I feel confident saying that, in those first months of motherhood, breastfeeding caused me more strife and stress than any other aspect of parenting, including sleep and diapers. Turns out, frustrations with breastfeeding are common and almost all nursing moms can describe their most frustrating part of breastfeeding. Or parts, as the case may be for some.
I was warned that breastfeeding could be tough so many times I, honestly, lost count. Still, I tried to remain hopeful and convinced myself that it could, and would, work for me. I mean, women all over the world were doing it everyday, right? Surely this meant that learning how to breastfeed was a smooth transition for most if not all women, correct?
Well, yes. For many women breastfeeding is somewhat "easy" and relatively painless. However, I wasn't one of those women. Eventually, my son and I got the hang of it and I breastfed for more than two years. However, if you’d told me at the beginning that this would be the case, I would have laughed. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have had the energy to laugh, so I might have given you a weak smile of disbelief. Because, when you’re in the middle of it, those challenges can be pretty monumental and seem nothing short of never-ending. Here’s what other moms had to say about the most frustrating part for them:
"I nursed five babies and (mostly) enjoyed the experience. Mostly, because who in the hell likes bleeding nipples besides masochists? The most frustrating part of breastfeeding was the aftermath. It took my already small boobs (A cup) to an even flatter status. I was used to being small chested (not thrilled mind you, but I had come to terms with my aerodynamic figure), but being practically indented up top made me feel like shit. Eventually, it became my prevailing negative thought. Certainly, it was not a healthy way to live."
"People telling me a nipple shield was the devil. Believe me, I needed it! Used it with both kids for a short time until everyone got used to breastfeeding. Without one I never would've made it more than a week, yet multiple 'experts' warned me not to use one. Grrr."
"The pumping! I had to do this 2 or 3 times a day in order to go back to work. I didn't mind the breastfeeding but the pumping was the pits. Loud! Awkward! Time-consuming! Uncomfortable! Embarrassing! Surely they will improve this technology soon?"
"Oversupply + colic was horrible = a vicious cycle! I didn't even understand it was different or unusual. I 'leaked' for 6 months and during those first few months was often crying in a pool of my own milk. The second time around I was able to correct it within a few weeks with block feeding — total game changer!"
"THRUSH! I had a month long bout of it. I drank vinegar, applied nystatin, took diflucan, sanitized everything and it did not go away. It was incredibly painful and I was ready to throw in the towel with breastfeeding. Someone in my mommy group suggested gentian violet and it worked. But, thrush is the worst and so so frustrating."
"Conflicting information and opinions. As a first timer it was very frustrating to not have any definitive answers and just lots of 'try this.'"
"Cluster feedings almost destroyed me. My son wanted to nurse every 20 minutes the first three days of his life, which means I slept in about 10 minute increments for three days."
"The lack of info out there about the struggles, how it didn't work out, how it's OK if it didn't work out. Frustrating to hear 'your body will make enough.' Actually, no, mine doesn't. Exclusive pumping is a thing and it can work. Breastfeeding doesn't have to mean only eating breast milk from the breast."
"1) Going back to work and having a hard time pumping enough 2) Thrush. For a month. Awful! 3) Very limited drinking during the holidays."
"I was convinced that I wasn't producing enough, because my son would try to eat, and then cry and cry. After about two months of this, his pediatrician was able to pinpoint reflux. So I fed him in short spurts, with lots a breaks to sit up and burp, and the problem went away."
"When baby starts getting distracted while nursing. Pop on and off 100x during a feeding to look around. My almost 5 month old is starting to hit this phase."
"I had a breast reduction when I was 18 and I knew breastfeeding would be a challenge. I tried for days. I even tried pumping. I sat on the couch with those things on my nipples for days and nothing came out. I mean nothing. Finally I realized it wasn't going to happen and moved on to something else."
"I found it really frustrating that there was a lot of info out there (books, support groups etc) for breastfeeding, but not much info out there on pumping. I went back to work when my daughter was 9 weeks and while breastfeeding was going well, I felt like I was thrown into the world of pumping without a lot of support or info."