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Breastfeeding Supply Issues

Breastfeeding & 10 Things I Wish Somebody Had Told Me About It

By Amalah

10 Things I Wish Somebody Had Told Me About Breastfeeding

…or at least, I wish somebody made sure that I was paying attention when they did try to tell me.

1. Your first time breastfeeding might not be magical.

You may be tired, in pain, drugged up, blissed out, numb from the waist down and/or getting stitched up in various places when a nurse grabs your boob and your baby’s head and WHOOMPH: she mashes them together while you hold your hands over your head, like. Whoa. Then the baby starts to suck which is pretty crazy, and then you hear that first swallow, like. Whoa. There’s milk in there, but overall it’s okay if you find the first nursing session to be mostly supremely kind of weird.

Illustration by Secret Agent Josephine

2. Your baby is born knowing how to suck, not latch.

Totally a huge distinction. We mothers put a huge burden on ourselves over breastfeeding and doing it “right,” but forget that there are two people in this equation. Sure, one of them is small and squishy and kind of alien-like, but he has to learn how to breastfeed, just like you. He knows how to suck, but his mouth is small and his aim is terrible. At some point, your job will begin and end with just getting the boob in his general direction and he’ll take care of the rest. For now, though, you’ll need to help him learn to latch properly.

3. If you don’t ask for help, you will not get any help.

And to help your baby learn to latch properly? You need someone to teach YOU how to latch her on properly. There’s a trick to it, and I’m not even going to begin to try to describe it with words. There’s…compression and proper finger placement and upward pointing nipples and stuff. And NOT ONCE was a proper latch ever really and truly demonstrated for me at the hospital. My own lactation consultant, on the other hand, did and was WONDERFUL, but if I had only relied on the hospital LC services, I doubt I would have lasted a week at home on my own.

4. All. Purpose. Nipple. Ointment.

If you end up with nipple injuries that won’t heal, either from bad latches, pump trauma, chapped skin, whatever, ditch the lanolin and get a prescription for some APNO. Yes, you need a prescription (my Lactation Consultant was also a Nurse Practitioner, super convenient), and yes, you need to take that prescription to an old-school pharmacy that will make compounds. It’s worth it. It’s made up of two antifungals, an antibiotic and a steroid. Soothes pain, aids healing, prevents infection and fights thrush and other nastiness. Ahh, it’s good stuff.

5. Knowing the difference between “eating sucking” and “comfort sucking” can save your nipples from a lot of unnecessary wear and tear.

I know, I know. “Nipple confusion” and all that. I was terrified of it the first time and steadfastly refused a pacifier for days and days, until my boobs were crunchy burnt toast points of worn-down flesh. It. Was. Awful. I was determined to breastfeed my second baby but BY GOD, I was not going to end up with chunks of skin hanging off my nipples again. When Ezra started with the endless rooting, a nurse showed me how to use my index finger to “gauge” his sucking. Vigorous sucking with a lot of tongue action? Hungry. Give him the boob. Gentle sucking using mostly the lips and not the tongue? Comfort. Give him a pacifier or simply let him continue to suck on a finger or knuckle.

6. Yes, it hurts at first, but it will stop hurting. If it keeps hurting, something is wrong.

Some people will try to tell you that ANY pain while nursing means “you’re doing something wrong.” This is crap. See Thing Number Two. There’s a learning curve, and YOU can do everything right and maybe it’s the stupid BABY’S fault, okay? God. But after…uh, awhile (two weeks? ish?), your nipples will heal and engorgement will regulate and you’ll turn a corner and your toes will no longer curl in pain every time the baby latches on. If the pain continues, see a lactation consultant, stat. And while we’re on the subject….

7. Tongue tie! Tongue tiiiiiiie.

Thanks to the Internet and mommyblogs, I recognized my baby’s tongue tie (short frenulum) days before I could convince anyone in a white coat to check his mouth. A tongue-tied baby will not ever stick his tongue out past his lips. The tip of his tongue will actually be pulled back and under by the frenulum and resemble the top of a heart shape. Latching on will HURT. The baby will be unable to suck strongly enough to fully empty your breast.

An on-call hospital pediatrician dismissed my concerns and told me his frenulum would probably stretch out with time. True, except that he was not getting enough milk, not emptying my breasts would hurt my supply, and OH YEAH. IT EFFING HURT. (Some tongue ties DON’T resolve either, and can cause speech difficulties later on, rawr.) I refused to be ignored and luckily MY pediatrician was a tad more supportive of successful breastfeeding and recommended we get his tongue snipped. Two seconds and one indignant squawk later, Ezra’s tongue was fixed and nursing got awesome.

8. Take probiotics BEFORE you start nursing — before you give birth, even — to ward off thrush.

If you end up needing antibiotics for any reason at all, your risk of thrush is increased, though you can certainly get thrush without antibiotics. A probiotic supplement will keep the growth of candida in your system under control. I got thrush with Noah (it’s a burny/itchy kind of thing, like athlete’s foot in your nipple) (I KNOW), but not with Ezra, despite requiring antibiotics both times. With Ezra, I started probiotics about two weeks before he was born and continued them for about a month.

9. Oh my God, take a Tylenol already.

You CAN take many over-the-counter medications while breastfeeding. You CAN have some wine. (These things are fantastic, by the way.) You CAN eat fish and lunch meat and stinky cheese. You CAN breastfeed while sick. Not everything you eat and drink and consume ends up in your breastmilk, and even stuff that does (like alcohol) will pass both in AND out of your milk and may not require a pump-and-dump session 100% of the time. Learn what you can and cannot take. When in doubt, check for answers at breastfeeding support sites like Kellymom, but after the incredible paranoia and mile-long list of do’s and don’t’s of pregnancy, you’ll often be happily surprised to learn that breastfeeding is actually much more forgiving.

breastfeeding_baby.png10. When breastfeeding works, it is the awesome sauce.

Look, I could never exclusively breastfeed my first baby. I just couldn’t. I didn’t have the milk, no matter what I tried. He preferred bottles, he went on constant nursing strikes, I was never able to pump enough once I went back to work and dried up just like that. We limped along for five months, but I probably truly enjoyed nursing for two or three weeks, tops. My second baby has been a completely different experience. It is amazing. Powerful. Convenient. Inexpensive. Easy. Enjoyable. Wonderful.

And now I am in this weird space where I KNOW for a fact that breastfeeding doesn’t work for *every* mother and baby. I KNOW the frustration and the annoyance and the downsides and the thrush and the pain and all of that. But now I also know how absolutely wonderful it can be, and so I want to cheer every new mother on to not give up! Don’t give up! Yeah, it might not work, but oh! If it does work! You’ll be so happy you didn’t give up. So don’t give up.

