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The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding-For Women Only!

35 Embarrassing, Painful, and Ugly Secrets About Breastfeeding (Plus some Pros)

When I was pregnant with my first, I was excited to breastfeed. My mother breastfed her five babies. My sister and sister-in-law breastfed theirs. I was an avid researcher and read up on the benefits of nursing (which were everywhere online). I was expecting a beautiful nursing experience. After all, 99% of what I read consisted of people’s amazing experiences.

I was caught completely off guard and knew something must be up when, before leaving the hospital, my nurses and midwives kept encouraging me to “stick with it.” I thought to myself, “Why are they worried I won’t stick with it? Isn’t nursing a beautiful, easy, and natural thing?” It didn’t take long for me to figure out why.

My first son was extremely difficult to breastfeed (story here). Our experience did not line up with anything I was expecting. I really struggled to exclusively breastfeed him until an emergency surgery at 2 months forced me to exclusively pump as well as supplement. I weaned him completely at 5 months.

When I had my second, a daughter, I was hoping things would be easier, and I didn’t want to be stuck pumping, so I tried exclusively nursing with no bottles. It has been easier in some ways, yet in other ways it’s been worse. I’ve exclusively breastfed her until five months, and now I’m working on weaning her (reasons why below).

After my own experiences and talking to lots of other women, family, and friends, I felt the need to add some balance to all of the articles out there that focus on how wonderful and perfect breastfeeding is. Nursing for many of us is extremely difficult in many ways (38+ are listed below). It is counter-productive to shhsh and shun people for mentioning these difficulties. Knowing that you aren’t alone in tough experiences can help with the initial shock, confusion, and frustration. I think these truths or secrets of breastfeeding for a lot of us are important to hear about.

Further, I’ve heard so many hurtful and judgmental comments from women who have had easy nursing experiences and frankly they should hear the other side of the story as well. By writing this, I’m hoping to help those who have difficulty nursing or choose not to breastfeed realize they aren’t alone and those who had an easy time with it understand more fully why some of us struggle with or don’t breastfeed.

Please, before you skip or even skim the rest of the article and comment below about how much damage I may be causing by writing about the negatives of breastfeeding, I encourage you to read the whole article. IF you haven’t experienced one of the following and don’t know anyone who has, then feel free to make derogatory comments. But if you have experienced at least one of the following cons of breastfeeding, or know someone who has, please believe that some women (including me) have experienced almost ALL of them. We are seeking for empathy and the reality to be made known (as harsh as it may be) that breastfeeding can be very painful, difficult, and embarrassing for some.

Note- This is for women’s eyes only!  Believe me, men, you probably don’t want to know about some of these. Women proceed.

