Healthy Kids

Make Your Boobs a Happy Place

I recently have been asked by some readers to explain what I did to get Penelope to comfort nurse at 5 months.

The picture above is my daughter latched on and nursing for the first time since she was a newborn. The day before she turned 5 months old. 

I am STILL not ready to tell our story in full detail, I attempted to last night and started crying and could feel the anxiety rising, so I put it away for yet another day.

But I really feel the need to at least tell this part of the story, in case it can help just one Mama going through something similar.

I feel like I could pass the damn IBCLC exam after all the research I have done and professionals we have worked with. That said, I can’t promise that anything I recommend will work or that it will be all inclusive. This is simply things we did and what helped us.

If your baby will not breastfeed, click on this KellyMom.com link. Read it in its entirety. Then read it again. Then call an IBCLC. If you have already seen an IBCLC with no success, call another one.

And while you are trying to get your baby to nurse, you must also focus on protecting your supply. I like the word protecting because that is really what you are doing. Your milk is your baby’s birthright and even though the stars aligned for your baby to not be able to nurse, you can still breastfeed. So this is really your priority. THEN you can start working on making your boobs a happy place. You must pump like a crazy person to maintain a perfect supply. Pump as many times as your baby would be nursing, I am talking 10 to 12 times in a 24 hour period if you have newborn. And try to simulate cluster feeding in the evenings as well, just like a newborn. It’s a shitty card you have been dealt, I know, but putting in lots of hard work in the beginning to establish and protect your supply will be worth it for your long term breastfeeding goals. Exclusive pumping, or EPing, just gets easier and easier. You can do it.

Here is KellyMom’s page about exclusive pumping and here is a link to the yahoo group of the most amazing group of women who are all exclusive pumping, and not by choice, they are a WEALTH of information. Without them, I would have not made it this far.

Ok, NOW, you can start reading my post! 🙂

Make your boobs a happy place.

I’m serious, make them a HAPPY, HAPPY place for your baby. This is your numero uno priority and the very first step in getting your baby to latch.  Penelope stopped latching on at all about 3.5 weeks. It was because not only was she frustrated she wasn’t getting any milk and she was in physical pain, I was beyond stressed every time I tried to nurse her.

She developed a negative association with nursing, to the point that she didn’t even want to be held in a cradle position. 

I would get into a full on panic even thinking about the next feeding time. As I picked her up and got her in position, my heart would race or I would hold my breath in sheer terror of what was to come. When she wouldn’t latch, my heart would sink into my stomach and I would feel devastated, rejected and so, so sad. Then the tears would come and I would literally beg her to nurse. My boobs were anything but a happy place for her. They were actually painful to me as well. I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to have huge breasts full of milk and not be able to nurse your baby. The pain was not only emotional, it was physical. I know she felt everything I was feeling.

Our biggest turning point at 12 weeks was working with an IBCLC from New York through Skype sessions, and making my boobs a happy place was the main thing she taught me.

The second your baby cries or makes a stressed face, or you start to panic or stress, STOP trying to nurse.  Redirect her, comfort her in any way you can and come back to later when you both are calm and happy.

Think of it as if you are “pouring” your love into them. And if you are not in a loving, happy mood, you are “pouring” poison into them… and our babies are smart, they don’t want to drink no stinkin’ poison.

One of the most helpful things I learned to be able to stay in a mental “happy” place, no matter if my daughter was making any progress or not, was taught to me by a dear friend. I asked her if I should just give up trying to get her to nurse (again this was around 12 weeks). I asked her if I should just focus on pumping and stop trying, because the trying and rejection were so hard on me, I couldn’t take it anymore. She told me that instead of looking at it as black or white, as in Try or Not Try, to look for the gray, softer alternative-The Middle Road. At that point, I stopped trying at every. single. feeding. and instead only tried when I felt a “calling” or felt that the moment was perfect.

She also told me to unconditionally love my daughter and to let her choose her own life’s path. She told me that it was Penelope’s choice not to nurse, that for whatever reason this is what she needs and wants and I needed to honor her path.  

This helped me to detach the from the outcome and know that if she never nursed it wasn’t my fault. 

I would keep trying, but I was no longer desperate. I was at peace, at least at more peace than before, and this eliminated any stress or pressure I was putting on Penelope to nurse.

Once I realized I needed to get Penelope to have a positive association first and foremost , I stopped actively trying to get Penelope to latch and I focused on these things:

1. Wearing her in a sling or wrap with no top on so she was getting skin to skin with no pressure of having to latch.

2. I took a bath with her every night. I didn’t try to latch her, I just bathed her, held her, massaged her, just enjoyed her. To this day, those moments in the bath are my most treasured. It was a time where all I had “to do” was enjoy my baby.

