Motherhood // My Breastfeeding Experiences

I have wanted to write this post for quite some time, and although it has taken me longer than I expected, I am finally able to look back and reflect on all three totally different experiences that I have had. At the end of the day, all three girls ended up happy & healthy, and that’s more than I could have ever asked for.
So I thought I would compare the journeys we have had with each baby, starting with my first. Of course I went into it knowing only what I learned from other moms & from our hospital birth classes, but was 100% determined to make breastfeeding work. The lactation consultants were so helpful in the hospital, but within the first 24 hours of Harper’s life, we had already given her formula at our nurses request, as she was not latching and was losing weight. Looking back, I probably should have resisted a bit, a little spoon feeding or using my pump could have done the trick. But, I definitely don’t dwell on it. After weeks of not being able to latch, I resorted to exclusively pumping and we did that for five or so months, and eventually switched to a sensitive stomach formula because of her spit up issues. (More in depth post about exclusively pumping). End result, she was SO MUCH happier, which was all that mattered at that point & I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Baby number two. I packed my pump for the hospital, assuming there was absolutely no chance this baby would latch if my first didn’t. I went into it still feeling pretty defeated from my first time around, but was pleasantly surprised when she naturally latched right away after she was born. I was completely shocked, and couldn’t believe I was actually doing it! I had a lot of soreness and pain (which is normal) that I was sure was going to end our journey early, but we pushed through it. I was proud of making it through the first few weeks. Eloise had lots of gas & tummy issues, didn’t sleep well and was terribly fussy a lot of the time, and rather than just consider the fact that she was a baby, and that’s kinda what babies do, I blamed it all on my milk. Was it something I was eating? Or was I not eating enough fats to keep her full? Maybe I should give her formula today. Is she not getting enough? Maybe I should supplement with a bottle. And before I knew it, I had depleted my own milk supply, worrying about all of the things I was doing wrong & supplementing so much. I let my worries, stress & fear of failing get the best of me, and while I don’t dwell on it, I do look back thinking I could have done a better job.
And now baby number three. To be honest, I sorta forgot about all of breastfeeding issues that I had with my first two, mostly because I was scared shitless of all the other chaos that was about to consume my life with having three kids. It was my third c-section, and despite what people warned me about, and some nurses even told me, I had no problem bonding with Claire, no problem with her latching & no issues with my milk coming in. I had the most pain somehow with her though, I remember laying awake at night crying and stalling to put her on the breast because it hurt so bad. She wasn’t a good sleeper, she did have some tummy troubles on and off, but the thing was, I was too lazy to make her a bottle of formula. It took more hands than nursing did, so we pushed through it. I didn’t have time to worry about if my milk was sufficient, or about what I ate. I was too busy making sure my three year old didn’t give my one year old a haircut and things of that nature. Our feeding issues with Claire were on a totally different spectrum, I tried introducing a bottle and she refused, to the point where I couldn’t be away from her for more than three hours at a time for quite a few months. It was so weird compared to the experiences that we had with the other girls, but eventually we rolled into eight straight months of nursing & I was in total disbelief. 
I sort of weaned her on accident around 9 months, she was using nursing as a pacifier at night and was still waking up multiple times, so Brandon would wake with her and give her a bottle, and my mom kept her once overnight and I didn’t pump. My brain was scrambled eggs at that point & I wasn’t thinking clearly about the effects it would have on my milk supply, but ultimately it was the step that finally got her sleeping longer at night. Her sleep improved to much after that, but now has somewhat regressed, so looking back, I do regret not nursing her longer. But it still seems surreal to me that I nursed for nine whole months, with two toddlers, during the most chaotic time of my life. If there has ever been an accomplishment I am most proud of, it might be that one. 😉 
So the point of this post, other than to share my experience, is hoping that I help some of you through one of the most difficult parts of motherhood. To tell you that if nursing is important to you, and you just relax & not let the fear of failure get the best of you, you will make it. You can push through the pain, six weeks really is the sweet spot, things get so much easier after that.
But also to tell you that if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you, that’s okay too!! All three of my kids ate string cheese & watermelon straight off the ground today while they played on a slip n slide. What matters is that you are doing what works for you and your baby, and that may be different with each child, so don’t get discouraged if the first time (or second, or third..) don’t go as planned. 
You’re doing GREAT, and we are all here to support you.
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  1. That last part about your kids eating string cheese and watermelon off the ground cracked me up! I wish someone had told me all of this before I had my baby, who is almost 4 now. I clearly remember thinking about breastfeeding "why didn't anyone tell me it would be this hard?!" My best friend had made it look so easy, so when it hurt SO BAD and my nipples bled, I was shocked and so upset. I ended up exclusively pumping too until he was 6 months old. Thank you for sharing! I know it will help other moms out there.

