Things We Wish We Knew About Breastfeeding Before We Started

Parents from the Fed is Best Infant Feeding Support group have told us that their prenatal education didn’t prepare them for the realities of breastfeeding and didn’t teach them the education they wanted and needed. They want other families to be informed to have a safe and positive breast/chestfeeding experience.  This is what they said: 

“It’s really, really difficult!”

It does not come naturally to babies or parents; it’s a learned skill, and sometimes things go wrong. You don’t just stick your breast in the baby’s mouth and call it a day! It’s hard! It’s not as easy as the classes or videos make it seem. (Remember, they’ve all been practicing!).”

It can take a mental toll—stress, depression, anxiety, isolation.”

“Breastfeeding was the hardest thing I ever loved to do!”

“It does (for most of us) absolutely hurt, even if you have the right latch. It’s normal for it to hurt for the first few seconds, with letdown and latching.  But it’s not supposed to be overwhelmingly painful long-term. (Also, nipple vasospasms are a thing.).”

“It does do NOT prevent postpartum depression—and it can sometimes make it worse.”

“You might actually gain weight—it might make you super hungry.”

“Mastitis is no joke! Neither are milk blisters, cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts, leaking, etc.”

“It’s OKAY to have your own strong feelings about feeding. Yes, fed is best, and feeding the baby safely is the priority- but it’s totally fine if you really want to breastfeed and put more work into it than others feel is reasonable. It’s okay if you have an irrational attachment to a pretty can of formula even though you know they all meet the same standards.” – Jarren Bennett

“It can feel incredibly isolating and stressful being the only one that can feed them.”

“Finding support to stop can be really hard, as there are people out there that can make you feel very guilty. Weaning takes a huge mental toll, and it can be painful.”

“It can cause immense feelings of rage/resentment and harmful thoughts while actively nursing (D-MER).”

“You might feel like you’re only a food source for the baby, which might impact bonding.”

“The contractions after birth are excruciating when baby is nursing.”

“Don’t take crap from anyone. Babies’ health (and your mental health) always comes first. (Taking medicine for your mental health is more important than providing breastmilk for the baby.)”

“Breastfeeding can be so hard on mental health for so many reasons. The stress of getting it to work in the first place, sore nipples, mastitis, anxiety every time your supply drops, and not being able to leave the house or get a break.”

“NOT breastfeeding still hurts! You still have to deal with your milk coming in even if you don’t want to breastfeed.”

“It’s not always enjoyable (you might hate it!), and you deserve to be able to enjoy your baby. It might just feel unnatural and weird, and that’s okay, too.”

“It can cause too much weight loss and terrible fatigue.”

“You might have to grieve/mourn along your journey. And it’s okay to cry.”

“People are brainwashed to push exclusive breastfeeding even when it isn’t the best option.”

You deserve to have your body back if you want that!”

Stress (along with malnutrition and dehydration) can decrease supply.  You need to eat, drink, and take care of yourself.”

“You may be able to take medications for your mental health and still breastfeed—make sure you have a supportive medical team that is up-to-date on the research.”

“That it can drain you physically and emotionally and mentally.”

“It’s not a matter of will—you can want to breastfeed but not be able to do it.”

You might need to use infant formula and bottles.—and you CAN use infant formula and bottles.

“Supplementation in the beginning days is often necessary; babies can’t thrive on drops of colostrum, and keeping them satiated can protect breastfeeding.”

“You CAN successfully combo feed; it’s not all or nothing.”

“Combo feeding is brilliant and such a relieving way to keep your stress levels down and feel confident baby is fed!”

“Combo feeding  kept my mental health in check and was responsible for breastfeeding for 2 years.”

“Introducing a bottle early won’t impact latching and may prevent bottle refusal later on.”

“Sometimes you need a break, and that’s okay!  It’s also nice for others to be able to feed the baby.”

“Have a backup plan because the baby will do what they want to do!”

“Pumping is still breastfeeding (it’s just not nursing).”