Taking a bath kills two birds with one stone, because its great skin to skin time, which will help your supply, but also its just a lovely thing to do with your baby. In the bath, with the water and all the skin to skin, her rooting reflex is stronger. Lay baby on your chest and don’t offer the nipple. Just lay her there and let her smell you and see what she does. She may bob her head up and down. That is the first thing they do when they are starting to root. Just see what she does, even if she bobs  her head up and down, don’t offer. See if she will try and find the nipple herself. Everything I am suggesting to do requires the patience of a zen master on your part. Be happy with any little progress she makes and focus on the good. Later on once you have made the nipple and boob a happy place, you can start to offer your nipple in the bath. And don’t forget to give her lots of positive reinforcement.

3. Play games with her at the breast and give her lots of positive reinforcement. I would hold her in a cradle position with my boob out and her head resting on my boob or just being near by. Then I would hold my boob so that my nipple was kind of tickling her cheek or mouth and smile big and say, “Yay! Penelope!”    Or I would have a clutching toy for her to look at while I had her in a cradle or side lying position, and we would just play “in position” and that helped let her guard down about being “in position.”  I would also use the toy to get her to turn her head towards my nipple. When she did turn her head towards me I would say, “Yay! Penelope!”

Before I could get her to be held in a cradle position, I would do this laying down next to her, or sometimes even on top of her on all fours and let my boobs just kind of dangle and I would sing songs and smile. I would do anything I could think of to make her smile while my boob was near by. It was EXHAUSTING. Remember to only do this when she is totally happy, fed, new diaper, not tired, etc.

Ok, so that is basically it as far as making your boob a happy place. I have a million other tips and techniques to help baby latch, but making your boobs a happy place is where you need to start before you try anything else. So muster all the patience you have and do this first.

Good luck! And please, email me if you have any questions. I am always happy to help.

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  • Laura @ Our Messy Messy Life
    December 31, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    1. Amazing that you got your girl to latch on at 5 months!

    2. I really relate to this post…. My son developed a negative association with solids and went crazy any time I offered him food, a spoon or if I got out a highchair or a bib. It REALLY stressed me out and I knew that he was hungry and needed more than breastmilk because he was nursing around.the.clock. At 11 months, we started 8 weeks of occupational therapy and the biggest lesson I learned from our fantastic ot was to change my attitude about food and he will come around. Of course, once he realized that food tastes good and Mama isn't mean it all went uphill and got better.

    Once again, SO impressed with your dedication!

  • Anonymous
    December 31, 2010 at 4:03 AM

    Wow that is dedication!!! My baby didn't latch for about 4 weeks and thought that was bad! So glad you stuck with it!!! AMAZING STORY!!!

  • Krista
    December 31, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    Kudos to you for your patience and commitment. At day 8 i was pumping and feeding with a dropper until I could get into see an LC. My son screamed and fought at the breast from days 5-8 (when my milk came in – he did great with colostrum in the hospital, ironically. Like you, I was tense, and would dread the attempts which always ended up with both of us crying. The LC introduced me to a nipple shield, and miraculously we were nursing successfully in minutes. She said he was just having confused baby brain issues LOL. whatever the reason, it worked and we used it for about 2 months. We're still going at 2 years 4 months. Congrats on all your hard work.

  • willow2178
    December 31, 2010 at 4:16 AM

    Heart-touching! I work full time and have a hard time pumping enough to keep up with my baby girl, so I pump what I can, we nurse, and comfort nurse most of the evening and night, even though she still needs a bottle after that, but I guess I really am lucky, that she still likes the boob ALOT 🙂 Thanks for sharing your journey.

    -stephanie

  • Unknown
    December 31, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    You are amazing! I have nothing but admiration for EP'ing moms. My daughter refused to latch for a whole 12 days and I would never wish that on anyone. The pump rubbed all of the skin off of my nipples so the idea of bring her little mouth anywhere near then was like torture. Finally I had enough of repeating what the hospital LC had showed me way back on day 2. The old make her open and shove the boob down the throat approach just wasn't working.
    So I went to the health unit where the most lovely nurse changed my whole approach to breastfeeding. She had me take off my shirt and bra and just lay the baby on my chest. Within 40 minutes, my stubborn little girl was nursing away like a pro. She had wiggled over any latched all on her own.

    Now, 20 months later we are still going strong and she still has to do everything her own way, on her own schedule. If I hadn't had that one piece of advice right when I did, I could very easily have ended up in your position.

  • Anonymous
    December 31, 2010 at 4:19 AM

    What a sweet Mama! I love this approach, and I feel like I've taken some things about nursing my LO for granted. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy and appreciate our happy nursing relationship!

