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My Relationship With Breastfeeding

Eva Amurri Martino of blog Happily Eva After talks about breastfeeding and her experience with her daughter Marlowe, 36 weeks pregnant wearing a lace balconet bra cradling her bump

This picture was taken while I was almost nine months pregnant with Marlowe.  I wanted to document my pregnancy-changed body because I was blown away by how much it had transformed to accommodate my daughter.  I had no way of knowing how far and deeply my body would change even further after she was born, how many feelings these changes would bring, and how many emotions would come as a result of my breasts.

Today I want to talk a little bit about my relationship with breastfeeding.  Believe it or not, it’s the number one question I receive from readers and followers of my blog and social media.  I hear from so many women who are experiencing the ups and downs of breastfeeding, or are simply asking what I think is a “normal” time to wean their babies– or how I dealt with the emotional decisions surrounding this feeding choice.  I think breastfeeding can be a really confusing, emotional, and challenging subject– and I can totally relate to the myriad of feelings that can come with the breastfeeding experience.  I figured since I’m about to go for Round Two over here (word up to Baby Boy Martino!) I would put my own experience with it down on (virtual) paper so that it can answer your questions once and for all.  Read on for my Tips & Tricks as well! As with any of my “advice”, take what is useful to you and leave the rest.  Every woman is so different when it comes to feeding her children, and I think we can all agree that the important thing is for our children to be fed– regardless of the method!

I personally have had a lot of ups and downs in my breastfeeding relationship.  Immediately after Marlowe was born,  we placed her on my abdomen and she climbed up “the line” to my breast in what is known as “Baby-Led Breastfeeding”.  I had heard about it in my Homebirthing class, but had never seen it.  It’s truly one of the craziest things to watch.  A minutes-old baby lays on you, and then by kind of swinging their head up and wriggling the rest of their body after it like a caterpillar, makes its way slowly up your body to your nipple (they have darkened during pregnancy specifically for this purpose, by the way).  You gently help them get the nipple in to their mouth to begin feeding.  I have photos of this happening with Marlowe in which she looks like a little newborn squished potato, and I look like the most shocked person who ever lived.  My mouth is literally hanging open.

The next thing that happened in my Breastfeeding story is that my week old baby had to have her frenulum cut.  Upper and lower.  Sometimes they refer to this as “tongue tie”.  Basically, the newborn’s upper and/or lower frenulum (little line of tissue connecting your upper lip to your gums or the underside of your tongue to your jaw) is too tight or short and they are unable to form a good breastfeeding latch.  This is one of the most undiagnosed reasons for trouble with breastfeeding.  By trouble, I’m referring to a latch that is really painful, sore nipples, or a baby’s difficulty with feeding on the breast.  Luckily, my midwife noticed an issue and I took Marlowe to a really wonderful pediatric dentist who was able to gently and quickly give her the procedure.  Marlowe’s were so tight that she had to have both cut.  I was a mess during this, obviously, but it ended up really improving the latch and my own comfort level when she was on the breast.

Eva Amurri Martino with newborn daughter Marlowe Martino

The next breastfeeding hurdle I faced was with my milk supply– but not how you would imagine:  I produced A LOT of milk.  This was extremely fortunate, but it also created a little bit of a tricky routine for me.  I was producing so much milk in each breast that Marlowe was getting full before she was reaching the nutritious and fatty part of my milk that she needed. You see, milk is divided in to two categories: the more caloric, sugary Foremilk which comes out of the ducts first, and the fattier, more nutrient-rich Hindmilk which comes out after the Foremilk.  Babies need both.  Feasting exclusively on Foremilk is like eating a bag of gummy worms.  It can make your tummy hurt if you haven’t had some real dinner too! Since I was trying to feed her on both breasts at each feeding, she was basically getting a pack of Oreos on my left breast, and a Caramel Sundae on my right.  And then getting gassy and screaming like a Bat outta hell.  It was super charming.  I couldn’t figure out what it was at first, but thankfully I’m an over-sharer and was texting all my Mama friends left and right trying to figure it out.  Turns out one of my girlfriends had experienced the same problem, and hers had been solved with “Block Feeding”.  Block Feeding is when you nurse on one breast per feeding so that the baby eats through the foremilk and reaches the hindmilk.  And it totally helped! Here’s the annoying part:  You then have to pump your other breast.  Every.  Single.  Time.  And so started my relationship with pumping.

I HATE PUMPING.  You won’t see my write the word Hate very often on here.  I feel that few things deserve such exacting vitriol, but in my humble opinion Pumping is one of them.  I hate every single part of it.  I hate strapping the machine on, I hate the sound, I hate the feeling of my nipple being pulled in to the machine with that mechanical tug that makes me feel like a cow with udders.  Most of all, I HATE cleaning and disinfecting the seemingly hundreds of parts, especially at the end of a super long and exhausting day.  Pumping is the worst.  But what was I going to do? This is what my breastfeeding journey had dealt me and the option was basically do it, or cause my kid’s stomach to feel terrible.  I did it, of course.  But it really affected my breastfeeding experience.  I thought actually feeding my daughter was lovely.  I wasn’t one of the women who was totally obsessed with it, but I liked it enough.  The constant pumping was killing me, though.

