Never Quit Breastfeeding on a Bad Day
Before I started breastfeeding, I heard “never quit breastfeeding on a bad day”. I filed this advice away, not because I thought I would need it, but because I thought it was odd so it stuck out in my mind.
You see, pre-baby, my knowledge of breastfeeding was really limited. I’d only ever really seen breastfeeding in pictures. And of course, in those pictures the baby was snug at his mother’s breast as she looked down at him in peace.
I had a pretty harsh wake up call when my son was born and I started breastfeeding. I had so many misconceptions, the biggest of all being that it would be very easy! It turns out my vision of breastfeeding was really idealized. I didn’t grow up around breastfeeding women and not many of my friends breastfed, so I didn’t know any better.
Breastfeeding isn’t Easy!
Breastfeeding is a learned skill for moms, and for many, it is not easy to learn. I struggled a lot with latch issues and pain. Beyond that, since my expectations were so out of line with breastfeeding reality, I also struggled with behaviors that are actually normal, like prolonged cluster feeding, difficulty with overactive letdown, or frequent night wakings.
But Don’t be Discouraged….
I don’t want to discourage anyone from breastfeeding by writing this list – and I don’t want to be interpreted just as a complainer (but maybe that’s a fair assessment). My aim here is to share a real perspective on breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is on the rise and I hope it returns to being the norm so we can be better prepared to breastfeed our offspring. Had I understood breastfeeding and had realistic expectations, nursing my son up to this point would have been more pleasant and saved me a lot of tears. (If you haven’t begun breastfeeding, I recommend reading 5 Things I’d Wish I’d Known Before I Started Breastfeeding.)
Following is the list of my toughest times with breastfeeding. As I look at the list I realize each item sounds pretty inconsequential, but in the moment I was thisclose to giving up breastfeeding. I was struggling with pain and latch issues on top of the typical sleep-deprived-new-parent feeling so each of these difficulties merited a very teary call to my doula or a sob on my husband’s shoulder. I’m lucky I was surrounded by supportive people.
11 Reasons I Almost Quit Breastfeeding
- When it felt like he was feeding for hours on end, and he actually was
- When the pain was so bad I cried each and everytime time he latched on for a feed
- When two different lactation consultants told me our latch ‘looked good’ but the pain was still unbearable
- When I would wake up in the middle of the night so hungry I would eat an entire pizza (see my healthy snack alternatives)
- When I sweat uncontrollably and experienced hot flashes at the start of each feeding
- When we went through the phase where he’d claw at my breasts while feeding and actually draw blood
- When I pumped at 3am, got enough milk for a whole bottle, and then spilled it all on my bed
- When I was frustrated with pumping daily at work
- When he started teething and bit my nipple for the first time (and second, and third)
- When he continued to wake up several times per night to nurse after his 1st birthday
- When I had to be sure I was wearing clothes that I could breastfeed in every time we went out together
I Have Continued to Breastfeed!
16 months into breastfeeding my son, I can say the benefits and positive moments certainly outweigh the challenges, but it wasn’t an easy journey. I am amazed at myself sometimes – I’ve gone from actively telling people how much I hate breastfeeding to actively telling them how much I love it.
I am proud of myself for sticking with breastfeeding. My own stubbornness was a big factor, as well as willingness to seek help and learn. But, I truly believe more education and information up front would have set me up for better success, and kept me away from the brink of quitting so many times.
This is the main reason I created this website – to help share information on breastfeeding and offer support to anyone else who is struggling. There will always be challenges, but the more we talk about breastfeeding the more we can normalize it and ensure everyone is better informed.
Have you struggled with breastfeeding? What made you want to give up? Share in the comments below!
Just getting started with breastfeeding or working on it long term? These articles may help…