  • Anonymous
    December 31, 2010 at 4:20 AM

    You are truly an inspiration. I'm very lucky, my daughter and I have had an amazing nursing relationship since 30 minutes of her being born. It still hasn't always been easy. I can't even imagine what this experience must have been like for you. It's so wonderful that you and Penelope have perservered and have made your boobs a happy place! I love this!

  • Leslie
    December 31, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    I love this post. I wanted you to know my son and I survived a nursing strike (when he had a particularly bad sinus/tonsil/adenoid infection) at the age of 2… for 12 days. I pumped like a mad woman for 12 days (the first 7 of which with a hand pump – one boob at a time) while also taking fenugreek, eating my weight in oatmeal and drinking copious amounts of water. I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock while caring for my sick "baby" as well as two older children.

    I cried most of the time when I was alone as I feared he wouldn't come back to nursing and tried to make myself accept the fact that I might need to give him expressed breast milk from then on- at least he'd still be getting my milk and I could provide for him in that way.

    Finally – after 10 days I took a bath with him on the advice of a very wise friend. With that one little 10 minute bath..he wanted to "wash mama" and touched my breasts out of curiosity and (I think) remembered then what he was missing. He began to investigate me again and 2 days later latched on for the first time in 12 days.

    It's now 3 months later and we are a happy nursing pair still! He's 2 so of course he eats food and drinks water as well, but it's so nice to know he is still a happy nursing toddler and in those times where he isn't feeling well or needs comfort, needs soothing after a nightmare or just needs to connect with his mama, I know I've got what's best for him.

    That bath's the key!

  • Megan B.
    December 31, 2010 at 4:37 AM

    This is such an amazing and inspiring story. It's really so beautiful.

  • cara
    December 31, 2010 at 4:40 AM

    my son didn't nurse until he was 4 1/2 months old. i basically did the same thing along with a million other things as well. i pumped the entire time, from the day he was born until he was almost 5 months old. he wouldn't even latch at all. then one day, it just happened (after a lot of work and dedication on my and my husbands part). it is great to hear another similar story out there. i found almost none when i was going through this. my son is now almost 17 months and still nursing.
    thank you for sharing your story. it will provide someone with the strength and courage to keep going when they are having a rough time. and that is so important.

  • hyphenatedlady
    December 31, 2010 at 4:49 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My days of nursing are behind me 🙁 My youngest just turned two. Oh how I wish I had read this when my (almost 6 year old) twins were tiny ones. I exhausted myself trying to create a supply after a catastrophic blood loss and tiny poor newborn mouths and they, I know, reacted to all of my stress. I hope even one mom learns from your experiences.

    Congratuila

  • Tam
    December 31, 2010 at 4:53 AM

    My baby didn't latch for 11 weeks. I cried and "spilled poison" into him. He lost weight, I freaked out. Finally I pumped my ass off, fed him weighed him. I remember my husband and I were ready to give up, we did one more home visit from an LC. During that home visit my baby latched on, ate his fill and fell asleep. She told me to stop the bottles, breath deeply, clear my mind and offer, offer, offer. My son is 10 months old and loves nursing. I am so proud of our nursing relationship – I cry when I think about it. Your post hit home with me. Thank you.

  • Kari
    December 31, 2010 at 5:38 AM

    Wow, who knew there were so many moms who went through similar trials? My third baby and I had a horrible time establishing breastfeeding. Long story with lots of ups and downs, and I could barely pump an ounce so he ended up on more formula than anything his first few months of life. But I persevered, and he's 15 months old now and just loves what he calls his "bwees". 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I'd have been able to find something similar when I was suffering through those early months–it would've helped a lot to know others knew how I felt! Be blessed!

  • kerrijo74
    December 31, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I know your story will be a bright shiny light for so many other mamas and babies.

  • trials of a single mom
    December 31, 2010 at 7:31 AM

    This is a beautiful post. My son was born prematurely at 32 weeks. I was only able to hold him for 2.5 hours total in 11 days. We then started skin to skin holding, but I was only allowed 3 hours a day. I was rarely allowed to bring him to breast because the nurses and LC's would say that it was "too much" for him. He also has some medical diagnosis called Pseudohypoaldosteronism. A kidney defect that has to do with sodium.
    When we came home from the NICU I continued to work with a IBCLC. We went to three actually. I was still working with the same ones from the NICU, but I sought out different ones. I asked for help from friends on Facebook that are experienced with breastfeeding. I pumped every 2-3 hours. I was pumping 50oz a day. I had enough in my freezer to feed a dozen babies.
    The very last IBCLC I saw recommended craniosacral therapy.
    I immediately sought out a CS therapist. We worked with her for awhile and nothing seemed to work. I tried baths. I tried games. I slept naked with him. I wore him naked around the house.
    My son was 6 months. I felt defeated. Everytime I brought him NEAR the breast he would scream bloody murder. He would scream being put into the cradle position. I finally came to terms that I may never breastfeed my son. I may have to pump for him till he didn't want breastmilk any longer. I breastfed my daughter till she was 3, so him not wanting to breastfeed was weird to me.
    One night I was laying there and he was rooting around and I decided to try. Not forcing anything, no expectations. He latched! That night he took 1/2 his feeds from me! The next day he didn't have any bottles at all! and now we strictly breastfeed and I don't see us stopping anytime soon.
    Thank you for sharing your story <3