When Marlowe was about three months old, I went back to work.  I shot a movie, and brought my pump to work with me.  Let me just say, HATS OFF to all the Women out there who pump at work for months upon months of time.  It’s so so so so hard.  The storing, the pumping, the fitting it in to a hectic work day, the cleaning of the parts, the transporting of the milk home to your child.  It’s a really hard thing.  For me, the movie was one thing– but when I went back to auditioning after it was over, it was completely different brand of nightmare. I would have to bring the pump with me, find a deserted parking lot someplace, pump in my car, transfer the milk to storage bags, place them in a cooler with an ice pack that I had brought along for the ride, and then cart the cooler to my meetings with me so it wouldn’t melt in the heat of the car.  Besides having to take out my bare breasts in public, I would often spill breast milk on myself or in my car, forget certain pump parts, or worst of all, the ice pack– making the “Liquid Gold” that I had just pumped totally useless.  I remember a particularly busy audition day when this happened and I was about six hours away from being home.  I had to turn to my left and pour around four ounces of breast milk in to the gutter.  I wept.  Unfortunately, I was auditioning for a comedy about ten minutes later.  I didn’t get the part.

At this point, Marlowe was about three and a half months old, and it was almost the holidays.  My pumping between auditions, on the road, and the “other” breast when doing home feedings had put my breasts on a strange schedule.  It was unpredictable when I would give them relief, and I was getting engorged often.  On Thanksgiving, I came down with a super nasty case of Mastitis.  To give you a frame of reference for the intensity of it, I actually thought I had come down with Meningitis, until I was diagnosed otherwise.  That’s how insane my fever and pain were.  It was really scary.  Luckily, the antibiotics helped me, and I recovered, but it was a really stressful time.  I committed to continue breastfeeding (they say directly after Mastitis is the worst time you can wean) only to be faced with another road block.  Two weeks after recovering from Mastitis, I came down with Shingles.  At this point, I felt like the universe was playing a cosmic joke on me.  Mastitis and then SHINGLES?! Two weeks apart?! It was almost laughable.  But obviously my body was run down.  I felt depleted and I was worn out.  I took some time to reflect, and realized that so much of this feeling was being caused by my breastfeeding routine.   Thankfully Marlowe didn’t end up catching Chicken Pox from my Shingles (this was my major fear), but I decided to pull the plug.  Feeding my child exclusively with breast milk just felt like a three ring circus, and I was done with the uphill battle.  And trust me, the decision didn’t come easily.  I felt so insanely guilty.  I was physically capable of feeding my child with breast milk, and yet I was deciding not to– for reasons that had to do with my well-being and not hers.  I had so many sleepless nights while I weighed the options.  I cried when discussing it with Kyle and my girlfriends.  I worried that it was my duty to put her needs above mine no matter what.  I look back on this now and I just want to hold my First Time Mama hands and pull myself in for a big, pitiful hug.  Because, of course, my “duty” as Marlowe’s Mom is actually to give her the best environment possible to thrive in– and a Mom who is losing her mind and her health from the stresses of breastfeeding does not the “best environment” make.

no re-use without permission. Fees must be confirmed before any publication.) Eva Amurri Martino, Kyle Martino, and their daughter Marlowe Mae Martino are seen during an at home photo shoot September 2, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Hair by Gio Campora; makeup by Amy Nadine and styling by Lauren Sample. (Photo by Regine Mahaux/Getty Images)

Because I had been pumping one boob every single feeding, I had a freezer full of milk.  What I ended up doing was weaning Marlowe at Christmastime.  I fed her first thing in the morning from my breast, and then would give her formula throughout the day until night time where I would give her milk from my breast again before bed.  I will tell you that my extreme feelings of guilt subsided as soon as I gave Lowie her first bottle of formula.  She LOVED it.  I think I had been expecting her to take one taste, look up at me, whisper “traitor” and hate me forever. But she gobbled it down and was totally normal for the rest of the day.  I think my entire body breathed a sigh of relief.   This weaning schedule turned in to breastfeeding only at night, which then turned in to not at all.  The whole transition took about ten days.  I remember waking up one morning and realizing that I had breastfed her for the last time, and felt tears spring to my eyes.  It was an overwhelming mix of emotions: relief, regret, pride, anticipation of this next phase of parenting her.  I’ll always remember that feeling.

Marlowe was a little over four months old when she stopped breastfeeding.  For me, this timing worked out fine, but came with a lot of emotional conflict.  My experience as a Mom ended up improving after I weaned her– mostly because I ended up feeling much stronger and more like myself when I wasn’t dealing with the stresses of breastfeeding.  But I also felt a lot of guilt and insecurity every time other Moms that I knew were still breastfeeding and I wasn’t.  I felt so much responsibility for the “choice” that I had made, and for a while I think I was always waiting for an indication that this choice had somehow effected my relationship with my daughter.  Looking back, I wish that I hadn’t placed so much weight on my decision and that I had honored my own needs at that time and not been so hard on myself.  I will also tell you that weaning my daughter effected my relationship zero percent.  Marlowe and I are so close and so connected, and I think that it would have been that way had I breastfed for three minutes or three years.

People don’t talk about it enough, but breastfeeding is a really tricky subject.  For a lot of women, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable, painful, or tricky at first– and it’s so important to get lactation support if you plan on breastfeeding.  There’s no reason to suffer– most breastfeeding “problems” can be improved by talking to a specialist and learning techniques or tricks that relate to your specific issues, baby, or lifestyle.  As time goes on, the trickiness of breastfeeding can bring up so many emotions.  As parents, our number one concern is that our children are content and thriving.  When we are their food source, it’s easy to take any issues that arise too personally– and be really hard on ourselves.  Our self worth as women and mothers IS NOT and should not feel like it is linked to our breasts.  We are abundant nurturers in every way, and it is my firm belief that we nurture our children in ways that are so much more important than the milk that they drink.  When your baby is screaming with hunger, and not latching on the breast, and your milk is drying up from the stress of all of it, it becomes much harder to remember this– but it’s true just the same.  I have girlfriends who breastfed for two years, others not at all, some who supplemented their milk supply with formula, and others who breastfed for just a month or two before switching over to formula for the next year.  Guess what they all have in common? They are all excellent, loving Mothers who have wonderful relationships with their children.  Spoiler Alert: it all works out in the end.