  1. Hunger- When I nurse I’m insatiable. It is scary really. It seems I just went grocery shopping and yet the fridge is empty. The first 6 weeks after I had my baby I scarfed down tons of food and never felt full.
  2. Reynaud’s Syndrome- Every 2 in 10 women have Reynaud’s (myself included) and most of us have no idea what it is, or even that we have it. It’s an extremely painful condition where the body doesn’t circulate blood to the nipples when a baby is latched on and feeding. The skin turns frost-bite-white. When the baby unlatches the blood goes rushing back into the nipple turning it red then deep red/purple. During the latch on and off an intense shooting pain pulses through the breast and chest. It even occurs at other times. This is very similar to blanching that many women experience as well. I tried the medication for Reynauds and although it did help the pain quite a bit, the many side effects forced me to quit. If you have it, I encourage you to see a dermatologist who is well education on this syndrome. My dermatologist had it as well and was very empathetic.
  3. Becoming immobile-  You’re busy breastfeeding. You can hear your child rummaging through something and then it’s quiet. You call for them, they don’t answer. The quietness haunts you. You hurry and unlatch the baby and go to find out what they’re getting into and then you see it… crayons over all the walls; or the door wide open and they are down the street (how did they get the deadbolt and toddler latch undone!); or they got into the nail polish and ruined your carpet. It honestly took about 2 weeks for my toddler to realize that when mommy is feeding the baby- it’s ‘I can do anything I want time.’ Or how about the knock on the door, the FedEx package that requires a signature, or a neighbor coming by for a visit. Apparently we have a lot going on because it is rare for me to go a day and not have someone come by while I’m nursing. They are forced to wait while I unlatch, gather myself together, and get the door. Only to be greeted by a crying baby and frustrated mom.
  4. Gas- I have heard the statistic that lactating cows pass lots of gas. Makes sense. I will take a guess that the gas is the byproduct of the milk they make… but it never occurred to me that lactating mothers might have the same problem…until I experienced it. Shoot dang.
  5. Sore shoulders- You’ve heard the ‘bring baby to the breast’ rule many times. Don’t hunch over, hold baby up. Yet your shoulders and back are still sore. Don’t worry, even if you bring baby to breast it’s normal to be sore from having heavier breasts and holding/stabilizing your baby while nursing, etc.
  6. Nursing brain- I’m almost positive that this a real phenomenon. A lot of mothers have confirmed it as well.
  7. You can’t tell how much the baby ate. Did she drink 3 oz or 6 oz? Who knows. The experts tell you, “Oh just make sure to count the poopy and wet diapers.” Yet, suffering from lack of sleep and nursing brain and trying to track diapers (when I have two in them) is like one of those impossible Common Core math problems circulating on Facebook.
  8. Here’s another seemingly impossible nursing problem. Your baby is reacting negatively to ‘something you ate.’  You would have to hire Sherlock Holmes or get a degree in deductive reasoning to determine which—out of 30 different types of food you ate in the last two days your baby may be reacting negatively to (within a reasonable time frame). Process of elimination of what your baby is reacting to is painstakingly slow when nursing.
  9. Cracked and blistered nipples- You have a huge chunk of the middle of your nipple missing and it’s cracked in multiple places. Or you have nipple blisters. Each time you think they may be healing, it’s time to feed again. You fear that moment when your hungry baby with her strong suck latches on. Your toes curl and you clench your jaw as the pain shoots through you and a tear runs down your cheek. When are these ever going to heal? In my experience, not until your baby stops nursing. But these shields do help!
  10. Engorgement- Your baby is taking a long, long nap. You should be enjoying the ability to get stuff done, but instead you are feeling like you’re going to burst. You wonder, do I pump and get rid of this painful pressure? Or do I just suffer through it so I’m not telling my body that I need more supply than demand? Whatever you decide, one thing is for sure, engorgement is much more painful than the word implies… a word like about-to-burst-ment would be more fitting.
  11. Weight gain- I seriously thought breastfeeding would be the magic weight loss pill so many of us are looking for. For some, it actually is. For the rest of us we are stuck in our maternity clothes, counting calories, and trying our best to tame an intense hunger all the while wondering why we didn’t get the genetics that our friends who can ‘eat anything while nursing and still lose weight’ got. FACT- I gained 15 pounds nursing. I’ve lost 10 of them in the few weeks since weaning.
  12. Leaking breasts- Your baby slept through the night. You are stunned, amazed, excited! Maybe this will be the beginning of a new phase/habit. The excitement quickly fades when you realize you are lying in a puddle of milk. Time to strip the sheets, Google how to deep clean a mattress, and put down a towel and a bed liner for future nights. Why can’t this just be easy?
  13. Someone is sick but you are told, “Oh no worries your breastfeeding immunities will keep you and your baby healthy.” Right. I believed that too until my exclusively breastfed baby was hospitalized for RSV and two weeks later we both caught the flu.
  14. Thrush-A painful yeast infection that luckily I have not experienced. But hearing about women who have had thrush makes me glad I never had it.
  15. Breast pads- Getting them smoothed out and positioned ‘just so’ requires a bit of skill. If not, they bunch up creating wrinkling lines that show through your bra and shirt. Fabulous. Although I had the best success with these.
  16. Baby spitting up pink. ‘PINK spit up? But, I didn’t feed her KoolAid.’ I think to myself. After a series of Google searches and phone calls to my sister, friend, and mom they all confirmed what I didn’t want to imagine. It’s pink because she has been drinking my blood from my cracked nipples. GAG!
  17. Nursing shirts- When is the fashion industry going to figure out that cute nursing shirts that are slimming and functional are a great need in our society? Especially for larger chested women. They’ve figured out how to make fashionable maternity wear. Now let’s step up the quality and functionality of nursing shirts already.
  18. Thirst- As soon as your baby starts sucking you have one intense gut wrenching drive and that is to drink water! “Why didn’t you remember to grab that water bottle before allowing her to latch on?” I ask myself. It is just across the room on the table. Heck I even wrote a post on how to have a successful nursing experience (found here). But I’m not perfect and sometimes forget to grab water. The thirst is truly intense while breastfeeding  (at least for the first two months while establishing my supply).
  19. Tied to a pump or baby and inability to get help- You want to see a box office hit. It’s a three hour show (three and a half including traveling time). Too bad. You’ll just have to wait till it comes out on DVD. You could go if you don’t mind getting up to pump. At times it is tough not getting more than a 3 1/2 hour break from a pump or baby.
