Stream of consciousness thoughts on failing at breastfeeding — and surviving

Guest post by Andrea Karim

By: planet_olearyCC BY 2.0
I was sitting in the lactation consultant’s office after my daughter’s birth, and I was crying. Debbie, a registered nurse, has already looked at my bruised, scabby nipples and uttered the exact right amount of sympathetic sounds. The nurses at the hospital, who were otherwise wonderful, had fitted me with pumping flanges that were several sizes too small, and not provided anything in the way of lubrication, so after one vigorous pumping, my areolas are covered in blisters. I actually peeled some of the blisters off when removing my bra, and the pain was excruciating.

Debbie fit me with larger flanges for my “extra-large nipples” and explained that I had a lot working against me. As a redhead, I have sensitive skin that my baby can easily bruise with one enthusiastic feeding. I had previously been unaware that my nipples were anything worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records, but apparently they are enormous by most standards. To compound matters, my little baby has a particularly small mouth.

“What a little rosebud!” everyone exclaims when they see her little lips pursed together. I don’t feel like an ogre at all, in case you were wondering. No sir, having nipples too big for an infant’s mouth is a GREAT feeling.

I’m an older first-time mother, at age 35, and older women commonly experience problems getting their milk in. I have thyroid problems, which can also affect milk production. The lactation consultant lists out these factors, these perfect excuses as to why I am unable to produce more than a few paltry drops of breast milk per feeding, and she is meaning to make me feel better, but all I can feel is failure pressing down on me.

The lactation consultant wants me to take tons of Fenugreek every day, and to pump my breasts at least 9-10 times per day. That’s roughly five hours out of every day if you consider prep, pumping, and clean-up. Five hours during which I can’t really hold my baby or even really interact with her, because I have to pump in the quiet of my bedroom so as not to make visiting family uncomfortable.

“If you pump 10 times per day, your milk might come in within 9 to 15 weeks,” says Debbie. “I wouldn’t stop pumping before 15 weeks are up.” I do some quick math. That’s 525 hours of pumping.

“The more you pump, the more milk you produce!” says Debbie, but that doesn’t appear to be the case for me.

Debbie shows us how to get a good latch with the baby, which is no small feat, and we buy a lactation pillow and bottles of Fenugreek and blessed thistle that Debbie says will make me smell like artificial maple syrup, but which actually make me smell like the inside of an Indian grocery store.

There are dozens of reasons why a woman might have trouble producing adequate amounts of breast milk. Advanced age is one. Thyroid problems are another. Delivery via Cesarean section can delay breast milk production. Oh, look, I’ve hit the goddamn trifecta.

Later my husband and I are driving home from the lactation consultant’s office. We’re stuck on busy 405 North, and my husband, who still has functioning brain cells nearly a week into parenthood, is telling me that being a good mother has nothing to do with breastfeeding.

“Just look at Aunt Hilda,” he says. “She breastfed all of her children, and none of them are talking to her now because she’s a horrible person who makes them feel bad about themselves. Your relationship with our daughter will be forged in your interactions with her, and that’s not defined by which type of nipple she has in her mouth.”

I nod, realizing that his point is valid. After all, our daughter has been on formula since she was born, when we had to feed it to her moments after birth to get her blood sugar back up. As far as I can tell, she recognizes us as her parents.

I have never liked my boobs. They aren’t particularly perky, although they don’t drop to my knees either. They aren’t the kinds of boobs that make people sit up and take notice. My nipples are kind of lazy, only showing themselves as distinct parts when they are pinched, suckled, or exposed to the cold.

More importantly, my breasts have never offered me anything in the way of sexual pleasure. Most women I know enjoy having their breasts touched. I don’t. I mean, I don’t actively dissuade my husband from playing with my breasts, but the process really does nothing for me. If you want to see me shudder with pleasure, tickle my neck. But don’t bother with my boobs. They just lack the pleasure receptors needed to make them useful as sexual objects.

That’s part of what makes my inability to sufficiently breastfeed all the more galling. My boobs don’t look good. They don’t feel good. The least that they could do is fulfill their biological imperative, which is to adequately nourish an infant. And they can’t even do that. My right breast, which is usually the larger of the two, produces no more than two or three drops of milk per feeding.