I’m sure you’re wondering what my plans are with my second child.  Here’s the short answer:  I’m going to wait and see.  Every child is so different, and every parenting experience is so different.  I’m going to see how it goes, what my milk is like, what my son is like, and how we settle in to a routine before I make any decisions.  When he’s born, I will breastfeed him, and I will leave the pages blank after that.  I plan on figuring out a way of moving forward that is beneficial to him, to me, and to the rhythm of our family.  Stay tuned, I guess!

My breastfeeding tips & tricks…

  • Get the right help.  There are lots of options for breastfeeding support.  Places like
    The Pump Station offer classes and advice, or search your local area for Breastfeeding support groups or message boards.  If you can afford it, hire a personal lactation consultant.  They are worth the money and can tailor-fit a routine for you that works for your schedule and lifestyle.  I will be using one this time around with Baby Boy!
  • Get the right gear.  I used these milk storage bags, and these microwave steam disinfecting bags for my pump parts.  They were both super helpful! I also loved this breastfeeding pillow.
  • Use the right sized flanges.  The flange is this part of the breast pump.  Your breast pump comes with a standard sized set of flanges, but women’s nipples don’t come in one size fits all! If your pump is giving you pain, try sizing up or sizing down with your flanges.  This can help with more efficient expulsion of milk as well.
  • Stay hydrated and snack well.  Drinking enough water, and snacking throughout the day can really help with your milk supply.  I would keep a big bottle of water by my bedside as well as snack bars to nosh on while I fed Marlowe.
  • Dark Beer.  If I got stressed and my milk supply went down, a Guiness with dinner always used to help me!
  • Refrigeration Pump Tip! (I heard this one three months in to my breastfeeding journey but it still changed the game for me.  I wish I had heard it sooner): To save time and energy while pumping, refrigerate your parts between uses instead of washing them. Then, wash and disinfect at the end of the day as usual. Any milk caught in the parts will be cold and thus will not spoil.  I would place all parts in a bowl in the fridge at work or at home, and then soak, wash, and steam disinfect my pump parts at the end of the day.
  • Find A Great Formula.  Our pediatrician suggested this formula which is organic and made in England where they have very strict dairy practices.  The smell and taste of it is so yummy and creamy– not stinky or metallic like a lot of formula can be.  Marlowe loved it.
  • Wean Well.  The less abrupt your weaning is, the easier it will be on your hormones.  Try to instigate a gradual wean if possible.  Remember that weaning can cause a dip in hormones that can effect you emotionally and make you a little weepy or PMS-y.  Be gentle with yourself during this process!

 

 

Header photograph by Nina Suh for Love And Lemonade Photography

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50 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this post! So many things really hit home with me. I went through a similar journey with ties, pumping and supply issues and problems with my baby and his weight gain,but thought I had to keep going… I pumped multiple times a day until my boy was five months and even then I felt like I had given up too easily and cried multiple times whilst discussing with my husband. Now I have a thriving and healthy baby and I’m much less stressed!
    Thanks again for sharing xx

    09.12.16Reply
  2. Nora says:

    Breastfeeding is such an emotionally charged subject. Prior to having a baby I just thought it was something that happened without much effort or thought. My mom breastfed us all for at least a year.

    My son stayed in the NICU for three weeks after he was born and my milk just never really came in despite pumping to help it along. I was able to give him as much as I could produce in the early days and then formula fed him. Since I wanted to make sure he was gaining weight and getting nutrients it worked out. I knew how much he was getting at each feed and that was the peace of mind we needed after going through his tumultuous entrance into the world. He’s now a healthy very smart 2.5 year old. No one should feel guilty for feeding their baby, whichever method.

    09.12.16Reply
  3. Rebecca Rosales says:

    Target has this awesome breast pump system that you don’t have to transfer your milk. You pump into the bag and then you attach that bag to the bottle and no transfer required. It’s the Kiinde Twist – I put the link in this comment (hopefully it worked) so you can look into it. It might save a little stress!
    You are a beautiful mama with beautiful babies! Can’t wait until you introduce us to baby boy 🙂

    http://www.target.com/p/kiinde-twist-80ct-milk-storage-pouch/-/A-16386105?regMode=GG&registryId=GdWQsdvqDiOIzEKllxzRBw&registryType=baby&itemLineNum=4&backLinkName=Chelsea%27s%20baby%20registry&backLinkUrl=%2Fgift-registry%2Fgiftgiver%3FregistryId%3DGdWQsdvqDiOIzEKllxzRBw&pageFrom=giftgiver

    09.12.16Reply
    • Michy says:

      I used these pouches too! For well over a year. They are amazing.

      09.12.16Reply
  4. Sara Mertaban says:

    This was an insanely great post. Spot on with all the emotions for however you approach breastfeeding. Here’s hoping whatever happens with baby boy is easier for all! Thanks Eva! ❤

    09.12.16Reply
  5. Kendra says:

    Oh my goodness I needed this post! I had such an uphill battle breastfeeding my daughter and even though it’s been almost a year I still cry about it and feel like a failure. My daughter latched right away so there was no problem there but my milk took a couple of days to come in so she started to lose weight. Then the first pediatrician we saw filled me with so much anxiety and self doubt – I really thought she was going to call Child Protective Services if we didn’t give our daughter a bottle right there in the office. She also told us if she lost any more weight she would have our baby girl hospitalized. She told us that some women just can’t breastfeed implying that I was one of them. Lies! She made me feel like a freak because my milk hadn’t come in for 2 days which I later found out is actually normal and for some women it takes even longer. My milk came in later that afternoon. Unfortunately my nipples had become so sore and cracked that I had to take a break from breastfeeding. Luckily around we saw a lactation consultant who put me on a wonderful pumping/ breastfeeding schedule so that my daughter wouldn’t lose the latch and I could get some relief and heal (thank you triple nipple cream!) But because of this whole experience in the beginning I always doubted my production and I always doubted whether or not my daughter was getting enough food. My production was on the low side and so we had to supplemented with 1 bottle of formula every day. By the time my daughter was 6 months old I would breastfeed but I would have to top her off with a bottle of formula after each breastfeeding and on top of that I could only pump an additional bottle a day for her. Around this time you had answered a reader in your comment section saying that you had stopped breastfeeding around four months because you felt like you had more of a relationship with your pump then your daughter and this resonated with me and it helped me make the decision to finally let go of this stress and stop tormenting myself and just enjoying my baby. So a million times thank you for helping me not feel so alone in this.

    09.12.16Reply
    • Kendra says:

      PS the lactation consultant was not concerned with the amount of weight my daughter had lost. She said it was a perfectly normal amount of weight to lose especially if I had an IV which I did.

      09.12.16Reply
  6. Jordy says:

    I’m not a parent, but I was a nanny. The woman I worked for breastfed for the most part until I came into the picture, probably around the 5-month mark. We never discussed her experience, but her child was fine under my care and with formula. I watched the little cutie grow into such a sweet and smart tot. I’ve seen social media and comment boards, even some celebrities, promote such a criticism of women and breastfeeding/formula feeding. It really is dependent on the parents, how the mother feels, and what is right for their lifestyle. No one should feel guilty and no one should guilt.

    I think this post is so perfect in describing the trials women can face. It’s not so simple as just having a baby latch easily and perfectly and it’s all rainbows. As I dive into that age where I consider children, I appreciate the outlook before I’m a hormonal mess lol.

    09.12.16Reply
  7. Jaime says:

    Excellent post! I am currently exclusively pumping so that I can feed my preemie son breastmilk (that’s fortified with formula). He just can’t seem to nurse well, so this is the decision I made for us. It is honestly the hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve worked hard to make it manageable for myself, but I now have only 5 weeks left of maternity leave. I am then expecting to pump at work. I’m already dreading it. I’m working hard to tell myself just to see how it goes and if the logistics of it make me miserable, it’s okay to stop. There’s so much pressure on moms to breastfeed now days. I really appreciate your honesty. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

    09.12.16Reply
  8. Valerie says:

    I think it’s really great that you’re so open about this. I feel like breastfeeding is such a taboo topic. I was really upset that nobody talked about how difficult and time consuming it is when I had my first children almost 5 years ago. Seems like Marlowe has turned out just fine being formula fed!!! I really applaud you being able to be so honest because I remember this struggle all too well. Good luck on your newest breastfeeding journey in the near future!

    09.12.16Reply
  9. Averill says:

    Breast feeding was so much harder than I imagined! My first did not latch well and after days of (both of us) crying and a case of mastitis, I got a lactation consultant who got us back on track. By that point though, he’d already lost enough weight that my pediatrician wanted me to supplement with formula and between the bottle and his latch issues, we ended up nursing (using a nipple shield and a LOT of pumping) for ~4months. Going back to work at 12 weeks to an open office (with only 2 “mothers’ rooms” for a company of 1100+ people!) and some required work travel essentially killed it for me. The stress/hassle stopped being worth the payoff, especially since by that point he was on 2/3 formula anyway. The second time around went much smoother and I exclusively breast-fed for my entire maternity leave and at least partially breast-fed for another 3-4 months afterward. Having my own office that time around made pumping at work much more convenient, but it’s still not the same as being home with baby.

    In any case, loved hearing your story and I echo your sentiments 100%. I give a lot of props to moms who make it work, especially working moms who make it work, but at the end of the day, breast-feeding does not a mother make and it’s definitely not worth beating yourself up about.

    09.12.16Reply
  10. Annie says:

    Amen!!!!! I am a momma of two and breastfeeding and I didn’t mix well AT ALL for a lot of different reasons. I did the best I could, but my babes didn’t thrive and I had to make some changes for my own mental well being. My pediatrician gave me the advice of “happy mom, happy child” when I broke down in her office after being told to supplement with formula. Turned out to be the best thing for us- now daddy could get in on the game and I could get back to “normal”. I think we underestimate how exhausting it is to be the sole provider to these little ones for 10 months in utero and then continue on post birth. Thanks for being honest- I was so uncomfortable pulling out a bottle of formula in “breast is best” NYC that it stopped me from attending mothers groups (especially when most of them were feeding- focused). It’s so nice to hear that someone else felt the same way!

    09.12.16Reply
  11. Alisha says:

    I think breastfeeding is another thing to make moms feel bad. My daughter had a milk protein allergy. We had to give her special formula to help with it. Looking back I’m so glad I went with the formula. I truly believed it allowed her to outgrow her allergy without constantly reintroducing her to it through my breast milk. Did I cry because I felt I wouldn’t bond with her? Yes. It was such a hard decision to make but it made everyone happier. Her gut healed and her crying stopped. We are extremely close today and if I run into the same thing with my next child there would be no doubt what to do.

    09.12.16Reply
  12. Jessica says:

    I cannot agree more about getting help with breastfeeding. My daughter also had a tongue tie, which I didnt get checked out until she was almost a month old, because everyone says breastfeeding will hurt. By the time we found it and got it taken care of she had done nerve damage to my right side (which was fairly easily fixed) but mostly meant I did not sleep for about 6 weeks. 6 WEEKS. Professional breast feeding support ladies are magic and you can ask them anything and they will help and never judge you. Being a mom is hard dont make it harder on yourself and suffer at the same time.