Published April 14, 2009. Last updated January 14, 2018.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • jodifur

    April 14, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for acknowledging that not all babies nurse, and that it is not magical and easy for everyone. See no one told me that. And I had a baby that refused to latch. And if someone had just said that to me, my life would have been so much easier those first few weeks.
    Even though my baby is now 4, I love, love, love this column.

  • Brooke

    April 14, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I had a similar experience the first time around that you did, for different reasons. My son didn’t cooperate. I did everything I could possibly do and ended up feeling like a complete and total failure because of it. If it’s so beautiful! and natural! and blah blah, then why do I suck so much and can’t do it? In addition to having a son that didn’t catch on very well to latching, I lost my supply because we didn’t have any idea what we were doing – I didn’t know about the supply/demand, at least not as much as I should’ve known. So we supplemented formula early (like, in the hospital early) in favor of sleep and never recovered.
    The second time around? I knew what to expect. I knew it would be hard. I knew not to supplement. And my daughter was a flipping genius that caught on to latching extremely quickly. We still didn’t make it as far as I would’ve liked to – we made it to four months, when she got an ear infection and didn’t eat much for a week at the exact time that I went back to work and my supply dropped… and dropped some more.. and then she started to prefer bottles and the pump just doesn’t keep up my supply that well… and the end.
    So, yeah. Different experiences for every baby. Definitely. Live and learn. If it’s important to you, try it out.

  • Swankette

    April 14, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Thing number 11:
    Growth spurts suck in a really, Really, REALLY big way. And a week into it all, when maybe you feel like you and the kid are starting to get the hang of it all, the kid is going to spend a day or two just hanging off your boob. And it’s not that things are broken now, and it’s not what the rest of your breastfeeding life is going to look like. It’s just a growth spurt, and the sooner you recognize them the sooner you will regain your sanity when they happen.

  • Kari Weber

    April 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I LOVED breastfeeding my first son. He was easy, and I didn’t have pain or discomfort. He was also 9 days late, so was born almost a toddler!
    What no one told ME was what comes AFTER breastfeeding gets easy. Like, WHEN to pump to continue to keep up your supply. How often to pump, ways to pump effectively, etc. I had to go back to work when my son was 2 months old (I am a teacher) and pumping secretively in my dark classroom once a day (for fear the custodian would YET AGAIN forget and try to let a child into the room for a forgotten lunch box… requiring me to RIP the breastpump off myself and frantically rip my shirt down…yeah.) was just not working for me. Understandably. My son also was diagnosed with acid reflux at 1 1/2 weeks, and we were told “DON’T USE BOTTLES!” It will make it worse! So I never started pumping until I went back to work. Then I was only able to pump enough for the next days babysitting. Never had extra. Eventually at about 7 months, I was so stressed from never getting to go ANYWHERE, because GOD I WON’T HAVE MILK TO LEAVE! That I just melted down and quit. I bought formula (which my son took with no problem) and quit. Instead of thinking to supplement while he was away from me, and nurse when he was not. I just quit. I felt HORRIBLE. I felt like a FAILURE. I was so sad.
    This time (I am due in 6 days!) I am determined to ASK more questions, and get the information I need to be more successful. I don’t have to go back to work until September, so having an older baby before I HAVE to do the pump at work thing may help too. Hopefully nursing is as great this time around as it was for those short 7 months almost 4 years ago!
    Thanks for your column(s). I found you at about 8 or 9 months ago, and have LOVED you ever since. Thank you for being real.

  • Kelly

    April 14, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Breastfeeding is not a cure-all for losing weight. You may not lose any more weight breastfeeding than you would if you weren’t breastfeeding, so don’t expect your pre-pregnancy body to magically appear as you ease into breastfeeding. Sure, you probably need more calories a day, but eating less in order to lose weight will affect your milk supply! (And, quite frankly, if someone handed me a coupon for 500 free calories a day, you better believe I’m downing a Big Mac.) Don’t try to lose weight until you’ve healed, and that’s at least 6 weeks post-partum. (Hell, I’m almost 17 weeks PP, and I still don’t feel normal.) By then, your milk should be regulated, and you’ll be able to better gauge your body’s and baby’s needs.
    Oh, and if you plan to breastfeed for at least 6 weeks or more, buy a good pump. Don’t get a cheap one. I’ve tried all kinds of pumps, and the more expensive Medela ones work best. In the case of pumps, you get what you pay for. If you can’t afford them new, try looking on craigslist or other selling sites for used ones. I think it’s ok to use someone else’s pump; you just can’t use the warranty.

  • Tatiana

    April 14, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Great article :] I was fortunate in that my midwife spent about an hour after my daughter was born helping us get our latch right and observing the feeding session, to be sure we were working well together. She gave me all sorts of tips and tricks as well! Then the next day when she returned, we worked together again, and at every session thereafter she checked our latch just to be safe.
    The breastfeeding relationship between a mother and baby is just … stunning.

  • JennK

    April 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    My once perky, hanging high Bs will never, ever be the same. I thought because they were little they would never sag but actually they deflate to an even smaller size.
    Also, don’t think you can just stop lactating. It doesn’t work that way. Don’t breastfeed one day and go to work the next day without a pump thinking you won’t leak in front of your colleagues. You will leak and it will probably be a male colleague.

  • Beth

    April 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Lactation consultants and nurses and doctors in the same hospital will give you different answers to the same problem. And it will drive a new mother who has had 1 hour of sleep over the course of 3 days completely bat ship crazy.

  • chiquita

    April 14, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I did a combination of nursing, pumping and supplementing with formula over 10 weeks and then quit. Don’t beat yourself up if you decide it’s not working. There are other ways to bond, and being in severe pain doesn’t help. I think my daughter may have been tongue-tied, but got conflicting answers, so we didn’t do anything. But I can say that her latch was excruciating and did not get better with time (except with less frequent nursing, therefore I pumped more.) Bottom line: baby needs to be fed, try your best and make the best decisions that work for you.

  • Margie

    April 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Sitting here (typing one-handed) with my eight day old baby, and want to second whole-heartedly the suggestion of using a lactation consultant. Find a good one and it is SO worth it! I thought I knew pretty well what I was doing, but a) I’m still sleep-deprived and therefore working with half a brain, max., and b) it turns out I didn’t know it all.
    Best advice I have gotten so far from my LC is that when your milk supply increases (“comes in”) you will have some wet days. There will be poop, pee, leaky breasts, and tears. The warning about the tears (another hormonal shift) made me not worry when all of a sudden I couldn’t look at or think about my sweet baby without crying.
    Finally, learn how to side-lie nurse. It’s wonderful and helps facilitate sleep! Great tips, Amy!

