what you don't hear about breastfeeding: part 1

whenever i talk to expectant moms, there are so many things i want to say about breastfeeding. first, i am always curious as to whether or not someone will be breastfeeding -- but i never ask. as much as i am a lactivist, i think the question is horribly rude. i was asked this question so many times when i was pregnant by people i hardly knew, and although i never planned on doing anything but breastfeeding, the question bugged me. what if i am? what if i'm not? what does it matter to you? what bugged me more were the women who, after informing them that i certainly was breastfeeding, said, "it was just an awful experience for me. i only lasted two weeks." geez. well thanks for the encouragement.

so while i have very many things to say about breastfeeding, i try not to be in-your-face about it unless i know whoever i am talking to is interested in what i have to say. being pushy and annoying doesn't get anyone anywhere. being understanding and knowledgeable does. so here's what i would say to any mothers making the [best and most beautiful and wonderful!] decision to breastfeed.

breastfeeding is not always easy
especially if you did not grow up around breastfeeding mothers. my mom breastfed all of her children, and nearly all of her friends breastfed as well, and so i was used to seeing it and being around it. without even knowing i knew, i knew what a proper latch looked like, i knew what a good hold looked like, and to me, breastfeeding was [and is, of course] the most natural thing in the world. bottle feeding was always strange to me. [all of my mom's kids "nursed" their baby dolls when they were little. :)]

river nursed within ten minutes of being born and he had a great latch right away. the only "problem" i had with him was not knowing exactly where the nipple was, and so he would get a little frantic and sometimes it took a few minutes before he was nursing properly. sometimes he would accidentally fall off the breast and i would have to go through the ordeal of latching him on all over again. and for many months, i had to correct his lips by pulling them out, so they wouldn't be tucked under the nipple. all of these were just small bump in our journey.

the one time i had a lot of trouble latching him on was when he was one day old. for some reason, he was preferring my right side and absolutely could not find my left nipple. we tried for maybe twenty minutes. i was in tears. he could just not get it. it was the most heartbreaking, frustrating thing. and it was only for one night! the next day, everything was fine. but for some women, this is the case for a long time. it is easy to get discouraged -- but don't. in very rare cases is a baby not able to latch on, or do a woman's breasts not produce enough milk. our bodies were made to breastfeed. there are obstacles, but they can most always be overcome. god made your breasts for breastfeeding your children -- and you are not broken. it's important to keep in mind that any problems with breastfeeding are most likely temporary.

sometimes, it just hurts
i was told so many times before i had river, "if it hurts, you're doing something wrong." while pain is a big indicator that your baby may not be latched on properly, sometimes it just hurts because it hurts. my entire pregnancy, my nipples were extremely sensitive. i couldn't stand it when i put a shirt on and the fabric lightly brushed up against my chest, because it hurt so bad. so when river was born, it took time for that pregnancy symptom to go away, and breastfeeding was very painful for about two and a half months. i had my midwife check river's latch and we were both doing everything right. but it was still painful. the pain will not last forever, and some women don't experience pain at all. sometimes it just takes more time for your nipples to toughen up.

early breastfeeding made me feel nauseous
i was totally not expecting this one! in the early stages of breastfeeding [birth to about three months] whenever i would start feeding river, i would get nauseous and light-headed and felt like i needed a drink NOW! it wasn't a feeling that lasted long, and it was never that bad, i just didn't feel right. i looked it up, and it's actually pretty common. this is your body telling you it needs more of something -- in my case, fluids. when i got a drink, i was fine. remember, your body is first taking care of your baby. you need to eat and drink enough for yourself and that other tiny little body! 

i know i'm the queen of having "part one" blog posts, and never posting the other parts...but this time i swear i have more! i just don't want to scare people away by writing a novel. ;)


  1. I enjoyed every word of this. I also don't believe in being pushy or preachy, but rather being understanding, knowledgeable, and supportive.

    I also had a lot of pain with my first weeks of breastfeeding, despite proper latch and no other problems. With me second baby, I had hardly any pain at all. I think my nipples must have toughened up ;)

    Something people don't talk about that I would like to hear about more is that the physiology of the baby's mouth and jaw can affect latch. Having an underbite, overbite, or other oral problems might not be obvious at first, but can create obstacles to successful breastfeeding. I think a nipple shield can be useful in certain situations such as these.

    I am grateful that both of my babies latched well and with ease. Though I had a bit of pain and a couple of bouts of mastitis, breastfeeding has been am amazing gift for me and my babies.

    Thanks for writing your blog! I really enjoy it.

  2. I think this is great Whitney. You are so encouraging to me. I was the oldest growing up and by only 19 months and my mother didn't breast feed my little sister. I was never around it but have always known that this is what I want to do for my children. Seeing other moms (like you) taking a stand to do what is best for baby is great.

    Also I commented because I hate when the blog says "1 comments" really is that hard to write a program that leaves off the "s"? I always am tempted to add comments to my blog so it doesn't look so... so... so silly.

  3. Great post! It is so important for Moms to know and expect breastfeeding to be hard. It surely is a challenge. It's so, so worth it, too.

  4. well said.

    ahh yes, the extreme "IM DYING OF THIRST" feeling... some nursing sessions i chug down 36oz of water!

  5. lisa, before you, i had yet to hear of anyone who experience so much pain for so long! most everyone says the pain goes away within the first few weeks, and for me, it just didn't. i'm hoping the next time around, my nipples will just be used to it. and thank you so much, i am always so happy to hear that someone enjoys reading my blog!!

    thanks cassidy, you are going to make an AMAZING mommy. god designed you to be a mother.

    erin, yes yes, completely worth it!

    rachael, bahaha YES!



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