Breastfeeding Struggles: In Their Own Words

Breastfeeding Struggles: In Their Own Words

Often times, people want to gloss over how hard it is to be a parent. Which inevitably makes people feel like they are alone in their struggles. Real talk, breastfeeding can be hard and moms experience breastfeeding struggles. As we embrace August as breastfeeding month, one of our goals is to remind everyone that you’re not alone in your experiences, and it’s okay to talk about it.

We asked 5 families to share their breastfeeding struggles and experiences. They each answered these questions and you can listen to their responses in their own words.

The questions we asked:

  1. What are your breastfeeding struggles?
  2. What would you tell a new mom about breastfeeding?

Listen or read each mom’s perspective on their breastfeeding journey.

Katie’s Breastfeeding Struggles

I think the two big struggles one, he is small, so his mouth is very small, so even if he has a full latch and everything looks great, we still get a lipstick nipple, especially on the right side. And I was getting kind of a chapped nipple, but that resolved itself. Now, the thing that’s probably ongoing is my left side produces a lot more than my right side. So even when I’m pumping I can pump for the same amount of time on either side and I get twice as much on the left side as my right side.

So when you’re thinking about feeding and you’re like, OK, well, I know he’s going to take twice as long on the right side, can I just do the left side. Again, I think that’s just annoying. And when you’re trying to think of scheduling and how long it’s going to take for him to eat, it’s going to take a while on the right side.

Rania’s Breastfeeding Struggles

  1. What are your struggles?
    1. I breastfed my 39-week son for 2 years, so I figured I would be prepared for what was to come…not so much.  My biggest struggle is the transition from NICU to home and getting my lpt baby to latch. The second is managing my oversupply of milk with what she takes at the breast. After a lot of work she can take up to 2.5 oz (but with struggles)  and I pump 12 oz per feed. I never have a sense of how much she takes as I’m always uncomfortable.
  2. What would you tell a new mom about breastfeeding?
    1. No one has it easy.  Balancing supply, demand and troubleshooting with your anatomy, baby’s anatomy is challenging.  I strongly recommend home lactation assistance regardless of your struggles.

Samantha’s Breastfeeding Struggles

  1. What are your struggles?
    1. OK, so I guess the first thing I feel like, they don’t really tell you a whole lot from the get go, like it’s not like a very talked about thing, what you think it would be, considering that’s part of pregnancy and part of, just, you know, taking care of a child in the first place, you know, but I feel like they don’t really, go into it too much. I was always told, just like basic information, like, oh, well, they eat every two hours. You have to get them to latch right stuff like that, but they don’t tell you about things like, oh, well, there’s cluster feeding or tongue ties or all the other complications that you can have with just starting in general. My first son, he just would not latch, like he would scream bloody murder the whole time that I was trying to get on the latch and it was just so frustrating for both of us.I think my second son I was going into it with a little bit more knowledge. And like I got him to latch and it was all right. And they also don’t talk about the pain that comes along with it. Like bleeding and just like crying, because I was like so much pain and he had a Tongue Tie, we had gotten that corrected, but by that time it just seemed like it was almost too late. He did a lot of cluster feeding, but I wasn’t really educated in cluster feeding, I was told like all the time like oh, they eat every two hours or they should eat every two to three hours.So it’s like, oh, my God, there’s something wrong. Like, I’m not making enough. He’s constantly hungry. So that’s when we started supplementing. And then just from there, it seemed like my supply went down. He wanted to have the bottle more and then eventually he just didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. And it was just more of a struggle than anything. So we had to just go to formula after that. I’d say it was difficult, but it was also a little bit relieving in a way, just to not be so stressed about that one extra thing, you know.
  2. What would you tell a new mom about breastfeeding?
    1. I think basically just I would look up like, oh, cluster feeding and like get more like lactation support. Find a good lactation consultant. That is helpful and can help you with your latch and is understanding, because I think that’s also something I lacked with both of my sons was just the lack of information, I guess, but also the lack of the support that you need.

