My Breastfeeding Journey

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in BABY

Please also read:
  1. BREASTFEEDING PRODUCTS
  2. FOLLOW UP TO BREASTFEEDING POST
  3. BREASTFEEDING AT 8 MONTHS: WHAT IT’S LIKE NOW.

I’ve had this post in the drafts since  1 week postpartum. All I’ve had written here was the title. I had absolutely no time to make any notes at that time, which is unfortunate, because memories of what went on and how hard it was HAVE faded, but I will try to remember as much as I can and give an honest and detailed account of what breastfeeding was like for me in the first 2 months.

{I hate making these disclosures, because they take away from the honesty of the post and I feel these things are a given , but… Since the topic of breastfeeding often brings up unrealized feelings and emotions in women, I’d like to mention beforehand that the experience below is my own and that I don’t jugde (or care about, for that matter) any choices anyone else has or has not made. So if you used formula for whatever reason, more power to you. In this post, I’d like to discuss breastfeeding and its challenges, not argue breast or bottle debate. }

According to every source, the time after 2 months is the reward period of breastfeeding. And it’s true, I enjoy being able to provide food for my baby, I love not having to mess with bottles, I find it convenient to go anywhere and just whip up a boob. But I can’t say it’s still not without its challenges ….

I thought I was as prepared for breastfeeding as one can be. I gave up all dairy 2 weeks before delivery (see why in my next post), I read 2-3 breastfeeding books, I talked to nursing mothers, I “practiced” latching on with my fingers. And all of it DID help me persevere, but it didn’t eliminate some of the hurtles associated with breastfeeding.

Problem #1: Latch

 

So I’ll start from the beginning. From day one Alexis was called either a “hoover vacuum” by our LC or “my little piranha” by me. She’s a determined girl – she sees the boob , she launches herself at the boob, the rest is history. It’s really quite cute (if you remove the pain). Her eyes get super big, her breathing speeds up, and CLAMP! My nipples didn’t stand a chance- they were shot that first day at the hospital.
The problem has always been her shallow latch. Even the lactation consultant laughed with me as we watched  Alexis open her mouth, land properly on my boob and then promptly slide her lips together. Ugh!

Needless to say, the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding were utter pain. My nipples were cracked, bleeding, sore and incredibly painful. I hear that girls with smaller fair nipples tend to have that problem more than others.

The LC at the hospital helped me a bit. However, with Alexis being so stubborn about how she wanted to suck and me being completely new to it, it didn’t last.

One thing I never understood (and I am going to repeat about a million other women here) is for SUCH a natural thing breastfeeding is FAR from being natural for some (most?) mothers and babies. All the books say: “Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt”. Well, guess what? It does. And yes, I know, it’s because the latch is wrong, but try getting a stubborn newborn to change her latch – Ha! The advice of unlatching her and trying again if she’s sucking wrong just plain old stinks! The searing pain of the initial latch is so toe-curling  and they want me to unlatch the baby and have her latch on AGAIN? No, thank you, I’d rather have her suck with a bad latch, at least that doesn’t make the hair on my arms stand!

So while pregnant, I read 3 breastfeeding books. I was adamant to learn as much as possible about how it’s supposed to work before I try it, because of all the issues I’ve heard about. I couldn’t deal with online resources like kellymom.com and LLL, because you really have to be breastfeeding to properly navigate the website and understand it (and then it’s an invaluable resource).

So books were it. I read for pure information – from cover to cover. I wanted to know what to expect. I wanted to have the latch positioning down, as well as the baby positioning. I received a lot of GREAT knowledge and would recommend that anyone pregnant reads at least 1 book about breastfeeding (recommendations are in the next post). BUT…. and it’s a very big but, THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT ENOUGH.

I KNEW I was supposed to bring the baby chin first/head tilted, I knew I had to wait for the big open mouth, I knew the nipple had to be at her nose level, I knew she was supposed to cover the areola with her mouth. But left with a crying baby, incredibly hurt nipples, fear of the pain that is about to follow if only I do something wrong and she latches on wrong, fumbling with positioning, almost crying because you’ve been dealing with pain for the past few weeks and are so so frustrated…. it just wasn’t enough. Alexis  simply never opened her mouth wide enough. She’d lie there with her lips barely open and I’d think “Is this what you call an open mouth?”.  But I had no choice: it was either wait for a big mouth forever and starve your baby or feed her and wince through the pain. I chose the latter. She also tucked her top lip in every time, which made it very painful as well. So I’d have to try and get the lip out without breaking the latch. And most of the time I’d just leave it in for fear of breaking that darn latch and having to latch her on again.

So let’s just say that no amount of theoretical knowledge will help when your baby doesn’t cooperate.

Do you know what helped? Honestly? TIME!
For me it was simply waiting out the 6-8 weeks required for my baby to get enough control of her body to suck properly and for me to learn how to assist her.

And before that, there was dread, pure and simple dread of each breastfeeding session. There was fist biting so that I wouldn’t scream out in pain and scare my baby while she latches on. There was crying from frustration at trying over and over again to get a good latch and not succeeding. Couple that with the fact that I was also dealing with a baby that feeds every 30-40 minutes  AND in the middle of establishing milk supply and worrying about my baby eating enough and you’ve got yourself a lot of misery and heartache. AGAIN, HOW CAN BREASTFEEDING BE SO HARD?

The only thing that kept me going was my resolve to breastfeed exclusively no matter what. What helped, as well, were my support group: my husband, who was very supportive and cheered me on every time and commiserated and never let me give up; my friend, who had gone through the exact same thing with the exact same toe curling pain, who was just as set on breastfeeding and who pulled through and was a GREAT example for me; my mom who sat beside me with eyes full of pain as I bit my lip and shook my head while Alexis was nursing. These people were invaluable.

So in the end I was waiting and hoping that the magical 6-8 weeks would arrive soon and that I would survive until then.

Problem #2: Milk Supply

Oh this one is TRICKY! Raise your hand if you breastfed (for whatever time period) and DID NOT have ANY doubts/worries about your milk supply. Now, stop lying! (ok, I’m joking! If you really had no doubts with your baby, I am impressed).

This falls under the “You just don’t get it until you have a baby”. When I was pregnant and reading blogs about breastfeeding troubles/issues, I became resolved to NOT be concerned with my milk supply. The statistics say that only 1% (or around there) of women have ACTUAL supply issues from the start, every breastfeeding blogger out there was concerned about it and it was fine, and it simply wasn’t  going to be a problem. I needed to remember that.

{Breastfeeding break during a disaster of a quick family photoshoot at 2 or 3 weeks.}

Fast forward to 2-3 weeks postpartum (or so), IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR MILK SUPPLY! The most basic motherly fear and concern for her baby is the fear of said baby NOT getting enough food. It is on such an subconscious level that it is impossible to use logic with it. You’re deathly afraid of your baby not getting enough milk (I know you think you won’t , because you’ll know better, but mark my words).

Some time during the first month or so of Alexis’ life, she started crying during and after feeding, sometimes with jerky body movements and batting at the breast. First reaction- she’s hungry and there’s no milk. Because that’s what it looks like. So knowing that it can be a trap, I started paying close attention to her behavior (and at the same time re-reading breastfeeding books and searching kellymom.com). It mostly happened in the evening when milk supply DOES tend to be low. She would eat and swallow and then stop swallowing and suck and suck and cry and wiggle. It was obvious the milk wasn’t coming. That (alone with the pain of nursing)  was causing me to stress out which tends to impede the let down even further. It was a VERY stressful week. I second guessed myself and everything I was reading a million times. I was so worried she was hungry. My mom wasn’t helping things either, being from the older generation and knowing things only from hear-say and her own experience 40 years ago and not having solid knowledge of how milk production works. I constantly had to explain to her what I thought the problem was, while not even being sure that I was right and her doubts were making me doubt myself even further. That is why the best thing you could do is to surround yourself with people knowledgeable about breastfeeding, because you can’t help it but listen to people around you, when it comes to your baby.

I got THIS (*showing a tiny sliver between index finger and thumb*) close to giving her formula! I even ordered elemental formula ( because no way I was going to give her cow’s milk based formula {want to know why? In the next post} ) JUST IN CASE. I never had to resort to it, but having it close was the safety net I needed. Had I succumbed to it, it could have very well sabotaged my milk supply and I would have had to wean Alexis way too early.

In the end, what I was experiencing was pretty normal. Alexis was feeding so frequently that I had slow let down and low milk supply by the evening ( which is normal). She was setting my milk supply for the future, but that meant she had to feed more than I was able to give her at that moment. She WASN’T starving! Some babies behave that way because of a slow let down, others because of a fast let down, others because they have tummy problems – reasons are endless, but  “starving” is rarely one of them. The books and resources all repeated OVER and OVER again: The only indication of milk supply is DIAPER COUNT AND WEIGHT GAIN. PERIOD!
Not how much you can pump, not your baby’s behavior, not whether you’re leaking, not whether you’re engorged.  Why is it SO hard to come to terms with that when you have a crying baby who “appears” hungry? I don’t know, but it’s damn hard. Alexis was soiling 10-16 diapers a day and gaining weight like a champ, but I was still second guessing it. We tried countless methods of determining whether she was getting enough milk or not (pumping, bottles, etc), but in the end all we needed to do is trust in the diaper count/weight gain.

So after weeks of worry and pain, it all finally started settling down around week 5-6. She seemed to get enough milk (or more like wasn’t going crazy at the boob), I had good let down, my supply was where she needed it. Once again, the books and online resources were right: she was setting my milk supply and now I was able to meet her needs.

As a matter of fact, because of her crazy eating habits in the beginning, I was stuck with an oversupply and fast let down for a few weeks there and guess what the symptoms of it were? Fussy baby at the breast! Lol I just can’t catch a break. She still occasionally chokes at the first let down, but it’s finally evening out.

 

Problem #3: Boob is God!

I don’t really consider it a problem, but I thought it’d be worth mentioning and I wonder how many exclusively breastfeeding women had/have the same issue.

Just recently I discovered that I cannot leave Alexis with anyone for any extended period of time ( 2 or more hours). I’ve had two outings where I was away for 3 hours and both times she SCREAMED without any consolation until I got home (that’s considering she never screams or really cries for longer than the second it takes us to give her what she needs). After the initial feeding in the first hour or two, she’d refuse any more food and just scream and scream and scream. I left her twice with my mom and my husband with plenty of pumped milk and she wouldn’t have it when she realized that mommy wasn’t going to be there for a while. I thought the first time was a fluke, but this second outing to see Hunger Games (which I loooooved btw) was just as hard on Alexis. Let’s just say, I am not leaving her alone ever again until she’s ok with that emotionally  ( probably until her main food source isn’t the boob), because the stress that I caused her by being gone twice just isn’t worth it.

Here’s what I am wondering, for those of you who breastfed/breastfeed exclusively and had to send your babies to day care or leave them with family members/babysitter, are they completely fine being left with someone else at 8 weeks? Or is it just one of those things: “You do what you have to do”?

 

CURRENTLY:

It still hurts, because Alexis just LOVES to close her mouth after she latches on, but about 50% of the latches are now good and painless and the ones that aren’t great, the pain is definitely bearable and she readjusts the latch midway through nursing. I’ve mastered the side lying position after weeks of not even being able to fathom how to do it with the way she was latching on.  Now it’s our favorite position. She does choke sometimes and has milk come out of her nose, but she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it much (which blows my mind. I’d hate to have milk coming out of my nose). We ended up having an LC come out to our house around week 2-3 or so and help us with the latch and she was great help, a huge step forward, but certainly didn’t solve it all. The only thing that solved it, I am sorry to say, was waiting till Alexis figured it out on her own at 6-8 weeks.