  • Christie

    April 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this column. I’m due in June and I’d really like to make the breastfeeding thing work, and suggestions like these (without the preaching you get at many sites) are exceedingly useful.
    One question – is there any more information you can provide about the probiotics? Is that just about eating yogurt, or are there other options? I know I’m extra susceptible to yeast issues, so I’d definitely like to get on a routine prior to delivery.

  • Marnie

    April 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    What I wish someone would have told me: While breast milk is amazing stuff, it’s not magic. Even babies who nurse exclusively get sick sometimes. And get ear infections. I read everything I could get my hands on, but I was naive enough to buy into the hype that breast-fed babies don’t get sick! and don’t get ear infections! I was very upset when my breast-milk-only daughter did get a few ear infections, especially that first winter in part-time day care. But now – her immune system is better than mine, and she barely gets sick at all. Could be the breast milk, could be the fact that she’s already been exposed to everything under the sun, could be genes, (not mine).
    And, one other thing, I wish I had known that just because the breast-feeding is going really, really great does not necessarily mean that pumping will go the same. My boobs flat out didn’t like the wonderful, expensive Medela Pump-in-Style. I could never completely empty them with the pump, and couldn’t get more than a few ounces at a time, and even then had to have my daughter’s picture in front of me while holding her blanket just to achieve let down – it was like nursing porn! I hung in there for 2 months after I went back to work, but when she was 6 months old gave it up and started supplementing, and was much happier and less stressed for it.

  • Wallydraigle

    April 14, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I wrote an article with a similar title a few months ago. Only I was in the midst of the first two nightmarish months of breastfeeding. I think the only reason I stuck with it through the worst part was that I couldn’t in good conscience justify the expense of formula when we had a free food source RIGHT THERE. It would have been one thing if things weren’t working properly, but everything was fine. I just hated breastfeeding.
    And now? I LOVE it. At some point, I’m not sure when, things just got better. I didn’t even notice it happen. I was just feeding her one day and suddenly realized that I was enjoying this. It makes me so sad to think one day she’ll have outgrown me. 🙁 If you’d told me last November that I’d feel this way, I would have punched you in the head for taunting me.
    A few other things to add: intense hunger and thirst at the most inconvenient times, cluster feeding (hell on earth!), Distractible Baby, Sleepy Baby (I had both all in one, yay!). Also, biting hurts even when your baby has no teeth yet, and so do fingernails even when they’re really short. But those are just the bad things. If you stick with it, it’s soooooo worth it. I dread the day she weans.

  • wallydraigle

    April 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I think the worst part of it all is that this hits you at such an awful time. Your body is wrecked, you’ve just spent hours in labor (unless you had a scheduled c-section), your baby is not letting you sleep, crazy postpartum hormones are making you want to play in traffic, and you feel grimy and nasty. It’s one thing to handle such adversity when you’re well-rested and rational. When you have those two things going for you, you can say to yourself, “Self, this will only last a few weeks or months. It will get better. It will become something you enjoy. Just hang on.” When you’re strung out and a little bit crazy, anything past five minutes from now seems like an eternity.

  • Kelly

    April 14, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Oh, and two words to Google if/when you have downtime: CLUSTER FEEDING.

  • Elaine

    April 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I love the column, and I love all the supportive comments and tips that other readers give, too!

  • Di

    April 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have loved Amalah for a good long time now, and read it pretty much every day. I’ve only recently jumped on the Advice Smackdown, and Pregnancy Calendar bandwagons, and now this gem.
    I blame it on the pregnancy brain I’ve got going here. Blah…and I’m only 4 months along…it’s gonna be a long, hot and stupid summer.

  • Emily

    April 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Great article! As a mom-to-be who is desperate to breastfeed I am trying to absorb as much info as possible and I have inscribed your article on my brain for future reference.
    Thanks for the dose of reality!

  • Alissa

    April 15, 2009 at 8:20 am

    11 weeks in to this breast feeding gig and I can tell you that All Purpose Breast Cream has been my savior for an otherwise not very pleasant breast feeding experience. Between the overactive letdown, TONS of milk, mastitis, green poop making me freak out about too much foremilk, sore nipples, baby who clamps down on my nipple to slow down the fire hydrant milk supply… Breast feeding is not my favorite thing. I’m not feeling any of that “I am superwoman, see me grow this here kid” stuff. And it’s not a fun bonding experience for me. It’s just… food. It’s convenient and cheap and best for the baby, and I am a stubborn pain in the butt so I will keep breast feeding til he decides he doesn’t want to any more. But it’s certainly not my favorite thing.
    Definitely get help. I go to a lactation support group every week. You weigh the baby before and after nursing, and it really helps to calm any fears – yes, baby is growing, and yes, you have plenty of milk as he just shotgunned 5 ounces in 10 minutes…
    Oh. On that note – that’s helped save my breasts as well. When my son is done eating (he’s not swallowing milk any more) then he comes OFF. No using me as a pacifier. Don’t think you HAVE to go 20 minutes or something to be done. That was killing my nipples. Done swallowing? Sorry, kiddo. You’re done. Mommy likes her nipples too much.

  • Elizabeth

    April 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Take a La Leche League leader’s phone number with you to the hospital, whether you are having a planned hospital birth or whether you just have a hospital bag packed in case of a transfer during a home birth. The hospital LCs are not always there and sometimes they suck. LLL gets a bit of a reputation for being breastfeeding nazis sometimes, but the leaders are always there to offer information and support, and are just awesome. It also helps too to a meeting while you’re pregnant so that you know the local leader(s) and feel more comfortable calling if you do need help.

  • bethany actually

    April 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    If you pump and only get 1-2 ounces or less, don’t panic and think that means your baby isn’t getting enough to eat. Pumping is a skill you have to learn, just like breastfeeding. And some people are better pumpers than others. Some people just never get the hang of pumping but will be able to breastfeed their babies just fine.
    I am right there with you on wanting to cheer everyone on, Amy. I had a really difficult first six months of breastfeeding—poor latch, low supply, nursing around the clock, supplemental nursing system (arrrgh!), supplementing with formula—and I am SO GLAD I stuck with it because once everything clicked it was awesome and we kept going till my daughter was 2, something I never imagined I’d do at the beginning. So, yeah, while I completely understand how HARD breastfeeding can be and I know not everyone can do it successfully, I really wish everyone could.

