Baby Struggle

Challenges with Breastfeeding

I have always wanted my blog to be a place of inspiration and positivity. But life isn’t all about that. There are so many things we have to figure out the hard way. Sometimes, they just don’t get sorted out, no matter how hard we try. 

My delivery and postpartum experiences have been too upsetting to talk about. But I finally gathered some courage to write about my experience with breastfeeding as I know we find strength in hearing about others’ challenges. Despite the glamorous lives, we all seem to lead on Instagram, we are constantly facing one problem or another.

We all are in this constant struggle to try to be the best mother (or the best version of ourselves) but we all face hurdles on the way. Sometimes it’s better to talk about our problems so we all can gain strength from the community. So here’s my experience. Please feel free to share your feelings and emotions on the subject. 

Even before Nyra was born, I had decided to breastfeed her. The lactation consultant at the hospital sat with me for two sessions. It was pretty painful at that time and she said Nyra’s face is too small and she may not be able to suck properly. She was born 5.9 pounds but she was just born; of course, she was small.

She suggested using a breast pump and gave a formula feed (Enfamil – Ready to feed) to her. I thought she’d know better so I trusted her. I was a brand new mom and had no idea what that little gesture of hers meant. Later I realized that it means the baby gets used to that taste, comfort and ease which comes with formula feeding. These are serious considerations that can make a breastfeeding mom’s life hell.

I will be honest, formula feeding can be easier for a mom too. I had complications at my delivery and after she was born. I was sent for a CT scan and various blood tests in a wheel-chair. Not having to worry about her feed while I was gone was comforting.

Breastfeeding for a new mom can be really painful. It could be from the fact that her gums were clenched together. I cried a few times with pain and sore nipples. I tried using bottle nipples and ordered nipple shields to relieve the pain. I also applied Lanisoh cream and coconut oil for relief. Then there was a stinging feeling. This pain reduced and eventually vanished. Initially latching was an issue and I couldn’t really find a position that worked best for both of us.

In the weeks and months to follow, breastfeeding slowly became a nightmare as she started rejecting it and wanting more and more formula milk. Gradually breastfeeding started getting replaced by the formula. Every time she was hungry, she would cry if I offered her the breast. I also noticed that her tummy wouldn’t fill with breast milk. Even if she breastfed for a long time, she would still be hungry and keep wanting more and more. There were times I’d be breastfeeding for an hour or more. The nipples would get too sore but she just wouldn’t fill up. So she would keep sucking the breast like a soother/pacifier.

There was also a problem of her dozing off every single time I would try to breastfeed her. When I’d remove her, she would wake up and want more. It was a pattern that was very frustrating. She just couldn’t stay awake for her feed. The consultant, family, friends offered a lot of advice. Tried everything. Nothing really worked for us for more than a few days!

Eventually, I decided to feed her formula at night (so she sleeps and lets me sleep) and breastmilk during the day. After a few weeks, this pattern reversed as she wouldn’t have breastmilk at all when she was hungry or wide awake. Then I started giving her breastmilk at night. She would only have it when she was drowsy and her eyes were closed. That meant I was up most of the night. She wouldn’t fill up and I had to eventually close each session with formula but I was glad she was at least having some breastmilk.

A few days later, it was an entirely new story. She started rejecting breastmilk completely (every single time it was offered to her). She would cry uncontrollably. That was very heartbreaking for me. I cried many times with her as I felt as if she hated me. A crying baby pulling her mom away from her and arching her back, turning to the other side is really really upsetting. Breastfeeding became the ugliest and most unpleasant part of our relationship. I didn’t want that. I was only trying it for her but if it upsets her so badly, what’s the point?

I talked to my public nurse and mama about how upsetting the process has become for both of us. They made me feel better and assured me that she doesn’t hate me. It’s just that she wants formula now as shes used to that and is easy for her to suck.