 

All that being said, I don’t want to scare anyone into not even trying to breastfeed. I’d love to do quite the opposite. I am just being honest about the experience I had to go through and from what I hear it’s not that uncommon. Of course, there are women with perfect sized dark nipples and babies that latch on without an issue, but it’s important to be prepared for a fight, even if you never end up drawing the weapon.   

 

So my advice to currently pregnant women, based on my own experience and breastfeeding traps I’ve encountered,  for what it’s worth:

  • DO NOT GIVE UP: it’s to easy to say “I’m done”, but please remember it’s for your baby and it WILL get better
  • IT WILL GET BETTER: most babies improve their sucking at 6-8 week and believe me it was like clockwork. 6 weeks came and it started getting MUCH better. If you can ONLY get through that time, I promise it’ll be SOOO MUCH BETTER.
  • SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE: Peer pressure is real, especially for some people. Do not listen to “well wishers” who tell you that you need to quit, or that you’re making it harder than it has to be. Any good friend will support you regardless of the choice they personally made, breastfeeding or formula. Find breastfeeding role-models!
  • EDUCATE YOURSELF: maybe it’s me, but reading breastfeeding books and online resources helped me so much. Helped me realize my baby’s behavior was normal, helped me get rid of my fears.  And because the fears and doubts are ongoing, I literally had to re-read things multiple times over the span of 6 weeks so convince myself everything was ok.
  • USE GOOD PRODUCTS: My life was made a lot easier by using certain things that helped me get through the first 8 weeks (and some continue helping me). You can read about them in my next post.
  • DON’T GIVE UP: I know I am repeating myself, but it’s THAT important! 60% of women breastfeed less than 3 months ( out of the recommended 6 months) and I can TOTALLY see why. Until I went through it, I didn’t understand why women would take the “easy” way out. But breastfeeding is THAT HARD and THAT FINICKY and sometimes they don’t have a choice, which brings me to the next advice…
  • DO NOT SUPPLEMENT UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO : Not because formula is bad, but because by supplementing you’re sabotaging your supply (main reason most women give up breastfeeding). It’s so easy to get your supply out of wack and then you’ll truly not have enough milk for your baby.
  • REMEMBER: DIAPER COUNT AND WEIGHT: Those are the only 2 indications of milk supply and whether your baby is getting enough.
  • and finally once again: IT WILL GET BETTER {believe me I couldn’t imagine it getting better at the time, but it’s true}

{wearing a Boob Design Nursing tee}

If I didn’t cover something you’re curious about, feel free to ask in the comments. I’ll do a separate post just answering those questions.

In the next post I will go over the products and books that I found very valuable during the initial weeks of breastfeeding and of course, host a giveaway of a few of them. Also you can look forward another Boob Design giveaway with 3 winners that I am super excited about!

Please also read:
  1. BREASTFEEDING PRODUCTS
  2. FOLLOW UP TO BREASTFEEDING POST
  3. BREASTFEEDING AT 8 MONTHS: WHAT IT’S LIKE NOW.

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Comments (144)

  • Jessica

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    Good for you for keeping at it! Breastfeeding is tough, no doubt. And I agree that preparation beforehand can only help so much. I do have do politely disagree with the whole light/dark nipple thing – I have very, very pale skin and nipples (not to mention the fact that I have both small nipples and breasts), and I’ve been lucky that my daughter had a good latch from the get-go and we didn’t have any real breastfeeding problems. I had some blood blisters and pain in the first week, but I’ve been good ever since.
    We also have a baby that refused the pacifier and bottle for weeks, and since I had to return to work when she was three months old, we had to solve that problem! :) It took a lot of work and patience, but we found that the only artificial nipples she will take are latexoOrthodontic-shaped ones, and the only bottles she will take are the Play-tex drop-ins (if you do some research on the Internet you’ll find a lot of women have found the same thing). For a few weeks, once every day I would start her on the breast, switch to the bottle, she would start to cry, so I’d switch back to the breast, and continue with the bait and switch until she would drink the whole bottle. She’ll now take a bottle from anyone, which is a wonderful thing! I love watching my husband or one of her grandmothers (her caretakers during the day while I’m at work – I’m so lucky to have family available!) give her a bottle, it’s a wonderful bonding experience for all.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      The whole light nipple thing is just a hunch based on women I’ve talked to (it seems we’re more prone to pain) and I think my LC said a similar thing. Either way, dark or light, doesn’t matter.

      It must have been hard training her to take the bottle. I know I wouldn’t have the patience unless I absolutely had to ( Like didn’t work from home like I do now). Good for you for getting it done!

      Reply

  • Natalie

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    Awesome post! It is so so so painful those first few weeks and so hard to not give up, but once you get past that it is so worth it! I’m happily breastfeeding my daughter 11 months later.

    Reply

  • bekah

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    great post! I am actually typing one handed because I am breastfeeding my youngest son right now! You are right that it is something that you just don’t fully understand until it is happening to you. When I had my first son, (whom I breastfed for 14 months) I thought there was NO WAY that I would ever get past that pain. Good thing I am so stubborn! I used to have my husband squeeze my foot as hard as he could to distract from the pain of his latch so that I wouldn’t pull away when he was nursing. Man that was rough. BUT like you said, it gets so much better! And…as future encouragement, should you have another baby…it was SO MUCH EASIER the second time around!

    Thanks for an honest breastfeeding post!

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      OMG< I was doing the same thing with the husband and the foot! He couldn’t believe the amount of pressure he needed to apply so that it would be more painful than the actual latch :)

      And I’m glad it’s easier the 2nd time around. I definitely see how that can be!

      Reply

  • Lynn

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    Wow, I could have written this post, word for word. Everything you said was my first experience with breastfeeding. My husband was my rock. He reminded me all those feelings of not enough supply, etc, were normal! 2.5-3 months was the magic number for me. One day I realized, hey! This doesn’t hurt AT ALL anymore! Then it was easy, and I never looked back. I went on to be a full time working mom, traveling 2 -3 weeks a month and my baby never got a drop of formula. Needless to say, my pump got ALOT of use and I think I learned which airports were breastfeeding friendly with nursing rooms and such.

    With baby number 2, it was easy from the start. None of those ‘not enough milk supply’ thoughts even entered my mind then. We were off and running from day 1! Again, not a drop of formula. That thought makes me proud.

    Thank you for your honest and heartfelt post! Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  • Melissa

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    One tip from a mama who nursed 3 years 10 months (and pumped while working full time for almost 2 years) is when giving the bottle early on, its helpful for the person to be moving, my husband sat on a stability ball and bounced her and that helped. You’ll start to feel like a prisoner in your own home so don’t give up on trying, try various nipples/bottles and hopefully you’ll find something that works.

    Reply

  • elizabeth

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    thanks for this post! i also struggled during those first 6 weeks. i was in immense pain like you, with cracked nipples – one looked like he had taken a chunk out of it that did not heal for 6 weeks. i cried, clenched my toes and just dreaded nursing. i think b/c of it, i had PPD b/c i was unable to bond with him b/c i feared having to feed him. it sounds like you have avoided this, which is great!
    luckily, i was never worried about supply, b/c whenever he would throw himself off, tons of milk would come spraying out all over the place. i had an oversupply and he would choke and gag sometimes… very scary! and he had bad gas and would refuse to eat sometimes, which was terrible. he was born at 6 lb 7 oz and got down to 5 lb 15 on day 2 (thankfully he was at 6 lb 4 oz at day 4), so I was always very scared when he wouldn’t eat. I cried and hated myself and felt like a failure.
    Thankfully, around week 6 or so, everything clicked and I loved it. We nursed successfully for 15.5 months. We would’ve gone longer, but had little support. I hope to nurse this long or longer with any future children.
    Keep up the hard work! There will come a time when you will miss nursing her. And I love that you have so many nursing pictures! I have none and really, really regret it!

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      You know I could have EASILY slipped into PPD due to this. But for some reason I never got hormonal during pregnancy or PP, so I think that saved my ass.
      I felt so horrible when I was struggling, mad at everyone, including myself and sad to say Alexis (though I fought that feeling really hard), frustrated, dreading nursing…etc.

      Reply

  • claire

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    Oh my gosh! I had SO many people tell me over and over that it shouldn’t hurt! To the point where I was terrified that I was doing it wrong and was about to become a total breastfeeding failure! Then all of a sudden, after that magical six week mark, it didn’t hurt anymore. And it became almost *pleasurable*! We had our struggles – my son was sick when he was born and we were separated for a week (I was recovering from an unexpected csection and he was in special care) and between pushy nurses, being apart for hours at a time, having to use a nipple sheild due to latch problems and my milk not coming coming in, I left the hopsital with a baby that I was quite sure would never be exclusively breastfed. But here we are, fifteen months later and still going strong! The point is, it takes WORK! And yes, yes, YES! It IS painful at first! I am so glad for this post because if it can help ONE mother-to-be understand the ins and outs of breastfeeding, then you’ve done something very good!

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Oh the shield! I completely forgot about the nipple shield! I had to use it for 4 weeks non-stop- I couldn’t breastfeed otherwise. And it was so painful to go off of it! Oh maaaan! I really do hope this post helps someone as well!

      Reply

      • claire

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        I had visions of having to use that darn thing forEVER! About three days after we got home from the hospital, I managed to get him to latch on without it and it was the best thing in the world. Of course, shortly after that, the pain came. But saying goodbye to the nipple sheild was fabulous!

        Reply

  • Mo'Nique

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    I know it seems hard to leave your baby and come home and heard that he/she has been crying for hours but I don’t think the answer is to not leave her alone again. She has to get used to being with other people now or you are going to have a really horrible problem later. I breastfed for 15 months and in the beginning I didn’t want to be away from my son because I was afraid of messing up my supply, didn’t know how much milk to leave and just the emotional attachment it was 100x worse when I finally had to start leaving him at 8 months. He cried the whole time I was gone {2-4 hour spans} even when he was with his father.
    And it took month’s for him to snap out of it. He is 18 months old and still has a problem being left with people who he is comfortable with. So while I understand the feeling of not wanting to put your daughter in a situation where she is crying and crying in my experience if you don’t break that habit early it get’s harder later.

    Reply

    • Rache

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      “She has to get used to being with other people now or you are going to have a really horrible problem later.”

      I’m sorry, but this is simply not true. Much of it depends on the child’s own personality. In fact, there is a lot of research that indicates the opposite: A very close, dependent attachment to one or two caregivers early on can actually improve separation issues and independence later on.

      I was never away from my son for about a year (there were 2 times I was not in the same place as him), then I started leaving him with my mother in law for an or two at a time and he does wonderfully at 18 months! He might cry for about 10 seconds when I leave, but then enjoys a few hours having fun with his Mimi. I’m sure he might still have problems staying with people he doesn’t know well, but most 18 months old do, regardless of how often they were away from mommy.

      Alena – if you want to stay with your baby, go for it!! Although my husband hasn’t had as much alone time with my son, they still have a wonderfully close, affectionate bond. There is no need to rush your baby into independence!

      Reply

      • Rachel

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        Hey, sorry I misspelled your name. Typing on phones with autocorrect can certainly be annoying!

        Anyway, great post! Brought back the memories of that crazy horrible, toe curling pain! But, 18 months later, that is just a distant memory, and the 6 weeks of agony were well worth what has followed! We are still nursing, but we did finally night wean this month, which was a little bittersweet! I’m not sure I’m ready yet to end the nursing relationship (and he definitely isn’t!!)

        I was also going to mention that the AAP actually recommends breastfeeding for at least 1 year, not 6 months, and the WHO recommends at least 2 years. If you haven’t been to a LLL meeting yet, you should check one out. I imagine you probably have a local group where you are. My BF support group was amazing (we only recently got a LLL group here), and I highly recommend it, even after the initial difficulties.

