The Great Breastfeeding Debacle

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:

Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.



Before my first was born, I read all the parenting books. I soaked up everything like a sponge. They were they experts, right? They knew what they were talking about.

I read the natural birthing books and the attachment parenting books. Of course all babies act the same way, respond to the same stimuli, feed the same, right? Just because their babies performed, means all baby should, no?

I understood that I was supposed to breastfeed my baby, and that my baby would take to a carrier easily – since that’s how he/she loves to be carried. I was supposed to co-sleep because that’s what was best for me and baby…and so on and so on and so forth and so forth.

I finally had my baby. I had the homebirth I dreamed of…yay! I was ready for the easy part. The breastfeeding. I was geared up and ready for the nice and easy breastfeeding relationship!

Breastfeeding is natural, after all.

I believed everything would be perfect. When baby latches on, the baby would breastfeed for 5 minutes on one side, switch, and feed five minutes on the other side. Pop off. And be done feeding for 1 hour and 50 minutes (give or take) – until I had to start the process again. You start the timing at the beginning of the meal – and feed every two hours.

Just like the book said.


The first thing I learned – and I learned it pretty quickly after birth – is that all breasts aren’t created equal. I always saw women cuddling their babies tight while they feed. Their nipples in the absolute perfect position for feeding. Perky boobs…perky boobs abound! Well, when I put my son to the breast, I quickly realized that my breasts weren’t in any of the pictures.

Breastfeeding became a juggling act – literally. My breasts are not at all perky. They are heavy in fact – which I had no knowledge of. I had to support one breast with one hand, and support all the baby’s weight in the other arm. Talk about neck and back strain. Feeding in public was a joke and a disaster.

Oh yeah, and the perfect in public feeding solution – the sling – forgetaboutit! Anytime someone mentions feeding in a sling, I just double over in laughter.

Oh yeah, and did I mention the 5 minute feeding on each side? My son would suckle all day and all night – 24 hours a day. Well, I thought he was sucking because he was starving – why else would a baby want to be at the breast so much ? I think I sat in the rocker 24 hours a day for the first 6 months of my sons life.

It was horrendous. It was isolating. It was tiring. None of the books talked about this, in the books everything was glowing and beautiful. Certainly, in my mind, I was horrible and a failure for feeling this way – resenting feeding my child. I had feelings of not being good enough, not being able to adequately produce milk.

So, there I was – thinking that the baby was starving and having big doubts about my abilities. The doctor told me (very clearly – and many times) that he wasn’t starving (as he was gaining lots and lots of weight – AKA butterball) but I wouldn’t hear it. He was hungry, and that’s why he wanted to constantly suckle.

So, there went my money, hundreds of dollars (I was in graduate school) in lactation consultant after lactation consultant, trying to figure it out. Trying to find out why “it wasn’t working”. I think I must have bought $100 in pacifiers – not wanting to give him one – but felt like I had to in order to get a shower. Of course he wouldn’t take a pacifier, he would just gag.


It is quite comical when I think about it now – but it wasn’t then. I just wouldn’t listen. I was convinced – If he wasn’t doing what the books said he would do – then something was wrong.

The second time around – I was reluctant but wiser. I shelved all my parenting books. I trusted my woman wisdom. The relationship was better. I, of course still had my physical challenges, but I wasn’t in my glider 24 hours straight for 6 months either. I didn’t resent breastfeeding – just wasn’t really happy about doing it again. In the end, I was moderately happy with the experience.

Finally, I thought – I had cracked the breastfeeding code!


I was ready and raring to go for the 3rd sans parenting books!

Then my 3rd came – and oh boy. He threw me for loop and a half – in pregnancy and in the breastfeeding experience.

Let’s just say that my breastfeeding adventures never end. They seem to always turns into a debacle.


You know, I didn’t have a whole line of women in my family who breastfed. I was the first one. I would have benefited from being more “reality’ informed and less “idyllically” informed.