  • Angie

    April 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for the real life practical advice – I hated breastfeeding but miss it now that my babies are weaned.

  • wallydraigle

    April 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    One totally selfish reason to stick with breastfeeding: YOU GET HUNDREDS OF EXTRA CALORIES A DAY. I don’t have my head in the slop trough all day, but I get to eat more and not feel guilty at all. I mean, I still can’t eat everything in sight (breastfeeding =/= magical losing weight, necessarily), but I can happily eat waaaay more than I would be able to otherwise. It’s WONDERFUL. My lifelong love affair with food can finally come out in the open.

  • Shannon

    April 15, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    OMG, tongue tie. The first ENT we talked to about having our baby’s frenulum clipped said he didn’t do it because the frenulum would stretch with time. We found another ENT who said that was true, but thought my inability to breastfeed her NOW made that argument moot. Obviously, we went with ENT #2, got her frenulum clipped and 13 months later we’re still nursing.
    The other thing I found out in the nick of time (and therefore proselytize relentlessly) is that breastfed babies between 1 and 6 months of age have an average intake of 25 ounces per 24 hour period* when they eat exclusively at the breast (no bottles) — and that amount either holds steady or goes DOWN as you introduce solid foods. They don’t increase the amount they eat as they get older. Keep those figures in your head as you are making bottles of pumped milk for daycare and/or you’re worrying about pumping output. I sent my daughter to 9 hours of daycare with three four-ounce bottles of breastmilk from 3 months until she was a year old. Some people (grandparents, the occasional teacher at daycare) thought we were underfeeding her, and I can see why considering the 8-ounce bottles of formula babies of the same age were getting — but 12 ounces per day was plenty. If I had tried to keep up with the size bottles most formula-fed kids get, I would have given up the first month I went back. Bottom line: have reasonable, evidence-based assumptions for what your kids eats and how much you need to pump!

  • Valerie

    April 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    When we were interviewing pediatricians, one actually said to me, “It’s my experience that most women who stop breastfeeding do so because they don’t *really* want to nurse their babies.” And he was a DUDE, what the hell does he know? Needless to say, we didn’t pick him.
    Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. A fed baby is a sleeping baby is a happy baby is a happy mama. Doesn’t matter how you get there.

  • Tara

    April 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Things I wish someone had told me:
    (a) It takes a few days for your milk to come in, especially the first time, and that is totally normal and will not harm your child. The discharge nurse FREAKED ME THE F*** OUT about my milk not coming in before we left the hospital (2-day stay, first kid). She had me so concerned that my son would starve that we bought a breast pump on the way home from the hospital (so I could speed things along, I guess, by pumping during the 12 minutes per day that my son wasn’t latched on?), and I cried over giving my son a 1.5 ounce bottle of formula that first night home. The next morning (day 3 after birth), I woke up with fully engorged, rock-hard boobs that could have fed the population of a small country. Right on schedule. I was so mad that that nurse had scared me so badly for no good reason.
    (b) Giving your kid a bottle every now and then–and a pacifier, for that matter–is not necessarily going to result in “nipple confusion” and could, in fact, save your sanity. I tried to avoid bottles & pacis as much as I could because of all I’d read about nipple confusion, and sure enough, my son didn’t get confused AT ALL. He just refused to take a bottle from anyone–my husband, my mom, the teachers at daycare, anyone. So until he started solid foods, he did most of his eating when we were home together and he could get milk straight from the source. That caused me no end of worry that he wasn’t eating enough, that I was throwing away so much hard-won milk. . . and it was so unnecessary. Thank goodness he eventually learned to take a pacifier to suck for comfort, rather than hanging on me 24/7 any longer than he did.
    Great topic.

  • Mel

    April 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Also – not all lactation consultants are good. If you’re not successful with the first one you see, try someone else. I wish wish wish I had gone to see Pat Shelly (for those of you who are in DC, she is apparently a Godsend) but was one of those first time moms who was deathly afraid of venturing out of her house with a newborn….for like 6 months, but that’s another story. I only saw the LCs at Sibley for the five minutes they could spare me and then one at the pediatrician’s office who watched my son fight latching on to my breast so vehemently that she basically told me to give up. Couple that with horrible supply and no one telling me that I really needed to pump every couple of hours to increase it and the whole nursing thing fell away around 4 weeks.
    With #2 (who I’m due with in 8 weeks) I really have no idea what to expect but I do know that if he is not latching/fighting the boob/being a PITA about the whole thing that I will ask and research and see someone new until I’m satisfied I’ve done everything I can to get it to work.
    Now, only to work on the guilt I will feel if nursing works with #2 – feeling like I’ve shortchanged #1…

  • Catherine

    April 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I had a preemie, and the post-partum nurse showed me how to use the breast pump. I put the on me and she CRANKED IT ALL THE WAY UP! Owwwwwwww. That’s not the right way to do have to start off low and slowly turn it up.

  • Kathy

    April 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Seconding what Elizabeth said- not only might the hospital LCs suck, they might not even be real LCs. The hospital where I delivered had “breastfeeding counselors” whose advice was “wait til her mouth is open wide and then shove your breast in really really fast.” I probably don’t need to say, that advice didn’t help us at ALL. Our pediatrician gave us the name of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who saved our breastfeeding experience. She got me the all-purpose nipple cream for my ravaged chest, taught me how to help my daughter latch (and ohhh, my daughter could. not. latch.) and talked us down from a nursing strike two months later.
    Breastfeeding is HARD. It makes no evolutionary sense for it to be this hard, but it is. If your problems are surmountable, though, it is SO worth it.

  • Stephanie

    April 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I’m on baby #2 now, and both times I’ve gone through 2 weeks of pure torture and then things magically seemed to work out. I know most nurses and doctors will say your nipples dont have to toughen up or get used to breastfeeding, but in my case they did. The second time it helped knowing what I was in for, so at least I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Because it is so worth it. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stuck with it. This time around, my saving grace has been the Medela nipple shield and Comfort Gel Hydrogel pads by Ameda (expensive but SO worth it). Between the two of those, the pain has been much more manageable and my nipples havent been nearly as traumatized.
    One thing I wish I had known? Apparently even crappy insurance companies (and believe me I pay a lot for a whole lot of nothing when it comes to insurance) will pay for all or some of a new breast pump. I walked out of the hospital with a $400 Medela breast pump for $40. I just assumed my insurance wouldnt cover it, but my lactation consultant pushed me to call, and I was so glad I did. It never hurts to check!