Meanwhile, my breast pump started collapsing. She had stopped having it completely and the pump stopped working. I was on the verge of giving up so so many times. But I kept trying one way or the other. While walking, by distracting her, while she was drowsy, by doing more skin-to-skin: nothing seemed to work for more than a day or so. This caused too much stress for me as I was really trying hard at excelling motherhood. Our culture has made us all believe that a good mother has to breastfeed her baby.

To make matters worse, I got messages from some important but sensitive relations telling me that I should not give her more than one bottle of formula, how it’s not good for babies, how they can get obese, lazy and how they are talking from experience and know better. That really upset me. There was so much I wanted to say but I decided not to reply… Just cried to myself. I wish people were kinder and more sensitive to new mothers and not offer unsolicited advice. Trust is the most important thing. Just trust a mother, she would never do anything that’s harmful to her baby!

I honestly never thought breastfeeding would be so so challenging! It has really been the hardest thing in my 4th trimester. Other than breastfeeding, I had serious problems with Hemorrhoids which have been really painful and have lasted months post-delivery. Even though I had a normal delivery with forceps, I had extreme blood loss due to which I couldn’t even stand up without getting severely breathless. I had no energy in my body, was in constant pain and was bedridden for 2 weeks. I had too many stitches and tears which took a long time to heal. On top of that, my nail infection got really bad and would hurt constantly. It has been really frustrating as I have to wash hands all the time and because of the infected nail, I have to keep wearing separate gloves for everything.

My recovery took a long time as doctors wouldn’t give me any ointment or medicines for nail and hemorrhoids saying I shouldn’t take it if I’m breastfeeding. If only they’d know what a struggle breastfeeding had been for me. Due to it, I couldn’t take any medicines to cure my other issues.

The current situation is that I have had to stop offering her the breast. It has gone to a point where the whole process has become so unpleasant that we both are better off without it. I have bought a new pump and give it to her in a bottle only once a day.

The breast pump isn’t an easy ride either. I have to pump when he’s at home so he can babysit while I do it as I can’t be interrupted. It takes so much time and effort to prepare (wash, sterilize, undress, arrange) and the amount of milk I get after half an hour of pumping is less than 30 ml which she finishes in literally less than one minute. The only way to increase supply is to pump more which is literally not possible as I don’t have babysitters and have to handle her alone most of the day along with housework and business.

My message to all moms who plan to breastfeed is not to let their child taste formula milk from the start. I really think that if Nyra was never introduced to it by the hospital, it wouldn’t have been such a big problem breastfeeding her.

But every case and every baby is different. Sometimes, they still prefer breastmilk even if they have tasted formula. We all have our own struggles and challenges. What worked or didn’t for me may not be the case with you.

Just FYI formula milk is considered to be completely safe and healthy for infants. There is nothing wrong with babies who are purely formula fed. So in case breastfeeding really doesn’t work for a woman, formula is a great solution. We all need to be more open to this and not think badly of mothers who have turned to it.

We used Enfamil Ready-to-feed till she was 2 months old. That was extremely expensive. Now we have switched to its powdered form. We still use Ready-to-feed small bottles for outings as its more convenient. Now we have bought Kirkland formula from Costco as we heard great reviews and it’s more reasonable. Hoping she adjusts to that.

P.S. Sorry for the negative post.

How have you coped with breastfeeding?

Have you faced any challenges in breastfeeding?

I would love to hear from you!

Have a lovely day.

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28 Comments

  1. Natasha khan says:

    Uff Nadia as if i am reading my story 😭😭 same happened with me and my Fatima and felt so guilty for not breastfeeding her as I always wanted to but in the end what matters that our babies are healthy and happy 😊

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Mashallah exactly…

      1. Same thing happened with my sister, she listened to the nurse and let the baby have formula in the bottle. The baby never latched and even if he did, he never liked the breast milk. She was forced to completely switch to formula despite of her wish to breastfeed. This all happened 3 months before I had my first child and was a learning experience for me. So, when I had my daughter after tough labor and emergency C-section, I took a stand and said no to the bottle. Since I was on IVs for 18 hrs of labor, my nipples were inverted in and she couldn’t latch on. After many failed attempts of them forcing me to give a bottle, I agreed on pumping and feeding her with a syringe. I still remember those initial days, it took about a week to latch properly but it was totally worth it as I was able to breastfeed her up until she was 18mo, sheis turning 10 next year. Plus,l once she started latching on properly, I started substituting with formula as well.
        Good luck to you and your baby!