  • Curly Hairdo Ideas
    December 31, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Amazing story! Thank you for sharing it!!

  • Anonymous
    December 31, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Timely post for me…I weaned my daughter at 5 months after a long struggle with IGT and. Fast forward to 21 months old last month, and my daughter started asking about "milkies" and pulled up my shirt…and latched on. She had not nursed for 18 months. She had been noticing all her little friends nursing, and was wanting to do it too. Since then, she's asked for "milkies" once a day, usually when upset, and I give them to her, dry as they are. She only nurses for about 30 seconds, once she realizes there's no "milkies," but I am so thrilled that I can know what it is like to nurse a toddler for comfort. I was crushed to not be able to breastfeed.

  • Cetta B.
    December 31, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Stephanie, you continue to amaze me with the gifts you have been given by Penelope's birth. Wow! what a mom and what a great testament to all the mom who just what to give up. Thank you for your committment to your daughter and to us all in your dedication to birth and beyond. Many blessings.

  • Anonymous
    December 31, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    What a great post. I will bookmark it for future reference when I come across mommas on message boards who so often think it will "never" work… You show that with love, patience & dedication, almost nothing is impossible. Good job momma!

  • KellyTheChef
    December 31, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    Love that you are sharing a personal battle with other moms. Without support and feeling like we aren't the only ones struggling, it's a horrible uphill battle. When we know there are others who have struggled and MADE IT THROUGH it gives us the strength to try one more time!

    My struggles with my first born weren't the same as yours, but just about killed me nevertheless. Thankfully I found support (a great lactation consultant and free mommy's support group) that helped me. Without it, I most certainly would have given up and missed out on TWO FULL YEARS of nursing!!

    So blessed to hear your story…your amazing love for your little one is evident!!

  • Liz
    December 31, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    I EP'd for six months…wish I'd seen this post a long time ago, I so desperately wanted to breastfeed! Kudos to you!!

  • Stephanie
    December 31, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    Thank so much to all of you!!! I can't tell you how much it means to me to read your comments. They uplift me and heal my soul. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Anonymous
    January 2, 2011 at 2:54 AM

    Your post brought tears to my eyes! What you did was very hard and I congratulate you and your daughter. My son was born 10 weeks early and was on a feeding tube for six weeks. I pumped my heart out as it was the only thing I felt I could do for him. But even after the feeding tube came out we had lots of challenges with breastfeeding. It was months before I could put the pump away. I remember the pain and tears and begging and LC appointments. In the end it was worth it but I remember not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling like such a failure. Now at 14 months he's still nursing! Thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous
    January 2, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    I posted on a babycenter board about my struggles trying to get my now 5 month old to latch. (We've only had 2 successful nurses, I've EPed pretty much since she was 2 days old) Within minutes someone posted this blog as a comment. I'm almost in tears at how similar our stories are and am amazed and happy for you. I know you said it's hard to talk about but if you have any tips or suggestions I'd love to hear them! My e-mail is [email protected] –Jamie

  • Anonymous
    January 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    i too was brought to tears. Did you have a decent milk supply? im double pumping as I type. I want to know how you keep at it when you need to express 10 times per day (it takes me 30mis at least) and look after a bub and all that goes with it, just spend 40mins doing all the sterlisiing. today my bub had a bad day and was crying and I was thinking I need to express to give hime some breast milk but he needs cuddles. your story has given me some hope

  • Anonymous
    January 4, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    What a great story! I am so happy that you finally experienced the joy of nursing! It is not always easy and i do remember how difficult it was in the first few days. I felt so helpless sometimes and guilty but we made it and i'm really proud that i didn't give up! I love nursing my baby, i feel so close to her. i know she loves it too especially when i know she uses it for comfort or just to sleep on it!
    I hope that many others follow your example and don't succumb to the pressure, especially peer pressure usually from those who never did experience this joy and try to not let others as well!