  • BB

    April 15, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    First off, can I just say, the timing of this post was a godsend. I’m about a week postpardom and I’ve gone from struggling with my newborn son to stay latched and nurse to having a hard time even getting him to latch on at all. Add on the engorgement, hormones, and sleep deprivation and I was a sniveling hysterical wreck yesterday afternoon. I’m working with a great LC and he’s getting the nourishment he needs from the milk I’m pumping but I still felt like we were moving backwards. Thanks for the reminder that this isn’t easy and that a lot of new moms struggle with nursing! I learned a lot!

  • Melissa

    April 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    1. I wish someone told me that a bottle wasn’t the end of the universe. I wish I’d introduced one sooner (we waited until she was 11 weeks)
    My DD would! not! take a bottle. We finally resorted to my leaving the house for some 12 hours (pump in hand) while my husband dealt with the screaming. This did not make anyone happy.
    2. I wish someone said the formula isn’t the devil.
    I went back to work when she was 4 months. And I pumped until she was 11 months. I HATED every moment of pumping. But I was bound and determined to show that I was a great mom, a working mom who would exclusively breastfeed her kid, etc. etc.
    At first I pumped plenty. Then as she wanted to nurse less (around 8 months, as she increased her solid food intake), I pumped less. The LC recommended pumping on the weekends. Hahahaha. It would have been a cold day in hell.
    We burned through the freezer stash accumulated when there had been plenty. At 11 months, there was no freezer stash and not enough pumped milk. So I mixed formula, weeping that I was condemning my kiddo to some horrible fate.
    Y’know what? She’s FINE. She’s great. And I’m not beating myself up over being X ounces short. I only wish I’d given myself a break earlier and given her whatever I pumped plus formula, if necessary, rather than spending hours with that #$^&! pump.
    3. I wish someone told me how hard weaning is.
    She’ll be a year on Friday. While I respect women who want to do totally child-led weaning, that isn’t for me. I am DONE DONE DONE.
    But weaning is hard on the kiddo. Hard on you, literally (engorgement sucks).

  • Penny

    April 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Your first time breastfeeding “MIGHT” not be magical? HA. Your first time bf’ing will NOT be magical, unless you’re one of those weird “labor doesn’t hurt I barely broke a sweat and the baby has an enormous mouth capable of actually grabbing nipples efficiently” kind of deals.

  • jonniker

    April 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I wasn’t offered a real lactation consultant in the hospital. They sucked. A “breastfeeding specialist” nurse looked at my latch and said, “Well, if you don’t fix that, it’s really going to hurt!” AND THEN SHE LEFT. FOR THE DAY.
    The good news is that it never did hurt, and when I talked to an actual lactation consultant, it turns out everything was fine and we’ve been fine fine fine ever since.
    But yes, what Bethany above said is true: I suck at pumping. S.U.C.K. And yet, my kid is eating fine, and getting plenty to eat. I can really only pump enough for special nights out/occasions, which is fine, as I’m staying home. But for those who need to pump at work, etc., I’d say yes, get some help.
    Also, get a LOT of different types of breast pads. I like the washable cloth kind, while some swear by disposable. And MAN, is this important to have ahead of time, because the leaking springs up (ha!) without warning one day.

  • Rachel

    April 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I wish someone had told me that despite doing EVERYTHING right, you may not get milk. Three babies later, I never had more than a smidgen of milk, ever. Never got engorged, never leaked milk, and had angry, hungry babies until I broke down and gave them formula. No lactation consultant, hospital-grade pump, fenugreek, Guinness or standing on my head gave me enough milk to feed my baby without supplementing. Even my babies revolted and began to refuse to take the breast. The longest I lasted was 11 weeks with my second child, but I can safely say there was NO joy in breastfeeing for any of us. I wish someone had told me it might be like that and I could have avoided feeling like such a failure.

  • Jessica (at It's my life...)

    April 15, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    You know? I knew most of the bad stuff about nursing before starting, so the non latch, inverted nipples, low production, etc stuff, while upsetting didn’t phase me.
    What did throw me for a loop was how. damn. long. it takes newborns to eat. I had this erroneous vision of a five minute nursing session that ends with a happy plump baby smiling up at you. What I got were hour long marathon nursing sessions that had to be repeated every two hours. My couch and I got very close during those first few months!

  • Jenn

    April 15, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Dr. Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment is THE BOMB!!!
    – Mupirocin 2 percent ointment (15 grams)
    – Nystatin ointment, 100,000 units/milliliter (15 grams)
    – Clotrimazole 10 percent (antifungal cream) (15 grams)
    – Betamethasone 0.1 percent ointment (15 grams)
    (Editor: The source online is no longer there. This is what i found:
    I had a great 14.5 month breastfeeding relationship with my son, but at month 7, I developed an infection on one nipple that had me *hand* milking that side (seriously–any kind of pump made me bleed) while nursing from the other. It was not fun. But I wasn’t about to give up (I know people thought I was certifiable at that point). I got me a scrip for that from the lactation consultant I went to and BAM! All clear and smooth sailing–I got refills and used it for the duration. I’m due in a couple weeks with #2 and may have to see about getting myself another scrip for this one…just in case…
    So yes, #3 and #4 are MUSTS! 🙂

  • Dawn

    April 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for this. My daughter refused to nurse from the beginning. We went to lactation appointment after lactation appointment and even the consultants couldn’t get her to nurse successfully and so I settled for pumping. I never knew that it could be the baby. I always just thought it was whether your milk came in or not. I had no idea that a baby could refuse that way. If I had, it would have saved me so many tears.

  • Nutmeg

    April 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    It is possible to be allergic to hypoallergenic lanolin ointment.
    Knowing this would have saved me two weeks of agony, burning, itching, raynaud nipples. The entire time, I was slathering myself with lanolin ointment. The LC said.. “Maybe you are allergic to lanolin” I stopped using it, and felt better in a single day.
    Also, most doctor’s have no idea what medicines can be taken. Do your own research, google Lactmed

  • Cdemers

    April 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Awesome advice, Amy. I’m on baby two, and breast-feeding this time around is totally different. It just goes to show that the continuum of normal is even larger than these engorged breasts!

  • Sara

    April 15, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    At this point, there has been so much good advice shared that all I can really do is echo what others have said for emphasis 🙂
    My daughter and I had a pretty rocky breastfeeding relationship, and I’m hoping it’ll come more easily with #2. One thing I plan to do differently is to get help lined up ahead of time. I had major supply issues and really wanted to talk to a doctor about taking something to increase the amount of milk I had but I had no idea who to call. My OB? My daughter’s pediatrician? My general practitioner? A random lactation consultant? This time around I plan to talk to everyone I can about my concerns ahead of time and have my plans for what to do to address various problems laid out beforehand. When your milk hasn’t come in yet and your baby is refusing to even try to nurse and your hormones are coursing and you’re watching your baby lose weight every day, you are in no shape to make rational decisions!