    09.12.16Reply
  13. Jessica says:

    THE BEST POST! I literally almost had a nervous breakdown WHILE STILL IN THE HOSPITAL after giving birth to my daughter because of the pressure and, in my opinion, not-so-gentle approach of the staff there to get my baby to latch. I felt like I was being held prisoner and that I immediately had been given an “F” in this New Mom School. It wasn’t until a wonderful midwife who I hadn’t met before, walked in to my room, calmed me down and said “I’m sure there are children at Harvard who were fed on formula.” It was like I could breathe again. From there, we went to a lactation specialist and after a few days, my lil Maysie finally latched. Unfortunately, I had the opposite problem and didn’t have much supply, even with a religious and DESPISED pumping schedule. We lasted 5 months with formula supplement. (Funny thing- I used the same Hipp formula!)
    My girl is 20 months now, smart as a whip and a healthy 90-something% in height and weight!
    All moms need to hear a post like yours!
    THANK YOU, Eva!!

    Jessica

    09.12.16Reply
  14. Amelia (4resh_AIR) says:

    A welcome post, thank you Eva! My daughter was exclusively liquid formula fed and it’s refreshing to read a “formula positive” voice in the noisy, pressure filled trenches of infant feeding.

    (Side bar: at 26, long before I met my husband or was ready for children, I had a breast reduction. I knew that the procedure would likely pose issues in the future once I had a child but even with the potential to this day I don’t regret my decision) As with so many mothers I did feel overwhelmed by hormones and pressure once babe was placed in my arms. Well, no, that’s not quite right – I ended up having a c-section and babe and I were separated to respective ICU’s for the first 12-hours. Not by design or preference. It wasn’t the best way to get started but once we were re-introduced the love (and hormones) flowed. Not the milk though.

    For sure I gave breast feeding the ole College try, in all it’s incantations – traditional poses, with a shield, with a lactation coach, massaging, hot compresses, beer, herbs (milk thistle, fenugreek), pumping, standing on my head (ok not quite) – and I could only yield a very small amount. I was disappointed in myself and so envious of other mothers I saw who made it look easy. I worried about not being able to bond with my daughter, that she would end up somehow at a lower level of health (mental/physical); I worried I would be judged, by everyone. Time passed and I gradually made my peace with turning to formula and, seriously, it was the best. The pressure I put upon myself melted away, my husband was as involved, if not more, than me in babe’s feeds, plus family and friends all took turns. It was liberating and peaceful and babe thrived.

    Sharing the experience of feeds out and around to our loved ones was a true gift that started us on a healthy path we continue to this day. Babe was weaned to cow’s milk by her first birthday and now she’s almost 2 – happy, curious, alert, she’s the joy of our lives. I’m so thankful for our experience and for you yours. Everyone’s journey is different and the most important thing is that babe is fed — whatever technique or drink is right for them.

    PS: All the best to anyone reading. Remember – you got this!

    09.12.16Reply
  15. Rabiah says:

    Omg! I loved reading this…I am almost seven months into my breastfeeding journey with my little one. I set a goal of six months and I passed it, but not without the struggles – much of which you explained. I, too, struggled with oversupply and the foremilk/hind milk issue. I was going crazy and everything in my house smelt like breastmilk and I wanted to give up! Luckily, I just had my husband feed him from some bottles of pumped milk – and turns out I just needed rest. We are still breastfeeding but I LONG for the day he weans and hoping as we are starting solids that it’s sooner rather than later! Like you said, a FED baby is a happy baby!

    09.12.16Reply
  16. Shauna says:

    OMG! I HATE HATE pumping too. I had hindmilk issues as well. Once I went back to work I had an abundance of milk for about 3 weeks. Then production dropped (probably due to stress). Every night I pumped after my daughter went to bed and each morning before I woke her. Plus, disinfecting the machine and bottles, etc.
    I was lucky and was able to feed her at lunch in person. I still had to pump at least twice at work. I had several bouts of mastitis during this time as well. YAY! I had a can of formula for ‘back up’ for a year. It started to whisper to me at the 5:30 am pump “I’m here if you need me.” Then I would feel such guilt.
    I stuck with it for her entire first year, but the day I turned off that pump for the last time was such a relief!
    I had such a hard time with my husband during this time as well. He was a SAHD during her first year and we would both get nervous about pumping/production.
    Our relationship was sooo much better after that stress was eliminated.
    Thank you for the post. We all have struggles with this issue and I think we all can relate. It’s a thankless process. PLUS – people can be so judgmental – we all need to support whatever gets us through.

    09.12.16Reply
  17. Catherine says:

    This made my day! As I sit here pumping, it was so honest and I feel very similar with ur feelings–esp about pumping UGH!

    09.12.16Reply
  18. Simi says:

    Well done mama for this post! I have been breastfeeding for 9 months! Being that my son is 9 months old and I returned to work when he was 6 months I have to pump ALOT and I’m going through that stage where for the past 3 months the tediousness of pumping and finding time to pump between internal and external meetings, meeting with team and just a demanding job means that my supply is suffering! With that said fenugreek has helped a lot but I am considering combination feeding of breast and formula and thankfully he began weaning but although breastfeeding has been okay for me and I’ve loved it…breastfeeding whilst working is hard. Given me an idea for a blog post ha! http://Www.whiitelist.com

    09.12.16Reply
  19. Tara says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I, too, struggled with my decision to supplement with formula at 10 months. I had the “1 year” milestone so deeply etched in my mind that I thought I was a failure. Turns out, my son is fine and the guilt and shame are somewhat distant memories. I am so happy I found your blog! It is amazing.