Nyia’s Breastfeeding Struggles

  1. What are your struggles?
    1. One of the struggles that I’ve had with breastfeeding would definitely have to be my family and being comfortable with me publicly breastfeeding. I have been very adamant and a huge advocate for making sure that breastfeeding my child isn’t sexualized. And a lot of times with family and them being old school, it can be really difficult to accept. And of course, even being out in public, maybe at dinner, it can be even more difficult to have your family support you when you need to breastfeed your child, and it’s not necessarily something that they agree with. The second struggle that I’ve had definitely has to be my relationship with pumping. I do work. I originally was full time after I had my son. However, I decided to go part-time and just pumping and making sure that I have a good supply back at home and just working up enough supply while I’m at work is very difficult for me. It’s difficult pumping just as it is, but it can be even more frustrating when you are at work and you’re in a small space that may not be clean or you may not have pictures of your baby, so that can be really difficult. It’s also kind of frustrating sometimes because you may not have all the resources that you need when pumping. You may forget to charge your pump some days. If you have a one that plugs in, you may have to sit there and hold it to yourself the entire time. I know I’m very lucky to have time set aside where I can pump for, you know, 15 to 20 minutes and I have time to clean out everything before my next use, which is awesome.
  2. What would you tell a new mom about breastfeeding?
    1. One thing I would tell to new Mamas is just to stick it out. It can be very difficult sometimes and very frustrating, but it is so worth it in the end. Just a connection that you have with your baby emotionally is just beautiful. That’s something that you can give to them that no one else can, which is just like it’s a gift that no one can describe. And, you know, the many health benefits into just as well for Mamas and for babies is just it’s a huge list. So I definitely say stick it out, you know, muscle through it. You are capable of this and you were built to be a mother. You were built for all of these things. You brought your baby Earth side. So it’s all meant to happen in your favor. And don’t get down on yourself. Everything that you feel you literally feed your baby.

Emily & Michael’s Breastfeeding Struggles

  1. What are your struggles?
    1. Emily: So I think the biggest challenge is actually right after Jonathan was delivered and I came out of my C section, I really had a really pretty rough time of it, actually. And so had, I think, some sedation at some point. And so Michael, my husband, actually and a nurse got him to watch. And I think that for me, it wasn’t necessarily challenge, but for me, it was a challenge, maybe for for you as the dad or the husband. But I think we’ve been very fortunate, but now the feeding has gone pretty well. But that was kind of moment of is it going to work or is it not?
    2. Michael: For me, just the uncertainty of going in and then from the training classes, trying to apply what you learn, like leading with the chin, nipple to nose and just have him naturally do it. And I think the biggest thing was just relying on his instinct to kind of kick in at the same time, but just put him in a position where he could find it and at the same time, with your complications, just massaging and helping everything kind of come through and form the breast. So it’s easier for his mouth, but a lot of uncertainty. But I think it just I think repetition makes it easier, right. That’s the biggest thing. You get more comfortable with it. And know it’s not going to be easy right away. But, you know, in time, fortunately, he did take to it more naturally, and it’s been a lot easier since then. But that was probably the biggest thing I could say initially.
  2. Michael, what was your viewpoint on the whole breastfeeding relationship? Like, how did you feel like you did fit in or didn’t fit in?
    1. I mean, with our scenario, the C section and the complications, I mean, kind of took it as the baby needed to feed so she was still kind of sedate and a little bit out of it. So it was time walk over and kind of play my role and kind of play mom, right. I mean, it was your breast, but kind of coming over and getting it massaging and getting him and getting the breast ready and then feeding him. But even now, I think we don’t have the traditional roles. Like, here’s your schedule, like you’re going to go feed, and then I don’t have to worry about it. Like we partner on everything. So I still kind of help get him out of the crib. She kind of gets ready, I bring them over. She does the feeding. I usually will burp, and then either set him down, or we’ll switch to the other side, because usually after he burps, he’s a little bit more lively for the second set. Dinner and dessert, I guess you could say, but it’s really just I think it’s made it easier for both of us to be both a part to it. Now, obviously, I’m not producing the milk, but when she’s feeding and pumping on maybe the other side, my job is to make sure that I’m counting that throwing it in the freezer tracking date, what we have in the refrigerator and recycling all that. It’s really not her task or my task. I think it’s just something that every time he feeds, we both have our roles to play, and I think that makes it easier, so it’s quicker. And I don’t know, I think it’s just you’re involved. And that’s the other thing. Like, I didn’t want to just be the diaper changer in the feed and hand to mom and I get to bond and kind of burp, and I get that skin to skin time while she’s feeding him. Like, right after that, I think you just have to look at a bonding experience, not a chore, right? I mean, it’s just something that we get to do, and he sleeps so much. So this is a lot of his waking hours is doing this.