I’m shocked at how much formula costs. I’m also shocked at how much I am spending to try to breastfeed, largely unsuccessfully. I pay $100 to rent a hospital-grade breast pump, having been told by the lactation consultant that my Medela Pump in Style won’t do the trick. I take $20 worth of Fenugreek capsules and $30 worth of Blessed Thistle pills per month. Then there’s the Reglan prescription. There’s the steroid cream for my nipples, compounded by a local pharmacy for $40. There are the gel inserts that offer relief to my cracked nipples at $14 for a five day supply. I haven’t even bothered buying a nursing bra — I just can’t afford it at the moment.

There are the one-time costs. The nursing pillow and covers. The pump and all of its attachments. The pumping bra. The storage bottles and sterilizing equipment.

A friend of mine asked me a few days before I gave birth if I intended to breastfeed. I told her that I did, although that if I couldn’t for any reason, I wouldn’t feel bad about it. That’s because I never suspected for a second that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. After all, so much of my pregnancy had progressed just like my own mother’s — and my mother had breastfed both of us kids with nary a problem.

It’s our pediatrician who finally talks me down from the ledge. She asks how breastfeeding is going, and I tell her it’s really not.

“You know, I had trouble with breast milk when my daughter was born,” she says, “and they had me pumping ten times a day. At one point, I was pumping milk while my baby was lying on the floor beside me, screaming, and I couldn’t really pick her up because of the pumping apparatus. I finally decided that if the choice was between breast milk and paying attention to my baby, I was going to choose the baby.”

I barely pump anymore, although I can still feed my baby about an ounce of breast milk from one breast every other feeding or so. I’ve given up on my right breast — she’s such an underachiever. I’ll keep taking the prescriptions and supplements and keep hoping that I’m giving my baby girl SOME antibodies and nutrients, but for the most part, my child is fed, and yes nourished, by formula.

Like millions of other kids, who all grew up just fine.

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Comments on Stream of consciousness thoughts on failing at breastfeeding — and surviving

  1. This is a great post. I was just discussing the other day how the whole “but you can PUMP…” argument for lots of breastfeeding issues (going back to work, low milk supply, baby who can’t latch) is such a … well pile of excrement. Pumping is difficult, expensive and cleaning/sterlizing all the bits when you get 1/2 an ounce of milk is like a slap in the face. Oh yeah, you are also supposed to take care of your child. My daughter hates the pump. She is six months old and gets furious any time I try to use it. To leave her enough milk for one feeding I have to pump three times, or 60 minutes (this is with a double electric pump). I think telling women to breastfeed at all costs, when PUMPING is your only option, is crap. Good for you, do what works for your family, your baby will be fine and appreciate the extra cuddles AND feedings from your partner!

    • Why would you clean the whole mess every time you use it? I put the flange and half full bottle in the fridge until its time to pump again and have no problems with milk souring. I pump when the baby is asleep while doing homework and after each nursing session using a hospital grade pump off ebay . . . expensive compared to formula this routine is certainly not.

  2. Oh, I just needed to read this so badly today. We stopped nursing more than 10 weeks ago, and some days it still just destroys me. And other days, you know what? I’m fine. My baby is fine. Hell, she’s more than fine–she is amazing and happy and healthy and loved. So is your daughter. Love to you both!

  3. GO YOU!!!!! ♥ I too went through what you did, I am your junior by a few years, but I almost wish I had a few legitimate reasons my body wouldn’t produce, i just didnt produce. I knew something was wrong by 41.5 weeks pregnant my boobs made NO changes. But everyone was like oh don’t worry youll make milk, breastfeeding is easy. Eff anyone who tries to make you feel bad. Formula is fine. Your baby is smart as a whip and healthy as a horse, I just know it. How? Because my baby only got those first few weirdly yellow colored feedings, even then it was only a half to full oz once a day. I gave up and didn’t feel bad, signed up for wic bc formula is pricey, and haven’t looked back. I have a walking almost talking happy as a clam 8 month old.

    I don’t know you, but if I ever met you I would hug you and be proud to be in the presence of a great mom.

  4. Breastfeeding is quite literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I never thought I (or my boobs) would be normal ever again. The sacrifices we make for our babes– and the insane lengths we go to– are immense. My heart goes out to you! I commend you for trying everything you could– what no one ever tells you is how much of a woman’s perceived self-worth is wrapped up in even trying to nurse. In reality, you are amazing. Amazing! You are mothering your baby. Take comfort and delight in her and the love of your partner, and don’t be afraid to cry– grief and stress is so normal at this stage in the game! Big hugs to you. You are not alone!