  • Cassandra
    January 4, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    I'd like to echo the many thanks for sharing this. My baby had an undiagnosed tongue tie and was totally incapable of latching until she was almost 11 weeks old. After latching three times, she now refuses to do it at all because I have low supply. Despite pumping 12 times a day for two straight weeks, I could never get over 1 ounce every two hours, which lasted about a month until I got sick for a week and now I pump 1/2 ounce every two hours. She'll comfort suck on my finger, but not the breast. I went to LLL and saw IBCLCs, but got a broken record of bad advice. Hardly anyone understands the difficulties of trying to nurse a baby several months old who has never latched at all.

  • Laura
    January 5, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story!
    To Cassandra, just a thought- have you checked to make sure you're using the right size diameter horns? Too small gave me plugged ducts, but too big reduced what I pumped.
    …Still pumping 12 months later for my tongue-tied guy. He refused to latch after his second clip at 21 weeks. It wasn't discovered until 6 weeks after he left the NICU. It's sounds like I'm blowing it out of proportion to say that it's devastating that he couldn't BF when after 10 weeks in the NICU we are grateful for his health. But it is. A lot of people don't understand, but I know you all do and it helps!
    Thanks for all of your inspirational stories! Good luck to you Cassandra!

  • Anonymous
    January 5, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    What an inspiring story. Truly amazing!

  • Angela
    January 8, 2011 at 3:14 AM

    WOW- wish so much I could have read this a few months ago! My son was born at home and I sure felt weird being the only one in my circle of breastfeeding-cloth diapering- co-sleeping- babywearing friends to show up with bottle in hand. We tried everything to get him to nurse but was not successful…and I was heartbroken! I exclusively pumped for 5 months and supplemented with formula another 4 months until completely drying up. Glad 2 know support is out there and I will keep it in mind that I am not alone if I ever have another baby! Thanks!

  • Anonymous
    January 14, 2011 at 5:10 AM

    Thank you Thank you for sharing your story and your suggestions! (I was one of the ones who asked to hear your happy boobs story) I have new hope from reading your story and the ones of your commenters!
    I am so happy that Penelope and you were able to nurse!
    Thanks again,
    Cath

  • Dou-la-la
    January 19, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    What an amazingly powerful story. There is so much value in this.

    You know I can relate to this in particular: "When she wouldn't latch, my heart would sink into my stomach and I would feel devastated, rejected and so, so sad. Then the tears would come and I would literally beg her to nurse. My boobs were anything but a happy place for her. They were actually painful to me as well. I can't even begin to describe what it feels like to have huge breasts full of milk and not be able to nurse your baby."

    Every word here – I know. Oh how I know.

    As well as the bit about being able to pass the IBCLC exam after your (our) ordeal. :O)

    Bless you for all of this. Truly.

  • Mommy Theorist
    January 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Thanks for addressing this. I was taught my my lactation consultant to praise our daughter when she got a good latch and I felt let-down, and say "Good nursing." I still do this at 9 months. It takes a LOT of support to get started nursing, and we weren't wholly comfortable until sic months, so my advice to new mothers would be to stick with it. Husbands and grandparents need to be coached how to be supportive (my mom's response to "my nipples hurt" was "there's no shame in giving formula"). We have been lucky.
    My blog is http://mommytheorist.wordpress.com
    Looking forward to reading more on this and other topics.

  • Frustrated Fairy
    January 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Amazing stuff 😀 xx

  • Michele
    January 25, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    I had to laugh when I saw the title of this post, and thank you for sharing your inspiring story. Fortunately, I was able to nurse him for 18 months without such heart wrenching issues, so I can only imagine how you felt. I was reminded of your post Sunday morning when my almost 3 yr old son said to me as we were lying in bed after waking up and bringing him into our room for some snuggle time. He was using my right breast as a pillow and looking into my eyes when he said…"I love Mommy's boobies."

    That was indeed a happy place 🙂

    Michele

  • Megan
    January 26, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! You're strong and courageous to persevere through so much adversity.
    My oldest had similar problems. The pediatrician finally required that we give him formula because he wasn't thriving. I felt very successful at being able to get him to go from ONLY bottles to eventually ONLY breast a few months later.
    The Le Leche League was very helpful to me. Also read everything out there.
    I've had five children since that first one and they were all fabulous nursers.
    In retrospect I think the issues were:
    1) Stress. It was very painful. He drank a lot of blood mixed with the milk, and I didn't know yet how to set my stress aside and force myself to relax during nursing time. The fact that I went back to school to finish my last semester of college 3 days after he was born didn't help. Nor did my move across the United States. Once we got settled in, though, I was so much more relaxed and I think that was partly key.
    2) Inverted nipples. I didn't have a classic case, which is why the doctors and lactation specalists didn't key into it, but it was evidently enough of a problem that it made it very difficult to latch on it.
    3) My child's personality. He did not like to be held close or snuggled. He preferred a bottle, propped up, rather than being held close to us. Nursing was perhaps just too much snuggling for him.

