When Breastfeeding Isn’t So Easy


Awhile back I posted about the comparison game that all of us moms tend to play. It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of comparing ourselves to each other rather than embracing who we are as unique and individual mothers. Today I want to share a personal experience that caused me to really have to confront this topic head on. Today I want to share about my experience with breast feeding.

I only breastfed my daughter for 2 months.  There, I said it. I can hear the thoughts running through your heads now…

“Doesn’t she know that breast milk is best for her baby?”

“Did she even really try?”

“She must have given up way too quickly.”

Before you make these assumptions (as we are all prone to do) let me share with you my story.

When I was pregnant with Nora I fully intended to breastfeed. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to or that I would struggle with supply. I just assumed that all would go smoothly in that department. Boy was I wrong.

I had a very smooth pregnancy and amazing natural delivery, and as I adjusted to life as a mom I began to try and figure out this whole breastfeeding thing. Immediately Nora had trouble latching properly due to my size (I’ve always had a larger bust size, but as all you mommas know, they were MUCH larger after giving birth!). The nurses worked with myself and Nora trying to get her to latch but we were really struggling. By the time we left the hospital she had lost some weight, but no one was too concerned yet as this is common.

My pediatrics office also had lactation consultants in their office, so I saw her a few times and she introduced me to the nipple shield. This helped Nora to latch, but what I didn’t know was that it also can decrease supply because of lack of stimulation. They also asked me to start supplementing her with formula because she had dropped even more weight. I really hadn’t done much research when it came to breastfeeding because I assumed all would go smoothly. I really didn’t know what options were out there so I just listened to and trusted my doctors.

Well by the end of week two my little girl went from 9lbs. 2oz. at birth to 7lbs. 15oz. I just wasn’t producing anywhere near enough to sustain her. When I would pump I was lucky if I could get 2 ounces. I increased her formula intake and began trying different herbs and any natural recommendations I could get my hands on.

At around 2 months, Nora began to refuse to breastfeed in favor of the bottle. This left me relying completely on pumping and this caused my supply to decrease even further. I was lucky if I got an ounce after a long pumping session.

I was completely overwhelmed and defeated. I felt like my life revolved around breastfeeding. I was either pumping, feeding, or researching on how to increase my milk supply. To put it bluntly, I was an emotional mess. I felt like I couldn’t do the one thing I was supposed to be able to do as a mother, feed and nourish my child. I knew that breastfeeding was best for my child and I wanted to do everything I could to give her the very best, but I was failing.

I found that I wasn’t even really enjoying my little girl as I should be because I was constantly stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. I can’t even tell you how many tears I cried as I struggled with my identity. Was I still a good mother?

Through many tears, conversations with my amazingly patient and gracious hubby, and dear friends who were able to speak truth to me, I came to the realization that breastfeeding did not and does not define me as a mother.

Let me make this clear…breastfeeding DOES NOT define you as a mother. I know that that can be a controversial statement, especially in a state like VT, but being a good mother is not defined by whether you breastfeed, co-sleep, do or don’t let your child cry it out, have a natural birth or c-section, etc. What matters is the love and affection that you give your child.

So many people were supportive of my decision to transition fully to formula. They continually reminded me that I was still a good mother in those moments where I felt condemnation and doubt. But  there were others who were quick to judge. Complete strangers who knew nothing of my story and nothing of the intense struggle I went through would make flippant remarks about how I didn’t try hard enough or comments like, “Don’t you know that breastfeeding is best for your baby?” Those comments and judgements hit raw nerves as I continued to struggle with my emotions and feelings.

I had to fight back jealousy of moms who talked about overproducing, leaking, and breastfeeding with ease. I had to fight not to compare myself and play the what-if game.

There were days that all I wanted to do was throw myself a giant pity party and whine and complain about how I couldn’t do what most woman could. But then someone would give me a strong dose of reality; the truth was I had an amazingly beautiful and healthy little girl who I loved and adored more than I ever thought imaginable. I am truly blessed, whether I could breastfeed her or not!

Looking back, are there things I wish I would have done differently? Yes! Do I still plan on trying again with my second little girl due in May? Of course! There is so much more that I know this time around after having experienced so much difficulty the first time. But even if breastfeeding goes exactly the same the second time around, I now know that it does not define me as a mother.

So what do I hope my story communicates to all of you mommas out there?

*Breastfeeding DOES NOT define you as a momma.

*That we all should be slow to make assumptions and quick to encourage rather than pass judgement on each other as mommas.

*That each mother’s story and journey is an individual one full of joys and frustrations; things that went easily and things that were difficult. We should strive to rejoice with each other in the easy things and encourage and fight for one another in the difficulties. 




  1. Thank you! Sounds exactly like my story. After not being able to nurse my oldest (due to lupus medications) I was told I could with my second. Little did I know how hard it would be. It was a very frustrating and depressing several months. Wish I had known more going into it.

