March 9, 2015

I’m a Lactivist…and I hated nursing

I Hated Nursing

If you’ve been around Best of Baby for a while, you might have picked up on the fact I’m a lactivist…like really a lot. It’s hard not to be when there are so many amazing benefits to breastfeeding.  But would you believe me if I told you that I hated nursing?  Like hated it so much that I almost quit?

It’s true.  With my first baby, nursing was hard…at times even downright MISERABLE.  Most women will experience some discomfort in the early stages as their breasts adjust to nursing, but I had extreme pain for months on end.   What made it even worse is that I kept hearing “if you’re doing it right, then it won’t hurt”.

But guess what?  I was doing it right (according to three different lactation consultants) and it still hurt…a lot. And there were SO many challenges.


Every time my son latched, I felt like he had hidden razor blades in his mouth.  It was the toe curling, back arching, bite your tongue so you don’t scare the baby with your screams type of pain.  This made me DREAD every nursing session.  So much so, that if the nurses in the hospital had told me I could go 7 hours between each nursing session, I would have gladly taken their advice!


For many people, after the initial latch, the pain mostly eases up.  Not for me!  It hurt the whole nursing session (all 30-40 minutes of it).  I attribute that to extremely sensitive skin.  My poor nips were RAW and no amount of nipple cream made it any better (TMI?  Sorry…it’s a breastfeeding post though). 


Ok, so you’d think that after I was done nursing, I’d get a break from the pain, right?  Not the case.  For about half an hour straight after a feeding session, I got what I not-so-lovingly termed “Fire Breasts”…where I literally felt like I had fire coursing through my baby feeders.  To this day, I still have no idea what caused it, though some have suggested an undiagnosed case of thrush.

Thankfully, after about 3 months, the pain diminished and nursing eventually became comfortable.  But during those first 3 months, it was awful.  I hated nursing and not a single day went by where I didn’t consider quitting.  The only thing that kept me going was the absolute knowledge that I was doing the best thing for my baby (seriously, if you don’t know about the benefits of breastfeeding, check out this post I wrote).

My point in all of this…don’t be discouraged if something so natural doesn’t, in fact, come naturally at all.  It can be very painful and very challenging, but ultimately, very rewarding.  Get help when you need it (lactation consultants are your friend!), persevere as much as you can, and know that eventually it probably will get better.  But if it doesn’t, take comfort in the fact that you’re doing something wonderful (and very sacrificial) for your child. 

(Sidenote: Don’t beat yourself up if you need to supplement or quit altogether.  You need to do what’s best for your baby, and that includes having a sane mama.)

(Sidenote 2: Nursing with #2 has been a breeze…so there’s definitely hope for anyone else who had a rough go of it the first time around.)



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Iulia is a former educator turned stay-at-home mama of a spunky toddler and a squishy infant. With a touch of sass and a good dose of self-deprecating humor, she has an ever-expanding repertoire of bloopers, insights, stories, and impassioned opinions to share. Iulia likes to think she has this parenting gig figured out, but her littles remind her daily just how far from the truth that is.

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    Reply Stephanie March 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    This is great! I am one that has also struggled with it. To be honest, the hardest part has been comments made to me. “It shouldn’t hurt if you are doing it right.” “Your body will adjust and make enough milk.” Yada yada. All things that just made me more upset that things were wrong even though I was doing everything textbook. Those comments made me feel defeated and like I wasn’t a good enough mom somehow. Breastfeeding is hard and it doesn’t come naturally to every woman. We are just now weaning (very slowly) because my supply is just not cutting it. But I am now ok with the fact that my body did what it could. I probably should have stopped months ago instead of torturing myself with all the extra pumping, but I just couldn’t get the comments of “it is natural; you should be doing it” out of my head. We made it 6 glorious months through the pain and my baby is growing like a champ. And that right there is something I can be proud of! I think more women need to talk about the difficulties instead of just always going under the guise of it will come eventually or feeling pressured. I think that will help women feel like they aren’t alone and doing something wrong when it doesn’t feel natural all the time. Support all tatas!
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      That’s AMAZING that you made it 6 months — especially through all of the challenges! You’re right, it can be really discouraging to have people say “well, if you just do _______, then it’ll work perfectly”, because that’s not reality for a lot of women. And yes, support all tatas!

    Reply Amy M March 11, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Yes! I saw this on Raising Homemakers and just had to click through. I do believe that nursing is what’s best for baby, and that belief and a lot of prayer were what got me through a very rough and bumpy nursing experience with my little man. He was born with a congenital heart defect, and CHD babies have feeding issues anyway (nursing tires them out so they tend to fall asleep exhausted before they’re satiated), so between that and the pain, we had a wild first few months. Thank you for being so encouraging!