        Also, I had a really bad oversupply. I never once worried about a low milk supply but we did deal with a few other issues from it. But, rather than stressing about it, I decided to turn it into a good thing. I let my son nurse on one side, and I would pump on the other. He was more than full off just one breast, which let me freeze the pumped milk. I donated thousands of ounces to a local milk bank and they use it for premature babies and those with bad allergies who can’t have any sort of formula. It felt so great to be able to help someone else! I think in another time, I would have made an excellent wet nurse! If you continue having an oversupply, I highly recommend donating if you can!

        You are doing great! Keep it up! Beautiful photos! I wish there was more exposure to photos like these, but sites like Facebook still flag them as inappropriate, even when they are classy and elegent. How insane is that?!

        Reply

      • Mo'Nique

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        I’m happy you had a better experience than I did. Just like Elena writes her blog to let people in on her experience’s with her daughter I wrote my comment to let her know of my experience with my son.

        Your situation and mine are totally different. I started leaving my son for extended periods around six months, you child was more than twice my sons age, in baby time that is a whole different stage of development.

        Neither of us know how Alexis will react to being left alone or when Elana will feel comfortable doing so again but the point of my comment was not to tell her she was wrong but to show her a different perspective. I never said for her “not to stay with her baby”

        Reply

  • Lara

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    I know this post will come in handy in about…four months :) Thanks for this, and I admire your dedication!

    Reply

  • Christy Johnson

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    What a fantastic post! I exclusively breastfed my now two year-old until he was a year old and went through basically all of the same issues. I don’t think anyone realizes how hard it is until they try it! I also couldn’t leave my son for more than 30-45 minutes at a time because he refused to take a bottle, PERIOD. It was incredibly frustrating and even worse, I work full-time! Luckily my sitter is my sister-in-law and she would use a large syringe to feed him my pumped milk until he started solids and we could mix it in with his food. Best of luck with everything!

    Reply

  • Amanda

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    Thanks for such an honest post about such a taboo subject! I breastfed my son for 18 months and our first 3 months were extremely difficult. I had threatened mastitis and a yeast infection that complicated things early on, plus he was jaundice and sleepy in the beginning so it was very difficult to get him to eat, even though that is just what he needed: to breastfeed! Multiple times I declared that I was going to have my husband give him formula that night because I just needed a break from the toe-curling pain, but somehow I was stubborn enough and made it through. Anyway, my son has never had any formula and I’m silly proud of that fact. Our second son is due in August and I’m hoping and praying that it will be easier the second time around! I don’t think I could handle 3 months of cracked nipples again! Bravo for sticking with it… it is the most rewarding thing to know that your body supported your child not only in the womb, but out in the big world too.

    Reply

  • Elena

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    Great post, very helpful! May be I’m a bit more prepared for what’s about to come :)) Thank you very much!!

    And I do have a question! From what I read in the internet, there is a very very long list of products that you are not allowed to eat, and very short one of what you can eat while breastfeeding. What’s your menu? I’d appreciate to read about someone’s actual experience.

    Reply

    • Jessica

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      Per KellyMom.com (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/mothers-diet/mom-diet/) for most women, there are very few foods you need to avoid when breastfeeding (besides the obvious like caffeine, drinking and smoking etc.). I have done nothing to alter my diet (of course I eat a pretty healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies and whole foods, anyhow) but I don’t try and avoid dairy or spicy foods or anything like that, and my diet seems to have no affect at all on my three-month old daughter. I wouldn’t worry about it unless you have a history of allergies or dietary issues in your family, or if you notice that baby is colicky or seems to be upset from digestive issues. There’s also research that shows that exposing your fetus in utero and baby via breastmilk a wide range of foods will help them develop a diverse palate as an adult.

      Reply

      • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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        Dairy avoidance is due to the harmful effects of milk proteins on the immature digestive system ofnewborns (will touch on that in the next post). The rest (tomato, fried food and onions) are solely due to reflux and I did notice a difference especially in fried foods. The rest I’m just playing safe!

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  • Melissa

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    I’m expecting my first child in September, so I don’t have any experience with breastfeeding…BUT I did watch my nephew when he was about 8 weeks old when my sister went back to work and he was a breastfed baby (till about 14 months actutally). Luckily, I had my mom around to help a bit too, but he would cry and really seemed to prefer breastfeeding than the bottle. It took my sister trying lots of different bottle nipples before there was one that he didn’t seem to mind. I think it also was if he was comfortable too, because he did have to go to a baby sitter for a bit….and she really had trouble getting him to eat, but it just took me a couple afternoons and he got the hang out it. I know it was hard for my sister to hear him crying and know he was having trouble, but he did get the hang of it. Especially after they tried out some different bottle nipples. Good luck with everything and I’ll keep this post in mind when September rolls around!

    Reply

  • Josey

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    I had to return to work at 8 weeks, so at 3w4d I pumped for the first time, and at 4w we introduced the bottle. We had to try 3-4 different types of bottles to find one that Stella liked, and we’ve stuck with that one ever since (Dr. Brown’s – they had a slow enough flow, and helped with her gas).

    The biggest thing that we followed was to KEEP introducing the bottle – not just introduce it, find one she liked, and then not give it to her again for a week+. At that age, they can literally forget that they liked the bottle, and we wanted her to easily be able to switch between breast and bottle. That whole month from 4w-8w, we would give her a bottle nearly every night for one feeding (maybe 5 of 7 nights each week). I’d pump while my husband fed her a previously expressed bottle, OR, I would give her a bottle (since I didn’t want her to refuse to take one from me or anyone) and pump before or after the feeding. I also kept up with pumping every morning first thing (when supply is the highest) to build up a bit of a freezer stash for those times when she’s in a temporary growth spurt but I’m at work and not available for constant BFing.

    Now that she’s 16w, I work at the office 4 days a week, I have a bit of a stash at home, and I still pump every morning (plus every 2 1/2 – 3 hrs when I’m at work). On days that I’m home with her, we don’t generally give her a bottle anymore, but she has no problem taking the bottle the other 4 days / week that I’m at work.

    I’m not a fan of CIO, but remember, she WILL eat if she gets hungry enough. Maybe try to give her a bottle yourself some days when you’re home – or have your husband give her a bottle with you around – get her more used to the idea – AND get her over the association that bottle = mommy gone.

    Hang in there!

    Reply

  • sarah r.

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    I needed this post. My 18-day old daughter is on my lap, and we’re about to switch to the other side, and I’m prolonging it, because that’s the even SORER side… eek. She usually latches pretty good during the day, but at nighttime, she DESTROYS my nipples. and like you said, “you want me to break this baby off (which isn’t easy), and then have them do this AGAIN?????” no thanks. NO THANKS! but I’m so happy to hear that it gets easier. thank you for this post!!

    Reply

  • Alena

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    I’ve been reading your blog for about a months now, and somehow I had no doubts that no matter what you’ll persevere. :)

    I totally agree — before you try it, you don’t realize how hard it really is. It might be easier for some women, but I think majority of us are in for a bit of a shock in the first few weeks. All the stories about how easy and natural it is are probably coming from moms who forgot what it was like in the beginning. :)

    I am still breastfeeding my almost 20 months old son (3 times a day), and thinking about weaning makes me incredibly sad. I had quite a rough start (he was severely tong-tied, so had a very poor latch and did not suck well) — I literally was squeezing milk out of my boobs into his mouth for weeks. And all the worries about supply, and all the worries about him eating often and spending hours at my breast (when old school people tell you that it’s not normal, you start to doubt yourself), and all the worries that he’ll never sleep through the night (don’t even get me started on how many times I heard that I should stop breastfeeding in order for him to sleep better)… And of course the inability to leave him with anybody, but me (he never took the bottle or a pacifier for that matter). But then at some point it becomes such a wonderful, calming, relaxing, joyful experience. My son LOVES nursing. And “gu-gu” was one of the first words that he said (now he says “????” (grud’/breast) when he refers to nursing).

    Anyhow, great post, great pictures. Good luck and enjoy your breastfeeding journey!

    Reply

  • Amanda

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    Thank you for writing this! Go back in time 2 1/2 years and this was me with my daughter. I wish I had known all that before. I was so unprepared, though, for the pain (!) and worry about weight gain (preemie). I remember saying over and over, “I can’t do this anymore!” But I could, and I did. I did call my daughter Little Miss Razor Gums for the first six weeks.

    In the end, we went 17 months before weaning. Not a drop of formula, and it was so worth it!

    Good luck with the rest of your breastfeeding journey, and thanks again for the honesty and encouragement.

    Reply

  • Allyssa

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    So are you a NIP without a cover mama or was the first photo just for the blog? I think it’s awesome when women do that. I’ll have to see how I feel when I have my baby.

    What is the carrier in the first picture? Do you have any other carriers that you BF in?

    Reply

  • Earthy Nicole

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    My little girl had the same latching problems. She was ready to go but a little to eager! So I was left with hickeys, of course! I remember the pain quite well but like you, I was adamant about breastfeeding and eventually it became so natural. I didn’t leave my little girl for a long time either. Her daddy was deployed to Iraq and I was the only one to care for her. Some people said I was setting myself up for failure but we developed a beautiful bond that I wouldn’t trade for the world. She’s almost three now and when there are times she needs to stay at my in-laws or with a friend, she’s just fine. There’s no reason to force time apart if it’s not what either of you are happy about.

    xx

    Reply

  • Megan

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    Sounds exactly like my “Breastfeeding is supposed to be beautiful?!” post! Hahaha!
    Your situation sounds exactly like mine, except for the fact that V has always been ok with switching nipples (bottles, pacifiers, me, she doesn’t care)
    As for bottles, I’m not sure what kind you’re using, but try to find a nipple that looks the most like your own. A bunch of my friends recommended Dr. Browns, but she would gag because the nipple is too long. I ended up with Tommee Tippee, and she’s been doing awesome @ daycare with them (and Daddy gives her bottles too when I work late) {Pumped milk, I am proud to say that she’s never used formula}
    I totally agree that after the 2-ish month, things just kind of brightened up and got way easier. It helped that she was much more responsive while feeding, I think. I’m surprised your LC didn’t suggest a nipple shield. That thing saved me my first two weeks (then she didn’t want it anymore, and I was back to crying during latch)
    You’re doing awesome!!! :)

    Reply

  • Bree

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    I agree with you on the books saying “Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful.” It was so painful at first. And mind you I didn’t have a LC at the hospital, which upset me a lot! I had to go with what the nurses, who didn’t have much time to spare, and my mom were telling me to do as well. So I had no clue if her latch was bad or anything at first. It hurt so bad and the book I was reading had me feeling so defeated because of the pain that I seriously considered formula. But my mom kept assuring me that it hurt for her too and that it simply just hurts at first period. It did get better and I’m so pleased it got better for you too.

    On leaving her with other people, Lily doesn’t seem to mind too much. The first time I left her, it was for an hour, period. I was back in exactly an hour so I could feed her again. And there she was sleeping away in my mother’s arms (because she has some kind of gift at getting her to sleep. All she has to do is hold her). Then I went back to work on Friday (which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I’m only working for four hours and at most, three days a week, thankfully). I left her with my mother-in-law for four hours and she only cried when my mother-in-law put her in the pack-n-play in a room by herself to sleep. Because of the crying, Lily got moved to a swing in the same room as everyone else, and after a bottle, just passed out until I got there to pick her up from work. But Lily has been cuddled and loved on my all my family members since she was born. Literally I would feed her and then someone else would hold her while we visited at their house, so I think it helped that she was ultra familiar with these people. Also, Lily isn’t quite as demanding at Alexis. From the get go she’s done typical 1-2 hour feedings, which might have helped as well.

    Reply

  • Elena C.