    I really like the idea of your NY specialist shared about letting your child, "choose their own life's path and for you to love them unconditionally." I am really, really struggling with potty training my 6th child now and I'm going to try this advice.
    Thanks!

  • Melissa
    April 8, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    You know, big kudos to you for sticking with it. My lil guy and I had such a hard time getting started. He's almost 4 months now and going pretty strong…but I will never forget those first weeks…feeding time was not a happy place for us…him screaming his head off and slapping my chest, me crying and not understanding why this natural act was not coming so naturally for us…getting anxious just thinking about. Glad your hard work paid off for the two of you!!

  • Brittani
    May 9, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Your post is inspiring to me.. I am going through this right now with my 10 wk old baby girl. It can be so frustrating at times but I am bound and determined to get her back to the boob. Your story inspires me and makes me see the light at the end of the tunnel

  • Anonymous
    June 7, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    What a great story! I have a 29-week preemie who is refusing to latch or stay latched. It's very frustrating and painful process, both physically and emotionally. I'm glad to read stories like yours. It gives the rest of us hope!

  • Kassy
    August 14, 2011 at 2:43 AM

    Wow! I would have loved to stumble upon this 9 years ago when I was attempting to nurse my first born. We both cried every feeding for two weeks and he never latched good. He was "tongue-tied" at birth and had a frenulectomy before we left the hospital because it was what they recomended (they being the lactation consultant at the hospital). It did not help him latch and after two weeks of us both in tears every 2-3 hours I finally gave up and started bottle feeding. If I had the perspective you were given about making the boobs a happy place again I might have been able to get him to latch. I was able to nurse my 2nd an 3rd just fine. My 4th son is also tongue tied but we did not get it "fixed" and he nurses like a pro.

  • Stephanie
    August 14, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    @Kassy, thanks so much for sharing. I hope more people read my blog and my experience can help other mothers.

  • Kristyd
    August 18, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    My girl looked like she was had a great latch, but it turned out she had an uncoordinated tongue…so her latch was not effective, supply dropped and she stopped latching. I pumped exclusively for 3.5 months and then she latched. I was so stressed about this, some days I would put her at the breast and try and others I just couldn't. It was incredibly stressful. Just one day, I did it and she latched and everything clicked. Miracle.

    I worked a lot with a lactation consultant, I read a lot, I tried not to stress, but that is hard to do. I pumped like crazy to recover my supply and it all worked out. My daughter didn't wean until after I was pregnant with my second child.

    My second baby was far easier to nurse. He got it right away and no struggles at all. I was worried, I would have the same struggles, but everything was a dream in the nursing department.

    I saw your story and I had to comment.

  • Alicia Woods
    August 23, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    Firstly, I just found your blog, and it's fantastic! Secondly, I wish I had found you, and this post 11 months ago, when I began going through the exact same thing. At the time, I searched high and low for othe mamas with similar stories, and never found one. What we have been through, the worry, the struggle, the judgement and the feelings of rejection are almost indescribable. I have s blog, and have never been able to put my story Into words either. Anyway, from one persistent, strong and loving mother to another, congratulations. What you have done for your child is nothing short of amazing. Big hugs.

  • Aimee
    September 21, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story and perspective. I am an RD and wanted to earn certification as an IBCLC when I had my first daughter. She latched once. I was devastated. I pumped for awhile, but the stress of pumping and lack of sleep were causing my baby, or rather our whole family, to live unhealthy and stressed. So we found a good formula and went with it. I would have never thought to try and put her to breast when she was older (5 months). She is now a beautiful 4 year old. Nearly the same thing happened with my 2nd daughter. I was more prepared for it emotionally, but explaining it to others was hard. Some thought I had taken the easy route. I think breastfeeding would have been much easier.

    Thank you for pointing to let the child choose their way and if they don't choose breast the world doesn't end and they can still thrive.

  • oucellogal
    September 22, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    Oh, my, does this bring back some (recent) memories. My second son was born with a cleft palate and simply couldn't nurse, so I was an exclusive pumper, too. I was able to give him breast milk only until he was about 5 months old, and then breast milk + formula for another 5 months after that. Not ideal, but it was amazing how healthy he was, and when he had his palate repair surgery, he recovered lightning-fast. So thankful for modern technology so we can still breastfeed our babies!

  • Amber
    November 30, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    One of the first things I tell new mamas is to RELAX! Getting too worried about breastfeeding makes it impossible for Mom OR Baby to latch.