  2. I needed to hear this. I only have 2 kids and my breastfeeding journeys both times weren't exactly what I wanted, but I have learned so much. Maybe some day we'll get another chance and the third time will be the charm! 😉 Thanks for being so real.

  3. This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!!! It helps moms believe that no matter how our feeding experiences end up that we are doing a good job! My first did not nurse well at all and we did a combo nursing/pumping/formula system until he was 6 months. After that it was one bottle of breast milk a day and formula otherwise! I'm due with my second and worry about how breastfeeding will go! This calms many of my fears!! Thank you!

  4. I'm due with my first baby in about 4 weeks and this is so, so wonderful of you to share. Nearly everything I've been told about breastfeeding thus far has been so technical and I needed to hear some real talk. My plan is not much of a plan, basically just to breastfeed if I can and go for as long as it works for us. I was starting to worry that I wasn't worrying enough! My goodness is it nice to know that winging it really is okay. Thanks girl!

  5. I just had my first baby 8 months ago and recently wrote about my breast feeding experience on my blog. it was absolutely NOTHING like I had anticipated and in the end knew that being happy myself was so important for my baby too. Thanks for sharing your experience and helping all of us other mamas feel good about it too.
    Babykaufmanadventures.blogspot.com

  6. Great post! There is so much pressure yo breastfeed, but ultimately you have to do what is best for baby AND you! I couldn't make it past 3 weeks with my first. I was so depressed! I tried exclusively pumping, but I ended up depleting my milk supply by not pumping enough. With my second I went in totally prepared…and at 3 weeks felt like, but wouldn't let myself give up! I pushed through! My goal was a year. At 7 months I experienced the first nursing strike and cried going to the store to buy formula. We never used it. I am still breastfeeding at 18 months (gasp!) with milk given whenever I'm out or am busy with my oldest. I've tried to wean…but its tough!

    Thanks for sharing that each child can bring you a different experience for breastfeeding – or anything for that matter! 🙂

  7. I hear ya. I nursed my last for 14 months because it was a bigger pain in the ass to make a bottle…until it started to be a pain that he wouldn't take a bottle. Ha, then I just waited patiently until he started eating solids and could finally escape for a bit. Tough gig! We do the best we can in the moment that is for sure.

  8. Jess, this post just totally spoke to me. Been following your blog since getting pregnant myself with #1 shortly after you had Harper. I had daughter #2 just three weeks ago, and am doing my damndest to breastfeed her… something that didn't work with #1 (similar reasons to you, but add that she was a 10lb baby who ate way more than I was capable of producing at the time). Is 6 weeks really the sweet spot? So I only have another 3 weeks to go until it gets a bit better? It started improving just a few days ago but oh man, if it's truly going to get easier, I'm so encouraged.
    Thanks for sharing, as always.

  9. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I feel like I heard so many stories about pregnancy and labor that I felt well prepared for those aspects and had really good experiences, but people don't talk about breastfeeding as much. My son is 4 weeks old and some days it's a struggle. He had trouble latching at first and now I have a clogged milk duct and with each obstacle, it's easy for me to blame myself somehow. It's so comforting to hear that I'm not alone in the struggle and a great reminder to not stress about it!