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    I’m so bookmarking this post to be able to re-read all the advice in the future :)

    Reply

  • Terra Cotta Momma

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    Soon you will blink and be nursing a toddler! That is when is is really worth the trouble nursing a newborn is tough but nursing a toddler is fantastic and fun!
    I have yet to leave my 2 year old for more than a few hours, don’t feel like leaving your baby is necessarily she will have plenty of time to become independent and taking her with is so much more enjoyable.

    Reply

  • Jenn

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    This is question coming from someone who currently has no children but I am just really curious about the whole breastfeeding issue as having children is something in my near future. How does it hurt? That is to say, what is the baby doing that is causing the pain? Or is it your body just recovering from having a baby and your body just getting use to producing breastmilk so in turn your body just hurts and no matter what baby does it’s going to be painful? I have heard it can be painful so I am not doubting anything you (and the other commenters) are saying. I am just curious as to why. One would think with a newborn having no teeth they can’t bite you, but clearly that is not the issue. I know I’ll never truely understand until I am doing it myself but I’m just kind of curious anyway.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      That’s a great question. If you don’t mind I’ll answer it in the follow up post in a few days. That way I can go into more detail :)

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      • Jenn

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        Don’t mind at all. Thanks for not thinking my question was completely weird!

        Reply

    • Jessica

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      Breastfeeding can be painful in the beginning because the suction the baby creates is pretty intense. Also, for the first few days, the act of breastfeeding releases the hormone that causes contractions, which is good for your body because it helps shrink your uterus after delivery and helps stop the bleeding, but it can be pretty painful. However, after your nipples toughen up and your baby has a good latch (and you don’t have any other issues, like a painful letdown, which some women have) breastfeeding doesn’t hurt at all and is actually really pleasurable.

      Reply

    • Joann

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      Think of it like a really bad rug burn. On your nipples.

      Reply

  • LeAnn

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    I had really bad pain too, and I am fair, which I do think has a lot to do with it. I really beat myself up for giving up at 4 weeks, but unlike Alexis, my son was still losing weight, and our pedi said we had to start supplementing – he even fed him in the office before he let us leave. I was so devastated. Looking back I know there is a lot I could have done better, and I’m hoping that I’ll have more luck with #2!

    Reply

  • Sarah

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    I think that was the best advise. When I got close to my due date three years ago I kept telling myself that I would try to breastfeed but if I didn’t follow through it was okay. I had heard that it was a little uncomfortable in the beginning with latching on but no one mentioned the toe curling pain from hell with every latch. Once I got past the pain I was fine and I was able to nurse exclusively for a while. Something I noticed for me was that because I nursed exclusively for 7 months and we didn’t use bottles it was very difficult for my daughter to take a bottle of bm when I went on a date or was away. Even if you pump while your husband feeds her it is good to introduce the bottle eventually. My daughter refused for 7 LONG months to take a bottle. It was foreign and not taken very well until she just got it. I think everyone has latching pain in the beginning; I have dark nipples and small boobs and it was so painful. I think it is just part of it. You just have to push through the pain, it does eventually fade away and you can enjoy that bond more. I literally had to hold a pillow when she’d latch. Good for you for pushing through!

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  • Rockie

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    Awesome post! Most probably will come back to it in 2 months! Oh dear!

    Reply

  • pink2283

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    This is a great post! I have been breastfeeding my son for almost 17 months now, and while we had no problems latching, due to a c-section, bad reflux and me going on BC to battle migraines my supple wasn’t the best. Keeping at it and sticking to my instinct to only supplement 1 feeding a day ( he wasn’t gaining weight well) turned what used to be a frustrating time in my day to a beautiful one. Another issue with breastfeeding that I don’t think a lot of women talk about is possible jealousy towards your husband that he doesn’t have to get up to nurse, and the fact that feeding your baby is all on your shoulders. Or maybe it was just me : / I also have to say to those saying that if you dont leave Alexa with other people you will be in trouble, I would ignore. My son was my sidekick, you did not see me without him for a long time. In fact he was not left with a babysitter(other than my DH) until he was 8 months old. Before 8 months I only went out after he was in bed and I knew he would sleep for a 4-5 hour stretch.
    By waiting for him to be ready, and having a very well established bond/relationship with me it went very well. I can now leave him with anyone and he is a very happy, independent little boy. You need to do what feels natural to you.

    Reply

  • Lisa

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    Great post! No questions about breastfeeding (although I might in about 7 months!) but just wondering why your giveaways are only valid in the U.S. Don’t forget about your Canadian friends! ;)

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      It’s not up to me but up to companies giving stuff away. They have law limitations to where they can distribute. Plus there’s shipping. So most opt for US only. I remember about Canadians and ask every time.

      Reply

  • kath

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    Thanks for writing this honest post!! You’re doing great, and these tips are wonderful to read at 18.5 weeks pregnant!

    Reply

  • Julie

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    Great post Elena! My advice about leaving Alexis with others is to keep up with it. Easing into is and going slowly is fine but I think that the thing to remember is that you want her to feel safe with others, especially your husband. You can help her with this by continuing to offer her a bottle every day. When my daughter was an infant my husband gave her a bottle when we all got up in the morning and I pumped. It worked well because they had such special time together before he went to work and that was when I was I able to pump the most milk for storage.

    Reply

  • Leeka B.

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    This post made me smile and reminded me SO much about my own breastfeeding journey! :))) I totally GET what you were feeling about your little baby not getting enough food! Not having “like-minded” people in my life I kept hearing negative words of me being a bad mom and not providing food for my child and that I should give her formula, and like you, I have been so close to it once, and only reading on some other forums ( blogs were not that popular 6 years ago lol ) I have decided to just wait it out, plus, she seemed so content and healthy to me, and her diaper count was “on the spot”, so I just waited and it did got easier! A LOT! To be honest, I am not sure when, but I absolutely LOVED breastfeeding her and watching my fave shows or reading books! :))) With my dydymos baby sling I then even managed editing photos while she was breastfeeding, but that’s later later on, when she was a LOT older ( like by 6 months). I have also managed to pump and store some supplies of milk in my freezer, that helped with me going out, to do my own thing, for as long as 6-8 hours, but keep in mind that while I was out, I had to pump every 3 hours anyway! Through error and trial I have found the bottles that we both liked ( Gabby and me lol ) and I also tried to keep bottle feedings to the minimum, especially once she liked holding things, so she could breastfeed for a long time. I hated pumping, it was THE WORST thing for me ever! :)))) Also, to be honest with you I do not think I was ever comfortable leaving her with anyone else, but me. :) I got better and relaxed a lot more when she was almost year and a half… :)))) All the time when I had to go to work and leave her I was a wreck and she was a wreck. :))) So no advice for you from me here, sorry! :) But I will add that I mostly cherish those first year and a half because I got to bond with her on such a deep level and held her in my arms so much ( which I do not get to do very often anymore unfortunately, since she is A BIG GIRL now lol ) – I feel that is when she felt deeply loved and cared for which boosted her development and growth! You know her personally so you can testify to that! ;) hugs my dear! I am so proud of you! I know how hard it is to not listen of that little voice nudging you inside and with the formula being so rapidly available- you are just trying to do what is best for your baby, like any good mother would! :) I love you!

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I always love getting feedback from you because I know you did things in a similar way and we have same mindset, I was so clueless back then, I wish I was paying more attentions to things you shared but it’s so hard to remember when you’re so far from having kids.
      Did you BF Gabby at the B&w party?

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  • Katherine

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    Hi there, this is the first time I’ve commented on your blog, but have been following you a long time. I’m currently TTC and find all of your information valuable. Congratulations on your beautiful little girl! I look forward to seeing new pictures of her chubby little cheeks. ;o)

    I’d love to hear what you’re doing to keep your milk supply up. I know you eat very healthy, but do you take any supplements or use and herbal remedies? I’ve read a lot that pumping helps to keep your milk supply up, but I’d be interested to hear if you’re just foregoing that and keeping your supply up with something more “natural”, so to speak.

    Oh, and I can’t wait until you post more about you CDing experience. I’m definitely going to use cloth, so it’s fun to see which brands work for different babies.

    Congrats again! She’s a sweetheart, and definitely has a lot of love around her.

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  • Meg

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    Loved to hear that you persevered! Breastfeeding does come with challenges but like you said it really does just keep getting better. I nursed all 4 of my children (youngest still going strong) and 8 weeks was definilty the turning point. My first baby was very much like yours, preferred me and the boob. Nursed very frequently 24/7! I tried to leave him, pumped, had supply in freezer but when it came down to it, he NEVER took a bottle. I didn’t push the issue as I was staying home so after a few outings of me leaking milk and coming home to a crying baby he became attached to my hip until babyfood was introduced and longer time between nusring sessions were normal. It seems like you will never get out by yourself now but believe me they really do grow up fast so enjoy this time! All my babies nursed as often as yours for several months and through the night until they self weaned somewhere between 18-24 months. (Not a drop of formula and I am proud of that!) I know she seems high needs but breastmilk is so easily digestable it really does require closer feedings. For my next 3 babies I never pumped, they never took a bottle or pacifier, and I nursed on demand. SO MUCH EASIER! They were happier and I was much more relaxed. Just trust your body that it is made to provide for your baby. I think the more relaxed and self confident you are, the more supply you will have and easier the nursing will become. Sometimes just taking a step away from all the information available is helpful to connect with your baby and let nature take over! You are doing a wonderful job providing for your daughter! I look forward to hearing your journey! My journey is bittersweet as I know my daughter (after 3 sons!) is my last baby. She is 14 months and I can only hope that she will continue to nurse until 2yrs like her brothers because I don’t think I could handle her weaning anytime sooner! The bond gets strong for both baby and momma!!!! Good luck to you!

    Reply

  • Jessica

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    Love this post, Elena–I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since you first mentioned writing it! Pretty sure I’ll relate to most, if not all, of this come September, so I’m happy to hear that you’re posting the books on breastfeeding that you’ve found helpful :) Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Kelli

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      Great post! I totally agree with the post~ especially that time heals- don’t give up, it gets better, also loved side nursing (esp at night with cosleeping) ! I BF 2 out of 3 of my children. (The first was born very ill and her living was more much important, she didn’t take to BFing probably because she had bottles first but that happens in the NICU). Any who, I worked full time and nursed my boys until 17 and 12 months respectively. My boys both had awesome latches from the get-go despite that the initial latches still hurt.-toe curling hurt I noticed you didn’t mention the cramps/contractions of the uterus during BFing, that hurt more than anything and I hear it gets worse with subsequent children! That’s what I needed the Motrin for after child birth! As far as leaving the children, mine go to a daycare center that i just love and it was really hard to leave them. It was hardest on my second son who had a really hard time getting used to the bottle. It took him at least 1 week, probably closer to 2 weeks to get the hang of a bottle. Sadly, its just one of those things you have to do. I wanted to nurse my second son (3rd child longer) but he had different plans. We went to my parents house for Xmas (states away) and he wouldn’t nurse there…that little stinker! He just turned 12 months.

      Reply

  • Gina

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    When you say she still sometimes chokes and has milk come out of her nose, do you know what that’s from? My son does the same thing (sometimes), I’m thinking it’s an over supply issue.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      The chocking can be from oversupply. When Lexi first latches on the let down is too fast for her, she chokes and pulls away.

      The milk out of her nose part…. I always thought it was a reflux thing. So I’m not sure

      Reply

      • Emily

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        This should go away as your supply regulates itself.

        Reply

  • Darlene

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    This post was so helpful, I am due in 4 weeks and looking forward to breastfeeding but at the same time I know there are ups and downs, thank you so much for the advice you have written in this post.

