Breastfeeding Fears

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This future mom of 3 shares her breastfeeding fears and why she's petrified of trying to breastfeed again.

Since becoming a mother, breastfeeding has become one of the most stressful aspects of my new life. With my first-born, I was determined to be the “perfect” mother. I wanted everything to be just-so for my little boy, including the way I breastfed. I knew I was going to rock it. I read all the books, watched videos, and mentally told myself that I had no choice but to be great at this. Not only would it save us money, but I wanted that connection with my son. I’d read about many supermoms being able to breastfeed for 6 months, to a year, to even 2 years. I figured, “this will be naturally easy. I got this.”

Boy, was I wrong.

After 6 weeks of tears, clogged ducts, and extreme postpartum depression, I gave up. My baby was crying because I refused to feed him formula, even though I wasn’t providing enough milk due to stress. My husband had no clue what to do, since this was the first time he was dealing with a new wife, new son, and the idea of breastfeeding. He didn’t want to offend me by suggesting formula, but hated to see me in such a difficult state. Those were dark days, and the months after were no different. Every time we spent money on formula, I resented the whole situation. I felt like a failure. I never wanted to feel that way again.

With my daughter, I went into breastfeeding with trepidation. This time, I reached out to others for help. I confided in a military spouse blogger who’d had success with breastfeeding her daughter, and even headed up the La Leche League in her area. She lived across the country, but still seemed like she was willing to help me by fielding my questions once our daughter was born. I got lucky with the Duchess: she latched on quite well, and was a great eater. But, again, I started to stress. I didn’t think she was getting enough milk and that my milk wasn’t enough sustenance for her. I expressed my feelings to my cross-country friend, along with another blogger.

They laughed at me. No, really. They were pretty mean about it. I was mostly nervous to go back to work at my base, and wanted advice on how to pump for my girl while keeping my supply up during my time away. For some reason, they thought that because they’ve never had that problem, they could look down on me. I wasn’t a military spouse with the ample amount of support they offered to one another. I was a silly female service member with a problem they didn’t care about. Again, I felt like a failure. After 2 months of breastfeeding, I started the little girl on formula. I cried for weeks.

Now, we’re on baby number 3. I’m petrified and stuck in a shame spiral over my breastfeeding fears. While I know that if we have to use formula it won’t be that big of a deal, I still want to produce milk for my new son. I would love for him to get all of his nutrients from me and only me. My issues with postpartum depression and anxiety aren’t helping with my mindset right now. I visualize him successfully feeding from me, but I also see flashes of anger, heartbreak, and tears from him and me. I don’t want history to repeat itself. I just want to do right this time. While this rite of motherly passage seems so simple, it’s oh so complex, especially in my mind.

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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  1. 8.7.14

    I’m sorry to hear that your last two breast feeding attempts were so stressful. I was completely uneducated & unprepared about breast feeding when I had my first, and after 1 very stressful week, I gave up & she was exclusively formula fed. With my second, I was determined to breast feed, and it was very stressful for me for months. With the roller coaster of emotions, plus the insecurity that my son was not gaining weight, I really struggled. I made it through a painful bout of thrush that almost made me quit as well. I ended up exclusively breast feeding him for a full year, even though I was never able to pump….ever! I feel like the only reason I didn’t quit was because I had a lot of guilt and shame about being a failure. Now this time with my third, I have no idea what I’ll do. I’m going to breast feed, but not let myself be tortured if things don’t work out to my expectations. I wish you success, but definitely don’t feel guilty for any of your choices (easier said than done). Hugs!

    • 8.7.14
      Amiyrah said:

      Thank you, Bay! Yes, this 3rd one is kind of a crapshoot when it comes to the breastfeeding. I want to do right by him, but I don’t want to feel like that failure again. The best part is that I have more support, real support, this time. Great friends like you are here to lean on when I just need to vent or need to ask for help. Thanks so much for leaving a comment and being so awesome 🙂

  2. 8.7.14
    beth said:

    Omg. I can’t believe they laughed at you! And treated you that way 🙁 I was afraid to look for support and worried constantly. But I did breast feed abby for a little over a year. I also suffered from ppd so I know what you went thru. I’m here if you need me. And don’t fret so much about the latch. Not all babies do but you can pump full time and still give your baby breast milk 🙂

    • 8.7.14
      Amiyrah said:

      Thank you for the support, Beth! I’m going to try to take advantage of the great friends, online and offline, that are offering to help this time around. Now I know who I can really rely on and trust. I appreciate you being one of those friends.