    09.12.16Reply
  20. Love this quote: “I think that it would have been that way had I breastfed for three minutes or three years.”

    Every mom and every baby is different. My story mirrored yours except that my supply was low. But mastitis & thrush were definitely part of the equation. Pumping was so isolating but a nice little personal recess when at the office. But I wholeheartedly agree that once pumping and breastfeeding was over I felt more back to normal. Good luck with number two! xx

    09.12.16Reply
  21. Brittany says:

    Thanks so much for writing your experience/tips with breastfeeding! I’m pregnant with my first baby, and you and I must be due within days of each other (which I think is so cool because I first started reading your blog last year before I even became pregnant)! I’m honestly more scared and anxious of the whole breastfeeding part of parenthood (because I just want it to work out so badly) than I am the actual birth :/
    Looking forward to relating to some of the same moments with you after our little ones are born 🙂

    09.12.16Reply
  22. Yasmin Wallace says:

    I struggled a lot too. My birth plan went nothing like I hoped, it was a shitshow, so breastfeeding was the one thing I felt I had left to cling on to and that didn’t go well for us either. I tried everything to produce more milk and nothing helped. Looking back I feel such guilt that I maybe starved my child by being stubborn and refusing to give up. Even though it hurt my soul, switching to formula saved my sanity and kept my son happier. I would try breastfeeding again, but if it doesn’t work I will give up much sooner. Pumping is definitely a pain!

    09.12.16Reply
  23. Stefanie says:

    Omggggggg. This post is amazing. My son would not latch.ever. Like had an absolute aversion to breastfeeding. 3 lactation consultants later and absolutely no reason why we couldn’t breast feed I resorted to exclusively pumping- and hating it. Pumping is truly awful. Women that can do it are my heroes. I had immense guilt over stopping at 3 months because I was so miserable. This post hits the nail on the head. I truly appreciated your honesty <3

    09.12.16Reply
  24. Alex says:

    Bravo to you for being so open about your breastfeeding experience. We are often hard on ourselves as mothers when things don’t go the way we think is “right” in or minds before having kids. Fed is best- as long as you are feeding your baby, you are doing a great job.

    Just a small piece of advice for baby boy, should you decide to breastfeed him- don’t pump the other side. Our boobs are supply and demand systems, so if you are constantly pumping, they will constantly supply, leading into the dreaded pumping chain that seems to never end. When you feed one side and you feel full or engorged on the other, hand express the other side until you feel relief, then leave it alone. Eventually your body will get the message and realize that there will be a two or three hour wait until the next feeding.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and I guarantee you will be more relaxed With your second. You don’t understand how easy a newborn is until you have your second child!

    09.12.16Reply
  25. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this. It is very refreshing to read about someone being so honest with the challenges of breastfeeding. It was an extremely difficult time for me and I didn’t enjoy a second of it, from latch problems to thrush to supplementing and then her preferring the bottle because of the supplementing, nothing was easy. I had postpartum depression/anxiety and I truly feel that it was worse because of the pressure I put on myself to breastfeed. At 5 months enough was enough and I switched to pumping (I didn’t mind pumping) only then was I able to start to get back to feeling like me. Good luck with your little boy!

    09.12.16Reply
  26. Allison says:

    I love you Eva you’re blog, Instagram and snapchat make me smile everyday.

    09.12.16Reply
  27. Sierra says:

    Ahhh I’m so happy to see your link to HiPP formula! I want to sing from the mountain tops the praises of this formula. I was unable to breastfeed my first, received some donated milk, but primarily used HiPP. My daughter LOVED and thrived on it, and I felt so grateful to have an organic option available. I am expecting our second, a boy, in two weeks and am hopeful that he takes to it as well as my first. Thanks for sharing your experience. I had a preventive bi-lateral mastectomy two years before my daughter was born. One of my biggest hang ups about this decision was knowing I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed my future babies. While I still grieve this loss I know it was the best decision for my family. I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that we all do our best for our kiddos, through the stress and guilt of every little, but seemingly huge, decision we make on behalf of these munchkins.

    09.12.16Reply
  28. Jessica says:

    THANK YOU for writing this. I was a mom to a preemie and aside from my natural Hypnobirth dreams being shattered, my breast feeding ones were too. There are a lot of posts on how wonderful (and natural) it is and for someone who isn’t able to, it’s heartbreaking to read. We are expecting our second now and this bit made me feel so much more at ease. I seriously wanted to cry reading. Your post is so relatable and so, so appreciated. Best wishes to you and your family. xoxo

    09.12.16Reply
  29. Elle says:

    This is a wonderful post! Breastfeeding is the hardest most natural thing ever. I had a similar journey with my daughter: undiagnosed tongue tie that lead to severe nipple trauma and oversupply. We had a lot of luck with block feeding except that I never pumped the other side, I just fed her one breast per feed and with some time my body adjusted. At first I would use a Milkie to catch the let down on the side my daughter wasn’t nursing on and now I just wear a nursing pad when I’m very full. We’ve successfully been nursing for 16 months now. I encourage you to try block feeding without pumping this time, for I hate the pump too and think my journey would have been very different if I had been pumping in addition to feeds. I wish you and Baby Boy the best of luck!

    09.13.16Reply
    • cecily says:

      Yes, I totally agree with your comment and hope that Eva reads this and tries it with the next baby. I’m 9 weeks in with baby 3 and we are block feeding. I’ve done this with all my kids and each kid breastfeed 12 + months….. all block feeding and I never pumped the other breast. Your body adjusts over time…. just as it adjusts during growth spurts and as they start incorporating solids.
      I pumped a few times with baby 1, but didn’t enjoy it and felt like a cow. I am lucky to have 1 year maternity leaves with each baby…. so I didn’t have work obligations preventing me from feeding.
      Best of luck Eva!!