If only I knew then what I know now! If I would have had the reality, I don’t think the process would have been so stressful and disheartening.

I don’t regret any of my experiences – because I learned a great deal from them. I had excellent and long lasting bonding with my children – and still do today in part to breastfeeding…


Hadyn 2 years

Ava 3 years

Grayson 10 months and counting!

Despite the challenges, I think I did pretty well!

I would love to hear about your thoughts on breastfeeding before and after baby. Did you have the experience you thought you would? Or, did you run into debacle after debacle like me?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • My little gastronomes — “I’ll never cook a separate meal for my children,” Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn’t turn out quite as she’d imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don’t. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn’t mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year – because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she’s not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I’ve Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin’, They Hatin’ — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with “babywearing haters.”
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting “mistakes,” and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids… — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But “doing it right” looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter’s high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile


  1. Why oh why do they make it sound so easy in the books?! I had an ok experience with my first, an awesome with my second, and then my third refused to latch on for 5 weeks. Just goes to show it’s up to them too, they’re all different! Well done for sticking at it, I know how hard it is, it’s a HUGE effort when it doesn’t go as planned. xx
    Kate (HereNowBrownCow) recently posted…The best play-dough recipeMy Profile

    • Kate, I really have no idea. I suppose if they said it like it was, people would be reluctant to do it.

      My third refused to latch as well. I remember spending a weekend trying to get him to latch – spending hours and hours trying and trying. I think that was the longest weekend of my life. What a nightmare. Mine only took about a weekend, I can’t imagine having the frustration for 5 weeks. You are a star and an inspiration!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Lisa recently posted…The Great Breastfeeding DebacleMy Profile

  2. Your post illustrates so succinctly why we need to normalize breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, while natural, is a learned skill, one that for millenia was passed down from one generation to the next by proximity. Women learned to breastfeed by watching their mothers, their aunts, and other women in the community breastfeed their own babies.
    Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children recently posted…Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to BeMy Profile

    • Yes Mandy. That is certainly the best way to learn – from your Mother or learned from her Mother, and so on.

      I just didn’t know anyone who was doing it.

      In fact, I remember being at my husband’s sister’s house. i sat down on the couch to feed the baby, and her daughter was so offended, she looked at me, huffed, stormed off and sat somewhere else.


      I’m so glad my kids are used to it. I have walked around with a hands free pump and they don’t bat an eye. It’s normal to them.

      Thanks so much for your comment!
      Lisa recently posted…The Great Breastfeeding DebacleMy Profile

  3. I only got to bf for about 3 months, because I had to go back to work. I was sad I didn’t get to go longer, but I feel even 3 months was better than none. The first 2 weeks were hell. It hurt, my baby wouldn’t latch, and itching I had a touch of ppd. Once I got the hangs fit, it was great. If it would’ve went too much longer having all kinds of bob and baby problems, I would’ve totally switched to formula without a shred of guilt.

    If I could go back I time, I wouldn’t have been so shy about it. I’d sit in the car to avoid bf in public. I’d’ve so different now!

    • Hey Amy,

      Yes, you are right. 3 months is better than none. I went back to work with Hadyn as well, but I pumped. That’s another post all together. Even today, I hate pumping. Yuck.

      For me, breastfeeding in public is just difficult. – but i totally understand about being shy about it. I go through stages. Sometimes I could care less and other times, I just want to be to myself, you know?

      Thank you so much for sharing your story.
      Lisa recently posted…The Great Breastfeeding DebacleMy Profile

  4. Oh my goodness, this is so like my experience, my little one HATES being carried in slings, carriers, front carriers, back carriers, you name it, and my nipples decided that popping out to be large enough to latch on wasn\’t in the cards, so nipple shields it was day in day out for three months. Trying to finagle a nursing cover and a nipple shield is damn near impossible! I have a blog post about my breastfeeding experiences, so similar in the “def not how the book said it would be” way!
    Olivia recently posted…Respect The Play: Validating Play and Self EsteemMy Profile

    • Hey Olivia,

      Yep. I can definitely relate. I would love to read that blog post. Most of the posts I read are about glowing parents who just love breastfeeding. I do not love breastfeeding – and people get upset when I say it. I’m not saying that it’s not the best for the baby – I just don’t like it (for the reasons I stated in the post).