“Pumping in the hospital is hard, logistically, with all the cleaning, storage, having enough parts, etc.”

“Triple feeding and power pumping can be ROUGH and are really hard to do long-term.”

“Don’t trust your body – if your baby is showing signs of hunger, supplement!”


Things we’re told are normal are not.

“If the baby is feeding for hours on end, they are hungry (that’s not going to establish supply—it’s going to exhaust baby).”

“The ‘benefits’ are overhyped and more related to income status and education than milk composition. The only true benefit is if it is working well for you and your baby and you are both happy to continue—one day at a time. The second someone is unhappy; it’s ok to stop.” —Laura Martin 

 “Pacifiers and bottles are not natural enemies of breastfeeding, and nipple confusion isn’t a thing.”

“Breast [nipple] shields won’t ruin your supply and can save your breastfeeding relationship. They can help a baby latch (even with lip/tongue tie) and manage strong letdowns.”

“Breastfeeding isn’t necessarily easier or more convenient than formula feeding (though some families find that it is).”

“It’s okay to comfort feed!”

“You WILL bond with your child regardless of whether or not you nurse them.”

“Breastmilk is food, not ‘magic’; it doesn’t cure baby skin diseases. It provides ‘passive immunity’ which is not as strong as your immunity from immunizations.”

 “Lots of things can go wrong, and it’s not just ‘supply and demand’ or a matter of practicing.”

“It’s not your fault if it doesn’t work out.”

“You need to find a balance in the first hours after birth between getting rest for yourself and breastfeeding your baby so that you can establish supply.”

“Oversupply isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

“Undersupply doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”

“Newborns shouldn’t cry constantly. They should get enough to eat that they can sleep and have some calm awake time, too.”

“‘Booby traps,’ or things that ‘sabotage’ breastfeeding, aren’t a thing.  There’s no such thing as a ‘booby trap’—there’s only finding a sustainable feeding method for your family.”

“Pumping is not a magical cure; it will not be the right answer for everyone.”

“The  newborn stomach size is four times larger than taught.”



You don’t have to breastfeed!  And not everyone can

 “It’s 100% your choice, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.  You can stop at any time for any reason (or for no reason at all).”

“You haven’t failed if you choose not to (or can’t) breastfeed.  You are still an amazing parent.”

“There are so many families with children who were breastfed and children who were formula-fed who are all equally healthy, skilled, and smart.”

“It’s okay to hate it, and it’s okay to stop because of that feeling.”

“Delivery methods can impact your ability to breastfeed, but they don’t make it impossible. It might be harder to breastfeed after a c-section, but it’s possible.”

“You might find you really like breastfeeding when you thought you wouldn’t.”

“Some babies just can’t or won’t breastfeed, and it’s not your fault.”

“Not everyone can make enough milk.  There are many KNOWN risk factors for DOL II and low supply, including previous nerve damage to breastfeeding parents’ nipples. It’s not uncommon to have a delayed onset of milk, and there are people whose milk never comes in.


“There is not an award for breastfeeding!”

“It isn’t the be-all, end-all; it won’t really matter how you initially fed your child in a few years.”

“There are things that can cause your milk to dry up suddenly (like hypothyroidism).”

“If it was making my life harder, it wasn’t worth it.”


Things to Know

“What oversupply or insufficient  milk supply can look like.”

“ I know cluster feeding can  be normal, but when is it not?”

“Can a  good latch ever be painful, or is there certain pain that is normal with a latch?”

“Many LCs are lactivists, and it can be hard to tell which ones ahead of time. They also aren’t all trained in postpartum mental health considerations. You deserve to be supported with YOUR goals, not theirs. You deserve accurate, research-based information. Ask for a certified LC from a trusted OB or another medical professional.”

 “That you’d wake up with freaky gigantic boobs – engorgement is no joke. It’s super painful.”

“Pick one position to work on your latch and get it down well, so you both have a go-to while practicing other positions.”

“Just because your baby won’t latch doesn’t mean they are tongue-tied.