  10. From a fellow breastfeeding mama getting to the end of my daughter's first year (and my goal to make it to nursing her!) I needed this tonight! We all have different journeys as well as each child is different. Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is probably my favorite post to date and I've been following you for years ever since you were pregnant with Harper! Breastfeeding is a full time job and ALWAYS makes mamas question anything and everything. I'm a postpartum nurse so I help new moms and current moms breastfeed all the time. I've breastfed my own two kiddos as well and it.is.not.easy. With my first I had to pump, supplement, use a supplemental nursing system, AND a nipple shield. Talk about wanting to give up, and I wanted to every single day. But, I got past all the obstacles and went on to nurse her for 15 months! I guess I just want to say that I truly believe that breastfeeding is best for a baby but I also truly believe that your own sanity has to come into play at some point and to do whatever works for both you and your baby. Whether that be, exclusively BF, exclusively pump, formula, or a combo of everything. People shouldn't judge you for that. Breastfeeding takes a LOT of patience (which is so hard if you have other tots running around the house!!) So cheers to you Jessica for sticking it out with Claire and ultimately being the best mama you can be for ALL three littles! In the end that's what matters, not how long you breastfed them 🙂

  12. Love, love, love! I nursed my first until I was 20 weeks pregnant with #2. He was almost 2 1/2. If you had told me before kids that I would nurse that long, I would have told you that you were crazy! I also managed to nurse #1 through a broken leg, surgery, and recovery (read about it here: http://www.iamnotthebabysitter.com/breastfeeding-story-2/)

    Still nursing #2 at 15 months, and not planning on stopping any time soon. Every baby is different. As mothers, we catch flake for not breastfeeding long enough, and for breastfeeding for too long. We just need to do what we feel is best for our babies, and ignore everything else. A fed baby is a happy baby!

  13. Awww, Jessica you are so sweet and so real! I had trouble breastfeeding my now 1 1/2 year old daughter as well. I was able to exclusively breastfeed for about a year before she self weaned but it was an exhausting experience just because of her colic and fussiness. I'm definately going to be more open to formula for future babies. Ya gotta do what keeps you (and baby) sane lol

  14. Awww, Jessica, you are so sweet and so real. I had trouble breastfeeding my now 1 1/2 year old daughter as well but I was able to exclusively breastfeed her for about a year before she self-weaned. But I do wish I hadn't stressed so much about everything 😃 But it's difficult not to sometimes lol

  15. Really enjoyed reading this post as a sit here nursing my 2 month old and it finally feels normal and easy. I nursed my son for 9 months as well, mainly because we were living in China and it wasn't always easy to get your hands on good formula. Your blog is so inspiring and fun to read, keep up the good work 😉

  16. Your post is so inspirational. When I had my baby back in March I was determined I was going to nurse. A few weeks later I stopped producing milk and I felt like a bad mom not being able to provide for my baby. But after all the tummy troubles that he had anyways, the formula that he's on actually works out better for him. All that matters is that he's happy and healthy. That's all any parent wants for their baby.

  17. I love this. I found your exclusive pumping post 3 years ago while up in the middle of the night trying to figure out why breastfeeding wasn't working for us. As a new mom, it made me feel like I wasn't crazy and that maybe it was okay if breastfeeding didn't work out. Love your blog and watching your cute little family grow!

  18. My kids eat tons of stuff off the ground. It's disgusting and also surprising how quick they can do it when they realize I'm not looking.

  19. Yes! I always says 6 weeks is the magic number too. I am currently breastfeeding my third and what I have to remember is that it may be my third time, but it's her first.

  20. Just wanted to chime in and say first, congratulations! That's a great accomplishment! And also let you know that my daughter used nursing as a pacifier too and I did the same as you with letting my husband get her and I didn't pump and my supply drastically decreased. They say those wee morning hours and your greatest time for pumping to keep your supply up and I must say I agree!