      One of my church friends made this nursing cover that goes around the neck – you don’t have to hod it. It’s a good one. Something like that might help.

      I hate nursing in public though, and avoid it if I can. I don’t remember the last time did it. It’s just really uncomfortable for me.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  5. Oh, man, I know so many people who had problems breastfeeding their *third* kid. Makes me worry about having another!

    I’m just glad you’re sharing your story so honestly. It’s so important to get both the hard and the good experiences of breastfeeding out in the open so that we have more of that sense of communal learning and commiseration. Sorry you had such a tough time with #1 & #3, but kudos to you for sticking it out!
    Lauren recently posted…Policing politenessMy Profile

    • You are so right. It’s important to share experiences. Too many times, women sort of silence those who didn’t have the optimal experience because they don’t want to put the “negative” out there. It’s not negative – it’s learning. It’s about the process – you know? If you just put the positive out there (which was my experience) women become disillusioned. When the ideal doesn’t happen – then what?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  6. Oh that picture is so sweet!!
    You ROCK for being the first in your family to breastfeed – and through so many challenges! I hope you had some community to support you through all of that. Regardless, thank you for being that community to other mamas now!

    • Thanks Mama!

      You know, they told my Mom that she couldn’t breastfeed because her breasts were too big – and breastfeeding would make them grow. They gave her some medicine that dried up the milk.

      My cousins said it hurt so much they would cry – so they stopped.

      Breasts are sexy and have no other purpose. I remember a friends telling me that she will not breastfeed because it makes her breasts droop – and that she would get a boob job.

      I found that funny.

      We just need more people out there so that others have an easier time with it!

      Thanks so much for your compliment. I don’t rock, I am just super stubborn. I could have easily quit. – but that’s me. I never take the easy road. I figure there is something to learn along the way.
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  7. I was gifted “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” because that’s what you read when pregnant for the first time, right? Well, I got through a few chapters until I found myself leaving the pages with wide eyes and scared that my uterus was going to fall out. I didn’t finish it and didn’t give a second thought about breastfeeding until my first was born. It was hard. People tell you to get nipple cream and burp cloths but no one ever mentioned that you will not leave the bed for hours at a time to use the toilet in fear of waking a sleeping newborn

    I think the best thing for a new breastfeeding mom-to-be is to just surround with as much support in those early days. Live-in, online, community, whatever support. All breastfeeding moms know what this means.
    Theek recently posted…How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful ParentingMy Profile

    • Hey Theek,

      Thanks so much for your comment. It made me laugh.

      You are absolutely correct! Having a strong support system is key – and something I definitely did not and do not have. It seemed the support was always very one sided. On one end, people were like, why are you continuing – the baby will be just fine – it’s okay to quit. You gave it a good go.

      I didn’t need that because I knew the importance.

      Then on the other end, there were women like – if you don’t do it – your baby will end up sick or dead, or worse – fat.


      I didn’t need that either. I didn’t need to be beat up about it – so I kind of just went on my own. Lucky for me, i am extremely stubborn – and work really hard (to a fault),

      You are right though, you need a good support system.
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  8. I got so tired of people poking and touching my breasts, analysing my nipples and giving me advice on how to breast feed. Football hold? Nope, didn’t work. Cradle cuddle, not a chance. Being anything like the books described? Not in the slightest. My boobs are big and floppy and I had to learn how to nurse holding my breast in one hand and resting my babies on a pillow (when younger) and on my lap (when a little bigger). It looked awkward to other people and it wasn’t all sweet and cuddly (and gave me wicked back aches), but I did it. I was always jealous of the moms out there who could nurse while chasing their other children. When I breastfed I was stuck in one spot. That was where I sat. For hours. And hours. It took me a LONG time with my first and second to feel confident-ish enough to nurse in public. I usually sat in the car or hidden away somewhere.