“You can have education, support, time, mentoring by midwives/breastfeeding support, and  it can still not work.”

“Don’t stop cold turkey; weaning can be difficult and painful.”

“It does get easier!  And if it doesn’t, there’s help (and other options).”

“I wish I would have known more about pumping. Like suction levels, time, and frequency.”

“How to know if bubs is getting enough milk and what is the most reliable indicator.”

Learn latch techniques before the baby is born (basically, you need to take a class or read up on it, because you won’t necessarily “naturally” know what to do)

Practice breastfeeding positions  beside the cradle position. My babe stopped wanting cradle position, and it made it so difficult for a while.

Take care of yourself! Eat, sleep, drink water, laugh, and enjoy yourself. It will help breastfeed and you’re still a person, not just a milk machine.

Exclusive breastfeeding is not a reliable method of birth control and will not necessarily stop your period.”

“There are no food or herbs that will increase that will actually boost your milk supply!”

“If your baby only wants one side, it may be wise to pump the other side for the first few months to protect the supply.” (But try to get them on both)

“Tell people what you need directly before you let off steam- if you want them to listen, give advice, or you are looking for permission to quit. Otherwise, you are likely to end up offended or discouraged.”

“You need to know the risk factors for low milk supply.”

“That the SNS exists – is NOT for everyone of course, but *can be an option for under suppliers who still want to combo feed but are “over” triple feeding and 24/7 pumping.”

“When is it more important to get a longer stretch of sleep (4-5 hours with someone else feeding the baby in the middle), and when it is necessary to get up to pump to protect the supply.”

“Anatomy is a big factor.  Nipple position/size and breast shape can make breastfeeding harder.  The cup size has nothing to do with how much milk you can make.”

“Your best remedies for clogged ducts are a hot compress/moist heat and a massager.”

“Your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey may be COMPLETELY different from those of your close relatives (even your own mother), let alone your friends.”

“You can’t wear an underwire supportive bra – and with big girls like mine… you WILL miss it!”

“Going too long without expressing will make your boobs sore and even leak! So if you’re in public, be ready to have a portable pump and a Starbucks coffee cup to explain away the wet marks on your shirt.”

“You can’t go any more than 6 hours without expressing for the first while so that it will interrupt your sleep. If I had known this, breastfeeding wouldn’t have even been considered due to medical conditions.”

“If you deliver at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, they will pressure the Hell out of you to breastfeed, even when recovering from a C-section.  Hospital breastfeeding statistics are based on the mother’s intentions upon admission. If you tell them you plan to EBF, they will not give you formula, pacifiers, or sympathy.”

“Breastfeeding affects every woman differently. Making generalizations (i.e., helps to bond, helps with PPD) is not realistic or responsible. Don’t expect the same thing as “everyone else.”

“How to supplement to protect your supply while still satisfying baby.”

“There are ways for transgender/non-binary parents to chest feed.”

“That you need to let the baby latch at least every 2-3 hours to build milk supply.”

“You’re not meant to do it alone.  You need support.”

“Not all pumps are for everyone! Different suction, flange sizes, etc., etc. The one that was perfect for your friend may not work at all for you, and that’s ok.”

“Make sure you have lots of easy-to-access, easy-to-eat food (freezer meals).”

“Standard flanges on pumps may not be the right size for you – you need to be measured, and you might need 2 different sizes!”

“Use nipple cream from the first feed!!!  And have other nipple care products on hand.”

“Invest in hoards of snacks and bottles/cups you enjoy drinking from. You will be more hungry than you have ever been in your life and also forget to feed yourself if you don’t have something handy.  Keep them where you feed the baby.”

“Make sure to drink to satisfy your thirst (you don’t necessarily need to overdo it).”

“Nursing covers are a waste of money.”

Have a premade list of local breastfeeding resources

“You may need the pump from the beginning, so don’t wait to get it.”

“Having formula in your house will not “jinx” you.”

Do you have additional tips about breastfeeding that helped you?

Join us in the Fed Is Best Parent support Group here.


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