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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