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  • Tilly

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    I’m still exclusively breastfeeding my 11 month old daughter and leaving her was always an issue. I’ve only been away from her for 2-3 hours max. Its definitely one of those do what you gotta do things. I always plan outings around her longest nap or her bedtime which is 7pm because she still cries if I’m not there. If I could go back, the only thing I’d do differently for the next one is to continue to go out. Eventually they’ll get used to it. Just leave her with someone who doesn’t get stressed out by baby cries :)

    Reply

  • Suzie

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    I love reading your blog, especially now that i am expecting my first child and really want to breastfeed for as long as I can. I can’t wait to read what products and books you used/read. I am the type of person who wants to be well informed as far head as possible. Thanks for always being honest about everything, it helps us future moms :)

    Reply

  • Meg O.

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    I must be one of those flukes that just had it pretty easy from the get go. My baby is almost 16 weeks now and she is a champ when it comes to breastfeeding and bottle feeding expressed milk (she rejected the bottles for a while because she wanted me but she is doing better). I had NO IDEA what to expect so I read “Breastfeeding Made Simple”. I loved that book, even though it was preachy… it really made me feel empowered to get it right. I think it was the toughest for me the first couple of days before my milk came in and it was just the colostrum. I didn’t know if she was getting enough but she was having dirty and wet diapers so the nurses assured me I was doing everything right. I think my baby also had a shallow latch but corrected it within the first week! I bought all those nipple relief products because it was painful that first week but I never ended up needing them again. I had (well they’re bigger now) pretty small, fair nipples and she had no problems! I think my biggest problem in this experience is getting her to take a bottle or be soothed by other means except for my boobs. I went back to work when she was just over 3 months old. My best friend is taking care of her and it’s the best situation I could ask for, but it was a definite adjustment for her, getting used to seek her nourishment from a bottle and comfort through other means (she won’t even take a pacifier). My friend has been so patient with her and great at taking care of her, and my teaching schedule is over at 1:00 so I can nurse her for the majority of the day. She is doing so much better now!! It is just important to keep practicing with bottles on the weekends. I am just so grateful I am still able to provide her with my milk for 2-3 feedings a day, even if I am not with her.

    It is great that you never gave up! I feel it really just does get easier and easier, but then again, I am one of those people that is almost unheard of when it comes to the ease of breastfeeding.

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  • Patty

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    LOVE your honesty as always!!!! I am bookmarking this post for sure. I really really really want to nurse my baby (my first due in Aug!) and I am trying to prepare for everything, but I know it will all come down to the baby’s wants and needs. Can you explain “let down” for me? What does that mean exactly?

    Looking forward to hearing more about your journey and the info on the products that have been helping you along the way! (YAY for going out to see The Hunger Games btw. SUCH a great movie!)

    Reply

    • Kim

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      Letdown is when your baby latches on and your body (hormones) says: “Doh, better get moving on the breast milk!” And then it all flows into your breasts and starts spraying out (whether or not the baby is latched on).

      This can happen anytime. When you’re in a public place and hear a baby cry (the baby doesn’t even need to be yours) … telltale signs are wet spots on a woman’s shirt. Your boobs tingle when you have letdown. It’s actually a really nice feeling, as long as you’re not dealing with mastitis or some other issue.

      Reply

        • Ann

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          Yep, I have had a very painful let-down from the beginning (I have a 9 month old now) and have never had mastitis or any other issues other than clogged ducts. For some women, that’s just how it is!

          Reply

  • julie

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    Ahhhh…the joys of breastfeeding. I am going on 10 months now. No formula. I have actually never worried about my supply. Until now. I only pump enough for 1 out of the 3 bottles that my son gets at daycare, which means that I am using up my frozen supply VERY quickly. Everyone has their advice. Mine is: If you are sending your child to daycare. Pump and store as much as possible during maternity leave! Everyone thought I was crazy with my huge chest freezer full, but if it wasn’t for that, I would have had to supplement his daycare bottles long ago. My goal is to make it 1 year. I am so close. We’ll see!

    Good luck. :) People should talk about how difficult breastfeeding is more often.

    Reply

  • Irina

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    ?????? ????? ?? ?????? ?????? ???????. ?? ???? ??????????? ???? ???? ( ??????????????) – ?????? ? ??? ?????, ? , ??????, ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ?? ???????)

    ?????? ??? ? ????? ??????? ??????????? ???????, ??????? , ?????, ?????? ??? ??? ?? ???????? ?????)

    Reply

  • angelica

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    Wow, this post made me remember what a coward I was towards breastfeeding, my son was born premature at 34 weeks, and he was in the hospital for a week, by the time he started feeding at the hospital, they had already given him formula in a bottle, I hated that, I hated it when I saw them take out the bottle and prepare him formula. I tried but it was not enough, my baby wouldn’t latch at all and I was just so overwhelmed with him being so tiny, and so worried he might die if he didn’t feed enough, so after a month of weak pumping, I gave it up and fed my son with formula, I regret it so much, I didn’t have information, nor supportive people, just people telling me that I should be able to do it, that it wasn’t that hard… I feel like crying over this and it has been 16months since my son was born, I wish I had the experience of feeding my son from my body, I bet it must feel awesome to realize that you provide what your daughter needs… I hope that with my next (and last) birth, I am as dedicated and brave enough to Exclusively Breastfeed as you… I want to, its like a dream I wish it would come true.
    And had I known that latching and supply issues will establish in a 6 week period, perhaps I would have had the strength and bravery to keep trying. I was just too scared for my son’s life and scared that he would starve to death… he was so tiny… snif snif…

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      You know what’s sad? That in US it’s not encouraged to have premies be fed with mothers’s milk! Most hospitals won’t even allow it. They just give formula. It’s well known in the scientific community that premies do better if breastfed or bottle fed expressed milk and most european countries practice kangaroo care and feeding of mothers milk and yet our country has such a fucked up attitude towards breastfeeding that these studies are ignored.
      I’m sorry you had a bad experience. It certainly isn’t your fault and I wish you better luck next time!

      Reply

      • Michelle

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        Where did you get this info? Because in my experience, that is just not true. I had a friend who had a micro preemie (her daughter was born at 24 weeks) and she was given BM. She also has beautiful pictures of them doing kangaroo care. Any mother I have ever known has given BM to their babies in the NICU, if that was their desire. I’m not saying that supplementing with formula may not have been encouraged, but to say giving BM was not encouraged at all is simply not the case.

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        • Jessica

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          I’d imagine that whether or not it’s discouraged probably varies from hospital to hospital, and some areas of the U.S. are perhaps not as…progressive?…in their approach. Welcome to my immediate area! lol Not only do the hospitals seem to *not* be really all that unmedicated-birth friendly, but you apparently also have to be pretty aggressive/assertive about breastfeeding a preemie to do it, depending on how early it was born. I don’t know this from PERSONAL experience, as I haven’t had a child yet, just from what friends have told me, and a couple of said friends have told me that giving their preemies pumped breast milk in NICU was an uphill battle. Based on their experiences, it doesn’t sound like the hospitals didn’t allow it, but rather that they did, indeed, discouraged it. My guess is that this is probably more prominent in rural areas, though.

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          • Jessica

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            *discourage, not discouraged

            Geez, the pregnancy-stupids have set in…I was smart 2 weeks ago… :/

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      • Anne

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        That’s not entirely true. One of my friends had a very early premie and she started to pump since day one. Due to the complications of being so early she would need different kind of feeding but eventually she receive Breast milk and started to breasftfeed. Also as soon as it was allowed by the doctors she started to kangaroo everyday.

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      • Rachel

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        I’m going to call you out on this one. I don’t think that’s true. I’ve worked in the hospitals and also had a good friend with a preemie. I had the joy of being with her for a lot of their NICU journey and the hospital STRONGLY encouraged pumped BM for preemies to feed through their NG tube.

        The freezers there were so overstocked with mother’s breast milk that while my friend’s baby was there, the NICU had to invest in another freezer.

        Preemie mothers were encouraged to use hospital grade pumps and they even let my friend take one home the entire length of her stay and for months after her daughter came home.

        A lot of hospitals and NICUs will ask for permission to mix formula (specifically Neosure style formulas) IN with breast milk feedings, yes, but your comment is not my experience at all.

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        • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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          I’m glad I am wrong in your experience. The only reason I said that is because of what I read and people I’ve talked to. Don’t forget different hospitals handle things differently.

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        • Joann

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          I had the same experience when my son was in the NICU. Pumps available for me, fridges in the room for storing milk for the baby. Free storage bags thrown at me all the time, a LC who visiting us every single day in there, etc… they want those preemies to get breastmilk.

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        • Jessica

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          Not sure if it was me that was being called out, but I wasn’t trying to start an argument; I was only saying what some of my friends told me. I don’t see what reason they’d have to lie about it. I’m 100% glad to hear that your experiences were way different. That doesn’t mean that it happens like that in every hospital across the nation.

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      • Joann

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        Totally not true. At all!

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      • Betsy's mom

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        This is totally false information. My preemie was born at 32 weeks. From the moment she was born I was (happily) nearly forced into giving her breast milk. I had a hospital grade breast pump in my hospital room before I was even in the room. I was told to start pumping within 2 hours of her being born and she was given breast exclusively while in the NICU. My preemie did not have 1 drop of formula while in the hospital. In fact, if my stocked up suppily became low, the nurses would call me in the middle of the night to come bring in some breast milk.

        Additionally, kangaroo care was part of her daily schedule. Every nurse asked about when we did our kangaroo care and encouraged it at least twice daily. I met with a lactation consultant almost daily and had tremendous support from my nurses and neonatalogists. Please don’t make generalizations. That may have been a poor hospital experience however it is not necessarily the norm.

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        • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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          Melissa, saying the word “MOST Hospitals” already doesn’t make it a generalization. Not all hospitals are breast friendly.

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      • Elizabeth

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        My daughter was born at 31 weeks over ten years ago. She weighed just under three pounds. Once she was stable, the NICU very much encouraged me to express breast milk for her. She thrived off of it. I pumped every few hours, stored it, then brought it to the NICU for them to pour into her feeding tube. After about a week, we did Kangaroo Care (skin to skin contact) daily for as long as she could tolerate it. The NICU she was in was a huge advocate for this practice and they gave me all kinds of literature supporting it.

        I joined several preemie support groups that were all over the country and almost all of the mothers had either heard of or were practicing Kangaroo Care and were encouraged to breastfeed their preemies. The catch here, though, is that a breastfed baby works harder at sucking and thus burns more calories nursing than a bottle fed infant, When you have a baby that weighs 3 pounds or less, burning those extra calories can cause their weight gain to be slower. So the information is out there, breastfeeding preemies and doing Kangaroo Care is definitely being pushed in the US.

        An interesting fact, the early breast milk from a mother of a preemie is typically higher in calories and fat than that of the mom of a term baby because a preemie needs the extra fat and calories to grow. It’s quite amazing what our bodies can do for our babies.

        Reply

  • rachel

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    Great post! I had a VERY similar experience and could not agree more with all of your points! We are still going strong at 23 weeks! YAY!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  • Angie P.

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    I have started reading your blog just a few months ago. I have loved all your posts. Also I find so many similarities to my experience!!! I have a 14 month old. There were so many things I read that said breasfeeding shouldn’t hurt or you’re doing it wrong. I appreciated my pediatrician so much when she said, don’t listen to them, breastfeeding will hurt in the beginning!!! Even if you are doing it all right there is no way to prepare your nipples for that amount of trauma. I thought, okay, I just wish someone had said that sooner. When my sister-in-law decided to breastfeed I told her what my pedi had said and how it got me through. It just struck me so hard because you are doubting yourself so much and having someone say, it’s okay, it’s going to hurt at first, for some reason really helped me.
    She still wants to night feed, thought I am trying to wean.
    About the bottle thing… I agree with other comments, I had to try a lot of different bottles before I found one she really liked. I had to go back to work at 9 weeks. I didn’t introduce bottle until 6 weeks, and it was hard to find the one she liked. I have read that you should try and introduce the bottle at 4 weeks, after that it gets harder because they are so set in their ways by then.
    Thanks again for your posts, love reading them and good luck!