  21. Thank you for posting so honestly! The nurses pushed for me to supplement with formula while in the hospital and although it was only 10 ml it has been hanging over my head. Hearing someone else that experienced the same and always dealt with a baby who didn't take right to it is so reassuring. Establishing breastfeeding can be so tough in the beginning, but we have been successfully nursing for five weeks now!

  22. Thank you Jessica for a beautiful honest post. I don't have any children but one day I hope to you and your honesty about breast feeding is very encouraging. I love reading your posts about your family. I also love your collaboration with Katie from Sa Sea. I just got the new hoodie Like a Mermaid! Super excited to add that to my growing collection from you all!!

  23. I had a lot of difficulties with breastfeeding with my first two kids. I just had my third a couple weeks ago and she is by far the easiest as far as breastfeeding has gone, although, it still isn't a walk in the park. I had the best lactation consultant at the hospital. I thought she was going to make me feel ashamed but she shared that her second child was not able to breastfeed and I thought that if a professional even has difficulties than I'm doing ok! She also told me to remember that 1. I need to feed my baby and 2. To enjoy my baby. That was unexpected advice as I expected her to say breastfeeding is the only way and to put a guilt trip on me if I didn't stick with it!! Her words have stuck with me so much. It is more important to enjoy my baby and make sure they are healthy more than anything else. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  24. What an encouraging post. Thank you for sharing! While I have made it to 11 months with my son (two days older than Claire!), the first 10 weeks were incredibly difficult-filled with a lot of pain and tears. I often think about how it might be the same when we have a second. It's nice to read someone else's experience and to see how each one was different. And go you for making it to 9 months with your youngest-that is a huge accomplishment!

  25. I've been following your blog since Harper was less than a year old. I recently had my first little girl, and I can't tell you how great this post makes me feel. I've felt like a failure the past 2 weeks unable to get her to latch to me. Your words are always kind and helpful. Thank you for making me feel a little less crazy and a little more like a good mom. Xoxo

  26. I was miraculously able to nurse my son (one year younger than Harper to the day!) for a whole year. I'm a working momma so I pumped a lot too. I constantly had a fear of is he getting enough?! We struggled with a tongue tie as well and he had it clipped at 7 weeks. With the help of girlfriends who were experienced BFers, I was able to make it that long. I had my daughter in Sept 2015, and we recently weaned. Although I wanted to make the 1 year mark … I decided I didn't need the extra pressure and to be honest, I think she was over it too. She preferred the bottle and that was okay w me. Every baby is different!!

    Cheers! Clink! And high five momma!!

  27. This is so what I needed to hear and read tonight! With our second little one BFing came easier but within a week of having him we started moving into our new home (while mainly doing the packing and moving alone because my husband is a deputy with crazy hours) my supply diminished and we are now at 4 months doing just formula. I've been so upset knowing I haven't been able to BF the little guy because I went longer with my older daughter. Thank you for your honesty and the extra encouragement to know that if my little guy is happy and healthy; then we are absolutely doing the right thing! 🙂 hugs from Florida!
    -gabby

  28. I think we are just so hard on ourselves when it comes to this topic! It kind of makes me sad because I think we are ALL doing a wonderful job! My 1st son had formula at the hospital because I was just so exhausted from birthing him I could barely wake up to feed him! He had formula and BM from the beginning and I only lasted 3 months. My supply went down and I just couldn't keep up. I had a rough healing process as well. With my 2nd son, I'm still BFing and he's about to turn 7 months! I constantly wish I could have provided more for my 1st, but I realize that circumstances were just different, as each child is different as well. And the big picture is that we are so blessed to be able to provide for our little ones at all, whether it be formula or BM! Can you imagine not having food available at all? We can pick up anytime, day or night, and grab formula off the shelves! And the options we have… wow! I think all you Mamas are doing a fantastic job!!! If I could high five you all, I would!!! (c:

  29. So encouraging! Thank you ❤️❤️❤️ Were you able to find anything to help with your girls' tummy/gas issues. We are struggling with that right about now and I too am stressing over whether it's something I'm eating :-/

