How a Former Breastfeeding 'Failure' Learned to Love Nursing

Up until 10 days ago, I hated breastfeeding. Absolutely loathed it. I had attempted to breastfeed my now-2-year-old daughter, and the experience left me feeling deflated and depressed at a time when I should have been over the moon.

My little girl was healthy and had a healthy appetite -- that I couldn't manage to satisfy, which just made me feel like a horribly inadequate mom. Perhaps as a result of the fact that I was induced, I produced little milk at first, and coupled with the amount of stress I and everyone around me had placed in my breastfeeding success, nursing just wasn't happening.

I trashed breastfeeding every opportunity I got and thought of myself as a cheerleader for bottle feeding -- which I definitely felt was needed given our culture's borderline nutso obsession with nursing.

But two weeks ago I gave birth to my baby boy and everything changed. I'm breastfeeding and loving it -- not because I'm a better mom, but because of 5 factors that had nothing to do with me.

First, let me provide 5 reasons why I feel nursing didn't work for me after I delivered my daughter:

1. I got to hold her for a few minutes before she was whisked away to be examined and bathed. She returned about an hour later and I then attempted to put her to my breast. She was still sleepy, perhaps from the epidural I chose to have after a painful induction. She barely latched on.

2. My request to see the hospital's lactation counselor was finally fulfilled -- two days after I gave birth.

3. Nurses were either unable or unwilling to help me learn how to help my baby nurse. Their response when she kept crying? "Keep feeding her."

4. My daughter latched on incorrectly and my nipples were bloody and bruised the day after I gave birth.

5. When I asked for formula on day 2 (after a concerned pediatrician informed me that my baby had lost a lot of weight, which freaked me out), my nurse's response was: "Are you sure? If you give her formula now, she will never take your milk." Thanks a lot.

Am I bitter? Yep, a little bit. At the end of the day, formula was a game changer for me, and my daughter is extremely healthy and happy, which is all that matters. But while some moms find it natural to nurse, others have a difficult time. And we need immediate support as soon as we deliver our babies.

I wanted to give nursing another shot. I delivered my son at a different hospital, and despite how much credit I give myself for trying it again, I owe my current breastfeeding success to these 5 factors:

1. My baby stayed with me in the birthing room for two hours before we were transferred to a private room. He only left my side for a few minutes while being examined. We had immediate skin-to-skin contact and a knowledgeable nurse was right there to show me how to help him latch on 10 minutes after he was born.

2. I met a lactation counselor two hours after he was born (and this was in the middle of the night) and she provided an amazing amount of help and support.

3. The hospital offered two breastfeeding classes per day.

4. Throughout the day, I continued to receive periodic visits from lactation counselors and nurses who knew their stuff and observed my son while we nursed.

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY -- I was offered formula every single morning. No one made me feel like I HAD to breastfeed. I was never made to feel like a bad mom if I decided I wanted to supplement.

If hospitals feel they are encouraging breastfeeding by removing access to formula, they have it ALL WRONG. The opposite is true. New moms need to feel like it's our choice. We need to be told we are successful at breastfeeding, but that we are equally successful moms if we choose to or have to nourish our children with formula.

Above all, a militant approach to nursing absolutely does not work.

Did you find it difficult or easy to breastfeed? How did your hospital approach the issue of nursing?

Image via Summer/Flickr



To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

mrs_n... mrs_nielson

You just described me almost to a t!! I'm due with baby #2 in Aug, big sister just turned 2! I struggled to bf her with no support and improper technique. I decided to exclusively pump for the next 11mo, but I understand the struggle! I plan to be more demanding for help and support this time around! :-)

Hello07 Hello07

Hmm. You think our culture has a nutso obsession with nursing?

Damn you'd think a country with a nutso obsession with nursing would have higher nursing rates.....

kayba... kaybayblee3

That's pretty much what happened with my first child. The LC at the hospital took forever to come to my room.When she did get to me, she spent maybe 5 minutes in my room, told me that my nipples were all sorts of wrong for breastfeeding and just left. By then we had given her a couple of bottles so that didn't help. I didn't see her again for the rest of my hospital stay. I also kept asking for a pump as my boobs were hurting like crazy. I didn't see one until the day of my discharge(day 3) as they just kept saying "just feed her" and leaving the room without helping me to get her to latch, and by then my nipples were bruised, cracked and bleeding. Also my baby wouldn't even attempt to latch on to me. I was in tears by the time I got home since the whole stay was just bad. I also didn't have any support as I didn't have any family/friends around. I was never able to nurse her and my supply soon dried up. With my son, I was more prepared. I read all I could about breastfeeding, watched videos, brought my pump to the hospital, etc. Anything that I could do. As soon as they brought my son to me in the room I asked to see the LC. I kept trying even after the nurses were basically forcing me to formula feed my son because he was losing weight(His ped said that his weight was fine in the hospital). And what do you know. I was actually able to breastfeed I agree with being more demanding. Also read up, and of course be prepared if you want to breastfeed.