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  • Verna

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    I have dark skin and all of my babies latched on correctly from the start (well at least 75% when they were brand new), and I felt toe curling pain! I was about crying with Garrett! It hurt so incredibly bad. It lasted 6 LONG weeks! With Avery it was only 4, but it still hurt! I was determined though! I don’t think I make very much fat so my babies never sleep very well, Avery still wakes up every 2 hours most of the night. Breastfeeding is HARD work! It is worth it though!

    Reply

    • Verna

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      Oh, Avery won’t take a bottle either. She’ll take 2 oz but that’s it. Garrett did great with them from the start. Both of my babies have been very easy going and if I left them for a little while they’ve always been fine. I don’t like leaving Avery for very long since she isn’t very good with bottles and probably wont’ leave her overnight until she’s weaned.

      Reply

  • Lauren

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    I loved this post! I could really relate to it! When I was learning to nurse my daughter in the hospital, all the “lactation nurses” said we had it down perfect even though it hurt a little. After a few days at home my nipples were cracked and bleeding and the excruciating pain of her latching on was worse than any of the pain I went through in labor! Every time I’d try to latch her on I’d make my husband come stand next to me and I’d grip his hand (almost breaking all of his fingers) to try and deal with the pain. After a week I didn’t think I could do it anymore. I knew her latch was messed up and that I needed help but I had pretty bad PPD and didn’t want to reach out to anyone. I felt like I had failed with breastfeeding but I decided to try a nipple shield before giving up completely (and resorting to exclusively pumping.) My daughter took to the shield perfectly and we used it for a few months until one day I decided I was sick of it, and I tried to get her to nurse with out it, and almost like magic she popped right onto the boob with a perfect latch. She turned 11 months yesterday and has never had a drop of formula!

    As for bottles. Well, that was a battle we chose not to fight. She took a bottle of pumped milk for a few months but then decided she wanted nothing to do with it (she never took to any pacifiers either.) I had to rearrange my school schedule and take more classes online and less on campus, and I couldn’t leave her for more than a few hours. But now that she’s eating solid food and taking a sippy cup the period of me not being able to leave her is behind us. However me missing her like crazy is not. ;)

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  • Lindsay

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    I feel like this is the first truly honest breastfeeding accounts ever written!! I breastfed for 4 months and it was one of the most difficult things, between the pain, always doubting your supply, over analyzing everything your newborn does, dealing with your still-healing body–it was so much! Thank you for being so honest about your experience! I felt like so much is sugar coated and that I was just a horrible mom for not being able to do it. Way to stick with it and I’m glad it’s going well for you now!

    Reply

  • Katie

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    Breastfeeding has its challenges. I breastfed my son for 18 months and in the beginning I wanted to give up so many times. I thought I had supply issues every day. It was hard to get away from him because he refused to take a bottle from anyone no matter what they were doing. Once we started solids at 6 months things got better. Hang in there!! You are doing an amazing job!

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  • Ann

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    I’m 9 months PP and it can still be hard to leave my daughter with anyone else for 2+ hours. She hates bottles and is still so-so with solids. But good for you for hanging in there! For me, the first 3 months were the hardest and then everything went uphill from there! I can tell you’re very determined to stick with it and you’re doing great!

    Reply

  • Sara

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    Oh my gosh, what you said about worrying about supply is so true! With my son, I over produced from the very beginning. I was soo engorged. But my fears were that he was getting full on the initial letdown, the thin milk, but not getting the cream- what comes at the end. As you say, diaper production & weight gain are the key indicators, but boy is that a hard one to get past. I’m hoping that if we ever have a second I won’t stress as much.
    P.S. I would like to say that the ‘don’t give up’ attitude applies to cloth diapering. It takes a while to figure it out, but it is so fulfilling!

    Reply

  • Lindsay

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    Elena,
    I love the honesty of this post. My son is almost 2 and I am still nursing him a lot. We had a very rocky start with absolutely no latch (bottles and formula and pumped milk). However, after a month he figured it out and he has since refused a bottle forever and has not had a drop of formula since.
    Random question, What carrier are you nursing alexis in, in the photo?

    Reply

  • Lisa

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    Thanks for the post. and good for you for sticking with it. It’s ironic, you wanted to keep breastfeeding no matter what and had so much trouble. My son breastfed like a champ from the start but he turned out to be lactose intolerant so I HAD to give it up even though I didn’t want to because it was making him sick. I’m glad it’s all sorted for you. From someone who has done both, i definitely think breast is best, and SO much more convenient. I hate having to wash and sterilize bottles and plan how many to take on outings etc. I guess the only real advantage is that he can be left with my mom while I go out once in a while and he doesn’t mind. Sounds like you are doing a great job being a mum and you are really getting to the best parts now. You have survived the first 8 weeks! That for me was by far the trickiest, you’ll get into a groove now. All the best!

    Reply

  • Sonya

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    This post brought back memories, my third day in I broke down and called my mom begging for any advice at all (she exclusively breastfed my siblings up until around 12-18 months depending on the child). My nipples were bleeding, scabbed, bruised, and my baby was hungry. I remember pinching the skin between my thumb and index! Thankfully after 3 weeks it got easier. But man, it’s so TOUGH!!!! It’s really a battlefield that you have to be prepared to get through. We had formula back-up as well – and eventually I gave it away. Which was pure relief!

    Reply

  • Becky

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    Great post! I went through many of the same issues that you did. My daughter was in the NICU for a week after she was born. In the NICU they gave her pacifers and bottles. I also had flat nipples and so we had a couple obstacles in the beginning of trying to get my nipples to work and her having nipple confusion. It was tough. I had formula in my house as a back up but I am proud to say that I breastfed for 14 months and she didn’t have an ounce of formula. My motivation was that it took so much work in the beginning I didn’t want that all to go to waste and give up. My daughter around 4 months started not wanting to eat again and LC thought she may be having nipple confusion again because I was second guessing myself with my milk supply and supplementing with pumped milk. So after 4 months she didn’t really have any bottles, it was all me. Luckily I am a stay at home mom so it wasn’t too big of a deal, but I hope Alexis will learn to take a bottle for you.

    Reply

  • Rebekah

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    Curious to know if you used or considered a nipple shield at any point when the pain got really bad? My son was premature and had trouble breastfeeding so they gave me a shield at the hospital and then he was finally able to nurse. The pros – there was no pain, he fed well, and breastfeeding was enjoyable right away. The cons – I think the shield did mess with my supply, and I had to supplement with formula after each feeding (although we did BF for over 6 months and then he weened himself probably due to a few different factors, one being that he was in daycare full time. Even though I pumped several times a day I could never pump more than 1-2 ounces at once). Other cons being that it was more difficult to nurse at night (have to turn on the light, clean the shield, adjust it ‘just so’ on the nipple, etc) and also harder to nurse outside of the house (just very high maintenance to get the shield on and adjusted, etc). Overall — I’m glad the shield helped me stick with breastfeeding and that it was a pain free, mostly positive experience. BUT I hope with my next baby (arriving next month) I can try WITHOUT the shield — and your post is inspiring me! I don’t want to use it as a crutch, but if I have a lot of trouble with nursing again, I’ll use the shield (but not supplement) again as a way to help. Anyway — curious if that was something recommended, considered, or ruled out based on some of the negatives associated with shields.

    Reply

  • Alyssa

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    I do not want to start an argument, not at all. I think it’s neat to be able to provide food for your child without cost.

    However, with everything you said, why oh why oh why do you breastfeed??? It sounds so incredibly painful, it sounds hard, it sounds like you are trapped in your house until you are “no longer the only source of food”.

    Other than $$ that it costs to purchase formula, why NOT use formula? Anyone can feed the baby then, no pain on your part, baby still gets nutrition it needs (formula is not poison!). Win. Win. Win.

    I honestly am not trying to post just to create an argument, I legitimately do NOT understand women who go on and on about how painful it is and how you are the only source of food, and are engorged, and can’t leave the house, etc; I do not understand why not to use formula.

    For the record, I have two kids (1 and 2 years old), both drank formula 100% except for baby #1′s first 3 days. I “tried” to BF but I knew right away that it wasn’t for me.

    Reply

    • Alyssa

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      ETA And there’s no question about “is baby getting enough?”

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      • Alyssa

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        ETA again: And no reason to change your diet (ie. eliminating milk products)

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        • Gina

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          Because once you have launched over the hurdles it’s 500 times easier than bottle feeding. You never have to buy formula, prepare bottles, make sure you have the necessary formula/bottles when away for the day or on a vacation. You never have to worry about formula recalls or broken water mains, finding the appropriate/safe water when away from home, losing power (or other unpredictable events that may prohibit properly making a bottle or getting formula), you pretty much never have to wake up to feed the baby at night, you get at least one year of nice full breasts :) Plus, the rewards are endless. Both health benefits and emotional ones. It’s worth it, that’s why we press on.

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          • Gina

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            And also, not every feels confined to their home or has to change their diet when breastfeeding. Everyone has a different experience.

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    • Kathy

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      @ Alyssa,

      Breastfeeding is best. Period. I’m assuming Elena wants to breastfeed because formula is not even remotely as good as breastmilk. She wants to give her daughter the best possible start in life, and that is not powdered corn syrup solids in a can! You want to know why even though it’s hard we breastfeeding women stick with it and press on? Because we are determined to give our babies what they deserve and need. Breastmilk is what nature intended for them. Sometimes, as mothers, we have to do things that aren’t easy for us and make sacrifices. Once you power past the initial hurdles though, it is SO worth it in the end! When my toddler finally weans, I will be so sad. It’s been a privilege to nurse him, not a burden or an annoyance.

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      • Heather

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        @Kathy, GREAT response!

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  • Kathy

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    Good for you! You are doing something so great and healthy for your baby girl. It is truly one of the best gifts you can give her. I have been happily nursing my son for 16 months now, and it is such an incredible bonding experience between the two of us. Keep up the great work! I wish more women were as dedicated. It might not be easy at first, but it is SO worth it.

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  • Sarah

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    Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I struggled with both my kids, but it was definitely easier the second time around. I dreaded feeding time because of the toe curling pain, but it did get better after about 2 months. I used breast shells, which were recommended by my LC which helped tremendously, and she also told me that fair skinned and red heads tend to be more sensitive, which I am both and agree. Nursing is amazing and give props to any mother who tries it, whether they are successful or it just doesn’t work for them. Good luck to you, enjoy it. The best thing ever is when they look up and smile.

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  • Prost to the host (alysia)

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    I love your bfing pictures! You will love these and smile when you finish this bfing journey. I also had a shallow latcher. E would open his mouth halfway and then expect a boob to fall in. I did my best to open his mouth further by doing the following, I would use my thumb to pull down his chin and his jaw would automatically open up (while still being latched…hungry kid). This would make a much better latch. Once, he realized more milk would come if he had a better latch, it became automatic. No more chin pulling. I hope this helps you too!

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  • Carrie

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    My experience with my son (my first baby) was pretty much exactly like this, other than he had weight gain issues and I had to supplement 3oz a day and had problems with PPD. The second baby, though she had latch issues and there was the same pain, etc, was soooo much easier. I don’t know if it’s because I knew it would get better, I didn’t have to supplement, or because at least I knew what I was doing, but it was much better the second time around.

    My daughter took one bottle a week until she was two months. One week before I went back to work she started refusing a bottle. We tried a million kinds of bottles and nipples and were finally able to get her to take were these http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-Essential-Plastic-Nurser-Nipple/dp/B00140BE3W/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1333605308&sr=8-3 The cheapest, ugliest little bottles :). The nipple is TINY which I think my daughter liked as she also had a narrow latch. She also seemed to prefer the latex nipple (much to my dismay). I’ve also heard the same about latex nipples being preferred from other mothers who had problems with their babe taking a bottle. It might be worth a shot. We were able to transition her to other bottles after a few months.