  20. Once my babies are weaned a family member can take a night or early morning shift so you can get some sleep. Life is so much better when you are fully rested. He told me at one point when our baby was exclusively breastfed that he wished he could help more. Once she was weaned that has thankfully happened. While breastfeeding it is hard to share the feeding responsibility with others (because typically you have to pump or feed anyway).
  21. Supply issues- Everyone calls it supply and demand. The problem? Sometimes it takes a few days for the supply to meet up with the demand. Other times women just can’t supply the demand. This happened with my first son. Watching a baby scream in hunger after he has sucked for an hour and a half is really a very painful thing. In fact, there are few things I’ve experienced that are worse. Other women experience and over supply which can be just as frustrating. The flow is too strong and powerful for the baby and despite them being hungry the fire-hose-like-flow can make it difficult for them to eat.
  22. Can’t breastfeed in the car- Roadtrips are suddenly broken into 2-3 hours on the road 30 minutes in a parked car in a parking lot.
  23. Nursing while sick- Never had the flu while nursing? Lucky you. It’s pretty much one of the most miserable experience ever. It’s the first time I’ve shed tears of discouragement since pregnancy. While she was feeding I was holding back an intense desire to drink water AND do my best not to puke… all the while becoming more and more dehydrated. Fun stuff.
  24. Inconsistent let down- I get my sweet baby latched. She sucks and sucks… here comes the let down, now she is guzzling, gagging, gasping for air she pulls off—eyes wide and frantic. Once she gets her breath she starts screaming. I calm her down, pat her back and bum until she burps, she latches back on. We ‘rinse and repeat.’
  25. Not dieting-  We’ve all heard not to diet while nursing. Looks like I’ll be wearing my pregnancy band or pregnancy jeans for a little while longer. (Granted, not dieting could be a plus, depending on your take on it).
  26. Nipple confusion- With my first son, I gave him a bottle with expressed milk from the get go and he developed nipple confusion. He would scream and scream at the breast and I exclusively pumped for months because of it. So to avoid that from happening again, I held off introducing the bottle for four months with my daughter. Despite all my efforts, she won’t have anything to do with the bottle now…Update I did finally (after a long month of trying) get her to take this bottle and this formula. But it has been a no win=no win experience with nursing and bottle feeding simultaneously for me. How I did it here.
  27. Taking medication- Will the medication effect my milk supply? Will my baby be effected? Who wants to risk something like that? It’s too bad some of us are forced to.
  28. Flashing someone- Yes I’m a prude. I honestly have never chosen to dress very ‘risk-aye’ in my life. The fact that I accidentally flashed someone who I was most definitely not meaning to (when my baby unlatched and grabbed the cover away) was downright embarrassing. I should have bought a nursing cover like this. Or made one like this.
  29.  If you are large chested, keeping your finger pressed down so their little noses can breath (which I call the Snorkel technique) gets a little tedious.
  30. Trying to get your milk to let down- I hated the times when my babies would suck and suck and yet my milk wouldn’t let down. I would be getting more and more stressed because nothing was coming. I’d try to relax, guzzle down water, and think ‘milk milk’ and she would get increasingly upset and hungry. Poor baby.
  31. Cramping- You know those after labor cramps that get worse with every child? Yeah those ones. They get much more intense and painful during breastfeeding sessions. For fun.
  32. Forgetting to click the nursing bra strap back into place- This just happened to me yesterday. After I fed my daughter, she feel asleep. I slipped her into the swing and quietly tip-toed out of the room. I was wearing a thick sweatshirt (thank goodness). A few hours later, after interacting with neighbors, etc. I realized my nursing strap hadn’t been clicked in entirely and I was (um) hanging loose under my sweat shirt so to speak. Big gigantic cringe of embarrassment right there!
  33. Spitting up- It seems like babies sometimes spit up as much as they eat. It is so frustrating to see what you’ve work hard to get them to ingest promptly spit right back out. And if they’ve drank up most of the supply for that feeding they’ll just have to wait for a refill.
  34. Weaning- A long drawn out process that is painful for both mom and baby. The most common advice is a bit masochistic, “wean baby very slowly.”
  35. Lip Tie & Tongue tie- It’s just awesome when your baby is born with a lip tie or tongue tie or BOTH. My second was. After going to the doctors and having it diagnosed as “not tight enough to get referred to an ENT to get them clipped,” my baby is left with difficulties sucking and getting a good latch. I’m left in pain. Sometimes genetics don’t encourage a great breastfeeding experience.
  36. Lazy Nurser- Babies who suck for a few minutes and won’t wake up again very easily. Then when you finally get them to wake up they suck some more and fall back asleep again! This is a challenge to say the least.
  37. Breastfeeding headaches- I never knew this was a thing until I had too many experiences of getting a splitting headache when breastfeeding my son for it to be a coincidence. After Google searches and reading on official medical websites I found out that YES some women have nursing induced headaches and I am one of those women. Grand. Although headaches didn’t happen every feeding time, I got them enough to begin expecting them.
  38. Biting- I’ve talked to a few of my friends recently who have read this article and told me I forgot the part about babies biting their moms while feeding. Two of them actually had a part of their nipples bitten off by their babies. This one is definitely worth mentioning. One said something startled her little one and she bit almost through it, the other said she wasn’t sure what made her baby bite so hard. They both had to get help from Dr.’s and stop breastfeeding out of the injured breast. IF this happens to you, get in to see your OB or lactation consultant immediately. For those who had this happen, I’m so sorry.
  39. Nursing a sick child- As a reader commented below: One added Con I did experience a couple of times was being the sole source of hydration for a baby who has a stomach bug. Basically there are days of being covered in vomit as you repeat the same cycle over and over.
  40. Mastitis- Yep, I saved the best for last. I’ve had it twice in the last month. The shivering, high fevers, violent shaking, hot showers, covered in 10 blankets, and an ER visit to make sure I wasn’t septic was pretty much hell on earth. With a heart rate of 128 and a fever of 105 my Dr. sent me straight to the ER. Experts say to keep nursing while you have mastitis which I did but while I was in the hospital I had to pump. I was horrified at what came out. I’ll spare you the details just know it wasn’t blood or milk that I was horrified about. I was so not happy my baby was consuming what she was, but they say it is okay. Double gag! On a very serious note Mastitis aka an infection of the breast must be monitored VERY CLOSELY as it can escalate to an infection of the blood quite quickly and you can become septic (something my Dr. told me). Even a $800 ER bill is easy to pay when a blood infection was a possibility.