Beth’s Breastfeeding Struggles

  1. What are your struggles?
    1. And luckily, my oldest daughter, she was able to latch on, and I didn’t have to worry about it too much. It was kind of more of the just getting started process that was really challenging. For the first time around. I feel like no one ever really told me about how engorged I would be and how to handle that early and then just all the different positions and how to get comfortable and help to be able to rest at the same time. And so that was my learning curve, and that went well.And then my son, actually, my next three all had tongue tie, lip ties, cheek ties. And so it was a much different scenario with my son. He was three days old, and I already knew that something was kind of off. And I called the midwife, and luckily, she had already kind of noticed it and was kind of waiting to see how things went. But I called her on day three, and I said something’s not right. It feels like he’s not able to stay latched it’s not comfortable.

      It’s hurting. And my milk doesn’t feel like it’s coming in at all. So we were able to just kind of work with his frenulum in the front and clip that. And he didn’t have any nursing issues after that. It was like that same day, he was able to latch on, and he ended up being just like a super chunky baby. So that was nice. And I was really grateful. We had the resources to just be able to know what it was and what was going on.

      So my one year old, Rafael, he had a really tight lip and a really short frenulum underneath. And that was a much different story with him. We actually thought he was latching on okay. And then day five, we found out he had lost a lot of weight and he was not happy. He was very upset and crying a lot. And so it was challenging. At that point. We had to get donor milk and supplement him. I didn’t want to give him the bottle. I had very strong feelings about formula, about the bottle.

      And I didn’t want to give him a nipple to get him confused because it still felt early on for that. So we were doing a little medicine cup or a syringe, and I felt like we were wasting a ton of the donor milk. And then also, it was just really hard for him to get any in, and he would spit it out. I mean, we were just up in the middle of the night trying to get him to eat anything. And he was upset. And we found a doctor in Denver who uses, like, a cold laser at the base of their tongue.

      And so when we went there, we felt like we need to do something. And we were grateful that he had some answers. But to be honest, that was really, really challenging. And it didn’t feel right to me. It just felt very invasive. And then the recovery was really, really hard for him. He didn’t want to nurse at all for three or four days. And then once he was nursing, it just was still really tight. It ended up reattaching also, which I really felt like we didn’t get the guidance we needed in order to kind of do all the exercises with him.

      And then for a while, he took the bottle, and then he wouldn’t. And so I was actually wearing one of those SNS systems that you can kind of get extra milk when they’re nursing. And that was kind of a nightmare to keep clean and full when he needed it. And he still was really struggling gaining weight. So it was a journey. I mean, I really wanted to to be nursing him all the time. And I wanted to have that nursing relationship I had with my older two.

      And I nursed my older two till they were like three and four actually tandem nurse them. My daughter had stopped nursing, and then she started nursing when my son was born. And so it was really special to me. And it felt really important and to not have that was really challenging. And I really kind of questioned my mothering to some degree of like, why can’t I do this? Why aren’t we figuring this out? Why is this so difficult? Everyone had a different answer for me. I talked to all these breastfeeding specialists, and there wasn’t just, like, a recipe for here’s what you do.

      And then he started gaining weight. It was really just kind of up to me to figure out when to supplement and when not to. And we ended up doing a goat milk formula because he was allergic to dairy, too. And it turns out I ended up getting pregnant. And again, pretty soon after. So then my supply really went down. And so my son nurse kind of more for comfort and more sporadically, but we kind of switched over to the bottle. And ultimately, I’m so happy because eventually he started really gaining weight.

      It took probably two months to get him to take the bottle, which was its own journey of going to OTS and Cranial Sacral and all of that. But he’s healthy and happy now. I do wonder if he’s going to start nursing. My daughter did, because he knows now I have milk and he’s aware that the baby is getting something and he’s interested. So we’ll see what happens. But one thing I was reflecting on yesterday is just my kind of attachment parenting style with my older kids.

      I really see how it doesn’t have to be that way. I really able to create that bond and that attachment with my son, even if I’m offering him the bottle, which is something that was maybe hard for me to see before we kind of went through this journey together. But he really is getting what he needs, and we get that time together. And this is the way that works best for him. And it’s okay. And I’m really grateful he was able to nurse for as long as he did that.

      He still got a lot of the good stuff. And I feel like I’ve learned a lot of just not trying to force something to be a certain way. I really am kind of letting it be just our journey together. And this is what he needed. And this is what we needed to go through. But, yeah, I feel like this time around now, with the last three week old with the tongue tie, we were able to find you and Dr. Patel, and she was able to help us by just clipping the frenulum underneath and just in front.