    Incidently, one my friend/co-workers have been working on updating the breastfeeding section of our hospital childbirth class. Usually I teach safety/CPR and she does breastfeeding, but we've talked about co-teaching them & being able to teach each others' class. Anyways, do you mind if I quote or link to this? "Make your boobs a happy place" is such awesome and down to earth advice, I totally love it!

    and just for laughs…we asked our director/bosslady if we could name the class 'Boobies 101' and she said no, because she liked 'Boobies: It's what's for dinner!' much better!! I love working in a hospital & for a director that's so pro-breastfeeding!

  • ruth
    December 12, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    I deliver a healthy baby boy. I dream beeastfeeding him but that didnt happen. Until two weeks i had no milk at all and so u will see my lo was feeding just formula. After my milk supply arrive i was happy so as i thought iam ready to offer my milk but he didnt even latch on. To make my story short till now that he is 2 months i keep on pumping and bottle feeding. Sonetimes i feel so devastated and tired my hands hurt of pumping every 3/4 hrs. I cry and feel dissappointed. I dream as he gets more older he may suck in or i d know. I cant stop hAving faith. Is very stressful but hey what can i do

    • Brisilla
      August 8, 2016 at 4:49 PM

      I don’t know how old your comment is but I just read (August 8, 2016) this article. I’m going through something similar myself. You say your hands hurt from all the pumping. I would like to help you somehow. How can I get in touch with you? Don’t lose hope! B

  • Anonymous
    December 14, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    It also didn't help that my baby took after me and had a pretty bad over-bite. It is already correcting itself but I no have no milk.

  • Annie
    December 14, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    In your story of giving birth, you said you had flat nipples. My question is how did you get past that with latching on? With my son, I had to pump due to flat nipples due to him not getting a good latch and evidentally my milk slowed where I wasn't pumping enough to keep up with him. I want to breastfeed so badly when I have another baby but I fear I will have the same problem. 🙁

  • Rachel
    January 24, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Oh man, I wish I had found this post when I was struggling with my colicy daughter. I just gave up and ended up exclusively pumping for the whole year. I am glad that I was able to accomplish that, but I truly missed having had the opportunity to nurse her in the traditional sense. Next time!

  • Beth
    February 7, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    I had difficulty with nursing my daughter until she was about 3 months old. Every time i tried to nurse, she fell asleep so she never got any of the rich fatty milk since she only nursed for a minute or two. She started losing weight and I was getting frustrated and worried. I tried tickling her, putting cool washcloths on her, irritating the sh*t out of her and still she slept. It was the most frustrating thing ever and I know she felt my frustration – which only made me more frustrated! I ended up pumping exclusively – you aren’t kidding about it being time consuming but it was totally worth it. The night after my first day back at work, I came home and she was so excited to see me (and I her) that she latched right on, filled her belly and continued to nurse like a champ until 15 months! I am so glad I invested in pumping in the beginning and let her decide when she was ready to nurse.

    • Stephanie
      February 8, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Wow! What a wonderful story! So happy for you. Thanks for sharing, I know it will inspire other mamas to not give up.

  • Christina H
    April 23, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    I have 8.5mon old twins. i am so so SO sad im not breast feeding. i BF til they were 3months when my milk supply kept slowly getting lower & lower. i wasn’t sleeping well, i had a very special pregnancy & had a very long & tough recovery. i was constantly tired & had my 5yo at home w/me full time. the twins were in the NICU for 18 & 19 days so i EP & didn’t have an issue w/pumping until they came home & we had to actually start taking care of them & waking up every few hrs. i sought help when i noticed my supply starting getting lower. i was advised by an LC from healthy start to EBF for 2 days but i wanted to do 3 days of EBF instead. i did it & on the 3rd day w/about 5hrs of sleep i started balling, my boyfriend brought in a bottle of formula & i went to sleep. w/them being almost 9months old, is there anyway i can BF them again?

    • Stephanie
      April 23, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      I think you could re-lactate for sure. It’s hard to say if they would come back to the breast, but you never know. It happens all the time when older babies are adopted, so you never know! Read all posts before you figure out your game plan and then email me if you have any questions!

  • Lin
    July 20, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Hi Stephanie, I’m now trying to win my girl to my breast. She is now 17mos1wk. She refused to latch on since she was 16mos2wks. I’ve weaned her out of my ignorance. I wasn’t quite like myself at that time. She was hungry all the time. She was waking up often at night. It made me exhausted and I was always down with flu on and off. I started to supplement her at night 2 weeks before she refused my breast. I thought I lost my supply and started giving her formula that makes my supply even low. I’ve should nursed her frequently instead of supplemented her. Now that she refused my breast, I’m feeling so bad. I’ve tried many tricks except the SNS and she hates breast shield. I’m bottlefeeding her while we are laying on the bed. I’ve tried to pull out the bottle and offer my breast but that makes she dislikes my breast. I carried her around to make her fall asleep topless but she never fail to refuse my breast. She will cries when I offer my breast. It hurts me. It hurts me even more when she looks so happy, follows me obediently seeing me holding a bottle of milk. I really regret that I wean her, I supplement her with formula. I’ve been giving her too much bottles in June. She started to like the bottle ever since. And I didn’t even realize it. I’m feeling that I’m a real bad mama. Please advise me what to do. I’m desperate to win her back to my breast. I believe we would still be nursing until now if I didn’t fail to nurse her as her needs. Thanks in advance.