  5. Good for you!! I had major health problems after the birth of my first. My milk didn’t come in for 10 days. By the time It did, my baby hated my boobs and wouldn’t nurse at all. I pumped for 6 months (hating every second of it), and when I quit and went to formula to save my own sanity, I STILL felt horribly guilty. She is an incredibly smart 4 year old now, and I am only just accepting that I did all that I could.
    Every time I hear a story about a mom who has trouble breastfeeding, does what she can, then accepts that she is doing her best and moves on… I want to cheer!! We need to read more stories like yours. As much as we may want it to, sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work out. And you know what? That’s ok! What matters is that we love our babies!!

  6. What a timely post. I just stopped breasfeeding the other day (my daughter is just 5 months old). It was a slow process but as of today my breasts have no milk in them. When I first started nursing, I couldn’t wait for it to end. The pressure of being the only one that could feed her was overwhelming. I didn’t have the opportunity to pump because she would always suck me dry. I researched formula and found one that I am comfortable with and we started feeding her one formula meal a day. A few weeks ago, she started rejecting my breasts. I was so sad at the prospect of not having this time with her anymore. I also think to myself, “Am I not committed enough to be a mom? I mean, I can’t even breastfeed my baby!” I’ve created a pleasant feeding ritual and keep the image of her adorable face meeting my eyes while breastfeeding in a safe place in my mind.

  7. as I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, I’m having a bit of anxiety around this. On my mom’s side I have a lot of over-producers, while on my dad’s side of the family there’s exactly the opposite. A friend of mine recently had her baby, and she was finally able to produce enough milk for 1 feeding a day by 3 months. at 5 months, they discovered he needed to be a formula-only baby anyway due to allergies!

    • as I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, I’m having a bit of anxiety around this

      My best advice: focus all your attention on releasing that anxiety. It’s out of your control, and the anxiety will only harm you. Breathing exercises, going for a walk, prayer: whatever works for you. For me, this was the first lesson parenthood taught me: you can’t control it, and why you start mentally looping on things you can’t control, you can make things much worse for yourself.

      • Ariel speaks wisely, AKLD, but also– sometimes for me, the pressure to *not* be anxious or sad or drop into a mini-temporary dark spiral makes me feel worse.

        i think it’s OK to go ahead and grieve the loss, maybe feel anxious and tweaky about it, and then move on as feels right to you. hugs.

      • I absolutely agree with releasing the anxiety, and wanted to add that of course people have different ways of doing that. For some people it’s meditation or exercise or distraction or whatever… for me, it’s obsessive research. 🙂 During pregnancy I read about a million books about all the different ways breastfeeding can go wrong, and what I could do to 1) prevent problems from happening in the first place, and 2) deal with them if/when they showed up. For instance, spending the first couple hours after birth skin to skin with your baby is fantastic for setting off all the hormones that get milk flowing, so you can talk with your provider now about making sure you can do this rather than the baby being taken away to a nursery or to be measured/poked/etc. I recommend the La Leche League’s book and Ina May Gaskin’s book. Both were very reassuring to me and offered concrete things I could do to address problems. And if you can get to a La Leche League meeting in person, even better! Watching moms nurse real babies and talking to them about their early breastfeeding is the best, best thing. 🙂

    • You’ll be fine! Read up on breastfeeding, because it can help to have some tricks up your sleeve. I recommend Jack Newman’s book. Odds are breastfeeding will work. Try not to panic and have courage.

  8. As I read this, my baby is screaming in the crib while I pump in the corner!

    It’s interesting how many ways people can arrive at the same problem. I have no problems with supply at all, but I had preemie twins, an extended hospital stay, babies with small mouths and no stamina, tongue ties, etc. Which is to say, breastfeeding was a no-go.

    Your feelings and frustrations are mine too. Great post! Thanks!

  9. I agree with what several commenters have said: It is surprisingly stressful and guilt-inducing when breastfeeding doesn’t go well. I quit after 4 months with my first baby and 2 weeks with my second. I got so overwhelmed at it not working like it was supposed to – low milk production, improper latching, open sores on my nipples. It led to guilt and post-partum depression with my first, and when those same feelings started creeping up with my second, I knew I had to quit so I could be a better mom. It’s such a hard decision!