So for all the mothers out there who have struggled with any one of the the aforementioned embarrassing, painful, or ugly realities of breastfeeding, know you aren’t alone.

And just so I don’t leave you on a complete downer about breastfeeding… here is why I chose to breastfeed and then chose to breastfeed a second time.
  1. Babies benefit from qualities in the breastmilk- Breastmilk really is the best. All formula companies are trying to recreate it, but so far they just can’t.
  2. Bonding with each other- I loved the bonding time.
  3. Skin-to-skin contact is therapeutic for mom and baby.
  4. Mom and baby benefit from strengthened immune system- its not a “guarantee you won’t get sick” but it does help.
  5. It decreases risks of breast cancer for the mom.
  6. The feel-good hormones that come (when it is a painless feed) are really nice. Yes, this is a real thing… so much so I actually experienced PPD (with my first but not second) or a baby blue period (with my second) after weaning them.
  7. It saves money- unless you go to the ER for mastitis. HA!
  8. It is convenient in most circumstances.
  9. The milk is always warm.
  10. I don’t get judged by the ruthless ‘breast-is-best’ squad.
  11. Side lying feeds are relaxing and actually help me be a better mom because I rest while the baby eats.
  12. Picking a formula that works for a baby is tricky- it’s nice to not have to worry about choosing the best formula or worry about recalls and such.
  13. It is fulfilling knowing that I nourished my baby.
  14. I love when my baby latches on, and we just stare into each other’s eyes.
  15. It forces me to relax and slow down (something many of us new moms need)
  16. There is little waste. When bottle feeding, I’m always throwing away formula my babies didn’t consume.
  17. It’s efficient.
  18. Breastmilk stays good at room temperature about 6x’s as long as formula.
  19. Nursing has been scientifically proven as the better option. Important note- the health of the mother was not included in these studies. Please take that into consideration as well.
  20. You can multitask easier if you master the positioning, or breastfeed the baby in a carrier you can do other things simultaneously, with bottle feeding, at least until they can hold their own bottle it is much more difficult.
  21. You don’t have to worry about the pain of your milk coming in and not using it right after birth.
  22. Formula poo is stinky like an adult’s. Breastfed baby’s poo is only slightly offensive and is typically is easier for the baby to excrete.

