With my first baby, breastfeeding just didn’t work. I spent hours with lactation consultants, trying to make it happen, but the truth is my daughter, Chloe, screamed at the breast no matter what I did. I woke up every morning terrified that I might not be able to feed her. After a couple of weeks of using an impossibly awkward syringe finger feeder the experts recommended so as not to create nipple confusion, I gave in and used a bottle. I pumped for four months before switching to formula.
At the time, I was unaware that my experience was not that unusual. I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I didn’t know nursing can be damn hard, even when it is working. Wasn’t this the natural way women have fed their babies since the dawn of time? Between the melon breasts that just didn’t fit my body, the suffocation of never being able to take a day off from my job as milk maker and an actual latch so not happening, I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever enjoy breastfeeding.
Four years later, I got it. Despite initially being tube-fed in the NICU, my son, Julian, latched like a champ once we got him on the boob. After working through a few challenges (which by then I knew were normal), we nursed happily. I couldn’t get enough of his downy skin on mine, his contented coos and the way he fit so perfectly in my arms. With a little practice, I nursed on trains, in restaurants and in front of my dad. We happily breastfed for 10 months, when we weaned by mutual agreement.
Whether your experience is like my miserable first or my blissed-out do-over, if you want to breastfeed, we want to help. We hope our troubleshooting guide will help you through all those issues that can make nursing tricky. However you’ve chosen to feed your baby (seriously, let’s make this a judgment-free zone), you’re definitely earning a major mom badge, so we’d love to see your pics on social media using the hashtag #howIfeedmybaby.
A version of this article appeared in our May 2016 issue with the headline, “Booby Traps,” on p. 4.