    • I quit breastfeeding when my baby was 6 weeks old after my midwife told me I needed to let it go. I couldn’t get her to latch correctly once, my nipples were tore up and I was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression because I felt like I was failing at being a mother. I’m now pregnant with my second and have already made the decision that once those feelings start creeping in I have to stop. It makes me so sad to think of the joy and love I missed with my baby during those weeks because I was so focused on breastfeeding and all the resentment towards my baby that it gave me.

  10. This is such a great article. Women should have the right to choose how to feed their babies without being judged by others. People don’t understand how difficult pumping can be for women with low milk supply. I managed to breastfeed my daughter for 14 months but went through some pretty dark times for a few months while trying to improve my milk supply. I felt like a failure because my baby required supplementation. And the pumping and supplements made me miserable.For all of those mamas out there who are having issues with breastfeeding, please don’t let the guilt take over. This should be the time for you to enjoy your little baby!

  11. My daughter is eight months. From the moment my milk came in, I had trouble breast feeding. Nothing was coming out. After too many weeks of getting shamed, horrible advice, and basically feeling like a lump of poo for not being able to do something humanity has relied upon for the entirety of its existence, I learn that I have an “appaling” amount of scar tissue making my nipples useless as food distributors.

    My daughter gave me the same adoring looks whether she was on the breast or the bottle. Bottlefeeding helped take the pressure off of me acquiring a very good job in my chosen field and my husband staying at home. She looks at him adoringly when she eats, too, and it warms my heart. She is cognitively ahead of the curve, growing appropriately (she’s tall and thin like her dad), and I don’t regret switching to the bottle.

    The truth is, while I was struggling with breast feeding, I actually started to resent my child. Awake again? Let’s find out how much of a failure I am that I can’t even feed you. Crying because you didn’t get enough from me? Why don’t you rub it in? I missed out of enjoying my daughter for her first two months because I was made to believe I was a failure if I didn’t breastfeed exclusively. That needs to not happen.

  12. This is amazing! Thank you!

    We had such problems with my last child. We were at our wits end – nonstop pediatrician vists, lactation classes, non-stop pumping, alarms set every 2 hours, cracked and bleeding nipples, guiltily formula feeding so he wouldn’t starve when we finally realized that we had a friggin drip apparatus attached to my nipples that gave him FORMULA to try to stimulate my milk. We finally realized how crazy it was and stopped it all.

    We continued to try the breast first, then supplement but didn’t stress. It finally felt somewhat NORMAL. He decided on his own that he no longer wanted to breastfeed at 6 months. I wasn’t as upset by that point because what more could we do? He was healthy, happy and we bonded by all the other means.

    Now I am 7 months pregnant again and worry a bit about how this will go with the breastfeeding – although I know that this time I will allow myself the joy of just being. I will not be labeled a failure (mostly in my own head) if it doesn’t work out.

    Thank you!

  13. I, too, am very thankful for this post!! It’s great to hear this much-needed perspective. I have a 7-week-old daughter, and am right where you are — I am still gobbling down fenugreek and oatmeal, but I have given up on pumping. Every time I would pull those flanges off, I’d see a piddly 3 cc’s of milk, and it’d make me want to cry. I’ve gotten to the point where about a third of her feedings are breast-only, the rest are formula-supplemented. And my husband and I are a-ok with that! He loves that he gets to help feed her.

    Another horror that I tried was the supplemental nursing system, which is supposed to allow you to supplement while you nurse by hooking feeding tubes to your nipples. I’ve known several women who used it successfully, but I hated it with a passion (and my daughter did as well)!

    • I feel you! Also, one time I managed to get, like, a full ounce from my left breast and I spilled the goddamn bottle all over the bed (why are the pumping bottles tapered at the bottom?).

      I finally gave up on the breastfeeding a few days ago. I hated the meds and the supplements and how my daughter would start screaming of the milk didn’t come out fast enough for her. Formula is a blessing for us.

      • The turning point moment for me was five weeks in when a 4 ounce bottle of pumped breastmilk that had taken me 3 45 minute pumpings to get went bad, but we didn’t know until we fed it to my son and he threw it up. I was crying and crying that I had tried to so hard to get him a full feeding so I could skip a nighttime one and get more sleep, and all that effort just made him sick. That was the first in a series of “this is crazy” experiences that led me to eventually give it up. And the trade off was, simply, that formula allowed me to truly engage and enjoy my baby. Priceless.

  14. I was formula-fed and so was my brother, it was just what you did in our town when my mom had us.

    As it turns out, I am not a horrible delinquent and we both always tested above grade level.

