Passionate About Boston
and the Moms Who Live Here

When Breastfeeding Sucks. Yeah, Sometimes It Does.

Note: This week is National Breastfeeding Week. We celebrate, support, and honor all ways moms choose to feed and nourish their children.


At almost nine months pregnant, I decided I would give breastfeeding a shot. Breast is best after all, right? And I mean, the pictures in magazines looked so cute and snuggly and squishy and natural. I got this.

Most of my friends raved about it. “It’s soooo easy,” they said. “It’s free, FREE, FREEEEEE,” they screamed. “No bottles to make at 3 a.m. when you’re bleary-eyed and cross-eyed and have an eight-pound nugget screaming bloody murder because they’re so damn hungry even though they just ate two hours ago so you’re not sure how they could possibly be hungry again,” they mumbled under their breath.

And then P was born. And a nurse looked at me and nodded, “Baby needs to nurse.” OK… here goes nothing. So she latched on, and I literally screamed. Fire. Literal fire. I turned back to the still-nodding nurse. “Um, are you sure she’s hungry? Cuz she looks sleepy to me. And full. Real full. I think she was snacking a lot in there.” The nurse continued nodding and walked away. So I just sat there and nursed. I had just given natural birth and this was ten times worse than the ring of fire. Know what I mean?

So days turned into weeks. The pain never subsided.

I tried Lanolin, gel pads, heating pads, cooling pads, ice packs, cabbage leaves. I called my OB and got a prescription for APNO, a fancy $50 cream they only make at compounding pharmacies. I read articles, watched YouTube videos, and enlisted the help of my husband. “It’s her latch. I know it.”

I cried, I sighed, I screamed, I called my Mom 2,340 times a day. “I’m gonna QUIT! I can’t do this!” I resented feeding times. But my mama guilt kicked in, and I trudged through… Breast is best.

A few more weeks passed, the pain still searing. I met with a lactation consultant, sweating and on the verge of tears, hoping for some help. She watched me nurse, took notes, asked questions. “Everything looks great! Latch is great! You’re doing fine!” She patted me on the back, and I actually felt okay. A few days later, I was back in her office. “Things are great! Keep on nursing, mama!” I got up and left.

I called the hospital’s nursing line. I called the pediatrician. I called my mom 600 more times. I read every article on KellyMom. I called La Leche League. I called two nurse friends. “You need to see a lactation consultant,” they all said. Um, yeah. Got it. Thanks.

One more week passed. I called another lactation consultant. This was my last-ditch effort. She immediately diagnosed P with a lip and tongue tie. “You poor thing. You must’ve been in so much pain.” I literally slumped into her arms and cried. I cursed every single health care professional I had seen before her. Why had no one else caught this?!?!

We got laser treatment to correct the tongue and lip tie. The surgeon said this was one of the worst lip ties she had seen on an infant. Great. The pain slowly subsided. Nursing became easier. Quicker. Almost natural. Almost. I went on to nurse successfully for nine months.

So, there you have it — my nursing story that started off horrible and turned out okay. I wouldn’t say great, amazing, wonderful. The road was too hard to get there.

How about you? Any experiences (good, bad, or ugly) to share?



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4 Responses to When Breastfeeding Sucks. Yeah, Sometimes It Does.

  1. Katrina McCarty June 26, 2015 at 6:05 am #

    Matina thank you for sharing this. I had a rough start to breastfeeding and really wish more hospitals and such really helped instead of patting us on the back, sending us home, and good luck. A wonderful lactation consultant helped me and I’m so glad you finally got the support and help needed. AND thanks for saying it wasn’t all amazing and the journey was hard. We need to hear that!!

  2. Matina Fell June 26, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Yes – totally agree! I got a lot of “it shouldn’t hurt” and “everything looks okay” – when it did and didn’t.

  3. Ashley Dickson June 29, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    This all sounds so familiar! I was sure we had a tongue-tie situation on our hands, because the pain lasted for months and the latch just didn’t seem right. Lots of calls to family members and La Leche League. Turns out, baby was fine, and the pain went away after three or four months. But I was definitely NOT expecting it to be so difficult for so, so long. Glad you’re spreading the word!

    • Matina Fell June 30, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

      Wow – four months! You’re a trooper.

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