  30. Thank you for sharing your experiences and congrats! We had 3 babies in 37 months (last baby same age as Eloise) and I nursed her for 9 months with the crazy show of 2 toddlers destroying my house. People said "just give them a busy basket of goldfish and a book while you nurse." I don't know what kind of kids those are but mine were more – let's pull all the cushions off the couch while eating purple popsicles and body slamming each other. Anyways – we survived and it was the biggest accomplishment of my SAHM mom life until we potty trained and people quit napping then I was like that's it – the heavens have opened and it's raining FREEDOM. 🙂

  31. Congratulations on your breastfeefing journey and thank you for sharing your experience! You are a super mom and I love following you and your beautiful family. You have such a big tribune to speak about breastfeeding and help others womens with their own journey.

    I don't want to be rude or seem to tell you what to do, but you could make some change in your article to give more acurate information. I'm a La leche league leader and I'm willing to help you with that if you want. I think you could make a difference for many of your breastfeeding readers.

    For exemple; breastfeeding is not suppose to be painfull ever. Not at the first latch, not after six weeks, never. If there is pain, it's because something is wrong and it's not normal, the latch of the baby need to be check by a lactation consultant (IBCLC) someone who know's what to look for (tongue or lips tie for exemple). It's not normal to cry before a feeding because your are afraid of the pain or to cry during a feeding because it hurt so bad. It's not normal and no mom should stay like this.

    There is people who can help and give solutions, La leche league is one of them. Every mom can call for free a la leche league leader to seek for advice or encouragement. The leader are all formed with a one year treaning to helps others mothers with their breastfeeding journey.

  32. I am so glad you wrote this. I am 30 weeks with #2 and terrified of my next nursing journey. I made it to 4 months with my first but we also supplemented with formula so it wasn't how I wanted it to go. My milk supply vanished after going back to work. That wqas really tough and very discouraging. This time I am trying for longer. My long term goal being a year, ut I will be happy if I just make it to 6 month with no formula. and you're right, we are so hard on ourselves but really what we are doing is an amazing thing.

  33. Jess,
    I've been following your blog since the very beginning, I love seeing how you and your family have grown! Thanks for always keeping your blog funny, light hearted, and positive. Sometimes social media and the Internet can be an ugly nasty place and I love that I can always count on your posts for a good laugh or a smile.
    Sending love from my family to yours. <3
    Paloma

  34. My first sounds JUST like your first. My baby would not latch so they forced a "tiny bit of formula" at me in the hospital and naturally he wanted nothing of my boob. My supply took forever to come in so I resulted to exclusively pumping for almost 10 months (we supplementing in the beginning and end of those 10 months) and then he went right to formula until he turned 1. I wish I new more going into the birth and everything. The lactation consultant was great, but a little more time would have been nice.

  35. Breastfeeding is such an emotional topic. I am a NICU nurse and I thought I would def breastfeed our first for at least a year exclusively and that I had all the resources I needed. To make a long story short, I could never get my milk supply to increase and she was on all formula by 8 weeks. It truly was a grieving process for me- letting go of my idea of how breastfeeding was going to go- but she is now a happy and healthy 2 year old! "Fed is best!" I am almost due with my second and hoping to have better luck this time around, but am also a little more realistic with my expectations. =) It is so nice of you to share your journey with breastfeeding- I am sure it will really impact momma's in such a positive, encouraging way.

