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I am currently in my 11th month of breastfeeding my first child. It is pleasurable and so easy now but it took a fair bit of time and practice to get to this stage. I BF exclusively for 6 months and it took about 2 to 3 months to get it right.

There were many tears, much frustration and one trip to the lactation concultant but I can look back now and feel immensely proud and satisfied. I can remember watching my baby grow and thinking "that is all me!" and "I'm doing that!" It has been the best experience of my life.

I don't mean to gush but it really is wonderful and is worth any bad moments at the beginning. As I said it took me about 2 to 3 months before I really relaxed and started enjoying BF.

At first I felt like I couldn't do anything right. (I would cry because I couldn't get my nursing pillow in a comfy way and I would blame the pillow for all my problems and I bought three different types of pillow in an attempt to fix the problem).

Also, I can remember waiting for the 6 week mark (I was counting down the days) somehow convincing myself that I would wake up at 6 weeks and everything would change for the better (even though it had been lousy at the 5 weeks and 6 day mark!).

Everyone is different and there is no magic number and Moxie you are so right - encouragement and support is so important. (As is the right nursing pillow - haha!) So good luck to all you future and current nursing mothers..don't give up, just ask for help and you will be so glad you did!

Claire Gee

One of the most important ingredients of successful breastfeeding is support. I could not have breastfed my three children without the wholehearted support of my husband. He was encouraging even when I was at my lowest, in the early days of feeding my first baby. In was also lucky that my Mother, and Grandmother were pro breastfeeding, every positive voice helps. For what it's worth, I advise all my friends who are expecting their first child to pick a really comfy chair in which they can sit fairly upright. Good posture is a big part of getting it right.
Thanks for a great post Jamie.


I had nursed my first for 14 mos, but 7 years later I was pregnant with twins and the idea of putting my breast in a baby's mouth seemed REALLY foreign and strange. And then there was my mother, telling me every five minutes about how my SIL's milk never came in with her twins, and this person's milk never came in, and that person . . . and then she came to the hospital and STAYED ALL DAY, telling me "They can't be hungry! They just ate!" And the docs tried to freak out about Hayden's jaundice, and Zoey wasn't gaining fast enough (on day 2!!!!!). Finally I went home, talked to my ped (who I knew was very dedicated to nursing) and read all of kellymom.com and just kept putting them to the breast. And it worked out, and it's still working out at 10 mos, and I feel very lucky.


I had a friend who was determined to breast feed, and had read all the books and all the literature and was sittin' on Go when her baby came.

But no one told her about the hard part: that sometimes he would eat every 15 minutes, sometimes every hour; that sometimes he would reject the breast; that sometimes he would eat for five minutes, sometime for half an hour.

All she heard was, "It's easy!" so she was ashamed, and scared to call anyone for support and be thought of as stupid or lazy. She started supplementing by syringe (to make sure he "got enough"), then by bottle, then formula exclusively, hating it all the while. And mourning the fact that what was supposed to be so easy was, in fact, hard as hell for some people.

She still mourns it today, eight years later.


Thank you for this. We had a bunch of things against us in the beginning: Polly's bili spiked to very dangerous levels on day 2 because whe had ALL of the issues that make for high bili happen to her: she and I had different blood types, she was a big baby, and she had a rare after-effect of birth (happens in about 5% of births) where a very large amount of blood pooled uner her scalp - made her head look deformed, but that also raises the bili levels. SHe was in NICU and it was scary shit, so from the beginning the challenge was to keep her as hydrated as possible (read: formula and bottles from the get go). Add to that that I have inverted nipples, my milk took forever to come in, and the lactation consultant I was assigned was a sargeant major...we were doomed. Now I want to make an honest effort with #2. Thanks for this.

Midwestern Deadbeat

Excellent, excellent information. Thank you so much.


Thanks so much for this! We do supplement with formula, alas (Madam was in the NICU for 11 days after her birth, and I was not allowed to put her to the breast until day 7 or so of her life, so my supply has never been great, not even with tons of oatmeal and fenugreek), but we also breastfeed a LOT and I feel good about that. Not to get all maudlin on everyone, but when she's at the breast, head happily bobbing, I actually feel that much-vaunted incredible rush of love everyone talks about. It certainly makes Sleep Wars 2006 a lot more bearable.


Yay breastfeeding! I'll just chime in: I had two advantages starting out breastfeeding: one was that I pumped with my daughter (who never made it out of hospital) and could see the way the milk was super fat rich and then increased in ounces a bit and then came in in crazy amounts, so I knew my body could do it. I clung to that image the second time around. And second we had a very easy vaginal delivery with my son and he was on the breast right away.

