seems to have caused some regression, but at least now I know that it doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing. Reply i am so happy for you!!! and admittedly jealous too, but in a good way 🙂 i tried to breastfeed. it was so painful at first and no one had warned me. the videos made it sound like it was my fault. i supplemented with bottle but continued to bf and pump. i spoke with nurses and a lactation consultant at the hospital put they didn't help. i saw an LC on my own and she taught me how to hold and latch. that helped with pain but i wasn't producing more than a few mL. i tried fenugreek, alfalfa, milk thisle, & domperidone. i tried for over 2 mo before giving up altogether when eventually my baby refused to latch. you are not alone and i am so so happy for you and your little girl!! congrats on her great health momma! 1 agrees Reply I hope, one day, your baby understands how hard you tried and how difficult it was. Like I said to other moms here–good for you for knowing when "enough is enough". Moving on to other ways to bond with your baby was the right thing to do. 1 agrees Reply I loved reading your story! My baby also has a congenital heart defect, and spent a lot of time in the nicu and then the hospital. Breastfeeding didn't work at all for us at the hospital, however I was producing like crazy, but when we got home, it just clicked. She just figured it out. Maybe it was that I relaxed finally once we were home. She's now 6 months old as well and weighs 16.2! Reply Love it! When people ask how my baby is I always reply "fat and sassy". It seems like some people see "fat" as an insult–but I worked HARD to get her that way! I'm proud of my little meatball baby! 😀 Reply I have a 12 days old baby boy and damn, it's been so hard for me. I can't produce enough so it makes me feel like a huge failure because it seems that I'm the only one who can't do it. It's so nice to hear that I'm not alone. It's not as painful as I was told and he definitely gets some breast milk and that makes me happy but I wish I could produce more, I'm trying so hard… pills, herbs, somebody even told me that cold stuff will not help my supply so now I eat and drink hot or luke-warm stuff. I'm pumping and latching… hope it helps. But thank you for this because now I know that it's ok if this doesn't work, maybe I should stop feeling stressed, I still want to try, and hopefully it will work for us too. 1 agrees Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.