  • Kimba

    April 15, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    My one piece of advice? If you think something’s off, GET IT CHECKED. One minute I was sitting on the beach, soaking in the rays and enjoying myself, and the next I had 108 degree fever and the startings of a great mastitis infection. At 4 months PP I thought I was past that, but I called and went to instacare that night and caught it before it was serious. Laying there on the table, the doctor actually said, “It looks like we caught it before it got bad, before scalpels were needed”. YIKES.

  • Ruth

    April 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    The only thing I would add — and maybe this is because I’m small of bust — is that I needed the My Brest Friend pillow in order to nurse without significant back pain. The Boppy doesn’t cut it for me, nor does a throw pillow, nor does just nursing any old place. Must have the My Brest Friend in order to have enough back support to nurse without back pain. It has a stupid name, but it saved my back.

  • Susan

    April 15, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Another tip: Lilypadz nursing pads are great!!!! All the other kinds were SO obvious underneath my clothes but the Lilypadz have made it possible to wear any bra and any top without showing the entire world that I have pads on my nipples.

  • Leah

    April 15, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Things I wish someone had told me:
    1) If you don’t give your baby a pacifier for the first two months of his life out of fear of nipple confusion, he might not EVER take a pacifier, which means YOU will be the pacifier.
    2) If you don’t give your baby a bottle (even full of breastmilk) for the first two months of his life, he might not EVER take a bottle, which means YOU will be the bottle and god save the poor soul who has to take care of your hungry, non-bottle-taking baby when you go back to work.

  • wallydraigle

    April 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    WORD on the My Brest Friend. I know some people like the Boppy. I know some people like just using regular pillows. I hated both. Hated. Like, sometimes when I was trying to feed my kid, and the pillow slipped YET AGAIN, I would be so enraged that I would scream and slam the pillow into the wall. I am not normally prone to rage like that.
    Also, yes, the best time to introduce a bottle is 4-6 weeks. We did that. And she took it like magic. But then I stopped giving her one regularly after about 8 weeks because I thought, “Oh! She has it down! No problem!”
    HAHAHAHAH. One day she just refused to take the bottle, and my afternoon out with friends was ruined. My poor husband. Anyway, the next three months I was never away from her for more than 2.5 hours at a time (unless I went out after she went to bed, which only happened once because at age 26 I’m an old lady). She finally took one again when she had good enough motor skills to hold it herself. Kind of. She pokes herself in the eye a lot.

  • Erin

    April 16, 2009 at 1:54 am

    The best advice I ever got was from a post-partum doula and the leader of mom and baby group. She told me if I really wanted to breastfeed (we had a tough time the first three weeks) to just try every day, no matter what happens, and keep trying. I was convinced I had to go formula OR boob one way or the other and was really stressed out. So I supplemented, relaxed and just tried every day, and one day, she got it. One successful session led to two, etc. Now Maisie is 6 mos old and we are back to supplementing because I am working and girl is getting BIG, but we are still nursing!

  • Monica

    April 16, 2009 at 7:24 am

    All Purpose Nipple Ointment saved me. Most women look at me like my crazy hippie midwives gave me snake oil when I tell them about it. But it’s so fantastic!!!

  • Maggie

    April 16, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I love this list. I was ready to punch all those people who said if it hurts you are doing something wrong. Do you know how much anxiety that caused me?? The pain did go away and I am SOOOO happy I stuck with it. Leah, I like what you said, very few babies I have been around have had any problems transferring between boob, pacifier, and bottle, in the early days yet everything you read/hear tries to freak you out about it.

  • Janell

    April 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    With my first son, my milk took a few days to come in and I had a quality bonding moment with my husband, late at night, me holding my boob out and him squishing the Avent hand pump on it and pumping and getting nothing. He dared suggest formula and I freaked out about my supply and cried and made him swore never to mention it again.
    Months later, son was in daycare part-time and I was pumping just enough for those days (a Pump in Style real pump), although the supply was getting less. I figured he needed less and didn’t worry. Then a daycare worker gently mentioned that he needed more milk and could they supplement with formula? By then I thought it was a brilliant idea, and didn’t worry about the low pump supply. We lived happily ever after, he self-weaned at 14 months.
    With son #2, he was stubborn and lazy in the hospital. Would barely latch on and then scream and fight because there wasn’t instant milk. You think newborns aren’t loud, but he really was. On day 3, we went to an LC at my pediatrician’s office. She gave me a Medela nipple shield, some formula, and a syringe with a teeny curved plastic spout at the end. Used the syringe to dribble formula on the nipple shield and into his mouth, then he latched right on and nursed, no problem. It was so instant in the office, I was stunned. That was my technique for about a week, then I was able to drop the formula dribbling. That nipple shield was awesome for nursing on my side in bed, I could totally aim in his mouth! At his 2-week checkup, a different doctor said the nipple shield could affect my supply because there was almost no skin-to-skin contact. I started to worry. Then the shield fell on the floor, and I was not going to use it again without washing, so I told my starving baby to do without the shield or wait a few minutes, and he latched on to the actual boob! He was slow and confused, but kept going, and I never needed it again. Oh how I loved that nipple shield, it worked miracles. He’s 11 weeks old now (and 15 pounds).

  • charlotte

    April 16, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Oh, did I have those dreams of being a hippie-crunchy mom whose sweet babe would latch on right after making its drug-free appearance through a episiotomy-free hoo-ha!
    C-section after 22 hours of labor in which the epidural made me puke my little heart out. And then about 10-12 different nurses smooshing my flat nipples into my sweet daughter’s mouth at various times during the day–to no avail. Kid #1, no milk, sleep deprivation, and high as a kite because some nurse kept double-dosing me with the Demerol. Little Miss Kickboxer screamed like crazy, wanted to suck, was hungry, and my stupid body wasn’t cooperating, not even after we tried the hospital pump to get things going. Once she came near that magical 10% weight loss marker, we had to start her on the formula, which I fed her through the SNS with the help of a nipple shield–still hoping that some milk would come in.
    It did, eventually, to the tune of about 5 ounces a day. How do I know? Because pumping was the only way I could at least extract some of it. And yes, we started using more and more formula (Earth’s Best) and supplementing with breast milk until, due to my return to work, things dried up to about 1 ounce a day. I stopped pumping last Sunday. Little Miss Kickboxer is now almost 4 months and doing great on the formula.
    But man, I wish someone had taken a look at my boobs pre-partum and told me that I’d be facing nipple challenges. Only a book that my doula lent me got me to actually check my nipples and then discover myself that there’d most likely be problems.

