The Dance of Breastfeeding


photo credit: goetter


When I had my first child, a girl, I was determined to give her the best start possible. When she ended up in the NICU for five days, pumped full of antibiotics, I was even more resolute in my desire to breastfeed. Being able to give of myself to her in that way helped us through a hard and scary time.

When we got home from the hospital it became a bit harder. Although my milk had come in while we were still at the hospital, and even though I had a lot of help from the lactation consultants on staff, I still encounters a lot of difficulties in my breastfeeding experience. I had taken a childbirth education class with my doula, one which covered the ins and outs of breastfeeding, I was not prepared for what I was encountering. Clogged ducts, yeast infections perpetuated by the baby having thrush, mastitis in both breasts, cracked and bleeding nipples… all of these within the first few weeks of our breastfeeding experience. I’m not going to lie, it was horrendous. I cried a lot. Every feeding brought an emotional battle. I wanted to give my baby the best that I could, but each feeding was excrutiatingly painful, and I could hardly bring myself to put her to the breast. I pumped for awhile, hoping to allow my breasts to heal so that we could move on, but it only helped a little bit. There were many calls to my doula, me crying “I just can’t do this anymore”. She was encouraging and supportive, giving me advice and being my cheerleader. She is the reason I stuck it out. At the four week mark things took a turn for the better. I’m not sure what happened, maybe her little mouth was finally just big enough to latch on and stay on, I don’t know. All I know is that suddenly we turned a corner. The pain subsided and I was able to heal and life went on. I was so glad I had stuck with it.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all roses from that point on. Some women can breastfeed for months and months and never encounter a problem.

I am not those women.

I continued to struggle time and again with my first child. I had a lot of clogged ducts, and more yeast infections. The same held true with my second and third child. I had mastitis with each one and yeast infections with both, although experience had given me more tools to use, and those bumps in the road became fewer and farther between. I was able to breastfeed my first and second children for 14 months each and my third for one year.

I set out to write this post about trouble shooting tips for breastfeeding moms, but instead thought maybe I would just share a bit of my story and offer some encouragement to you. Breastfeeding is completely natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes it can be hard. You may be surprised by this, or maybe you have been there and done that, you can relate. Whereever you are in your breastfeeding journey, know that you are able. Whatever you can do, you are doing your best for your baby. The times that are spent nursing are precious and beautiful. Breastfeeding is like a dance. Both mother and baby are learning the steps and finding the rhythm. Through it all they are getting to know one another and creating bonds that cannot be broken. This is a beautiful thing.

Jenny is a stay at home mom with three children and blogs at The Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts – a blog of sharing, learning, and creativity. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.





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About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.


  1. You’re absolutely right about breastfeeding. I had my baby naturally – no epidural – and I would pick the pain of childbirth over the cycle of pain and frustration that came with the first few weeks of breastfeeding. A few things I’m thankful for during that process – a breastpump, a baby who seemed more determined to breastfeed than I was, cabbage leaves, and pure stubbornness.
    After 2 months of painful nursing, we finally hit that curve and I was able to breastfeed him with no problem until he was about 17 months old (probably could’ve kept going, but I was about 4 months pregnant with baby #2). It was a huge huge blessing.

  2. Kimberly Foster says:

    Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, but like you, I encountered many problems as well. I was young and never knew anyone in my family to breastfeed. So I did it alone with my firstborn, and by 3 weeks had a severe case of mastitis, where I thought I was dying from the flu! I ended up stopping at 6 weeks because of my own ignorance of not knowing how to get beyond the pain. When our second was due to be born, I went to classes, and better educated myself. With mastitis coming on this time, I sought treatment and went right on nursing. With the third, I knew before any real onset sickness came on, got treatment and went right on nursing. By the time 4th, 5th and 6th child came along, I didnt even get mastitis!!! Your body does its own wonderful work and I would encourage anyone knew to breastfeeding…..Do it for you and your child!!! Read up on how to protect your body and even if you get mastitis or any other sicknesses dont give up, keep going, it actually helps you to keep nursing through it all. I sure wish I had this to read when my first son was born! Could have helped me many nights of agony!!

    • @Kimberly Foster, You poor thing! I can’t imagine that I would have made it through without the support of my doula and my mother, who also breastfed my sister and me. I wish I could have been there to be your cheerleader!

      I’m thinking about writing an e-book… How To Conquer Breastfeeding Hurdles! That’s what they are, hurdles to be overcome!

  3. I clicked through from your craft blog and I am so glad you shared your experience here. My first child had an incredibly painful latch for the first three months. I can still remember the first few seconds of pain after he latched on — it was just so bad — before the regular-level nursing pain for the duration of the session. The guy at the compounding pharmacy knew me because I was always getting APNO to treat my beat up body. We persevered, though, and I’m glad I did.

    • @Brynne, That first few seconds can be rough, but really you should not have any pain after that initial 15-30 seconds. If you are planning on having another child and breastfeeding again (which I encourage) you may want to seek the help of a lactation consultant… they can be lifesavers!

      Thanks so much for coming by from The Southern Institute!! See you over there!

  4. That first few seconds can be rough, but really you should not have any pain after that initial 15-30 seconds. If you are planning on having another child and breastfeeding again (which I encourage) you may want to seek the help of a lactation consultant… they can be lifesavers!

    Thanks so much for coming by from The Southern Institute!! See you over there!