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 12, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Oh Amy I’m so sorry for your experience nursing and for your poor bub’s CHD. I pray that both you and him will thrive!

    Reply Trena Quesenberry March 13, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I had a little bit of pain nursing with my daughter, but it was just the initial latch on, and then it would subside. But I whole-heartily agree that you have to do what is best for you and the baby. With one, I didn’t nurse at all, one I did for six weeks, and one I did for six months. I was simply at different stages in life, and at different comfort levels of nursing, and I progressed in how I felt about nursing. Thanks for sharing your insight!

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      My pleasure! And I’m glad you had such minimal pain…I’ve heard of women like you 😉

    Reply Nancherrow March 13, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    You look in your photo like you have fair skin, as I do. My breasts (with each of my 4 kids) took weeks to toughen up. I got the cracked, painful nipples and each latch was tear inducing. I also got mastitis twice. But I learned after my first baby that if I started with cream right from the first feeding, the process was a little easier. Thanks for sharing-I’m sure this is encouraging to many new mamas out there.

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      Nancherrow, yes I actually did read somewhere that women with fairer skin can experience more pain…what a strange phenomenon. And ugh, yea I’ve had mastitis 3 times in the past 4 months. It’s awful!

    Reply Tawnya Faust March 14, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I honestly can not believe you pushed through that, that’s incredible. You are a bfing warrior! Haha! I gave up at about 6 months, but mostly because my baby self weaned, I am certain if I would have had those challenges I would have quit.
    Tawnya Faust recently posted…Saturday Spotlight Link up #11My Profile

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      But you didn’t so good on you! And I don’t think I’m a bfing warrior…just stubborn 🙂 (And too cheap to pay for formula!)

    Reply Leslie March 14, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    What an encouraging post – thank you for sharing. I wish I had read a story like yours back when my daughter was born. I had a lot of pain as well and I did give up after 3 weeks – although I pumped instead. I kind of felt like a failure because I couldn’t do something that was supposed to be so natural. Even though I was still giving her my breast milk, I was often embarrassed to tell people that I pumped, so I usually just lied and said I was breastfeeding. I’m thrilled to hear that baby #2 wasn’t as difficult. Hopefully I have the same luck when the time comes!

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      First off, in my book pumping IS breastfeeding…the point is for them to get breast milk, which you did! Second, I actually think pumping can be ever harder than nursing, so good for you for persevering! You really were serving your daughter! And yes, definitely take hope in the fact that it can be exponentially easier the second time around.

    Reply Suzie@homemaker-mom March 14, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Wow! I hurt the whole time too. I only did it for 2 weeks for each baby. I gave it up each time it hurt so bad. I feel aweful for giving up. Found you at Sat. Soiree
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      Do NOT feel awful! You did what you could!

    Reply Tiffany | A Touch of Grace March 14, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Good for you for pushing through! I struggled at the beginning as well. It hurt so bad! But I’m so glad I stuck with it, as I’m sure you are as well.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      Way to stick with it! And yes, I’m extremely glad I persevered…it was so worth it!

    Reply Brie @ A Slice of Brie March 14, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Oh my goodness, I had a very similar experience with nursing as you describe here. The pain was toe curling at the best of times! I remember feeling my pulse quicken as I was preparing my son to latch and I would start deep breathing in anticipation lol. It hurt for months. I too, also had that fire-like pain post nursing you describe. I was telling my sister in law about it one time, and she said she also had it and had been told it was Raynoud’s syndrome. Once I googled it, it definitely described what I was feeling, but I don’t recall my nipples actually turning white. ANYway, I really wish people would stop saying “if it hurts you aren’t doing it right”. Especially when it’s your first baby – I mean really, how can it NOT hurt?! All of a sudden something is sucking on your for almost 24 hours a day, of course it’s going to hurt! Haha! I’m so happy we pushed through tho, and now my son is almost 13 months and still going strong on the boob 😉

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      Wait there’s a name for this?! I’m going to have to look into Raynoud’s syndrome… And I agree, how can it not hurt?! Even my second was a bit painful to begin with, and I nursed my first for 2 whole yeras! And well done for pushing through 🙂

        Reply Jaclyn Kent March 16, 2015 at 8:41 am

        I definitely agree – it is likely t hurt, regardless of who you are or how much it hurts! There will be some amount of pain, for sure!

    Reply Jaclyn Kent March 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I think people often underestimate how much work and stress that goes into breastfeeding. The challenges are there for everyone, even if it comes easily, so it’s nice to see other women sharing their challenges. Here’s the link to my (also challenging) breastfeeding journey!