  • Sarah

    April 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    For the working and pumping mom:
    1) What Shannon said. If you’re trying to match the formula baby’s 8-ounce bottles with pumping, you will LOSE YOUR DAMN MIND.
    2) My 7-month-old has been taking three 4-ounce bottles to daycare, with one nursing at lunch, since he was 3 months old. The addition of solids has not changed this amount at all.
    3) I currently pump twice during the workday, at 10:00 and 3:00, and nurse once at 12:00. But for the first three months of daycare, I had to pump every two hours to keep up.
    3) Outside of work, nurse every chance you get. Don’t worry about schedules.
    4) If pumping hurts, a tiny bit of Lansinoh on the pump flange can work wonders. Oh, and the SoftFit breastshields were much mroe comfortable for me.

  • ImpostorMom

    April 16, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I once heard a quote from a lactation consultant…”The placenta only wishes it were half the filter the breast are.”
    Apparently the breasts do a much, much better job of filtering things while breastfeeding, thus the much less stringent restrictions. I always thought that quote was funny though.

  • Heather

    April 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Amalah, you know I love you. I have been reading you for a good long time and will continue to do so.
    I really wish the first thing on your list would have been “Know that it’s okay if you choose not to breastfeed your baby. Do what is best for your family. Period.”
    I’m sure you know the kind of cruel pressure that is placed on new moms if they decide not to breastfeed, whatever the reason. It’s every bit as cruel as the pressure to formula feed that got La Leche League started in the first place. Don’t believe it? Try reading “What To Expect the First Year” from the perspective of a new mom.
    I hope you will consider maybe writing one of these on What No One Tells You About Formula Feeding. Now that there’s so much pressure to breastfeed, it’s nearly impossible to get good information on when/how to sterilize bottles, choosing a formula, stopping lactation when breastfeeding isn’t working.

  • Victoria

    April 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I really recommend joining your local chapter of La Leche League – before you give birth, if possible. They have a four class series that covers all the breastfeeding basics – but the real benefit is talking to the other moms who have successfully breastfed as well as those who are having serious troubles. Listening to the advice they give to the other moms really gives you an idea of all the problems that can occur as well as the solutions.
    I know the LLL reputation as a bit hard on mothers who choose not to breastfeed or to wean early, but the leaders in my group have been supportive no matter what choice someone makes. They have great recommendations for increasing supply, treating illnesses, and any other issue. They are also always available – and I mean always.
    Just my two cents – I am due in June, and so happy my friend started bringing me before I give birth so that I have an idea of that to expect. The Good and The Bad.

  • Cobblestone

    April 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Fennugreek {the all mighty herb for teh boobies} can make your nipples hurt. A lot. Like, punch your husband in the leg at every latch a lot {sorry sweetie!}. Took two rounds of the tea and once with the capsules before the lightbulb went off for me.

  • Della

    April 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Bits and pieces:
    Feeding pillow, and I don’t care what kind: YES. YES YES YES. I waited until about 3-4 months to get one because I was agonizing over which one to get. I am SO MAD about this. Just get one, and then if you don’t like it, get the other one. JUST GET ONE!
    I SWEAR that engorgement will go away. And seriously, as much as it hurts, get yo’self some pictures of those enormous melons while they’re still there. I went from C cup pre-preg, to D in the last couple weeks of preg, to whatever is a size up from DD and DANG they looked cool even as they were painful to even breathe on. My loving husband was ever so impressed. During the first few months of nursing they stayed at DD. As soon as we added solid foods and nursed a little less frequently, they went back down about to D’s. Of course then I got pregnant again which caused him to self-wean so I don’t know what will happen once I’m done nursing this new one. But all that to say, you will probably hit a spectacular peak but there is no guarantee you’ll stay there, so record it for posterity.
    If the hospital provides a lactation consultant, SEE HER. Even if you are shy, if it makes you uncomfortable, no matter WHAT excuse might keep you from seeing her, overcome it. Seeing her could make the difference between weeks of pain and/or guilt, and confidence and success. I had read up on breastfeeding in advance, but she still had some insights on the mechanics of my body and my baby that made life SO much better for us. They gave us a feeding chart, too.
    And with that, my next point: talk to your pediatrician about timing of feedings. Our lactation consultant set up a feeding schedule of EVERY TWO HOURS during the day (3 hours at night) which is meant to deal with engorgement. That’s nice and all, but oh good lord, if it takes 45-60 minutes to complete a feeding, and then I have to change a diaper and possibly some clothes due to a blowout, and then rock the baby to sleep…. wait…. he’ll have to wake up again in 30 minutes for the next feeding!?!!! When do I PEE!?! I didn’t realize they intended this schedule to only last for like 2-3 days, until engorgement settled down, and my doctor at the 2 week appointment was like “DUDE. your baby can go for 3-3.5 hours start to start. Even as much as 4 hours at night. CHILLAX, LADY!” That made a huge difference in my life! Obviously, you don’t want to force your poor baby to starve or something, especially if he’s not eating well when he IS eating, but get realistic ideas from your doctor about, **if your baby is definitely emptying the breast at each feeding**, how long the baby can then survive until the next feeding. Because this knowledge will allow you to pee, and eat. And maybe even (….) SLEEP!

  • Tiffany

    April 17, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I’m so sorry some of you had bad experiences in hospitals where you had your babies!! I’m a labor and delivery RN (expecting my first baby) and I KNOW how tough breastfeeding is and I do EVERYTHING in my power to support, help, educate, encourage, every mom who wants to breastfeed to do so successfully. Breastfeeding teaching is one of my absolute faveorite things about my profession and I wish that everyone who worked in the field was as supportive. It frustrates me to no end when I find that mom’s didn’t get proper education or support from my colleagues!
    My best advice from someone who is the trenches every day is PREPARE yourself. There are great books and some hospitals offer free classes or find a personal lactation consult – just educate yourself and ask for help, no DEMAND help!!! Research for local resources (yeah Le Leche League!) You and baby need to learn how to breastfeed and there can be obstacles and there are tough times (and painful times although what Amalah in #6 is so true a good latch should not cause constant pain if it does you need help stat!) but the flip side is when it works, and your past the first two weeks :)its wonderful, saves THOUSANDS of dollars, and is environmentally friendly and oh the bonding!