      And so the recovery was more like my older son and Celesta is doing really awesome. And I was worried when she was born because she had the very tight chin and it was a pretty good time as far as I could go. But, yeah, I’m just so grateful that she’s gaining weight and she’s able to latch on. And it feels like she’s kind of reconditioning her tongue and herself to kind of suck in a different rhythm and use her tongue in a different way. But it feels like we’re on the right track or on a good track.

    2. What would you tell a new mom about breastfeeding?
      1. You know, I think there is like a wisdom that babies have too, like they really know what they need to do. And I think the more we can kind of get out of the way and just be calm and take care of ourselves as moms, everything tends to go better because I know when I’m able to just nourish myself and rest, and I’m so much more likely to be successful in whatever challenge that we’re trying to face and trusting that my baby also needs the same thing and that together we’re going to figure it out.I would also say don’t give up because there’s so many resources and I feel grateful. I live in an area where there are a lot of practitioners and support and home visiting practitioners, and so I feel like I had to kind of search for the right person, but eventually I have always found the person that can be of support or kind of give me the little piece of information that maybe I was missing. But more than anything, I think staying balanced in myself and staying hydrated and nourished and all of those things that are so basic that we take for granted, but really they have to be in place in order to kind of keep the stress down, to really use your senses and your intuition to figure out like, okay, what what’s really going on here.

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With a wave like flick of my daughter’s wrist and the “eh” noise in the tone I know so well I know it is time for milk. We have taught my daughter the sign for milk, but in her frantic hangry baby state of mind it has become this super urgent wave instead of the squeezing motion that she has been taught for milk. Sometimes the wave and the “eh” are followed by a pull at the shirt and sometimes even a direct chomp on my chest with her lovely little teeth.  Our once calm breastfeeding relationship is now a full-on Olympic sport complete with acrobatic poses of all sorts and a gold medal to mommy if I make it out of each feeding without having a nipple ripped off.

While I know how lucky I am to have made it past the year mark of breastfeeding, I can’t help but long for those earlier days. Now, I am not going to say our early days of breastfeeding weren’t without there challenges like  engorgement, cracked nipples, positioning, and adjusting to the demand it placed on my time and my body. I miss my calm little newborn though some days. I miss the way she snuggled into my chest nursing so sweet and calm and eventually dozing off where I would snuggle her for hours- I suppose a part of me just misses how little and dependent she was.

Before I became a mom, I never would have imagined myself breastfeeding  and once I did, I never would have thought I would make it this far. I have always been the type to be prepared, but this has been a journey that I could not fully prepare for. I can honestly understand why some mothers choose not to or are not able to continue  for whatever reason. Breastfeeding is a full-time responsibility added onto  the responsibility of raising a kid(s), taking care of a household, and in most instances working a job. Somedays it is flat-out exhausting and will leave you “touched out”. I remember in the early days I felt so much pressure because I knew my daughter depended on me for ALL of her nourishment. This meant I had to maintain my supply and had to be mindful of what I was consuming. I quickly realized that although I had given birth and thought that I had my body back, my body was still not mine. It was crazy that before I was a mom my breasts were considered a sexual object that must be hidden. But now? All modesty  is out the  window. I mean, I don’t know I will ever see  them as a sexual entity for the  remainder of my breastfeeding  time, if ever again. They have taken on such a different and profound purpose that only I was able to provide my daughter and to me that is so special. This is just one of the many ways that breastfeeding changes a woman. We go from being our own people to essentially being owned by this little person- and with good cause.

Can we just touch on all the nursing clothes out there? Nursing bras can be a pain. I was a bigger chested woman before I had my daughter and proceeded to get larger after I had her. Over a year into our breastfeeding relationship and I still cannot find a bra that fits, supports, and is accessible all at the same time. Not that it really matters we spend so much time hooking  and unhooking, adjusting, adding  padding and so on. Let’s be honest, it is so much easier to ditch the bra all together, especially if you are home. I eventually  gave up on all the nursing clothes as well. They all were given and “A+” for accessibility but did nothing overall to flatter my body or not feel like I was wearing and awkward number of layers. Maybe I just never found the right nursing clothes, but this has been one of my biggest peeves about nursing.

Anymore, as eventful as our breastfeeding relationship dynamic is it has just became normal to me. I just sit on the floor in my living room and instinctively lift my shirt, and if I am wearing one, I unhook my poorly supportive nursing bra and  prepare for attack. We have gone beyond being able to nurse off one side each feeding, a  full-on meltdown will ensue if both breasts are not free for her consumption. So, I sit there, no modesty left as the acrobatic feeding ensues. Sometimes she will turn her head to see her favorite show nearly yanking my nipples off with every turn while others she will turn upside down as she climbs me like a jungle gym.  Some days its crazy to me to think that the same  little baby that cracked my nipples because her latch was not right, can now put on a three-ring circus act all while maintaining a proper latch. In all honesty, I  am so use to  it all that I don’t even notice it until my husband or my mom who visits comments on the show that my daughter puts on while breastfeeding. Its almost became like a badge of honor to breastfeed through all the craziness.