The reality is—there are pros AND cons to breastfeeding. I’m not telling you to breastfeed or not. I just wanted to share these realities in case you’ve struggled like countless other women and I have.  I’m glad I gave my first two a good breastfeeding try. Because of it I have had experiences on “both sides of the fence.” As a result, I feel no resentment and only compassion for formula feeding and nursing moms.  I hope by reading this article you can too.

rsv

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39 Responses to The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding-For Women Only!

  1. Amy says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have experiences some of the negative effects of BFing you have listed. I too feel like all we ever hear is the positives and we are left in the dark about the negatives that come with breast feeding. My last baby had a tongue tie too. We couldn’t get into the ENT until she was 3 months. I threw in the towel before then because breastfeeding was such a hassle and my baby wasn’t satisfied with what she was getting because she wasn’t getting a good latch. I tried pumping but I couldn’t stand it and waking up every few hours to pump while my baby slept through the night sucked! Then during the daytime i was an emotional, tired, groggy mess for my kids. I hate breastfeeding. I realize it is best for the baby and if I have another baby I will try BFing again because I want my baby to get colostrum and immunities especially during the first few weeks of life I think that’s important. But whether or not I BF for much more than that will remain to be seen. Another negative to BFing is that your husband doesn’t really get a chance to give you a break. Once I weaned I was able to sleep in for once on the weekend while my husband was able to bottle feed the baby..making a much happier and better mom and wife for my family. There comes a point where Mom’s emotional health and ability to function and care for herself and the children outweighs the benefits of BFing (at least in my case).

    • Anita Fowler says:

      You’re welcome Amy. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Yes a mom’s emotional health needs to be taken into account in the decision to breastfeed or not for sure!

  2. Alison says:

    Thank you for this post! I struggled with breast feeding for multiple of these reasons you listed. I too, was excited to nurse my first baby. Everyone around and close to me, made it look so natural and easy. Boy was I in for a wake-up call! I wanted so badly to be the best mom for my son. I went to lactation specialist and breadfeeding classes, I endured through excrutiating pain. For me, I would rather go through labor than latch my baby onto my breast. Everyone and everywhere I read, said breastfeeding was the best way to bond with your baby. It was opposite for me. I was scared of my baby! I didn’t want him to walk up from his nap because I knew he would be hungry. I found it hard to love my baby, as sad as that sounds, because it was so painful. My nipples were dripping blood. The lactation specialist told me to pump and bottle feed so my nipples could heal. The milk I pumped was pink! Then I got thrush, then mastitis. Then we dealt with Nipple Confustion! I felt so much pressure from my family and “ladies at church” to continue and “push through it”. But I couldn’t. I threw in the towel. At first I felt like a failure as a mom. I felt judged by other women when I pulled out a bottle and made formula for my 3 week old baby. I wish I had more support for my decision. I learned over time, that my decision was the best one I made for me and my baby. Once I decided I was going to the bottle, I was able to love and enjoy my baby. And guess what? He’s 10 now and he’s healthy and smart! I’ve had 3 more kids since the first and the longest I breastfed was for 4 weeks. Yes, breastfeeding is best, but it’s not for everyone. Don’t feel guilty if it’s something that you can’t do for whatever reason.