  • Kim

    April 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I have to give a shout-out to my hospital LC. She was great – helped me with the pump before I left the hospital (DD was 35 weeks, and spent some time in the NICU.) There were free consultations, a weekly support group, plenty of encouragement, and no judgement whatsoever.
    The NICU nurse/LC who told me to turn up the volume on my pump? Totally turned up the volume on my milk.
    And nipple shields were my friend, even during our oversupply issue days. Eventually we didn’t need it, but I have a friend who used them for well over a year, and stocked up in preparation for her next baby.
    None of this is meant to be snarky – just to emphasize that mileage will vary. Keep trying until you figure out what works.

  • Victoria

    April 18, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I really recommend joining your local chapter of La Leche League – before you give birth, if possible. They have a four class series that covers all the breastfeeding basics – but the real benefit is talking to the other moms who have successfully breastfed as well as those who are having serious troubles. Listening to the advice they give to the other moms really gives you an idea of all the problems that can occur as well as the solutions.
    I know the LLL reputation as a bit hard on mothers who choose not to breastfeed or to wean early, but the leaders in my group have been supportive no matter what choice someone makes. They have great recommendations for increasing supply, treating illnesses, and any other issue. They are also always available – and I mean always.
    Just my two cents – I am due in June, and so happy my friend started bringing me before I give birth so that I have an idea of that to expect. The Good and The Bad.

  • Monica

    April 21, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Amy–when you wrote ‘you can have some wine (these things are great…) did you mean to link to the strips you can use to test for alcohol content in your breast milk? Because those things are great.

  • devon

    April 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    1. Holy shit! Engorgement! And, the hormones that go with it. My sister in law thank god called my husband and warned him. Day 3, she said, Watch Out.
    2. Sooth-ease. Gel pads for nipples. It’s like instant plastic surgery: oozing scabs to rosy, intact nipples in 48 hours. And you can wear a bra, and close your shirt, finally. I’m saving mine in case I just want to pink em up a bit for a date . . .
    3. Night toast. Eat a lot of it, just before you go to bed. So you don’t have to get up and stand around in the kitchen naked in the middle of the night and drip milk all over the floor.

  • geek anachronism

    July 1, 2009 at 3:59 am

    Where was this post last week when my husband came to bed to find me crying and our two week old baby scream-suckling (already multitasking…)?!? Thankfully i had expressed earlier in the day and the man understands when to give baby the bottle, brush wife’s hair and feed her emergency cereal.
    Seriously though, this has been incredibly informative. I had no idea about cluster feeding, but now it makes sense and I feel less crap.

  • DY

    July 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    If pumping is uncomfortable or you’re not yielding much milk, you may need larger breastshields. Many women do, and you don’t know if you’re one of them until you start pumping. Here’s some more info:

  • Jennie

    May 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. My baby is three days old and we’re getting the hang of things, but it’s hard and painful and I really appreciated this list (especially the slight comical relief).

  • Elizabeth

    August 30, 2013 at 2:29 am

    No. To hell with this. I drove myself to depression with persistence breastfeeding, believing that it might work. IT DIDN’T. I tried everything. I chained myself to a pump for weeks at the expense of my baby’s care, my own care and my family’s well being. I ended up fantasies of cutting my wrists every time I pumped my empty breasts. 8 months later, I’m still on Prozac. Only now am I getting to know my baby. I was fine until I found out about my supply issues, so yes, this was brought on by breastfeeding, not just PPD. DO NOT SACRIFICE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TO BREASTFEED. It is the number one issue in most PPD support groups, and women with serious breastfeeding problems are considered at an elevated risk of depression. I consider this article to be reckless in its guarantee that persistence is worth it. Persistence very nearly destroyed me.

    • Isabel Kallman

      Isabel Kallman

      August 30, 2013 at 3:50 am

      I am so happy to hear that you are doing better and thank you for sharing your personal experience and thoughts.

  • Aurora T. Agee

    October 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Well, I guess I was one of the lucky ones because breastfeeding was not a problem for me. I don’t know what stores some of these women shop at, but I didn’t have to spend “a thousand dollars” or even close to it for breastfeeding “accessories”! A rocking chair, a pillow, an inexpensive breast pump (yes they have them!) and that was about it. Sorry, but it sounds like too much overanalyzing and whining to me!

  • Katelyn

    May 15, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you so much for your honesty and helpful advice. I’m getting ready to have my 2nd child and I’m hoping nursing goes smoother the 2nd time around. So it’s nice to read from someone who is honest about nursing!!!!

  • Kirsty

    August 23, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Great column! Yep breastfeeding is NOT EASY: the first time for me was a physical and emotional rollercoaster but we made it to 8 months, second time has been easier (because I knew what to expect and was far better informed) so I’m aiming for a year. I’m from the UK and it seems to me that some of the problems encountered in the US are related not only to inconsistencies in education and support through your healthcare system but also to the fact that you are not entitled to much in the way of paid maternity leave. I can’t imagine what it must be like to leave a tiny baby (often under 3 months old) and head back to work while still suffering interrupted sleep.  I didn’t feel I’d bonded properly with my first child until he was around that age, so going back to work at that stage could even have been damaging! The whole pumping at work thing is fairly alien over here because unless a mum chooses to go back early it isn’t necessary. We’re lucky enough to be able to take a year off work, only 9 months of that is paid. Depending on where you work you might start off with a steadily decreasing percentage of your usual wage for the first 6 months before moving onto statutory maternity pay (around £520 per month so not a massive amount). This gives mothers the time (and head space) needed to establish and then crucially to continue breastfeeding. It is why our rates of success are a bit higher. Scandinavian countries are even better, with some allowing up to 18 months maternity leave (imagine how amazing that would be). When I read online the troubles mums in America experience my heart goes out to you – you aren’t given the chances you deserve! If I were over there I’d do some research about maternity leave and breastfeeding rates around the world and then campaign for improved conditions in the US. It would be one way to improve the breastfeeding journeys of millions of mothers and babies. Good luck to you all!

  • Goldie

    September 6, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    This is a perfect and accurate article! I have 2 kids and I learned something here. I will be giving this to all the new moms in my life!
    Thank you

  • Kelly

    October 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Your sons have the same names as my sons. (:

  • Leslie

    April 7, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    I think moms shouldn’t blame theirselves for not being able to breastfeed many times with the pitocin and epidural their body is already is a different state as is the baby with those medications even though it’s just a little that passes through the placenta baby still receives a dose. Try and try though it is very very hard and you need to have patience and strength because it is painful and frustrating. Women were made for this. This is what is natural. I have been ebf on demand baby is now 1 yr and 3 months it’s much easier and the bond is inexplainable love and thank god for being able to experience this wonderful part of life.