        1. Nadiya Najib says:

          thank you for sharing your experience. Wow what determination. glad you made it happen and it worked for you. Wow 10 years. Mashallah. All the best.

  2. Umme Yahya says:

    OMG you won’t believe it but it is my story word to word. my baby just hated the idea of doing effort of sucking and he cried for hours everyday and he had hoarseness of voice in 3 days. then i had no choice except to give him formula milk. and even the pumping session lasted a month only as he wouldnt suck so there was no positive feedback in my body. but still i am okay with this as ALHAMDULLILAH he is happy and healthy and i knew i tried hard. 🙂 so dont worry 🙂

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thankyou so much for this feedback. So glad you feel better now.. Inshallah I’ll be okay and seeing your comment is making me feel good.

  3. This is exactly my story. I almost drank half a kilo of cumin in kawa form, tried organic hi lactate tablets but of no use.As my baby has RDS type 2 he was on no feed NPO for first 5 days of his life which reduced his weight to literally half ( reducing capacity to suck)and later developed jaundice and was on photo therapy for days (jaundice babies rejects he food) hospital started giving him formula, I first time feed him after 15 days of his birth. Which decreased my production of protection to a considerate level meaning less to no breastfeed!! Now he is happy, healthy baby MashaAllah. He just turned 6 months yesterday.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thanks for sharing your story. It has been such a struggle for you. So happy to hear your boy is healthy Mashallah and doing well. There are so many healthy examples of purely formula fed healthy babies around us. Theres nothing wrong with the growth.

  4. Mariam says:

    You’re doing great Nadia, I know the struggle of breastfeeding. I breastfed my older one and she was too dependent on me so I didn’t want to exclusively breastfeed my second one. My daughter was opposite of Nyra. She was given formula in the hospital as I had a c section and couldn’t feed her. Starting pumping and giving her as she was too small. After a week or 2 She would throw up her formula when I am trying to burp her but when I would breastfeed her she won’t be full I would do top feed with formula and she would throw up. I had to stop it altogether and I can’t tell you how I got my supply back literally fed her every hour for days … with oatmeal and tons of water everyday my back, legs, hands were tired. But it happened. Breastfeeding is darn hard.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds so so difficult. Sorry for everything you had to go through. Its interesting how every child is different and reacts differently. No matter what it is, its never easy. Glad you got it to work and ate to build supply. I’m trying that now as a last resort. All the best.

  5. I think breast feeding should be a personal choice for mother and should not be done under any social pressure. I was pressurised with my first one and after giving birth and going through postpartum I found it overwhelming to breast feed with the noise all around you. I found peace in giving formula to my daughter and never had any health issues. The guilt is more from society and close relatives of not being able to breast feed.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      so true. It should be a personal choice and no one other than the parents should be questioned about it.

  6. Summaiya says:

    OMG! This was exactly us some 4.5 months ago. Like you I had also decided to breast feed my baby but it turned out to be super painful and stressful. He was given the top feed for the first 2 days because I had no feed. I started producing loads of milk by day 4 but by that time my baby had got used to the ease of the bottle. I tried very hard to feed him, it actually looked like a mini war baby pushing me away and during this process my stitches got infected too (had him after a C section; in July) because I was always sitting and fighting to feed him. Or pumping so that the milk supply doesn’t decreases. Eventually he started taking milk from me, but then it was never enough and he had to take bottle too. And after all this time I was so tired, unhappy, sad and stressed all the time that I decided to quit. Won’t mention the amount of bashing I got because of this decision but we are a happy mom son duo now. InshaaAllah you’d to great too, for both of you.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      omg you’ve been through a lot. thanks for sharing your story with me. Glad it ended well. But wow you are strong to go through all of that esp the part where you had to listen to bashing. Lots of love to you.