  3. […] I had great difficulty nursing her (story here) I was able to do so for about 5 months. In a short 3 months I gained another 25 pounds from the […]

  4. Pat says:

    One con I didn’t see mentioned was the lasy nurser. My first was great, my second was born with a tooth and nuff-said. I lasted about three weeks. The third would nurse for what seemed like seconds and go to sleep. Would NOT wake up! That was one time I lost wt nursing. I got no sleep for several months. That was the only problem I had with her, tho, and she nursed til she was about nine months, walking and walked into the room and pulled my shirt up one day. Oh, NO! Well, I had never heard of nipple confusion, I just figured she was a picky little brat. She wouldn’t even take a binky. Oh, my husbands least fave was waking up with a sticky back. Yuck.

  5. Liz says:

    Thanks for the post…I too can relate to most of the symptoms you had and I did have the thrush it hurt just as bad as having mastitis if not more…I did suffer through the whole experience with pumping and nursing and homeopathic remedies..I was on the verge of quitting multiple times you would think this being my 8th (and yes all from the same man married 13 yrs in Aug.) child it would go smooth..Ha..ya right same old stuff as usual. She is now 4 months old and for the past 3 weeks nursing has been great! No problems anymore…I love the bonding….and may I add I have only exclusively nursed or pumped with the last 3 because I was in a different place in my life when I had the other 5 children and thanks to Jesus my savior I realized my role as a mother and what I had to do…I only nursed my other children for a couple months and then went to formula. I totally agree that nursing is not for everyone.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Thanks for the insight Liz. I appreciate it. Congratulations on your bundle of joy and I’m glad things have gotten easier as of late. Having lots of kids is awesome!

  6. Cathy says:

    My son had a tongue and upper lip tie. We stopped breastfeeding shortly after realizing he was dehydrated. He was inefficient at transferring milk and didn’t stimulate production. Somehow I had a very calm baby who was not overly fussy through all of this. Unlike most tongue tied babies he didnt cause pain, but i think that is just a sign of how poor his latch was. We did get his tongue and lip revised, by a pediatric dentist, because he was still inefficient on a bottle. If you still want to have your daughter evaluated for the most part dentist are more knowledgeable of ties.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Thanks for the info Cathy. I may actually look into it. Her front teeth (2 on top and 2 on bottom) are in but there is a big space between the top two (My son’s were not like this) I wonder if it is her lip tie. I’ll see if I can get into a pediatric dentist and have her assessed.

      • Melissa says:

        Doctors and ENT are not trained or knowledgeable regarding ties. Reading this made my heart ache for you because most of your cons can be related to ties – directly. Ive been there…My first child and I made it three weeks. My second mad eit ten months, but with huge difficulty. My third and fourth were revised, but it took so many visits to so many “professionals” before I found an IBCLC who was trained about ties. Baby was revised by a pediatric dentist using a laser and it changed her life. My fourth had an appointment for revision before we ever left the hospital. I recently was revised myself because issues with my ties followed me into adulthood, as is the case with so many. My 4 year old was also revised as his ties were causing sleep apnea. I had to take it upon myself to get help because no doctor had any knowledge or they gave out such poor, poor information. Look up Dr Bobby Ghaheri on FB and read the Mommypotamus post on ties.

  7. […] problem with this is that at four and a half months postpartum I was on my last straw with nursing (breastfeeding is ridiculously hard for me), and I needed her to start taking a bottle. I tried many things. Many of which did not […]

  8. Lauren says:

    I breastfed my son for just over 12 months, had to stop as my milk supply was drying up due to being pregnant. My next baby is due next month and I am hoping to breastfeed him for 12 months as well.

    I did have a relatively easy time with breastfeeding, took a while to get a hang of at first, and sustaining supply etc. And I can relate to a lot of the things on your list – but I really do think that some of them are a bit silly to include on a cons list. You didn’t hook up your nursing bra once and that becomes a con?! Nursing tops are not fashionable? Well, if you had the time to think about putting on a stylish outfit in the first year, then all respect for you! I spent most of my time in jeans and a t shirt 😛 If I had time to brush my hair, that was a very good day!