  3. 8.7.14
    Nichole said:

    I had a similar experience with my daughter. I wasn’t producing much of anything. I met with an “expert,” and she basically told me I wasn’t trying hard enough. So I took the supplements and did all the stuff she said to do, and I didn’t give her formula because the “expert” said I shouldn’t. My daughter was hungry all the time, and I was physically and mentally miserable. We were both SO much happier when I finally relented and gave her formula.

    With my son, I very much wanted to be able to breastfeed. But again, my production was pathetic. This time, I didn’t consult the experts. I just accepted that it would either work or it wouldn’t and that I needed to do what was healthiest for the whole family. I had a 2-year-old at home, and I didn’t have the wherewithal to wade into another losing battle. So we supplemented with formula for the first five or six weeks, and then we stopped trying to breastfeed.

    I’m still bitter about the people who tried to make me feel like I was being a bad mother because I struggled to breastfeed. I’m still upset with myself for allowing them to succeed. I avoid reading most breastfeeding stuff now because every now and then the self-righteous commentary still makes me feel less-than.

    All this is to say: You love your family, and I know you’re going to do whatever’s best for all of them. You’ve got this. AND I think you might have a better support-system now. 🙂

    • 8.7.14
      Amiyrah said:

      Thanks for commenting, Nichole. It’s comforting to see someone basically say “me too.” It’s a difficult part of being a mother, and no one can tell us that it isn’t. We both tried our best though, right? We can’t say that we didn’t. This time, I am going to take advantage of the GOOD support out there and try not to be so hard on myself.

      Hugs to you, my friend and thanks for being such a wonderful support system.

  4. 8.7.14
    Kara said:

    I hear and understand every one of your concerns. Whatever you decide to do will be the right decision. Just remember that your baby needs YOU more than your milk … and that you’re a stellar mommy regardless of how you feed your baby.

  5. 8.7.14
    Alexandra Graves said:

    It’s so sad that you had that experience with your previous kids. Nursing is (for me) an amazing experience, but it’s not always easy, and you need support- TRUE support. I’m so sorry you didn’t get that.

    I had a lot (A LOT) of trouble nursing my son initially- he wouldn’t latch at the hospital at all, I had all sorts of issues with his latch and ended up with a lot of problems with supply (over supply actually), cracked nipples, and the worries about weight gain and the rest of it. In the process, I learned a few things and we went on to nurse for almost 2 years. Here are a few helpful tips from my experience, and please know that there is some great support out there that you can find. You can have a different experience nursing this time around, if it’s for 2 days, 2 months, or 2 years!

    1- Stay calm. When I was in the hospital, my son was “overweight” which meant that the nurses pushed formula on us when he didn’t immediately latch. We went with it, but no one explained to us that FF babies eat every 3-6 hours initially, and BF babies may nurse every hour. By the time we realized he was hungry (4 hours after his last bottle), he’d be screaming so much that I couldn’t get him to latch. Nurse early, often, and do skin to skin if your newborn is upset. Trying to nurse a screaming baby is like trying to bail out the Titanic- you have to stay calm and calm them in order to get them latched.

    2-Babies get upset. and breastfed babies (in my limited experience) get more upset than formula fed babies, often because they digest breast milk easier and faster. There were days that my son nursed constantly, and I was so overwhelmed and nervous that I was doing something wrong that I wanted to switch to formula. Thankfully I had a supportive partner and a pediatrician who encouraged me to nurse (and he got weighed a lot!), and I stuck with it. It’s hard to trust that they’re getting something when you don’t see it going down their throat. Finding a place where you can weigh your new one before and after nursing (or even buying a scale yourself and learning how to use it) might be really helpful if you’re concerned about weight gain (and low supply). Remember that just because your new one is upset, doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing something right- they might be hungry again (even though it’s only been 30 minutes), or they might just be overwhelmed with life. Life is pretty overwhelming at that stage for everything.