      09.17.16Reply
  30. Katie says:

    Thank you for this post! I am 9 month into breastfeeding a pumping for my daughter and there are so many different emotions that have happened in these last 9 months. Guilt for wanting to stop has been one huge one, but after reading this I feel less alone in that feeling. I connect with every single post that you write in some way or another and so appreciate your open and honest dialogue. Thank you <3

    09.13.16Reply
  31. Steph says:

    Loved this! Yes, breast feeding is such a roller coaster. With my first I had to completely cut out dairy from my diet. He started screaming at my breast at about one month old and after a lot of research I made these changes and we made it about 8 months.
    I am one week back at work with baby two and pumping away. Day one back at work and I forgot the plug for my pump – OY! Baby two had a tongue tie too. Two weeks after being home I had to call a lactation consultant because it was taking over an hour to get him to latch and I was in tears during most nursing sessions because we were struggling so much. The latching consultant had me use nipple shields until my appointment to fix his tongue tie. It’s been a roller coaster for sure!

    In the end, don’t compare and do what is best for you and your family. I think our littles can sense our stress, so we have to take care of Momma too!

    Good luck, Momma!

    09.13.16Reply
  32. Molliee says:

    I couldn’t have loved a post about breastfeeding more! I had such mixed feelings about breastfeeding. I too had an over supply, and to keep that in check had to pump which I HATE as well. One thing that really bothered me was judgy comments by others who had strong feelings about breastfeeding. I wished I could have read this when I was contemplating supplementing with formula because I would have done it much sooner! Once I did, I was able to breastfeed when I wanted to without pumping, then gently weaned when we were both ready. This is such a great post, and I am sure it will help others do what keeps them happy and healthy (and sane)!

    09.13.16Reply
  33. Stephanie C says:

    Tomorrow marks my son’s 6 month birthday and the amount of time I’ve been pumping for. My son was 5.5 weeks early so I had to pump from the beginning since he was in the NICU. Pumping sucks so much! And nearly every single day I wonder why there have not been more advances on the pumping front. Seriously, how is it still a thing in its current state? I wish I was smart enough to figure out a way to improve pumping… Some very small contraption that dies not need to be plugged in and can be worn under clothes so you can go about your day and no one would never even know you’re pumping, so you can do it anywhere and at any time (like a tampon of breastfeeding). If men had to pump – this contraption would already exist.

    09.13.16Reply
  34. Risa says:

    Oh wow, Eva, this post is so spot on, well written and helpful. You’re going to get a million comments on this one from moms who want to share their stories, ha.

    I too had a very very plentiful milk supply a couple days after birth. It was instantly too much milk for my baby’s tiny stomach and he was projectile vomiting quite a bit until we got our little dance figured out.. We often bottle fed him my breast milk just to regulate how much he was getting. I was fortunate to have a lot of lactation support through my doc’s office, my insurance AND my doula and I’m so thankful for all those who gave us advice through that strange time.

    I’ve now been back at work for 4 weeks. It’s a busyyyyy job and taking the time to pump a few times a day often makes me feel like a lunatic, so I try to sit and close my eyes and calmly breath in the few minutes of uninterrupted quiet in my day.
    I tell myself that I am fortunate to have this milk, and that it is free, and that I can do this for the recommended 6 months. I’m floored by many women’s ability to do this for a year or even closer to 2 sometimes. I think for my own mental sanity, 6 months feels like the perfect amount of time for my mind and body. I’m about halfway there now.

    In this motherhood journey I find the term “breast is best” that so many people use to be really upsetting because the majority of my friends and tons of women everywhere have not been able to breast feed for one reason or another. And then they feel like crap because they worry they’re not giving their child “the best.” As long as baby gets fed and is loved, THAT is best.

    Sending positive vibes to all the ladies out there on their own baby feeding ride!

    09.14.16Reply
  35. gummyB says:

    first time commenting here, but this just hit home and I wanted to share a couple things. I had a very similar experience of oversupply with my first baby and it is a challenge! Block feeding was my savior (though I didn’t pump the other side, just waited until the next feeding) and I was able to maintain that way (plus pumping at work of course, the worst).

    BUT, just a heads up for #2, since block feeding was what I knew, I very quickly started block feeding my second child (again without pumping the other side) and never gave my supply a chance to establish. I just assumed my supply would be the same as before, but every pregnancy/baby really is different! All kids eat differently and your body will be different this time too. Easy to say but very hard to truly anticipate what this can look like.

    Sounds like you have a great approach to wait and see. Just don’t panic if nothing is like before, because it likely will not be.

    (PS I have an older girl (4) and younger boy (2) and their dynamic is the best! You will love it.)

    09.14.16Reply
  36. Veta Sitaropoulos says:

    One of my best friends had similar issues with breastfeeding her first born. She actually had to SIGN A FORM at the hospital her daughter was born in to confirm that she was aware of the risks of not breastfeeding when she wasn’t producing enough milk to feed her newborn baby, and asked her nurse for formula to help feed her starving daughter. She was so concerned by her own guilt, and alarmed by the pervasive stigma of not breast feeding that she (and many other mama friends) encountered during her baby’s first months that she ended up spending a year writing a book about it. Written alongside a paediatrician, it’s a no-nonsense, super easy to read, funny, and extremely well researched exploration of bottle feeding as a perfectly healthy (physically and emotionally!) alternative when breastfeeding just isn’t right for you. It’s called ‘Guilt Free Bottle Feeding – Why your formula fed baby can be happy, healthy and smart’ by Madeleine Morris – hope it might be a comfort! Wishing all you Mamas all the best with whichever road your baby feeding journey takes you down!

    https://www.amazon.com/Guilt-free-Bottle-Feeding-Formula-Fed-Healthy/dp/1908281774/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473868801&sr=8-1&keywords=Guilt-Free+Bottle+Feeding%3A+Why+your+formula-fed+baby+can+be+happy%2C+healthy+and+smart

    09.14.16Reply
  37. Pam says:

    I struggled with not producing enough milk and pumping was awful! Some people would tell me pumping too much would reduce my milk supply while others said pumping too little would. I tried taking milk thistle as well but nothing worked.