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  • Angie

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    I am currently pregnant with baby 8 and EVERY TIME we start breastfeeding it is just like that! The thing that helped me immensely was to have a nipple shell to wear after done so there is some healing time inbetween feedings and the cracking and sore nipples do not get stuck to the bra. I would put them in and feel like robot boob–but I was able to have significantly less pain due to less friction and no sticking and ripping off when it was time for nursing. Hope this helps someone…..

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  • Jamie

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    Great post. As always, love your honesty and the pictures are stunning. I didn’t leave my daughter much when she was that young. I wore her in the Ergo everywhere.

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  • shandi

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    Hi Elena,

    I have been meaning to comment/email you for months. First of all I have an 8 week old baby and have been following your blog since like week 18 or so of yours and my pregnancy. I found your blog to be so good and you to be someone I could relate to as I live in NY and am a fashion stylist and you aren’t the typical midwestern mommy freakish religious blogger. I love that you are young and pretty and into being a mommy but not too mommyed out. :))) Anyway congratulations on your beautiful Alexis. Oh yeah one more thing its beyond crazy but your pregnancy process has almost been exactly like mine from the first few months of morning sickness to weight gain etc.
    I had a totally similar experience with breastfeeding. It was sooo hard and I cried and cried for weeks and then suddenly it clicked. Also my son was tongue tied and had to have a frenulectomy which changed our lives. Now its something that I look forward to more than anything. Of course in NY there are so many resources so I attend Breastfeeding support groups as well still. I wanted to ask you about engorgement. I thought that my boobs were going to explode. I felt like out of everything having to do with pregancy including an all natural, drug free delivery, engorgement was the WORST thing I experienced. EVER!!!!!! Mine also lasted for like 10 days. The pain of raw cracked nipples coupled with a boob so deformed that the baby won’t and can’t latch is the worst. And the only way to relieve the horrible pain is for the baby to eat but they won’t . Anyway, I’m just wondering if you experienced that at all? Also can I ask if you will write about weight loss/ gain. I have always been super skinny like you and still have a belly and can’t quite fit into most of my pants (something you mentioned) . I thought it would all just “melt ” off with breastfeeding but not exactly. How do you feel about this ? Are you worried or just taking it all in stride.

    Thanks for your awesome blog.
    xxShandi

    Reply

  • courtney

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    That is absolutely untrue. My daughter was born at 33 weeks and as soon I was out of danger ( I was very sick), they moved me to the pp room, I had a lc in there. I sent my pumped milk to the nicu and they gave her that supplemented with the fortified formula. When I pumped enough milk, she only got that.

    I also had lc’s come every day to help me to try to get her to latch. When I went home, they sent me home with the hospital grade pump at no charge along with a ton of bottles so I could keep sending them to the nicu.

    Preemies need to eat so yes formula is given at first. It isn’t a bad thing. BFing a preemie is a whole different battle since they can have other issues. Nursing or even feeding isn’t natural for them.

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    • courtney

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      The nurses there also encouraged kangaroo care as well. I think whatever you read was wrong. I pumped exclusively for 6 months and am now pumping and supplementing.

      Reply

  • Chelsea

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    Oh my reading this just reminded me of nursing my first son! I remember all I kept hearing in my head when he couldn’t latch well was “Failur to thrive….failur to thrive.” That’s what the nurses and my own mother were saying to me. That if I couldn’t get a good latch then the little man wasn’t going to get enough food and he would have to be back in the hospital! Lucky for me just like you my husband was wonderful and always kept me going. There were so many tears thoug. BUT we made it to 8 months with my first. My second was a breeze! Latched the moment after he was born and my milk was laready there. Nursed him for 14 months!
    As for leaving baby I agree with you that if it’s too much on her then it may not be worth it. BUT mama and daddy have to be happy and well “rested”(mantally of course)….they need time togther. If your time together includes baby and you are BOTH fine with that then there is no problem. But if that’s not the case and you both need some time to just be hands free(no baby in them) then try once a month maybe for now while she is little. You may want to work on letting her get a bond woth the person you will try and leave her with. Not sure how long your mom will be staying so if there is someone else it may be a good idea to let them get to know eachother. My children have never(and will never) stay with someone I don’t know. I have read and seen too many abuse cases with baby sitters that I will never leave my child with someone I do not know. My kids have also shown that they don’t like to be left alone with people THEY don’t know. So just because I knew them didn’t mean that my children wanted to be left with them. Good tluck with everything. You are doing a great job :)

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  • GotMilk9

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    Just wanted to say I love your blog and thank you for your honesty in this post. My little guy is 4 weeks and I totally agree with everything you said. Breastfeeding is NOT easy and it DOES hurt! But the benefits to my child outweigh the toe-curling pain and for that I continue each day. I’m looking forward to getting to the 6-8 week mark though that’s for sure!

    Just have a question about pumping, cause it sounds like you did some of it quite early on. When did you pump? How many times a day? Did you pump on the side that Alexis didn’t feed from, or on the same side? (I’m hoping to introduce a bottle for occasions when I have to go out so I’m just seeing what others have done/do)

    Thanks!

    Reply

  • Jessica

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    I wish this post would have been around when I was breastfeeding my daughter. I had such a hard time. I dealt with oversupply, fast letdown, boob rejection, and sadly after 2 weeks, I gave up. I was never ok with the decision I had made, even to this day, I wish I would have just stuck with it and nursed her. But, about a month after putting her on formula, I hated my decision and had to find a way to get her off formula and back to nursing. And eventually I regained back a FULL suppy but I was never able to get her to nurse again, ever. She hated it and would only take a bottle. Sometimes, I wish things would have been different, because I miss the days when I did nurse her, all the time. I’m so glad everything is going much better for you, though!!!

    Reply

  • Rachel

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    This is really on the mark. I can’t even express how glad I am that you were able to be so honest about your experience and describe it so clearly and thoughtfully, while still conveying that you encourage women to breastfeed, not to be scared of it.

    You are right. It is impossible to know how HARD it is going to be before you are actually doing it. It is also impossible to describe to a mom-to-be how absolutely incredible of an experience it is, how worth all the pain, frustration, aggravation, self doubt and lack of sleep. My son is 15 months old now and I would give just about anything to be able to go back and tell my brand-new-mom-self not to give up no matter what.

    I was nodding my head in agreement with every single thing you wrote. I could have written it all myself, right down to the Hoover vacuum with the shallow latch. I left the hospital feeling so confident that he was a great eater and this was going to be a breeze…almost immediately once we got home, he started fussing. By his 1 week check-up, he had lost a whole pound and our pediatrician told me we had to supplement with formula and that was the beginning of the end. My supply, which was never great to begin with due to my son’s latch, first-time-mom stress, my developing PPD and my c-section, was suffering. I tried to pump, but was only getting an ounce at a time, my son continued to not gain weight, I continued to supplement more out of concern that he was starving, I felt like a failure as a mother and a woman, I beat myself up over it terribly. We made it 6 weeks. The day he turned 6 weeks old, I nursed him for the last time. I was sobbing and my heart was breaking, but I was convinced I was failing him and needed to do whatever it took to give him what he needed. Why did I listen to my mother-in-law, the pediatrician and everyone else who told me it was ok to stop? If I just would have given it one more week, I know now, that like you said, it would have gotten easier. But I didn’t know that then! I thought it was me, that I would never be able to make my son thrive….thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being honest. I wish I had someone tell me all of what you just wrote before I let myself give up.

    Good Luck to you and your family. Alexis is beautiful and you are doing a great job.

    Reply

  • Sarah

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    Thank you for this honest and informative post. I’m also typing one handed while I nurse my 1 month old daughter :) My daughter is having the same difficulty being left with others. I had the exact same experience of going to see The Hunger Games and coming back to a baby who had been inconsolable when I was gone. It’s not that she refuses the bottle–she immediately drinks everything I leave, but it doesn’t calm her like the boob. She is going to day care at 13 weeks when I go back to work and I am terrified! I’ll be checking back to see if you get any good advice on this issue and to follow Alexis’s journey – thanks.

    Also, and forgive me if you have already answered this and I missed it, are you using nursing pads? If so, what kind? I’m small breasted/small frames and everything I try is too bulky and annoying, But I need something to stop the leaks!

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  • Camille

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    Good for you!! I wish I had read this before I had my daughter. I ended up supplementing and killing my supply. But we eventually made it work in the end and she went on to breastfeed for 3 years, she actually just weaned a week ago. :) I think more women need to get their story out there. If I could have read about more women going through the same things and not giving up, I could have saved both of us a lot of trouble.

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  • Jessi

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    I gave my son (now 19 months old) breast milk only until he was one year old. I unfortunately had to return to work when he was 9 weeks old. Because I knew I was not going to have a choice about it, I had my husband start giving him BM bottles around 3-4 weeks while I was home with them. After doing that 1-2 times a day consistently from 2-3 weeks he got to the point that he realized “just because momma isn’t here doesn’t mean there is no food”. I think one thing that really helped is that we gave him one consistent “security object” (a stuffed buffalo his grandparents got at the grand canyon right before his due date) every time he got a bottle so that became associated with food/comfort instead of just my boobs. So I think it’s not so much “he was just ok with it” or “do what you have to do”, as it was making sure I prepared him as early as possible to make him ok with what we were going to need to do.

    I ended up switching to exclusive pumping fairly early on due to convenience/schedule issues. I worked a non-traditional shift and quite honestly, I hated nursing. I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I am one of those lucky bitches who had ZERO problems but just didn’t enjoy it. I had no latch issues, no engorgement, full milk supply in at day 2, no trouble pumping… infact I produced insane amounts of milk. (60+ oz a day pumping). I just didn’t have that cozy bonding feeling over nursing.
    After my experience, I encourage any woman who just can’t handle breast feeding for whatever reason to give exclusive pumping a solid try. While not quite as good as nursing (no auto adjustment of fat nutrient adjustment throughout the day) it is a darn good second best!

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    • Jessi

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      And to this day he still sleeps with that buffalo every night, “talks” to him when he is angry or frustrated, and snuggles with him any time he is tired or hurt. :) it’s pretty adorable.

      Reply

  • Sarah F

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    This sounds almost exaaactly like my experience–he nursed every 45 minutes consistently for weeks on end; I was blistered, bleeding, wanted to cry every time he wanted to eat again. It was hard, but it is definitely worth it! My son is now 8 months old and is still breastfed. It was worth all of the pain and frustration! And it IS super hard to remember diaper count and weight gain are all that is important. So many of my friends supplemented so they felt better, but then their supplies tanked. I couldn’t pump at all so that was an added challenge. Anyways, great job sticking with it! We deserve a pat on the back. :)

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  • ML

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    As a mother who breastfed a baby for over a year, I really enjoyed your post. I am pregnant again, and probably looking forward to breastfeeding more than anything…I love it. But your post reminded me what it was like to be a new breastfeeding mother. I admire your perseverance and dedication, even through the tough times. Nothing can prepare you for the initial adjustment period for both you and the baby. Nothing can prepare you for the challenges you can face breastfeeding a newborn, and it was nice to read your honesty and to hear you push through the tough times rather than throwing in the towel. As you have already seen, it DOES INDEED get easier…and will be come even easier and more rewarding with time. Contgratulations on creating a beautiful baby. Much love and encouragement-ML

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  • Janelle

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You just described perfectly everything that i’ve been going through the last few weeks. Only difference is my bub won’t take a boob with a nipple shield on without biting and crying, so i have only tried it a few times before giving up and gritting my teeth through the pain. I know the problem is that he has a shallow latch and while his top lip is flanged, i can’t see his bottom one and like Alexis, he just doesn’t open his mouth any wider. I was terrified i was going to do some real damage to my nipples by persisting with this poor latch but no matter how many times i tried relatching, it would only be a fluke i’d get a good latch and then he’d move his head and ouch. We’re approaching 6 weeks old now and i was so glad to read that the pain got less for you, and for lots of your readers, at 6-8 weeks. I am really looking forward to that now.