    Reply Brandyn March 16, 2015 at 10:41 am

    While I didn’t have any pain or other major issues while I was nursing my daughter, I definitely felt like giving up on many occasions! I could never pump enough for her, so having other people take her was a major challenge, as was just having her daddy feed her so I could catch a break! I remember feeling so tied down, but I’m glad I pushed through as long as I did! We began supplementing with formula around 6 months and switched fully around 8 months. You are absolutely right, you have to do what is best for you and your baby!
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    Reply ALycia March 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    We struggled with BF’ing for the first month, then it was fairly easy after that, but I nearly gave up in that first month. Good for you for pushing through!!!

    Thanks again for linking up with the Saturday Spotlight!!!

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 17, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      I think a lot of people probably have the experience…unfortunately a lot probably also give up before they hit their stride. Sad 🙁

    Reply Kim March 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I so agree! Nursed 3 kids -different experience with all. Definitely get help! I had small issues wit 2 of the kids but pediatrician and lactation consultant helped me through. I am forever grateful that I was able to breastfeed all my babies.

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 17, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Yes help is so important! Not sure what I would have done without the help of the sweet lactation consultants in the hospital…

    Reply Julie Hood March 16, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I love your sense of humor and the honesty! Fire breasts is a funny-not-funny name! (Funny sounding, not funny because it sounds horrible!! You’re so tough!!) I don’t have kids but this will definitely stick with me when I do…it takes the pressure off to know it’s not all gonna be perfect 🙂 so glad you posted this on the oak and oat’s link up!

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Haha Julie thanks for the sweet words. And I hope you don’t ever experience fire breasts!

    Reply Lou @ Mommy Sanest March 16, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I’m still, like. traumatized by nursing experience, which lasted for a full year and ended more than 2 years ago. I had so much pain toward the end that I really should have thrown in the towel, but I kept going.

    That said, it is definitely worth it, especially in those early months! #MommyMeetupMondays
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 17, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Wow way to go for making it so long!! Thankfully, my pain mostly disappeared after a few months…not sure how long I would have been able to keep it up otherwise!

    Reply Julie S. March 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Nursing is so hard! I often think about quitting, especially since I have to supplement anyway since I produce about a third to half of a feeding amount, and now that I’m back at work I can’t even pump as often as my hippo eats. So I totally relate to this post and you’re right, a sane and happy momma is better for the baby.
    Julie S. recently posted…Our method to be up less at night with babyMy Profile

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 17, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Oh my goodness I think that every mom that has to pump deserves a mommy medal. I did it for 3 months before I left my job (and even then, only part-time) and it was no fun. Props to you mama!

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    Reply Lizzie Lau March 22, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I had the most amazing natural birth experience at age 40. 36 hours of labor at home, arrived at the hospital at 9.5 cm and was done an hour and a half later. Easy peasy. I thought breastfeeding would be just as easy. Was I ever wrong. My sister, who was also my Doula, was laughing at me because during all that labor I was singing and dancing, but as soon as I started breastfeeding I was swearing like a sailor! After a couple of days I was crying on the phone to a La Leche League lactation consultant who calmed me down and reassured me. I persevered out of pure stubbornness, and my four year old just self-weaned. It’s hard, it doesn’t always come naturally, it can be super painful, and I don’t blame any Mom for giving up. We’re all doing our best.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      Lizzie, how awesome that you had an amazing birth experience…and how awesome that you persevered so long to breastfeed!! That’s truly wonderful. And yes, you’re totally right…we are all doing our best.

    Reply Betty March 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Sorry you had such a bad experience. 3 months is a long time to be in pain. I was only in pain slight for about a week after the real milk came in. Also, I knew of creams that were available to help and I knew it is usually only temporary. I loved nursing. It is a bond between mother and child that is unexplainable. Also it is so much easier than being bothered with a lot of bottles. For me it was very convenient and natural too.

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Betty that’s so great that your pain was gone after a week! I think that’s probably more typical. And yes, the cream was sooo helpful! I stocked up on before my second was born. That said, things were a lot easier with her so I hardly used any of it!

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    Reply Vicki March 24, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I can absolutely relate to this post, I hated nursing as well. I loved the idea of breastfeeding and had every intention of exclusively breastfeeding until at least 6 months, but it just didn’t work out that way. The pain was so extreme, I was in tears during nursing sessions. I felt stressed out at the thought of having to nurse. I’m so glad to know there is at least one other person out there that felt the same way I did. I toughed it out for 4 months with my daughter but only 2 months with my son. I felt like a much happier mom when we switched to bottle feeding. Would love for you to check out my blog!

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 24, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Ugh I’m so sorry you had such tough experiences! I’m surprised that the pain lasted so long for you…was there something wrong with your baby’s latch or did you just have really sensitive skin? Anyway, could for you for sticking it out as long as you could, and for doing what was best for you and the babies!

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