    Sure, breastfeeding is a personal choice, and I have nothing against those mothers who prefer to give a bottle. I did find that just about all of the cons you listed that I experienced all resolved themselves within the first few months. I loved nothing having to drag myself down to the kitchen multiple times during the night to make up a bottle, I’d just have to roll over and unclick my top. I loved that my son barely cried from hunger in comparison to my friends babies who were all bottlefed – he didn’t have to wait to be fed, I could feed him anywhere, anytime and within 30 seconds of him telling me he was hungry.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Lauren,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes breastfeeding is ultra-convenient and great for our babies too! I loved that aspect about it. Agreed about the fact that forgetting to snap my nursing bra back in was silly. But I’m sure you can relate to being completely sleep deprived, busy, dazed, etc. at some point in the first few months. Not everything goes perfectly when you have a newborn.

      I love living in sweats and t-shirts but I couldn’t while nursing because Tshirts just arent great for breast access. They bunch up above the breast and the whole stomach hangs out when lifted… so yeah I tried to find nursing shirts that work and are flattering (and affordable) and it is difficult. That said I’m a larger breasted person and my small breasted friends had a much easier time find shirts that would stretch far enough without having to buy ‘nursing shirts’.

      I’m glad the issues you had resolved within the first months. It’s a personal decision and I just felt like writing this to support other moms who have horrific times nursing- like me. That said, I know breastfeeding is the healthiest option for babies and I do try to make that clear. Thanks again for sharing your opinion. I appreciate it and it may be helpful to other moms who read this.

  9. Jessica Valentino says:

    Having nursed 4 kids for a collective 7 years (gasp, could it really have been this long), I feel very fortunate not to have experienced the more painful items on this list. I’m a big fan of each person living her own story and working out what is best for her baby and self. One added Con I did experience a couple of times was being the sole source of hydration for a baby who has a stomach bug. Basically, days of being covered in vomit as you repeat the same cycle over and over.

  10. Maree Slatter says:

    I have no idea where the idea came from that breastfeeding is easy. It is easily one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to LEARN to do. It does not come naturally, even primates in zoos cannot do it unless they have an older experienced primate mother to assist them. That’s the truth. A competent breastfeeding mother will make it look easy. This does not help if one is still at the initial stages of learning. Then there are all the cultural issues about breasts that interfere with the ability to lactate in public. That said, once mastered, breastfeeding really is easier than bottle feeding, but this takes at least 4-6 months with the first baby to achieve. One of the main benefits is the baby’s poo. Formula poo is stinky like an adult’s. Breastfed baby’s poo is only slightly offensive and doesn’t cause any grief to the infant trying to excrete.

  11. Gabby says:

    Thanks for sharing the other reality! I didn’t see the feeling of pins and needles on my breasts with let down – apparently not everyone is so lucky to feel this.

    My first was so much easier than my second that I have now. Complete 180!

  12. Crystal says:

    I completely relate with this. With my oldest breastfeeding seemed to be going okay until his four month appointment where we found out he hadnt gained any weight in 2 months. I breastfed him until he was 10 months but it was a constant struggle to make sure he ate enough. My second I didnt even want to try I was so traumitized from before. But I did but two weeks of toe curling pain and bleeding nipples and I was done. I am now breasteeding my third son. Hes 2 months old and we now have thrush. I really want to make it a year but thrush is a nightmare. Seeing him happy and growing is the only thing keeping me going right now

    • Anita Fowler says:

      I’m so sorry! I can empathize for sure. I wish you the best!!

    • Liz says:

      My now 7 month old and I both had thrush and we treated it homeopathically…the previous pregnancy we had the same problem but was not as experienced with homeopathy as much….so if you would like to continue nursing my recommendation would be to get the Borax,(which worked great) or thrush/yeast…I go through a place in Montana called Classical Homeopathic Counseling. If you need more info please email me ill be happy to help…one nursing mother to another. 🙂

  13. mari says:

    I’m a stay at home mom with three children !my son is two years old and still breastfeeding..i really want to wean him but it’s so hard!help!