    The only thing that got better with breastfeeding number 3 for me? I knew right away what I had to do and I did it regardless of what people said. And despite not loving breastfeeding I logged over 60 months doing it in total between my 3 girls.

    Great post!
    christy recently posted…Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. RealMy Profile

    • Yes Christy, You totally get me. You and I are the same. Your experience is my experience – totally – 100%.

      Yep, I went through the same stuff with the football hold. Everywhere I go, I bring my Boppy. I feed in the car, not because I am uncomfortable nursing in public (well, I am physically – trying to juggle everything) but it’s just easier and more physically comfortable for me to do it in the car with the pillow.

      Since I don’t sleep much now-a-days because of the blogging and the sewing, I nurse laying down which is pretty comfortable and works well. Plus, I can get a cat nap now and again.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Christy!
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  9. Wow Lisa! I breastfed my baby until he was 25 months old, and I weaned him only because my husband joked if I was going to wait for him to go to college to finally wean him! LOLOL I had the most awesome experience ever! He latched on the first day he was born, and our bonding while nursing was magical and special. (I kind’a miss those days. He’s going to be 5 yrs. old next month). I do admit it was tiring, and drained all of my energy; but I don’t regret one minute or one day. I was a breast milk making machine! When I returned to work, I’d nurse in the morning, then I’d pump at home (sent bm to his daycare), and as soon as we returned I’d nurse him again, and then right before bedtime. Of course, as he got older, and started with solids our routine changed, but I still nursed him at bedtime. Thank you for sharing your experience! 🙂 Every child is different.
    Frances recently posted…Letter to Our Son: Celebrating Your 3rd BirthdayMy Profile

    • Wow, you were one of those.


      I am glad you had the “dream” experience. Man, I wish i had that. I felt resentful for a long time – which i am sure shows up in the kids. Who resents feeding time? It’s a time for bonding. It’s really great to hear.

      You said a mouthful. Every child is different!

      Have a wonderful night!
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile


    I can totally relate! I had visions of a beautiful, symbiotic breastfeeding relationship, but the reality was quite different. I REALLY struggled to breastfeed – thank goodness for the LC at my pediatrician’s office b/c there were SO many times I wanted to give up that first week. I’m the first woman in my family to ‘stick it out’ with breastfeeding, and I’m so glad that I did. Yes, the first 6 months of my son’s life are a blur of nonstop feeding, up every 2-3 hours during the night, and a myriad of (non-supportive) people telling me to ‘just add cereal or give him formula’ to get him to sleep during the night or go longer between feedings. I’m happy, and proud, to say that we are at 11 months and counting. I’m currently 2 months pregnant with baby #2, and hope to continue our breastfeeding relationship through this pregnancy. Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever tackled…and the most rewarding at the same time. Thanks for the post! Lauren @

  11. I do come from a long line of breastfeeding mothers, and there is no question that that is an advantage!

    Still, I’ve had my share of nursing adventures. I should write about it, someday. I think the advantage in coming from a family that breastfeeds is that people don’t pretend it’s easy or intuitive!
    maryanne recently posted…Announcing a Summer Blog Series on Kindergarten ReadinessMy Profile

    • I just love what you said. The last line was phenom.

      “I think the advantage in coming from a family that breastfeeds is that people don’t pretend it’s easy or intuitive”


      I hate the pretend games, you know? I just needed someone to say…”okay girl, you are going to work harder than you ever have had in your life. And oh, by the way, you will be feeding 24 hours straight for the next 180 days, so settle into that rocker, it’s going to be a long and lonely ride.”