  7. Oh Nadiya I’m so sorry to hear of all the struggles you went through. Big hug to u. You’re absolutely right, our society needs to be more open to the fact that babies need to be at times formula fed. My son was too tiny at birth and the doctors pretty much said that he needs at least one bottle of formula a day to gain some weight otherwise we’ll need to keep him in the nursery. So sometimes mums don’t have the option. That doesn’t make them bad mothers. stay strong sweetie!

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. Hope it works for you. Lots of love.

  8. I felt like you’re telling my story..thing that makes it worse in my case is the random aunties in Pakistan judging me for not breastfeeding my baby, giving unasked suggestions and bodyshaming that you’re fat because you dont breastfeed, even when i tell them that i tried hard for like 10 15 days but i didnt have any breastmilk after 2 days of caeserian..i just hate being judged for this, i wish people could understand and mind their own business

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      thanks for your comment and so sorry to hear how people react and its no point telling them as they just don’t want to hear the answers.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this stuff.. I feel I’m going to keep all of it in mind when my time comes which is quite near.. These ending days of pregnancy have already made me so tired and lethargic that even this thought of breastfeeding gives shivers to my spine with the other scary news of planned C-section.. God knows how would I do it all but after reading this I feel my time would pass too.. In Pakistan we do have an option of fresh cow milk for the newbies.. hope one way or the other works for me too.. anyhow this was quite encouraging.. more power to you and love for baby Nyra. God Bless you..

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thank you for your comment. Congrats on your pregnancy. Hope it all goes well for you. I can understand how overwhelming all of it is. It is literally one thing after another. Let’s hope breastfeeding is easy for you. Even if it isn’t, glad you have thought of backup plans. Always good to have options. I wish I had thought it through earlier to avoid stress at the end. All the best for the cahnges in your life.

  10. The exact same thing happened to me. My milk didn’t come in right away because doctors left pieces of placenta inside me while delivering the placenta and I lost a lot of blood that the doctors recommended blood transfusion. So mean while she was given formula and she never went back to breast milk. I tried pumping for hours and I would only let 1/8 of ounce and she would refuse that because she don’t like the taste of it. She hated the entire breast because at first she try so hard to get milk out if it nothing came and she just starting hating it. I even went through major depression thinking she hated me but with the help of the family I figure out that it’s just she don’t want to lose formula milk that’s why she don’t even latch on breast. I am with you and it’s totally ok to formula fed your child if breastfeeding is not working.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I had the exact same prob. I lost too much blood at delivery too and I was offered blood transfusion too. but I rejected it and went with iron infusions instead which take longer to heal .

  11. Rida Nasir says:

    same happened with me.. awfullllllll experience… i used to cry with her 😭
    i stopped trying after 2 mnths..

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      aw sorry to hear that.
      Thanks for sharing.

  12. Same story with my first child. He was offered formula bottle at the hospital and after that he never took my breast and I had to keep pump for him every 2 hour all day and night. Which he used to finish in a single go 😞😞. I tried everything to feed him with breast but nothing worked and all those soliciting comments from inlaws and families about just offer him breastmilk and not formula because it is unhealthy and not natural. I also received a comment of not having a kind of perfect breast that is what Azlan cant suck properly. Gave up in 4 months completely after pumping.

    Relate to your story quite a bit and I wish people can show some sympathy to new moms. If not, then better stay quiet. May your little one grow healthy and you are already doing a great job. Lotss of lovee your way xoxo

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thank you so much for your comment and I’m sorry to hear all the negativity you had to hear. People can be so sick honestly! And OMG Azlan has been my no.1 name for a baby boy in my baby planning list. I loove that name. I’m sure your azlan is a cutie MA.

  13. you are a strong woman and a great mother inshallah things will be easier for you in the future 🙂 we learn alote from u thanks for sharing your experiences with us

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thanks a lot and thanks for the motivation.

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