    • Anita Fowler says:

      It is difficult to make any change for children. But you just have to do what you can to make it happen. If you are ready to wean him then read up on how to do it. (I suggest slowly) yet Be firm. You are the parent, you are in charge. keep telling yourself that. Recently my son had a dental appointment and the little bit of juice we give him in his sippy cup is destroying his teeth. We quit juice in sippy cups overnight for his health and our pocket book. It is hard but you can do it. You are the adult and need to let the child know that what you say is what goes. they will cry, fuss, scream, etc. but stay strong.

  14. Sophie says:

    This was an interesting read for someone like me who never has any troubles. I can think of a few easy solutions to some of the problems, mainly as I’m on my 2nd and exclsively breastfed the 1st until nealry 3 years old…. like, i am european so just open the door still breastfeeding, rescue the 1st from climbing frames in the park still breastfeeding… basically do anytbing breastfeeding. I also have an inate beleif that classes and experts can often do more harm than good. The amount of advice i got about positioning in hospital with my first was ALL really counterproductive and made everything so much harder. So i feel like just sit however works in a position you can doze in. Oh and doze whilst feeding as a much as you can 😉

  15. kristen says:

    Hola! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally
    got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New
    Caney Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

  16. Chelsea says:

    Thank you Anita so very much for this article. I gave birth to my son at a very young age (18) and as a larger breasted woman (with smallish nipples, sorry lol) had so much trouble even trying to fit my breast into such a tiny mouth that I was in tears before we ever left the hospital. I had just known while I was pregnant that I’d breastfeed and stick it out till it was easy-breezy for me like every one else I had talked to about it. Needless to say under the pressure of a screaming infant I decided by the advice of the nurses to give him some formula never considering anything like nipple confusion. By the time we were home and rested enough to try hard at figuring this “so simple and natural” method he would just scream and refuse all my efforts. I decided to pump and also use formula to make sure he we getting enough. I felt like such a failure. Now that I’m older (23) and more experienced my husband and I recently started TTC and I’m hoping so very much that I can have a successful experience with our second baby exclusively breastfeeding. I love knowing that there are other moms who share in the frustration and know what it’s like to be left outside of that “breast is best” group.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Chelsea, Thank you for this comment. I’m so sorry your first go around was so tough. It’s awesome that you are going to give it another try. Nipple confusion is so difficult to work through. It is really tough when you are exhausted, trying to heal, and the baby is screaming in hunger. That is a feeling I know all too well. I wish you the best on this next go around, but don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work-mom’s health matters too. Thanks again!

  17. Alizabeth Massing says:

    I cant tell you how happy I am that I came across this article. Thank you so much for putting the ugly truth out there! I breastfed my son for only three weeks because of all of the things that nobody told me! I had no idea about it being a lifestyle or that there were things to make it easier or anything! I just thought this is the best way to feed the baby and if it works great, if not oh well. I experienced about ten of the cons and even still I cant wait to breastfeed my next child (6 weeks pregnant now 😀 ) and Im so glad I know what to look for now and ways that I can fix it! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Laura Perkins says:

    I having a really, really hard time avoiding curse words while typing this.

    First, there was an Enfamil formula ad in the middle of your article.

    Secondly, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m genuinely sorry that you suffered so much while breastfeeding.

    It seems that you may have lacked support and guidance. Almost every single one of your cons could possibly have been avoided or solved with the help of a support group such as La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, or an IBCLC.

    Yes, as a breastfeeding woman, I have experienced some of the in the 10+ cumulative years breastfeeding my children. However, most of your cons would make my pro list.

    I hope that if you or anyone who has a similar viewpoint of breastfeeding sincerely finds a breastfeeding support system to help.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Laura I don’t put ads on my site, I have a third party that fills them. I’m sorry that you saw one for baby formula. I hope you understand that I listed many pros too and gave a well rounded look at the issue for those of us who truly struggle. I’m glad you only experienced 10 and that you considered them pros. I’m so glad breastfeeding was a great fit for you!

  19. Amanda says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! When my first was born, I was shocked at how HARD everything was. I didn’t experience all the medical issues listed in your article, but breastfeeding was sooo horrible. I was left feeling like a bad mom & wondering what was wrong with me. This is the first article I’ve read that expresses the hardship I felt. I truly appreciate your honesty & boldness.

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