      Thanks for stopping by and thank you for sharing your thoughts!
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  12. I don’t think I ever thought about breastfeeding. I remember attending a class on it while pregnant, but I don’t remember what I THOUGHT about it. Just that it would happen. I remember telling my husband just before the birth that he needed to go and buy some formula, ‘just in case’, but he didn’t and we never needed it. We had an amazing bf relationship, everything the books talk about, but my second hasn’t been as easy!
    Luschka recently posted…5 Things I thought MY Children Would Never DoMy Profile

    • You were one of those “lucky” ones.

      Every baby is different. I felt like I learned to breastfeed each time. One didn’t act the same was as the other. It’s all about getting to know the baby.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  13. Great post!
    I did a lot of reading about pregnancy and childbirth but for some reason I was afraid of therefore avoiding the subject of breast feeding. I did want to try it and once I started and discovered it was so darn hard I dug in and was like, this can’t beat me! I went through my share of trauma getting to where it worked for us including consultants, clogged ducts, mastitis, projectile vomiting, nursing all night long, what else, I am sure there was more. I ended up figuring out how to nurse lying down and that ended up being my preferred position. I stopped nursing both when pregnant again, so my daughter for 20 months and my son until he was nearly 3 then I miscarried. I always think of it as having lost two babies : (
    Ann recently posted…I Spy: DressMy Profile

    • Oh my gosh, projectile vomiting? Was that from the infection? That’s tough.

      The nursing all night long. Man, I know how that is.

      I also like to nurse laying down. This is especially true since I don’t sleep much. It allows me a tiny cat nap here and there.

      I’m sorry about the baby, and i am sorry you felt that way. My heart sunk when I read that.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story!
      Lisa recently posted…BlogTwitLuv Hop – Week 2My Profile

  14. Oh yes…..the books! I too had a hard time nursing my first born. As a matter of fact, I must admit that I quit after just 2 months. And oh the guilt. I made a vow that I’d try harder if there ever be a next time. Little did I know that there would be 5, to be exact. That’s when I learned my greatest character trait, PATIENCE. It took a while with some, others were just born pros, and still another was just down right sloppy with it. Ha ha! It takes time. I had to practice how to nurse in public at home with my last little guy. However they come they are truly a blessing from above and I cherish every moment. The warm skin-to-skin cuddles, gazing in each others eyes, knowing that all those rolls are with the help of MY milk…… I Love It!
    Writer Mom recently posted…Why I Started Homeschooling Our ChildrenMy Profile

    • You are absolutely correct, each kid is different. I think my second was the closest to “the born pro”. My third – he had NO CLUE. That was his first learning experience and my most difficult teaching job. The thought of quitting came to my mind every hour – at least. it was only because of my pure stubborn nature that breastfeeding survived.

      The cuddles – yes – are priceless!

      Thanks so much for sharing your story.
      Lisa recently posted…Happiness Is – Tiny Patriotic Squish My Profile

  15. Wow, I couldn’t agree with you more!! The books that are out there make it sound so serene and magical…once you get your groove, it definitely has its moments, but no one mentioned the pain and the crying while you’re finding that groove! I think too that so many mothers hide how it’s really going for them because of the whole “lollipops and gumdrops” facade that’s out there! Thanks for telling it like it is! May those mothers needing to hear this find your blog!
    Kay Kathleen recently posted…Boost Your Blog in 100 Days ChallengeMy Profile

    • Yes…yes…yes. There is a belief that you shouldn’t talk about it, because it would scare people away. I am just the opposite. Being that I was the first breastfeeding mom in my family, I would have appreciated the honesty. I was naive – very naive. It was isolating, frustrating and lonely. Luckily it does get better – and then get worse (but who is counting). One of these days, I will have the magical breastfeeding experience!

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Kay!
      Lisa recently posted… – Helping Parents to Help their Children be Successful Under Common CoreMy Profile


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