Nobody Told Me…Breastfeeding would be so hard

I always knew when I had a child I wanted to breastfeed. It was something I felt strongly about. Silly naive me, I thought,

Breastfeeding is easy. Just pull the titty out, pop it in baby’s mouth. Simple as that!

I knew there would be a little pain as your nipples “toughened up” but I had no idea how complicated and trying breastfeeding actually is.

I recently gave birth. As mentioned, I wanted to breastfeed. While in the hospital my baby developed jaundice. For anyone who doesn’t know, jaundice in laymen’s terms is a condition where babies do not expel their fetal red blood cells fast enough through urination and bowel movements causing these fetal blood cells to build up in the baby. This buildup causes yellowing of the skin and eyes. If the buildup becomes too much it can affect baby’s brain and other organs. To treat jaundice baby must eat often so that they can poop and pee out the fetal blood cells and make room for their developing newborn blood cells.

Due to the jaundice, the hospital wanted me to not only feed baby directly from my breast, they also wanted me to pump right after each feeding to supplement the amount of food baby was getting in an effort to increase baby’s pee’s and poops. I thought nothing of it. How hard can it be?

My milk supply was never an issue. Because I was pumping on top of directly breast feeding, my mature milk came in before I left the hospital. My issues started with latching. I conferred with numerous lactation consultants during my hospital stay who all told me that baby’s latch was good and the pain I felt would subside in a few weeks once my nipples “toughened up”. I was in so much pain that I had to have my husband bite my shoulder whenever baby was about to latch to distract me from the excruciating pain I was about to feel. My nipples cracked and bled so bad that they scabbed over. They literally looked like two open wounds. However, I kept breastfeeding. Why? Because it was something I decided I wanted to do no matter what.

Fast forward, our pediatricians office has an in-house lactation department that likes to see new moms within 3 days of being discharged from the hospital. It was at this appointment I learned what I was experiencing was not at all normal. As soon as I unhooked my bra to show the state of my breast both the lactation consultant and doctor’s face turned up in horror!

Dr: Are you okay? You’ve been feeding baby through this?!

Me: Yes

Dr. Stop! Now!

The doctor instructed me to continue pumping but to take a break from directly breast feeding for a few days until my nipples returned to normal. She prescribed me ointment to help with recovery (that I am still using to this day). Also while at the appointment, the lactation consultant wanted to observe baby’s latch. So I mustered up enough strength to let baby latch on the side that was in lesser distress. She watched and gave pointers on the things that needed correcting. Thank God for that doctor and lactation consultant!

After getting the ointment and pointers, I thought I was all good. WRONG! Latching continued to be a problem. Whenever baby and I would have a bad latching day, my nipples would be pink, irritated, and inflamed to the point that I would have to take a 24-48 hour break from nursing and exclusively pump. This is something I still struggle with. Recently I got so frustrated because I felt as though baby and I were taking steps backwards. My breast were not in as bad of shape as they were previously, but they were extremely raw, sensitive, and starting to crack again. I wanted to quit!

Along with latching issues, when we first came home I was not producing enough milk. Yes my mature milk had come in but I was not making enough to satisfy baby, which was devastating. I wanted to breastfeed and breastfeed only. I did not want to use formula. I struggled to accept the fact that my baby was hungry and I could not satisfy her. I felt like I was failing her. Until one day I looked into her eyes and realized that as a parent, I have to put aside my feelings and desires of what I want to do and do what’s best for her. After that, I was able to give my baby formula and not feel bad or guilty about it.

Through all of this my mom was a God send. She brought me fruit and water damn near everyday for the first few weeks I was home. She would bring me huge bottles of water. I’m talking 50 fluid ounce bottles! I was probably consuming 100 ounces or more of water per day. I noticed that the more water I drank the more milk I produced. I got to the point where I was pumping way more milk than baby took at one feeding. I was over the moon!

Here we are a few weeks later and I’ve noticed that my milk supply has dropped. I am admittedly drinking way less water these days (which I’m working on). I’ve also purchased some Mother’s Milk tea in hopes that it will help increase my supply.