  36. I have three girls too (almost 4, almost 2, and 2 months) and have breastfed each. Each breastfeeding experience has been quite different. My oldest was in the NICU for a week after she was born and was bottlefed breastmilk and formula there. When we brought her home we did a 180 to exclusively breastfeeding. It was not easy, and in hindsight maybe not the brightest idea. I had cracked nipples until I returned to work 9 weeks later. Thankfully pumping at work allowed for some healing and as my baby got bigger breastfeeding got easier. We made it 14 months. My second has tongue tie but because she was gaining weight the doctor's didn't correct it. She had trouble latching and managing my oversupply in the beginning (a problem I unknowingly created by pumping after feedings). When I returned to work 3 months later I pumped just enough to send with her to daycare. After awhile my supply decreased and I needed to use all the breastmilk I had stored up from my oversupply time. I got pregnant with my third while breastfeeding my second (so don't let that old wives tale fool you!) and we made it work for 11 months. Your post is a good reminder to stop the stressing, because I'm already worried about returning to work and pumping for my third and I don't have to go back for another 2 1/2 months! I've loved being able to breastfeed each of my girls. It's not been easy, especially the beginning, but it's been totally worth it to me to power through. Now if only I could figure out the whole breastfeeding in public thing.

  37. I got clogged all the time with my 2nd. A couple tricks that worked for me were getting on all 4's to breastfeed…the force of gravity really helped. Also, steaming hot showers and hot heating pads helped. It's incredibly stressful when you are clogged. Good luck. I made it through probably about 20 clogs in my first year.

  38. Have you asked your pediatrician about a probiotic supplement like Culturelle? They say it can help quite a bit, especially with c-section babies (who don't get innoculated with mom's vaginal bacteria including lactobacillus strains and so are more likely to have tummy issues).

  39. I nursed my first daughter for a year until we were both ready to quit. Now daughter 2 is going strong at 6 months. As you said, after 6 weeks you get into such a groove! Friends who were very successful BFers helped me not be anxious about supply and just trust in the natural process.

  40. Love hearing other stories. I just think we should judge the mom who doesn't feed her baby! My first only wanted the bottle after two months of nursing so I exclusively pumped. My second we introduced the bottle week one and she was doing okay until about six weeks. Since then she's refused. I've left her for 8 hours multiple times and she would rather starve. All my friends with 1 kid are judging thinking I did something wrong. Three lactation consultants have determined she's just stubborn. Each journey is different with each child and that's okay. And my first just ate a pretzel she found on the ER floor a few weeks ago.

  41. Chelsea this is exactly what I went through!! I read that a decrease in milk supply after going back to work is normal, but I'm with you, after this baby I'm going to pump a lot more at work and if I still have to supplement with formula then so be it! 🙂

    Jessica, it's so awesome that you'll always be able to go back and look at these stories of your girls. Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves and we have to keep reminding ourselves and each other that we are doing the best we can and like you said, as long as our kids are happy and healthy, that's all that matters!

  42. Jessica, what a great and encouraging post! I think it's great to hear other moms' breastfeeding experiences to know that everyone is different and (if it's what you want to do), just TRYING is an accomplishment. I bottle fed my first – didn't even try to latch him – because the thought of trying to nurse was so overwhelming. I regret it for many reasons, but he is a happy, healthy 6 year old at this point, so I obviously don't lose sleep at night over not nursing him. My second came along and I was determined to nurse! We had a lot of bumps in the road, as we all do, and I ended up nursing him far beyond my initial goal of six months. He self weaned right before he turned 2. It was one of the best experiences of my life and sometimes I miss it!
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and providing acceptance and encouragement for all the moms who read your blog. I am really impressed that you had the most success nursing with two other toddlers to tend to. Life is funny that way.
    Cheers and happy summer!

  43. Thank you for sharing your story, it's very encouraging. There's so much pressure on mothers if they decide to breast or formula feed. It doesn't matter which decision they make we have to embrace them. We all just do what is best for our families and that might not be the best choice for others.
    Although I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my first, things didn't work out the way I wanted them to. Which made me question everything and anything, I just wanted the best for my little girl and that stressed me a lot. It took me some time to realise that supplementing was a good decision, my partner could take over some shifts, so I could sleep more than 3 hours in row. Through this change I was much more relaxed and so was my baby. It's so important that you take care of yourself, because a happy mom has a happy baby. Also I found organic formula, which is as safe and natural as breast milk, on myorganicformula.com.
    Kind regards,
    Charlotte

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