    3-There is support out there. And all kinds. Breastfeeding groups, LLL groups, hospitals, independent IBCLCs and breastfeeding peer counselors. Find some referrals to some supportive (SUPPORTIVE) folks, and line up some help. Even if your new one nurses great from the get go, have an IBCLC come over and watch you and help you nurse. They’ll have great tricks and give you all the support you need- they will often do follow ups for free or little money after the initial visit as well. In addition to the experts, get your family on board. Talk to your older kids about what this means- “moms going to be sitting on the sofa a lot, because she’s feeding your new little brother” use it as an excuse to hang out in your PJs and watch Frozen every day for a month. You’ll get the hang of nursing down and be able to go on adventures soon enough- use this time as an excuse to nest a little. Lastly, get some support from supplements! There are tinctures out there (Mother’s Milk) and Fenugreek pills will help a lot to build a strong supply. Take them early on- since establishing a strong supply early is the best way to be successful. If you end up with an oversupply (like I did), that can be managed easier than low supply. I wouldn’t bother with an herbal tea supplement, since you usually have to drink so much of it. If you take Fenugreek, take enough of it that you smell like Maple Syrup- then you’re taking enough (and yes, you’ll want pancakes all the time).

    4- Know that it will get easier. Things got a lot easier for me after the 3 month mark. My supply was established (yes it can take that long to establish a good supply) and managed, my son was starting to eat more efficiently, and I had figured out nursing in public. When they learn to hold and control their head, it makes a HUGE difference because they can dictate nursing and it becomes less awkward for you to hold them. By the time my son was 6 months old, I didn’t really want to push solids because nursing was SO much easier than food.

    5- Practice pumping. And do it early. I work full time and I pumped at work until my son was 15 months old. When he was little (2 weeks maybe), I started pumping between nursing sessions to build a supply and a stash of frozen milk, and to also figure out what worked for me. Some women look at pictures of their baby when pumping, I watched movie clips. Triggering that letdown is really important, so figure out what helps and then do it. Pumping is also a great way to get other children and partners involved- everyone should get in on the cuddles.

    6- This last piece is technical- if you have a crack, try to nurse in a position where your baby’s tongue doesn’t massage the crack. When little ones nurse, they use their tongue to massage the underside of the nipple- I had a bad crack RIGHT where my son nursed in cradle position. I had to do several weeks of football hold (not comfy for me) in order to get it healed, but not having his tongue on that spot helped a lot.

    This is long, and I wish you the best. You seem like such a great mom and (for me) nursing is a great experience. I wish you the best with it.

    • 8.7.14
      Amiyrah said:

      Oh Alexandra. I’m sitting here crying over this comment. Thank you, THANK YOU for taking the time to write all of this out. This is the type of support and advice I really need. I’m feeling so much better after reading this. I really appreciate it.

  6. 8.7.14
    Jess said:

    Girl, people are jerks. I never had to pump with Ava. But you work for the government and they have to provide you with resources!

    It’s a great thing to be able to pump at work and you should try to take advantage of that. Have your place where you can go. Come up with a routine (as much as possible).

    And you know what? If it doesn’t work, that’s cool too. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! You can bf in the morning and night and all weekend. You can just pump at work or when you’re away. You do what works for you and your family. There’s no magical answer.

    You have an army behind you, A. AN ARMY. Use us! We all have different experiences and that’s a beautiful thing. All of us are here to support you in different ways. DO IT GIRL.

  7. 8.7.14

    I just hopped over here to “like” your facebook page and got sucked into this post. It was like reading my own story, except for the whole La Leche League thing… It got so bad and my depression was so bad that I remember having a huge fight one night because my husband didn’t want me to give up feeding and kept saying that I needed to follow the lactation consultants advice and pump inbetween feedings. I remember saying that I just didn’t think I could do it when I was feeding every 80 minutes for 40 minutes at a time. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up taking fenugreek, eating oatmeal and pumping inbetween feeding followed by formula in the evenings for bed time. It’s the worst when you want to do something so natural for your kid and your body isn’t cooperating. Then those growth charts at the Pediatricians office are a whole nother rant for a whole nother day. Keep doing your best and accept that formula isn’t failure rather it’s simply giving your kid a few vitamins that you can’t. You were created to be mom and you’ve already done it twice. Keep on keeping on and when you feel that depression spiral starting, take a deep breath and get out for a walk. We both agreed after we got over that hump that we would do our best with baby number 2 and give formula from day 1 if need be.

  8. 8.8.14

    Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience and didn’t get the community support you needed. Thankfully things have changed in recent year and more doctors and people understand each breastfeeding experience is different. Maybe you can start now enlisting the support of your doctor, hospital staff and local breastfeeding community advocate. There is support out there so you can try to have the experience you want.