As crazy as our daily breast-feeding sessions are, I absolutely love our first thing in the morning session. This is the session that makes the crazy day sessions worth it and makes me hold on to our breastfeeding relationship tightly. It is rough to try to peel my eyes open when I hear my daughter awake on the monitor, but it is made easier when I get to start the favorite part of our day. I go into her bedroom that is adjacent from mine with the same routine. She shows  me where her paci and wubby are and then hands me her lovey and whatever animal she has in the crib. We then head back to my bed where we snuggle and side nurse.  This may sound all pretty basic, but it is our one special time throughout the day. It’s the one time of day that neither of us are distracted by the many distractions that surround us. We can just snuggle, and I can talk to her and just really be in the moment with my baby girl. I can just cherish this precious, fleeting time with her.

Breastfeeding has had its lows and times where I absolutely considered throwing in the towel. The highs though have made every low worth it.  I have been so blessed to have maintained this relationship with my daughter and know the day we end this journey will be bittersweet.


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I have always wanted to hold my own financially in my relationship not because I had to but because I wanted to. It makes me feel more equal within the relationship and like I am helping to provide for our family. When I quit my job,  I gave up a decent position, income, benefits, and all the outside professional socialization that came with it. I knew at the time that mentally I was not in the job anymore as so many moms experience when they go back to work after having their babies, and with covid I just had a stronger urge to be home with her and keep her safe. However, I really grappled with the change for a few months. It was extremely hard for me, and sometimes still is, to not be contributing financially the way I was and to let my husband take on all the financial responsibilities. It was hard for me not to feel inadequate even while I was my daughter’s 24/7 provider. It began to pull at me more, while at the same time, several women close to me were being so successful embarking on new careers.  The new balancing act became figuring out how to remain home with my daughter  but also find a way to contribute to my family financially in a way that would make my daughter proud years down the road. Now  that I am employed as an Administrator for NayaCare and  have mostly put to rest my feelings of inadequacy as I am able to contribute to my family & am incredibly lucky that my employment is arranged in a way that I can still be present for my daughter and bring in some income. 

As my  daughter has grown this balancing act has always been a struggle. I want to kick butt being a full time stay at home super mom, while somehow bringing home income and being myself as a woman and not just a mother- all while making my daughter proud of me as a mother and a woman.  I find myself wanting to be the mom who does special activities daily with her child every day and makes all my daughters’ meals. I feel like I have to because I am the stay-at-home mom who has “more time” and should be doing those things. I also want to somehow be full time employed and do this while  doing  the daily activities and providing 3 homemade meals a day. I crave wanting to have that one quiet hour to myself with nothing to do except whatever I want to do (even though I know I will miss my little one the whole time). However, as I am sure  you all can relate there are not enough hours in the day to meet this standard for myself. I find myself often upset because I feel like I have fallen short somewhere. It seems hard most days to succeed at making sure I have fulfilled my obligations as a wife and a mother, but also my obligations to myself. I find myself resentful toward my husband , who all though he may be having the same struggles, either doesn’t appear to have them or does not hold himself to the same intense standards that never allow one to feel like  they have it all together. I even look at the “other moms”   to see how they are performing as mothers, wives, and individual women. It is easy while making these observations to suddenly feel like I am falling short in some area. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in and think that these “other moms” have it so together… while in fact maybe they are constantly trying to balance the scale and hanging on by a thread  somedays too.

I am slowly learning that balance is slowing down to enjoy all the moments and milestones with my daughter even though the housewife part of me knows there are dishes that need to be done. Sometimes work does have to be done while I give my daughter that extra screen time or even after she goes to bed. The balance is saying “ I cannot make another meal homemade today. Who wants  boxed macaroni and cheese?” and that’s okay. It’s saying I am still a woman, though somedays non-existent, who has goals and wants my child to be proud of me…it just may take me time to get there. The balance for me lately has been trying to give myself the grace to not meet every single standard I set for myself  and to not only enjoy all the moments I have with my daughter but to be in the moment with her. All the while trying so hard to remember and accept that tomorrow is another day to be perfectly imperfect.


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