    Oh, and I have an amazing bond with my mother who is -and always has been- one of my best friends and secret keepers.

    Cherish the moments you have with your peanut and try not to feel guilty doing it <3

  15. I really needed to read this today. We had to stop nursing due to teething and lack of supply two weeks ago. I know that feeding him formula is not going to harm him, just the opposite in fact, but I still feel…lacking in the mother department. I never thought this was going to happen,even when I knew that it could. If I had known the last time I nursed my son was going to be the last I would have burned it in my memory. I miss it, the closeness I felt, the fulfillment of nourishing him. To have it taken away without any warning has devastated me.

    • I know what you mean. Even though I was never any good at it, the feeling of being the one who provides nourishment naturally is a powerful one. Just remember that there’s more to providing than breastfeeding! I’m sure that you are an amazing mother who will raise an awesome son.

  16. I was so ready to breast feed my daughter and excited to hear from the nurses at the hospital tell me she was a good latcher. But my problem was that for some insane and cruel reason, my nipples wouldn’t stay erect. I have inverted nipples and no matter how much i pinched and pulled, nothing. I mean, the would get erect for one moment and then it was “PUT HER ON RUSH RUSH RUSH!” And then a second later, gone (and by second i mean 1,2,3 gone type of thing.) Then I got a clogged duct and started pumping. For her first month a pumped as often as I could (I produced a okay amount by not enough to sustain her; so we supplemented) and cried while doing it. Call me overly emotional or anything you want, but the main reason i wanted to breast feed was to bond with my baby. And I felt i had lost that gift. Then one day I said “I quit” and spent that day cuddling, napping and ,yes, sometimes crying with my baby. I felt guilt over not continuing and joy over being able to try a different way to bond with my child.

    I’m sharing my story cause this story has helped me cope with the my breastfeeding (or lack there of) past. My daughter is a smart, vibrant 9 month old now with the love of books. She’s healthy though we did learn that she a has a sensitivity to antibiotics (dealing with thrush right now.) I still feel guilt sometimes but when I look at my baby and see her joy at reading a new book or accomplishing a new task, my heart leaps. Plus she still calls me mama, which make any tears I need to wipe, from her or me, a task done with a smile.

    (Also I should add that I don’t get much stimulation form my nipples either and that my neck is my thing too. Is there a chance of a connection?)

  17. First off, I fully support your and the decisions you had to make for your baby. Your baby will love you no matter how she gets fed!
    I have to say though, I’m a little disappointed in your lactation consultant! From your post it doesn’t sound like she ever presented a supplemental nursing system (SNS) as an option. Basically it’s a reservoir attached to a thin tube you wrap around your nipple. It allows the baby to get nourishment through the tubing while at the same time stimulating your breasts and milk production naturally (there is NO pump on the market that can stimulate like a baby!). While the tubing can be a little fidgety, it reduces (or even eliminates!) the need to pump.

  18. The day I gave birth, I found myself and my child sitting in a bed skin-to-skin, crying because i couldn’t get him to latch. It took my husband telling me that I was going to pump and supplement, anyway, for me to stop feeling guilty.
    The nurses I had (post-birth) sucked. They were SUPER judgemental of my choice to just pump, and I had to explain my reasoning over and over. You should never have to explain! I, too, have large breasts, with flat nipples (that also have scar tissue from some rejected piercings), and when I was trying to latch my child with his teeny mouth, I felt like I was suffocating him!
    Then, about a month or so ago, despite my pumping, my breasts just weren’t producing enough. And my kid wasn’t enjoying the little I could produce, so I stopped.
    In the end, it took me some time to realize that I am not a failure as a mother just because I wasn’t following some “standard” that other people had come up with.This is what worked for us. We have plenty of bonding time, and he is a happy, healthy little dude. What more could I ask for as a mother?

  19. Let’s be honest- the only way to fail at feeding your child is to let them starve. Anybody who says differently can jump in a lake. I used to donate BM because I hated to see women who were killing themselves to do the right thing when their bodies wouldn’t let them.

    I was formula feed, so was my sister. My mom was happier that way.

  20. Love this! So glad you made the decision that was right for you!

    I wish so hard I could post a picture of my son when we brought him home from the hospital. His head was the size of my areola, and sadly none of my boyfriends ever told me I had big flat nipples. With the help of a nipple shield we were able to breastfeed, and as he grew his latch got better and we realized I also have overactive letdown!