hello... hellokd87

I had a c section that required general anesthesia & didn't see my baby for the first 4 hours of his life. I was terrified that he would have trouble latching on. To my surprise the first time I held him he was turning his head toward my chest & fought his way to breastfeed. He has nursed like a champ since. The hospital supplemented with formula (one thing I was against because of the fear of nipple confusion) and he took it like a champ, yet he still nurses like a champ. It all depends on the child, I believe. My niece had immediate skin to skin yet she had trouble latching on for a while. I've known other babies who didnt have skin to skin yet have no trouble nursing as well.

nonmember avatar Amber

This happened to me with my first! Except I wanted to bf soooo bad. I had to be induced to alot of health problems. When I tried to bf She just kept crying and crying and i felt like I wasnt giving enough. My husband had to feed her formula out of a bottle becuz I was severly depressed cuz I couldnt bf that I would start crying whenever I tried to feed her from a bottle. I tried everything but eventually called it quits :(... now I am due in three months to my son and I am preparing big time for sucessful breastfeeding. I loved the bond and I loved being able to provide for my baby (while I was able to bf). Wish me luck!

Puffsea Puffsea

Does anyone know what one's rights are as a new mother regarding keeping baby with you and also Breastfeeding? I had a similar experience with my first child - they give you the baby to hold for a few mins and then whisk it away for examining - I am such a wallflower that I just let them do it, so they could leave already.

Now with baby#2 on the way, I do plan on being more assertive.

cherylam cherylam

My daughter was not easily breast fed, she just wouldn't latch on or would, but lose interest, only to wake up an hour later, hungry again. We gave up & went to formula and she did great, no issues. My son latched on with the ferocity of a starving pig, and wanted to be fed every two hours, which I was fine with. My children are older than most people reading this (my son will be 37 in June, and he's my baby), but in the middle to late '70's, the cows were all fed tainted food, contaminated with polybromate byfenal, more commonly known as PBB, a well known carcinogen. Being pregnant, we were encouraged to drink milk, for calcium & other nutrients. After this was discovered, the CDC, and Michigan's Health Department recommended that all breast feeding ceased and babies be switched to formula made in other states, like Wisconsin & Ohio. So my son, at six months, was switched to formula. It seemed so unfair, but for his skae, we switched. I regret it to this day, and of course milk & formula was incredibly expensive the winter of '77 -'79. We did what we thought was right.

arlis... arliss123

Puffsea, you have the right to keep your baby with you as long as you want. Assuming baby isn't born in distress, there is absolutely no reason for them to remove him or her. Even if someone tries to take your baby and cites hospital policy, you can just refuse. Hospital policy is not the law.

erica-3 erica-3

I'm glad you weren't scared off of trying again because of your horrible experience the first time and even more glad that things were much better this time around. There's a lot more to being successful at breastfeeding than just wanting to do it.

I agree that moms should feel as though they have the choice and that they shouldn't remove access to formula, but I think it's HORRIBLE for it to be offered daily to moms who have chosen to give breastfeeding a try. A mom knows how to ask for it if she wants it.

The beginning of a nursing relationship is usually not easy and coupled with all the pain, crazy hormones and sleep deprivation that comes after childbirth, it's incredibly easy to throw in the towel before very long. I don't personally know any nursing moms who weren't filled with self doubt and unsure if they would be able to not only get the hang of things but give their babies enough food to sustain them. Even the most determined moms can be caught in a moment of weakness and agree to supplement when that's not truly what they want. It could cause a mom to feel like she's being pressured into using formula the same way a formula feeder can feel pressured into nursing by hospital who tells her daily about how much healthier breast feeding is.

All new moms should be supported, regardless of their feeding choice, because we all honestly believe we're making the best choice for ourselves and our babies.

Mommy... MommyO2-6631

It sounds like all of you ladies were just ill informed. Cafemom has a great breastfeeding group. Go there. Learn some stuff and see what it takes to be a dedicated, supported and informed breastfeeding mother.

1-10 of 16 comments 12 Last