    Thank you again for writing this. You’ve given me hope :)

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  • Tina Osborne

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    I solely formula fed both of my girls (ages 2 and 6 months), and I have been thinking about what I really want for my next baby. I love how honest you are, because the thought of breastfeeding isn’t something I take lightly normally. I have a severe anxiety about PPD (I know that nursing is a natural antidepressant, but I wasn’t taking chances), and, with a husband in the military, deploying shortly after birth for both girls, I wanted to make the first six months something that we would remember without the fear of waking up one day and realizing I hated everything and everyone. (Back to my point LOL) I have decided that the next baby will be different. I want to at least TRY to nurse, I want to actually find cloth diapers that a child of mine can fit into (Charlotte and Aidynn are both built like linebackers; VERY broad, and neither one fit into the diapers I had ordered). This blog, and this post in particular, are not only making me want to go through the baby journey again, but to do things I didn’t think I would ever do, or just things I didn’t really feel one way or another about. I love reading about your family, and the pictures of Miss Lexi are melting my heart. I started reading yesterday (at the very beginning) and read for at least 8 hours before calling it a night. Even though I know that she’s already 4 months old, I can’t help but want to suck up all the information you give out. :)

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Awwww Christina thank you! I’m so glad you’re finding useful information here! Our journey just like yours was is a lot of trial and error, but we are figuring it out :)

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  • Diana

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    I have to say I’m currently wiping up tears from bawling my eyes out while reading this! I am having the EXACT same problem currently with my second child. I had minor problems with my first that cleared with reading, support, and determination. Now, with my second, those problems now seem silly. I honestly thought that breast feeding the second time would be a breeze especially since they’re only 13 months apart. I’ve been to several LCs and have been given the same advice until finally, one said “honestly, you have to think to yourself everyday, his mouth is bigger today than yesterday….you’ll get there.” we are also struggling w reflux, a child that won’t lie on his back, wants to nurse 24/7, and is generally fussier/needier than our first. Not to mention, handling a toddler and a newborn at the same time….
    That being said, I’m so glad I came across this blog this morning after yet another relentless night, sore nipples, dried spit up all over my chest, and feeling like I just want to give up on breastfeeding. Thank you!

    Reply

  • Rockie

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    Thanks again for this post! When you first posted this I made a comment that I would probably refer back to this! Reading it the first time I obviously didn’t fully “get it” this is definitely one of those situations that until you don’t have the baby you don’t get. For some strange reason the only thing that stuck with me about this post was the immense pain you talked about and I think its bc everyone else around me talked a lot about the pain too. So when I started bf’ing and my nipples started to bleed I wasn’t shocked. However I kept beating myself up that the nurses and the lc’s in the hospital all kept pressing on that it’s not supposed to be painful. It seemed like everything I read had disappeared from my mind. We’ve been breastfeeding for 3 weeks now and of course we have not established breastfeeding yet. After our convo a few days ago it has certainly put my mind at ease a bit and this post totally nails it in terms of everything I’m dealing with. The countless amounts of feeding, the flailing and fussiness and the over supply! Just wanted to say this post really helped me realize I’m not going crazy. However those initial crazy thoughts have now been replaced with others such as painful let down, thrush mastitis! Lol! I swear this breastfeeding business can be real exhausting both physically and mentally. But it’s worth it! Awesome, awesome post! Looking forward that by week 6 things should get on to a better point!

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  • Heather

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you, and a million times over THANK YOU! I just had my 3rd baby and you’d think I’d learn how this breastfeeding thing all goes down but I still haven’t gotten it. And your post completely summed up my thoughts and experiences. And I have felt like I am doing everything wrong, but reading your words helped me realize that its ok. Breathe. Keep going. It’ll be ok. Thank you!

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  • Sage Moreno

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    So glad I found your blog! I’m a first time Mom due in October and like you I am doing my research since I want to breastfeed 100%. This post was definitely helpful and I love the fact that you weren’t afraid to tell all, the good and bad, being a first time mom I want to know what I’m in for. So thankyou!
    -Sage

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  • Heidi

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    My son is 2 weeks and 4 days old, and this is EXACTLY what I am going through. He’s had a shallow latch from day 1, and I can’t for the life of me get him to open up wide or approach the boob chin first. Yesterday he started screaming and fussing at the breast–he would not be satiated. I tried pumping and only got a few drops after 25 minutes. I was in tears. I broke down and gave him a single ounce of formula, balling my eyes out the entire time. I’m making an appt with an LC today. I feel so encouraged by reading your experience, and it’s help firm up my resolve to avoid supplementing–I was just so convinced I was starving him! I’m hoping it will get easier in a few weeks.

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Hi Heidi!

      I am so glad this helped. As you can tell my supply is awesome now because even though I mistakenly thought supple was low, somehow I got through without supplementation.

      STAY STRONG! It gets awesome!

      Reply

  • Joanna

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    This is a great post, and it’s something I could have written myself a few months ago. I wish I had known about it then, because no one I knew had gone through what I did, and I had so many people tell me to give up. Everything you experienced was exactly what happened to me, and like you, it was only time that helped.

    Unlike you, I gave in to to the supply issue problems because I really thought she was hungry. I ended up supplementing the evening feed with formula and going on a very low dose of a lactation drug (legal and very used here in Canada). I realize now that she was just trying to estabish supply, and so wish I hadn’t given in! However, the drug helped me to eliminate formula completely until now, which makes me happy. I’ve just come off of the drug and my daughter is now 8.5 months and I am down to one feed a day, which breaks my heart. I so wish I could breastfeed for longer, but I’m taking it one day at a time.

    I’m going to bookmark this post so I can read it again when I have baby #2 :)

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  • Julie

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    Wow, I feel like I’m reading about my own experience!! My little girl (also Alexis, now 8 months), was a barracuda from day 1. I remember it being unbelievably painful and everyone just kept saying it wasn’t supposed to hurt, and ‘does it really hurt that bad?’ Ugh! It hurt terribly for the 1st 5 weeks. In the first few weeks, when my husband was home, I would make him pinch my arm while Lexi latched to try to distract me. I was covered in bruises!! The LC looked at me like I was insane when I told her why I was all bruised! She also said my nipples looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to them :(. I too was absolutely determined to continue bf’ing exclusively. I ended up using nipple shields, and going through a few different brands till I found one that worked. It still hurt, but was slightly more bearable, and I think easier on Lexi too, as I wasn’t tensing up so much. Glad to know someone else had a similar experience! (well not glad for your pain, but you know what I mean)

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  • Rebekah

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    Thank you for this. <3 My 9 week old son has had a shallow latch ever since he was born, and I've gone through about 4 weeks of nipple shield use, two bouts of mastitis, and A LOT of pain! We even went last week to get his posterior tongue tie snipped in the hopes that he'd latch deeper afterwards.

    Nowadays, I'm feeding normally throughout the day, but using nipple shields at night. Like Lexi, my son also tucks his top lip under, and I'm pretty sure this is due to the nipple shields.

    It's nice to read that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm stubborn and determined, and I want to make it to at least 6 months without pumping. So, with time at least, things will (hopefully) get better, and I'm hoping I'm now through the worst of it!

    Thank you. xxxxxxx

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  • Jesse

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    Dear Elena,
    Thank you so much for this post (and others that I’m about to scour through!). My first baby girl, Isobel, is 2.5 weeks old and we are having identical issues as you described–she was a boob magnet from day 1, but lacks in technique (exactly what you say–>tends not to open wide (ever) unless she’s already wailing and slips down to the nipple mid-session!).

    Your advice to tough it out and trust that things will normalize echoes a couple of other friends and online sources, and I’m happy to go with this advice and give myself (and baby Bel) a break for the next 3ish weeks.

    I look forward to encouraging other new moms in this! Thanks for your commitment to your blog and using your experience to help others.

    peace, love and boob obsession from the Mile High City,
    Jesse

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  • Jackie

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    We have a one week old now that was born 5 weeks preterm. We’ve had issues latching on from the get go and in the first 4 days home he only gained an ounce. I am able to breastfeed and pump after eah feeding as I’m trying to increase my milk supy which has definitely been a success. However, the pediatrician wants us to start supplementing 3-4 feedings a day with 1oz. of pumped breast milk by bottle. I feel like my baby and I have made lots of progress over the last few days and the bottle feeding hopefully is helping him gain weight. My major concern is that our baby may get nipple confusion from the bottle. My husband is all for bottle feeding and I try to explain my concerns to him but I don’t think he gets it. I don’t want to end up exclusively pumping and feelin like a cow. I am afraid that it might make me give up on breastfeeding completely if he ends up giving up the breast in favor of a bottle since its easier. I don’t mind nursing and pumping and supplementing as we are now but exclusively pumping sounds terrible. I enjoy the time I get to spend nursing my son (even with the shallow latch and terrible pain this first week–though it seriously has improved 10 fold! Either that or I’m just getting used to it) My husband is an awesome dad and totally hands on with the baby which is wonderful and I think he likes being able to bottle feed since it mskes him feel more involved but I don’t think he inderstands how it can potentially thwart all of the progress we’ve made breast feeding so far. I try to give him tips on how to bottle feed in a way that won’t make the baby give up the breast but I can tell he thinks I’m being an overbearing know it all mother and he’s getting super frustrated with me. Any thoughts/advice?

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Hi, Jackie!

      I think the most helpful thing is convincing your husband that you in fact know what you’re talking about would be to let/make him read some material on breastfeeding. On the fact that nipple confusion is a real thing, on benefits of nursing ( not just feeding breastmilk but actually nursing). It’s hard for men to follow something they haven’t learned the reasons for. And if he doesn’t believe you, show him some studies, statistics, books, resources. Sit him down and make him read. In the end you’re the mother and you ( and I) know you’re doing what’s best- which is making sure that you don’t sabotage your new breastfeeding relationship.

      In your “career” of being a mom, you will, surprisingly, encounter hundreds of people doubting “your way” of parenting, doubting the knowledge you have. You might as well get used to it and learn to deal with it.

      I learned that for my husband what works best is having him read books beforehand or telling him what I read about before we encounter a problem. So like bfing books were read and discussed prior to giving birth, introduction to solids books were read and discussed before we started feeding our baby solids, etc etc

      Good luck!!!

      Reply

  • Paula

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    I just wanted to say that kudos for you for hanging in there, but you might want to look at mobimotherhood.org. Sometimes babies come with a latch problem because of muscle tone issues or other problems, this is something that might not be clear to an IBCLC but would be clear to a therapist who deals with feeding issues in infants. It is sad that the healthcare system is so fragmented that they can’t cover it all, but it might be important to check this before having another baby. Just a thought.

    Reply

  • Ashley

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    Just found your blog the other day and really enjoy your posts. This was an excellent post on breast feeding. I also let others know how tough it really is but how worth it and how thankful I am that I stuck w it. I’m nursing my 3.5 mon old (my first) as I type this :)

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    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Thank you, Ashley! Good luck on the next few years of breastfeeding. There are challenges along the way, but just like in the beginning it’s worth it :)

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  • Amanda

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    I know this is a really old post, but i found this when googling about painful shallow latch and it helped me soo much. My little guy was only a few weeks old at the time (he’s now almost 19 months…took me long enough to comment!!!!) and it was such a relief to know there was an end in sight. I loved this post and have been a loyal reader since. Thanks!

    Reply

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