    Also, dont be so hard on yourself. Accept that your intentions are from a place of love. That is one of the most important things a baby needs. Bottle or breast, you’re feeding your baby with love.

    • 8.8.14
      Amiyrah said:

      Thank you, Onica. I’ve already started to find my little group of support on and offline. I’d like to really do better this time around, so I’m trying to be less hard on myself and know that this is something that will depend on the baby, my mindset, and the idea of relaxing and knowing that it’s all about doing what’s best for the both of us. I so appreciate your comment.

  9. 8.8.14

    Those women were jerks! I can’t believe they were so awful to you! Alexandra gave you the advice I was going to give you, so I won’t repeat it. But I will tell you that I’ve breastfed three different children, and each experience was completely different. My 9 year old was a champion latcher, and except for the fact that my milk didn’t come in until he was 6 days old, we never had any issues and nursed for 2 years. Even during times of overwhelming stress, it was good and I pumped for a year while I was working. I assumed, since we were so easy that my second son was a breeze, I mean I was a pro by then, right? Nope, it was significantly more challenging. He was a lazy latcher, and we had a lot of trouble. Also, I had PPD with him, my c-section was more difficult to recover from, and he had colic. It took us a lot longer to get it together and I supplemented with formula with him when I never had to with my older son. I was able to nurse him for two years also (with a year of pumping when I went back to work when he was 6 weeks). I’m now nursing my third baby and I naively thought that the two previous experiences prepared me for Tesla. I could not have been more wrong. She didn’t latch in the hospital, we were at the doctor’s office every week for weigh in because she was *losing* weight, she was such a bad latcher that I had blood blisters on my nipples. When she would latch, I had to have my husband stand next to me and hold my hand so I could squeeze to get through the initial pain. It was really bad. And she had colic (but not as bad as my second son). I reached out to the pediatrician, my OB, and LLL. Luckily, we have a great LLL leader here and we spent lots of time on the phone trying different things and figuring it out. It was hard, and we supplemented with formula from the beginning so I could pump and we could make sure she was getting some food while we figured out how to nurse. With my son, I felt guilty for every formula bottle he had. This time, although I was upset for a couple of weeks, I am okay with the formula now. On weekends, we nurse exclusively (although she started solids last week). But, I have never pumped enough during the week for her to have milk exclusively, so she gets at least 4 oz of formula each day. We’re at 6 months now, and going strong. I plan to nurse for two years like I did with the boys if everything keeps working. I’ll stop pumping when she’s a year though, because I hate that mess. Tesla had her six month checkup this week. And this baby, who scared me so much because she was losing weight her first couple of months, is now in the 90th percentile in both height and weight now. I consider this a victory, since the majority of this is from breast milk, whether it was straight from me or from the pump. Bottom line is that nursing can be super hard, terrifying, exhausting, and emotional. I probably wouldn’t have ever tried again if my nursing experience with the first had been like the second or third. You are going to feed your baby, no matter what that looks like, and everything will be okay.

  10. 8.13.14

    I’m so very sorry you didn’t have helpful supportive people on your back. I want to call them all the names.

    I wish people would come out and say it is hard and it isn’t easy for everybody. Even for my FOURTH kid we had issues. And, I just had my third clogged duct in a month.

    It’s not easy and you end up sacrificing a lot for those little ones.

    Know you have a community you can reach out to and that can help you. I helped my sister (along with other people) when the NICU nurses and other people gave up!

    I’m here and I’m want to help if you want it:)

  11. 8.23.14
    Stephanie said:

    Late to the party here, but your story with #1 was my story too. Military, unhelpful doctors, no support, three bouts of mastitis by six weeks in (104 degree fevers in the summer with no A/C are no joke!), and I threw in the towel. I cried every day for three months and felt like a failure whenever we bought formula.

    Fast forward twelve years later and I’ve just had #2 (she’s just about to turn 4 months). My experience couldn’t be more different this time around. She latched on great from the beginning, and despite having a few weeks of really disliking the whole thing in the beginning, breastfeeding is going great. What really helped me was hearing other new moms talk about how difficult it was for them early on, how they would sometimes want to cry or throw up when the baby started acting hungry. I felt upset at myself for not being this blissed out picture of a new nursing mom, but once I heard that other moms struggled too, I felt better about the whole thing, and baby and I kind of turned the corner and everything was smooth sailing after that!