  2. I just read this post, I saw it on FB and as a new mom of a five week old I am going though the same thing! I didn’t know low milk supply was even a thing and really struggled to find anything online about it, every website and blog says milk supply is about supply and demand … I say that’s crap, there was a huge demand from my son but little supply! I am mostly using formula and still pumping but wonder he much longer I will continue down that road, it is all so time consuming and what I really want is to enjoy the remaining time I have with him at home on maternity leave. I keep reminding myself it is all about my baby and making sure he is healthy and happy!

  3. so glad I found this post! I am a first time mom with a 6 week old and have been dealing with the mother’s guilt of low supply, baby weight loss and the decision to switch to formula. Such a hard thing to deal with. Every time I thought I was comfortable with the decision I would feel bad for one reason or another! But my baby is growing and healthy and that is all that matters in the long run!

    • Marie, so glad that this was encouraging for you! It is definitely a difficult thing to deal with, but you are so right that a growing and healthy baby is the most important thing, whether they are breast or bottle fed!

  4. Wow, what a great and honest post. I only made it to about 6 weeks with both of my kids and I still struggle with the feelings of guilt and inadequacy when I see other moms breast feeding their children (especially when their children are the same age as mine!). Thanks for sharing your experience, it always helps to know that there are others who have been what you have been through! (And for the record both of my children are also thriving, happy and healthy!!)

  5. Thank you so much for your post. I personally did not have the same struggle with breastfeeding as you did. I was extremely fortunate with an abundant supply of breast milk. But you sharing your story really helps me keep in perspective how lucky I am and reminds not to be to quick to judge. Every woman has her own path and own experiences and we need to respect one another as mothers. Thank you 🙂

  6. Eli and I had a really rocky start and boy can I relate to the frustrations, self doubt, feelings of failure, tears shed… You have to do what’s right for your child and family and THAT defines you as a mother.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing! I wish I had it to read 6+ yrs ago when my son was born!!! (This was me almost exactly…) it was so very difficult 🙁

    • Thanks for the encouragement Angi! I’m sorry that it was such a difficult time for you…I hope that we, as moms, can continue to learn to encourage each other in those difficulties!

  8. A beautiful, honest post, Nissa. I struggled nursing my first and we weaned at 3 months. While I nursed my second and third babies longer, those nursing relationships proved to have different difficulties.

    What matters is that we all do the best we can and the best for US as moms and dads.

    You are brave to have written this. Although I am all done nursing, it’s plain as day to me that breastfeeding continues to be such a controversial, stressful topic for many moms. Can’t we all just get along????

    Nora is blessed to have such an amazing mama. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement Trish! It is often such a stressful topic for woman and I hope that we can continue to encourage one another that breastfeeding is a part but not the whole!

  9. If there is anything I’ve learned from being a momma, it’s that judgement is everywhere. People will constantly have a better idea of how you can take care of/ raise your child and you just have to follow your gut. I’m so glad your hubby was so supportive! (I have nursed two babies and people STILL have all kinds of input on when you should wean them, how long you should go at each sitting, what you should eat during, when and how much solids to introduce, etc.)

    The thing that makes me upset about your story is that you were misinformed. There is often so much talk about pregnancy, labor, and delivery and no one really give the gory details of nursing out of fear it will dissuade, I guess, but it needs to be talked about!

    Thank you, again, for another great post that is thought-provoking and from the heart 🙂 It challenges and encourages me.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Bri! You are right, judgement is everywhere and I hope that in our difficulties as moms we can learn to support one another instead!

  10. I could have written this post! Thank you for reminding us that every situation is different and we often don’t know the back story. Moms need to support each other in every way that we can.

  11. Thank you so much for this post! I had a very similar situation and get so frustrated when I hear women judging each other about breast feeding. I tired everything conceivable trying to breast feed my first child. If there is a medicine, machine or consultant out there I tried them to no avail. I will be forever grateful to the lactation consultant who felt my breasts and said “Yep. There is just nothing there.” I tried to nurse again with my second and third child and still had no success, but I wanted to make the attempt. My children are now well into childhood, strong and healthy. As moms, we need to realize that we are all doing the best we can and find ways to support, not minimize each other.

  12. Great post!!! If you don’t breastfeed, you have to pull yourself away from the mothers who think “nursing cures everything” from not sleeping to sickness. All that matters is how you are loving your child that shapes them.

  13. Had you not struggled with breastfeeding Nora, you wouldn’t be able to encourage and be there for other women in the same way you are now. I wish that it would have been easy for you, dear friend, but I’m thankful that you are taking your experience and using it to help pour grace on other moms. Proud of you and praying that nursing Maggie will be easier and that you will be able to nurse her much longer. Hugs from Mpls!


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