I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of breastfeeding.  When I became pregnant, my fiance urged me to look into it more.  He had done his own research and saw the benefits of it.  He would never have pressured me to do it, but he wanted to make sure I understood all of my options about breastfeeding before I turned away.

So I did.

There were so many benefits to both the baby and I that I felt like I should at least give it a fair chance.

When my daughter was born, I was shocked, I actually wanted to breastfeed.  I think my mind raced when I realized that she was no longer inside of me and wanted/needed to be close to her.  As close as possible.

Though I was exhausted, shredded apart and starting to feel it now that the epidural had been removed, I tried.  When the nurse brought her in, she helped guide me as to what to do.  They put my daughter to my breast and saw a problem.  Apparently my nipples are small, so small that they feared my daughter would have a hard time latching.

How can the be too small?  Isn’t my body made to do this?  If we didn’t live in the times we did, what would my daughter do?  Starve because of my inadequate nipples? I didn’t like any of those thoughts.

They gave me nipple shield.  If you don’t know what that is, you can see it here. The thing basically forces your nipple to become larger and gives the baby a larger area to latch on to.

I hadn’t leaked before she was born, so I’m pretty sure those first few tries she didn’t actually eat anything. But we both still tried, together. Over the next 24 hours we had numerous visits from nurses with tips and helpful ideas, and a lactation consultant.  I thought we were doing well, I still wasn’t sure if she was actually getting anything, but we were making progress.

But then, everything changed.

Our third night in the hospital (I was kept longer because she was small) I remember the nurse waking me at around 3 am.  She had brought her in for me to feed.  I was fairly comfortable with breastfeeding at this point and knew what to do.  So there we sat, my daughter and I.  I was living through a kind of exhaustion that I had never in my life experienced.  My body screamed every time I made a  movement and I hadn’t slept in what felt like months.

My daughter starving by this point I’m sure.  We had fed her bottles to make up for what I wasn’t able to give her, but she wanted more.  I placed her on my nipple and she wouldn’t latch.  Everything that I had learned over the last few days failed me.  Nothing I tried worked.  She refused.  She began screaming and I began to cry.

I couldn’t do it anymore.  I don’t think my body could do it.

As I sat there with her, us both sobbing at our frustration my fiance woke, he had been sleeping in a chair next to the bed.  He must have been watching for some time.  He told me it was okay.  I sobbed “I can’t do this, she doesn’t want me” and it was like he understood.  We made her a bottle and she fell asleep.

That was the last time I attempted to breastfeed my daughter.  I decided that it wasn’t worth putting both her and I through such frustration.  For the next few weeks I pumped.  I decided if she wouldn’t take it from my body, she’d get it in a bottle.  After about 3 weeks she turned away from the breast milk and I let it dry up.

I’m happy that I attempted to breastfeed, and at least I know that my daughter got some of the benefits for the first few weeks.  But I never imagined it would be that hard. I thought it would be challenging, sure, but to get us both to the point of sobbing out of frustration, that I didn’t expect.

Did you run into challenges breastfeeding?  Share with us in the comments!

Image credit: Flickr

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  1. Yes, my first miracle, I too tried and tried but was frustrated and tired and since he was so little (born 6 weeks early) he was losing weight and it was more important for him to get food into him so we did finger feeding. Then when we tried breast feeding again, he wanted no part of it – it didn’t come out fast enough. Even after leaving the hospital, i kept pumping many hours instead of sleeping to only get barely an ounce of milk. Everyone kept asking if I was breast feeding so I felt so guilty that I wasn’t able to! Finally at 6 weeks old, like you I cried for the loss of breastfeeding and I finally gave in that I couldn’t do it anymore. Good for you for knowing when to move on. I applaud your courage and strength!

  2. I’m a three time breastfeeding mom…3 months only for each of my children. I couldn’t handle the stress of going to work all day and dealing with pumping and eating right to maintain my milk. So when I went back to work, that was it for that experience. Being a breastfeeding mom requires good nutrition, no stress, AND the ability to nurse. Somehow that message about ability gets lost when the pressure is put on women to be a breastfeeding mom. The expectation is that every woman is capable of doing it and that there are no external factors other than choice that comes into play. But as you mention above, the physical complications can make it the worst experience for the mom and the baby at an already highly stressful and scary time. No one ever explains the frustration and stress that can come with being unable to share that experience with your baby. Thank you for sharing your story! My sister was unable to breastfeed as well as my neighbor. I remember my neighbor and I had given birth a few days apart (her first and my second baby). Her son was a big and hungry baby. She wasn’t lactating for whatever reason and was pressured for almost 2 weeks to try to nurse her son at home and not give him bottles. I heard her baby screaming ALL the time and finally I went to her when her husband was gone and explained the various complications that can hinder breastfeeding. I made the baby a bottle and he finally had the most peaceful sleep since joining our world. I stayed and spoke to her husband and they went on to have many happy cryingless nights! I just wish hospitals, media, and others would explain that every mom is different and every baby is different. While it is great for babies to receive breastmilk none of us should be made to feel like failures if we choose or have to nurture our babies in other ways. We should be given the directions and tools to try it but the pressure to do it has to stop.