It was *still* confusing and hard and he lost more weight than I was comfortable with. I was surprised at how hard it was, emotionally.

And I'm still glad we hung in there. It's really pretty easy now. I think support is key, but so is realizing that it's not the idyllic simple process the mums you *see* seem to have, because those mums are out and about because they've finished their learning curve.

What I would want to know in advance that hasn't been said: have a beautiful spot for nursing (IMHO this is way more important to have ready in advance than how nice the crib looks). With nice calming CDs and a spot for your water bottle and a stool for your feet and art you *love* within view. And maybe a DVD player if you are apt to get bored *even with* the loving gaze to bestow upon your progeny. Or a speakerphone. Or both.

Then when you're on a cluster feed or struggling you can at least enjoy your beautiful space.

Also sleep (as well as water! drink water!) makes milk, so when people say don't bother with the housework or get your friends to make dinner - do it!!!

And finally I hate the breast vs. bottle wars. If you're making sure your child is well fed, hey. That's really the main thing. :)

Carla Hinkle

I did not have a terribly tough beginning at BF, especially in retrospect and hearing so many other stories, but one thing I will say is that a support network is CRITICAL.

Luckily a lovely LC had an office in my OB's building and I had heard wonderful things about her, so I went for a pre-birth consult and then started attending the BF moms support group meetings when my baby girl was 1 week old. They smoothed out the bumps I was experiencing and got me off on the right track of what was a wonderful, 9 month BF relationship. And I always emphasize to my new-mom friends that BF is really the lazy mom's friend -- once you get the hang of it, there is no fuss, no muss, barely even any waking up at night! Can't beat it.

I weaned b/c I wanted to try to have another and I was having no periods at all while nursing -- otherwise I would surely have kept it up until 1 year or more. (And since my cycles were still wonky for at least another 6-8 months after weaning, I think next time I wouldn't be so quick to wean for the "next" baby...)

Thank you for this informative, supportive BF post. I am always sad when I hear about moms who didn't have enough support during the first 4-8 weeks and gave up on BF because of that.


There's no way I could have exclusively breastfed twins without my husband, mom, and MIL's full support. They were awesome what with the bringing of food and folding of laundry and averting their eyes at my constant toplessness. Add to that a pediatrician who's wife was a LC and called me at home to answer questions and give me other people to call. Also, an awesome nurse who explained to us how they transition NICU babies from bottle to breast and gave us mucho supplies to use until my girls got the whole latch on AND suck thing down.

It was definitely hard work and while all the above was important, I think the #1 thing that helped me breastfeed was my unrelenting stubborness. If something wasn't working or someone told me something I didn't want to hear, I just kept asking other people until I got the answers I wanted. I refused to supplement, I refused to give up. Getting to the 12-week mark was a HUGE milestone, though, and being able to nurse laying down without suffocating my kids with my enormous bazoongas also helped.


I've been lurking forever and this was such a timely post that I had to comment. I'm pregnant with my first and am sort of scared about this whole bf thing. We have no family here to do the laundry and feed us and that sort of thing; it's all on me and my husband (who is supportive). It seems to me that I need to find a good LC or LLL or something. Thanks, Moxie and Jamie, and the commenters too.


I want to chime in with another encouraging story. T was born at 32 weeks, and spent 13 days in the NICU. I wasn't allowed to breastfeed for 5 days (in retrospect I should have insisted on being able to sooner) and he was given a pacifier right away.

The hospital was very supportive, though, and I got a pump almost right away. I pumped for an entire month, until T was strong enough to nurse at every feeding.

We had a jaundice setback at one month, which was determined to be breastmilk jaundice (pretty rare) and I had to pump for two whole days while we gave him formula (hated it, both of us).

We've also been through thrush and blebs, and last week we celebrated one year of nursing. I give almost all the credit to my son- he knew what he was doing from the beginning.

Lisa C.

I will be sending Jamie's "breastfeeding series" to my pregnant friend at work, along with my cell phone number and a note to "call me anytime, even at 2 AM."

I love the way the information is presented here - it covers rough start-ups without being scary, which is paramount for new moms, who are already scared and are inundated with information (both bad and good)!

I, too, had an awesome support network, including my lactivist husband who brought home literature from his work library (at a dairy) and would read to me about the magic that is human milk, my mom, who nursed all five kids and pumped at work for four kids, and my LLL group.


This was a wonderful essay! I'll be linking everyone to this!

Amy F

Ha--your example of a bili level of 11 on day 3 is exactly what we had! Yes, he was yellowy, but did he really need home health nurses to come out for 3 days, requiring 7 heel pricks between them, to determine that he was fine? Geesh. Thanks for finding the chart for me again!

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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