    I was a little concerned about supply in the beginning- with my son, I had what seemed like oversupply and was constantly engorged, which was bad bad bad, but not this time. I had heard that eating oatmeal can help increase your supply, so I had a lovely bowl of oatmeal that morning at breakfast. Well. I spent the rest of the day with icepacks on my chest, trying to relieve the engorgement, and I’ve sworn off oatmeal until she weans (which is sad, because I love oatmeal!). Give that a try if you feel like you’re not producing enough or want to build up a freezer stash early on.

    And don’t be too hard on yourself. The world is hard enough on us moms. Really, as long as the baby gets fed, everything will be okay. My son turned out great despite my inability to nurse, and I’m guessing your super gorgeous older kids have as well! 🙂 Congratulations on #3!

  12. 8.25.14

    Now that you have experience consulting all the experts, here’s my advice.
    Let little man show you what he needs.
    Find quiet time together to nurse. Watch his body language and find his favorite positions to nurse.
    You two will be just fine.
    I breastfed like a champ for 22 months including dietary changes for the boy’s food allergies. But I had mastitis, pumped overnight and had bleeding nipples too.
    When you’re going through it – it seems like it’ll never end.
    But there are days I wish I could quiet and calm him by popping a boob in his mouth like I did when he was a baby!

  13. 8.29.14

    Oh Amiryah,
    I am so sorry I haven’t checked in with you in a while. Thank you for writing this raw, honest post. I had problems nursing my first and second child, and then success with my third. I beat myself up over not being able to nurse the first two times and I now realize that there were other things going on that I had no control over (my oldest child had low muscle tone and we didn’t know that’s why he had such trouble sucking). For #2 (which I still had problems with) and #3, I made sure I had access to people who could help me, read as much as I could, had galactogues on hand (the Traditional Medicinals Tea Mother’s Milk Tea- $5 a box at Target and most stores is a big help). Lactation cookies and foods such as oatmeal may help build up your supply.

    The advice above is spot-on. No one should judge you or laugh at you — that is just awful and unsupportive. Please try to see an IBCLC if possible and even if you end up supplementing in the beginning, you may be able to go 100% to breastfeeding. Good luck.

  14. 9.7.14
    S said:

    I had a terrible time nursing my son, too. He had a lot of trouble latching and would just scream at my breast (I also had mastitis twice, a plugged duct, and nipple thrush, to really add to the adventure). We had a postpartum doula, who was also a lactation consultant, come to our house (you can find one at She weighed the baby, had me nurse on one side, weighed him again, had me nurse on the other side, and then weighed him a third time, which gave me reassurance that he was getting milk from me on both sides. The doula also helped me with positioning and gave me many other great suggestions about newborn care (and self-care). One thing she suggested was Bowen Therapy to help with nursing. We took my son to a Bowen practitioner (we cleared it with my son’s pediatrician) and found that the muscles down one side of his back and neck were pulled, which made it hard for him to latch properly. It made a huge difference and only took about five appointments.
    I would really encourage you to get the names of several lactation consultants and other related support people in your area and have a resource list ready by the time the baby is born. If you are a member of a local moms group, there are probably several other moms in your area who could give you recommendations.
    And please, do not suffer silently. There is a lot of help available and if nursing is painful or challenging, a qualified (and caring!) professional should do an evaluation.
    I wish you a wonderful experience with your next baby!

  15. 10.20.14
    Shelly said:

    I planned to breast feed only and give him no bottles until he was at least a month to prepare for me to go back to work. I did not plan for him to be a 4 1/2 pound 35 week preemie in the NICU. I had to supplement to get him out of the hospital and the nursing, supplementing, the pumping every three hours was too much. I didn’t pump enough to get a good supply even with taking the supplements that were supposed to help. Luckily that was the only problem. I figured a little was better than none so I continued to pump at work even when I was only getting, at best, a total of one ounce per pumping session. At six months, when he started teething, he started getting where he’d only nurse when he was sleepy. I still continued for two more months. It was just this past week (he’s 8 months today) that I decided I had to stop. My supply is down to less than 1/2 an ounce per pumping session. The reason I stuck with it despite the pitiful supply was that it was the only thing (besides a healthy baby) about my birth experience that went even practically the way I wanted.

    Congratulations on your new baby!