Breastfeeding is so easy. After all, it’s one of the most natural things in the world. After a bit of practice, everyone should be able to do it with a blissful smile on their face.
Are you laughing yet? Or wanting to send me hate mail?
The truth is, breastfeeding is hard.
For some moms, breastfeeding is difficult in the beginning and then it gets easier. For others, the battle is fought for months before deciding to stop. But whether you nursed for one day or four years, the whole experience isn’t without struggle. And those who say different are lying. Or need a roundhouse kick to the boobs.
If you want to know what breastfeeding is really like you need to hear it firsthand from the mouths of parents who have been there and back.
"The first couple weeks are pretty rough when your nipples are constantly being sucked on and are so sore. And if your baby is fussy you wonder if it's because you’re not making enough for them." - Becky B.
"After the initial pain, the biggest issue was trying to find places and time to pump while I was working which is why it didn't last long. I was a young mom with an irregular work schedule." - Samantha G.
"We had to use a supplemental nursing system during the first month because she just couldn't stay awake long enough to eat what she needed to gain weight. We started bottles right away just to force her to eat, so I had to pump around-the-clock for months. It's one thing to nurse your baby in the middle of the night, but waking up to pump is a whole different story." - Meagan L.
"No one ever mentioned lip or tongue ties or shallow latches. No one ever said PCOS could give me a low supply and that no matter how often I tried to nurse or what supplements I tried, it wouldn't help increase my supply. No one told me I'd feel like my body was failing at something it should do naturally. No one told me I'd feel guilty for wanting to quit." - Jessica M.
"We battled a crack that turned into a crater on the side of my nipple for almost eight weeks before it was finally fully healed. I also went through food allergies and avoided her trigger foods in my diet for a year before she could at least tolerate them being in my milk." - Carrie F.
"The hardest part was frequent nursing, mostly for comfort, and it felt like she was attached to my boob 24/7." - Miranda D.
"I hated breastfeeding. I never made enough milk. My baby enjoyed it, but I never did. I would end up sore, would pump and get nothing, nurse him again, have a starving baby, and repeat. I was finally able to convince myself I was a good mom and breastfeeding wasn't for me, or my son." - Autumn E.
For something so natural, it felt like it shouldn't have been so hard.
"My biggest struggle has been waking up at all hours of the night. My son is almost six months old and still very sporadic with his sleeping habits. On the nights he sleeps straight through I still have to get up and pump or I wake up engorged. I haven't had more than five hours of consistent sleep since he was born." - Savanna H.
"My little one never took a bottle. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not an awful issue to have, but in the early days when Mama could really use a break, it’s hard knowing that at maximum you get two to three hours away from your baby before you have to get back." - Linda M.
"I had an oversupply and overactive letdown that was created from too much pumping because I was scared of under-supply. It caused her to hate my boobs and love her bottles. She would scream when I tried to nurse her. I thought it was over for us, but somehow used all the tricks to get her back on track." - Rebecca R.
"At almost three years, the absolute worst is my friends making snide comments about it being time for her to quit nursing." - Michael B.
"For something so natural, it felt like it shouldn't have been so hard. My lactation consultant was over-cautious and thought that our baby had a heart defect because he was a slow nurser which made me even more anxious. I spent the majority of my maternity leave stressed out. It's crazy how quickly you can forget the struggles of breastfeeding once it gets easier." - Laura C.
If you're worried you'll have trouble, or are currently struggling with nursing, take heart. Find a good lactation consultant, join a group and lean on experienced nursing moms. Most of the time, the hurdles can be overcome. And if not, your baby will be still be OK. Whether you're formula-feeding, exclusively pumping or breastfeeding, you'll inevitably watch them eat a suspiciously stale Cheeto off the floor when they’re older anyway, so it's all good.