    I’m glad I had people around me (namely my hubby) to bounce my feelings off. There were moments I wanted to give up, but it was more just out of frustration that my baby couldn’t get it, not because I was in pain or didn’t have enough milk. I’m glad that other nursing mamas talked me through my emotions, reminding me that nursing is HARD at first! Now he nurses like a champ, but when I tried consistently to pump I about lost my freaking mind. It was boob or formula, because pumping is WAY harder and there is less emotional connection to that darn machine!

    I think women should be supported in all their decisions around feeding their little ones!

  21. This was such a wonderful post. I’m expecting my first in exactly 10 weeks (crazy!) and I often say the same thing about breastfeeding. I’m going to try but it will be ok if I don’t. I hope that sentiment holds true. I’m going to keep this post in mind just in case it doesn’t.

    Thank you for sharing. Really. Enjoy your little one without any guilt.

  22. Oh boy. This brought me back to just about 5 months ago when I had my first child at the age of 40. Breastfeeding was a nightmare, my milk didn’t come in for almost a week and even then there were issues, issues and more issues. I’m thankful that I was finally able to do it, but it did nearly break me. I know what you mean about it never occurring to me that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I think you’re amazing and a good mom.

  23. I had no trouble breastfeeding, and I just wanted to mention that not to be smug, but so that all the panicking pregnant women reading this post will know that YMMV.

    BUT I just wanted to chime in with the pumping hate! Pumping sucks. I could never get much milk out and always had more success hand expressing. My son never took a bottle and it just seemed pointless. It feels like it takes milk out of just the front part of your boob? Hard to explain.

    Anyway, I want to strongly recommend to people whose lactation consultants advise them to pump to help their supply: consider using the “child pump” instead and just latch your kid on like every half hour. They might indulge you by sucking, and it’ll work sooooo much better than the pump to get that supply up and running.

    • I guess I just don’t get the pumping hate, I had a ton of pre-milk starting at 7 mos and use a pump to relieve the soreness and pressure. I can pump while doing homework (full time grad student) and dad can feed the baby while I am in class or when I need some serious study time. The pump is not loud, was not expensive on ebay, and I was the required parts with dish soap and water every evening. I think some of the pump hate is that people go crazy with sterilizing every time they touch it and freak out about chilling the milk right away, talk to some one who keeps cows and get some perspective, raw milk won’t sour right away unless it is very hot out. This same way I can pump between classes in my car using a 12V adapter . . .

      • Pumping in itself can be a vastly different experience for everyone. Yours was fortunately a good experience. But for others, it can be very painful, or upsetting and frustrating if they are producing hardly any milk. Some mothers don’t have in-between-class time to pump or may have jobs that don’t accommodate for pumping. And while sterilizing everything might seem like over-kill, its not really a bad habit to have when baby’s immune system can be so fragile. If it makes mom feel better rather than worrying if every sneeze or cold is because they didn’t clean the pump properly, then it might be the best option, even if it is time consuming. Glad you had a good pumping experience, tho!

      • I definitely wasn’t a germ freak. When I hand expressed, I would express into, like, regular glasses and then just leave them sitting on the counter for the baby to drink later in the day. (This is perfectly safe, btw, especially in my cold climate.)

        As I mentioned, I hated pumping because it feels weird and I was never able to get much milk out with them. The baby just DRAINS THE HECK out of your boob in a few minutes! I could squeeze a good amount of milk out with my hands. But the pump? Is slow and leaves funny boob lumps and… I just just didn’t like it.

  24. Thanks for sharing. I ‘failed’ to breastfeed with my first child, though TBH, I don’t think I ever used the expression ‘failed’, I always describe it as just not having worked. I actually would actuvely discourage anyone from using the word ‘failed’ when it comes to feeding – it seems so blamey. We got off to a bad start we never recovered from and I moved entirely to formula at 3.5 months, which improved everything so much. I was, fortunately, never bothered at all by guilt or a sense of failure, as it was obvious that bottle feeding improved my interactions with my daughter compared to the struggle and tedium that was attempting to breastfeed.

    However, armed with what I knew, I decided to give breastfeeding a go again with my second and I was able, after 2-3 agonising weeks while I adjusted, to breastfeed my son.

  25. Thank you for sharing this! I’m 22 weeks pregnant and have recently been worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to breast feed due to medication I need to take. I will be bringing this up at my next prenatal appointment, but this article gave me a lot of encouragement, whether I’ll be able to it not. Thank you for sharing your story.

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