    My son had horrible gas and constipation all the time. I wish I would have known about hindmilk! That may have been the issue. And I’m married to a doctor!!!

    In the end, a soy-based, organic formula saved me. I had enough friends that told me not to beat myself up about breastfeeding. In the end, my son would be fine.

    Kudos to you for sharing your journey. There’s a lot of judgement out there. Trust me, I was a victim of it; but in the end I did what was best for me which was, in turn, best for my son.

    09.14.16Reply
  38. Kim says:

    First of all, I absolutely adore your blog and social media accounts! I too have a two year old daughter and now have a 6 week old baby girl. I never comment on blogs but I have to say I had pretty much the exact same experience with breastfeeding my two year old, right down to getting shingles when she was 4 months old!! You so eloquently expressed the guilt/pressure/insecurities I had when I made the decision to stop breastfeeding her in order to make me as Mommy a happier, more sane version of myself. Thank you so much for constantly putting such honest material on your site!! Best of luck with round 2 coming up!!

    09.14.16Reply
  39. katie says:

    Love this post. Breast feeding is this crazy, messy roller coaster. We talk about it, but we really don’t talk about “it.” Those first few days waiting for your milk supply to come in take you to these incredible lows. Anyway, all went well and, like you, I made milk like a champ.

    So about 6 months in I was getting fed up with strapping myself to that damn machine all the time. I still used the electronic pump at work 2x per day, but using my pump in the morning when I woke up and at night was a chore. I ended up buying a hand-pump and it changed things overnight. I kept it next to my bed so in the morning when I fed my little guy, I would pump off the other side at the same time. It worked great. You also don’t waste the milk the other side produces while you let down in that first minute. So hand-pumping (as awkward as it sounds) is SO easy especially in the morning when your boobs are full and raring to go.

    I highly recommend this one http://tinyurl.com/glychdr by Avent. It’s super comfy, feels “sturdier” then others I tried, doesn’t have more than two parts, and it screws onto their bottles if you use that brand. Plus it was great for travel with the baby and you want to pump a bottle or two on the road. Or when you have an event like a wedding where you need to pump off.

    I’m just hitting 37 weeks with baby number 2 (a little girl this time) and my little boy is lively two year-old. It’s been fun to read your blog and your snaps since we are in similar baby boats. Best of luck to you!

    09.16.16Reply
  40. Rebecca says:

    I needed to read this. I made it 6 months breastfeeding and hated every minute of it. Not only was he classified as a ‘barracuda’ nurser, I battled both thrush and mastitis twice. I was constantly in pain. Going back to work didn’t help either. It was a difficult decision to switch to formula, but I feel like I am a better mother for it. PS: We use Hipp too!

    09.19.16Reply
  41. Oh mama, you’ve been through so much! And you did a KICKASS job with all of it. Thank you for sharing this – so many of us need it. I also wanted to offer TheMilkinMama as a resource. We teach mamas to hand express their breast milk, either instead of pumping, or in conjunction with pumping. We strive to give women more options. If more breastfeeding mamas knew how to hand express effectively, they would have more power, more freedom, and less stress. I have been breastfeeding the majority of the last 4.5 years, and I haven’t pumped in 4 years, even as a full-time working mom. I found that my hands were at least as effective as the pump, and decidedly more convenient. Now my #gomilkyourself teachers and I teach online workshops, in-person ones, private sessions on FaceTime, Skype, or in-person (in many parts of the country). We also have a video, a book, and much more coming. We are here to help all breastfeeding mamas make their lives easier. I applaud you for sharing your story and hope we can help even more mamas along their breastfeeding journeys.

    10.31.16Reply
  42. Dori says:

    Thank you, my baby was also born with a tongue tie and was never really able to learn how to latch. I have been exclusively pumping for 6 mos. now and I have been searching for the courage to stop and gain my life back. It’s time for me to move past the guilt.

    12.12.16Reply
  43. Emily says:

    Eva, it sounds like you are an amazing mom. I commend you for being so turned in to the wants and needs of your lovely babies. I want to tell you though, with block feeding, there is never really a ‘need’ to pump the other breast unless it is for your comfort or to build up a supply of frozen breastmilk. Breastfeeding is about supply and demand and by feeding from one breast and pumping the other during one feed, you were telling your body that you needed both breasts full of milk at every feeding. This can create or exacerbate an oversupply, which is sounds like you had. I had so much milk that I fed my babies one breast for 2 feedings and left the other breast alone. Initially I had to express some milk from the neglected breast for my own comfort, but then my body caught on and made just enough for my babies. Not everyone has this extreme of an oversupply and feeding one breast per feeding is sufficient. If you express just enough milk to make yourself comfortable (and hopefully avoid any sort of plugged duct or mastitis) your body will respond by moderating your milk supply. You can also express a few tbsp of foremilk before feeding your baby to reduce the strength of your letdown. It’s really a wonderful system. If you haven’t ever spoken to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) I urge you to do so! They are a wealth of information. Also http://www.kellymom.com is one of the best websites out there for nursing mothers. Breast, formula, whatever combination of both, it’s all good as long as children are loved and intuitively cared for. It seems like you’re awesome at this mom thing.

    01.03.17Reply