Breastfeeding has not been all doom and gloom. It has some high points. Breastfeeding creates this indescribable bond between you and your baby. It’s more than just nourishment. For the 15-45 minutes that your child is nursing, they are studying your face, learning your smell, your touch, the feel of your skin. They learn your energy, your ora. It’s really amazing. Breastfeeding is also supposed to help you lose weight faster (although I can’t testify to that fact). Breastfeeding has also thrown all of my fucks out the window. I don’t care where I am, who may say see, or who I may be making uncomfortable. If my child is hungry, guess what, she’s going to get fed. Any time, any place, any where!

Breastfeeding has been a truly trying journey. It is not for the faint of heart. It comes easy for some and not so easy for others. It is something you need to think long and hard about. If I could offer any advice, it would be to make a decision one way or the other prior to giving birth. Even if you choose to formula feed, do your research. The sooner you decide, the sooner you can start preparing. The more prepared you are, the more steadfast you will be with your decision when someone tries to sway you (which I guarantee you will inevitably happen).

I am still on this breastfeeding rollercoaster ride. There are still times that I want to quit. But I look at my baby and talk to my husband, and I remember all the reasons I chose to breastfeed. My road has been rocky, but I would not change it. I’ve learned a lot!

I hope sharing my experience helps you or someone you know stay encouraged. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, you are not alone. It is HARD! But it’s also so rewarding.

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11 Comments

  1. Regina A.

    I totally relate to your breastfeeding journey. Glad to hear to you’re sticking to it and getting support! What helped me with the sore nipples were silver nursing cups. Sounds weird I know, but they work!

  2. momnessly

    Breastfeeding really is an effort the first few weeks – toe curling pain for me – but as you go along, that line you have where you just pop it out, put in their mouth and boom! that can happened😊 I love how determined you are in doing this. You got this and you are acing it.

    1. M.Morris

      Thank you for the encouraging words. I think I’m finally starting to reach the point of popping it out and boom. But it was a LONG road to this point.

      Thank you for reading and sharing.

  3. Chrissy

    I had soo many difficulties when I tried breastfeeding! I could not produce milk, my nipples were always in pain! I commend you because I gave up and I went through feeling like I failed my baby cause when I tried to put her on regular formula she wouldn’t take it and she lost weight! I finally found a special milk for her, but the overall experience was hard!

    1. M.Morris

      Girl, breastfeeding is no joke. I wish people would talk more about how hard it actually is. Nobody told me so I was ill prepared.

      I’m so sorry that you went through all those troubles. Putting baby on formula isn’t easy either. I went through multiple formulas because the first few we tried, she did not tolerate well.

      Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read my experience.

  4. learningbeaut by Ruth Garcia

    That is so sad and horrible that you went through all that! It’s seems that the lactation consultant at the hospitals don’t care to help at all. I saw only one during my 2 day stay and I was feeding wrong for 6 weeks until I saw another lactation consultant that helped correct my problem. I remember wanting to give her a big hug and kiss for helping me nurse the right way! My baby is now 18 months old and I am so ready to stop but she shows no sign of being ready to let go haha

    1. M.Morris

      First, thank you for reading! Second, I agree. While in the hospital I thought the consultants were wonderful. Now having seen someone outside of the hospital I realize they were nice but not attentive. They didn’t really observe everything from beginning to end like the consultant outside the hospital did.

      I’m just trying to make it to 12 months breastfeeding. 2 months down, 9 to go.

      1. learningbeaut by Ruth Garcia

        Yeah I guess since it’s a hospital and they have a lot of moms to see they can not dedicate enough attention to each mother and baby. But that is amazing you are trying for a year! It is hard work but I hope you can make it to the year! Good luck and good job!

      2. M.Morris

        True. I wish there was a way they could dedicate a little more attention so moms while in the hospital. Thank you! It is probably one of the hardest things I’ve done thus far. Thank you for the encouragement! It means a lot.

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