    • Stephanie
      July 20, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      So sorry to hear you are feeling bad. Try not to beat yourself up. Just do the best you can and know that you are a good mama, as long as you are trying and always putting baby first. If you make a mistake so be it, but just keep moving forward. Love to you.

  • Lin
    July 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Hi Stephanie, I forgot to say that your post is really inspiring. You are a wonderful mama who’s very strong and would do anything for your child. I don’t think I could be as strong as you. I admire you. Thank you for posting and sharing your story. I’m feeling so happy for you. Warmest regards. Lin

    • Stephanie
      July 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM

      Aw, thank you so much Lin. I really appreciate your comment.

  • Megan
    July 28, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    I got my Penelope to finally nurse on a bare breast at 5 1/2 months. When she was born, I had flat nipples, so after a few unsuccessful tries, the nurse gave me a nipple shield to use. By the time I left the hospital, two days later, I’d given up on nursing without the nipple shield. There were a few times (at the hospital) when she wouldn’t nurse at all, so I was happy to be nursing with the help of the nipple shield if it meant I was able to nurse.
    I knew Penny *could* latch on without it. She’d done it plenty of times – in her sleep or when she was in a hurry to get eating – but she would immediately unlatch, and repeat latching and unlatching until I put the nipple shield on. Her latch was just fine, too. Heck, the kid could latch on to my face so well she gives me hickies! The ability to latch onto a flat nipple was *not* the problem anymore! She just refused to start sucking without the nipple shield and would throw a fit if I didn’t let her have it.
    A few weeks ago (5.5 months), a friend who knew I used a nipple shield told me about a friend who had recently weaned her baby off a nipple shield at 5 months by throwing it away.
    The next day when Penny wanted to nurse, I didn’t take out the nipple shield. I offered my breast and she latched on just fine, of course, then unlatched, relatched, etc. She started giving me this confused look, then slightly annoyed, then went into full-out screaming and crying. It was so hard. She looked at me like I had completely betrayed her trust and I felt like I had. I worried she would never trust me again, or even love me! I felt like the worst mother for 13 long minutes, while I tried so hard to stay firm and remind myself that this was really best. Then, as her cry weakened, she reluctantly latched and unlatched a few more times, then latched and nursed. She fell asleep a minute later, exhausted from all that crying.
    I felt like I’d discovered a super power! Penny’s been nursing strong since. It was a hard thing to do, but totally worth it. I thought I would never feel with my first baby what it was like to *really* nurse her, with no help (as glad as I was for the nipple shield that did allow me to actually nurse, rather than exclusively pumping). But now I know, and it’s wonderful!
    Sorry, I know this is really long and isn’t quite like your story of learning to breastfeed at all, except for the learning so many months after birth, but hopefully it can encourage some other woman who had given up, as my friend’s friend’s story encouraged me.

    • Stephanie
      July 28, 2012 at 12:44 AM

      That is a wonderful story, thanks so much for sharing. So, so happy for you!

  • Megan
    July 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Sorry! Forgot to add: I thought it was great being able to switch from nipple shield to bare breast so far along, but that’s nothing compared to learning to nurse at all after exclusively pumping for so long! Congratulations, that’s really impressive!!!

  • Jaclyn
    September 23, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    Thank you for sharing this. I am crying as read and type this. I have a beautiful 4 week old baby girl who also has an aversion. I can only say I know completely the pain of seeing your beautiful baby arch away and scream at your breast, which are meant to comfort her. You feel like a failure, a bad mother; and you can’t help but feel as though your child does not want you. Knowing that for her, the experience is also painful, we are working on making the breast a happy place. Reading your story gives me the strength I need to not give up and the realization that I need the patience of a “zen master” and to take it slow. I need to trust her and honor her as she learns her way in the world.

    Thank you.

    • Stephanie
      September 23, 2012 at 2:40 AM

      Congrats on your new baby girl! Let me know if you have any questions, I am always happy to help.

  • Michelle Rees
    October 5, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    I’d love to get in contact with you my baby is 2m old and this has been such a struggle! If you can pease email me

  • Sydney
    April 23, 2013 at 12:45 AM

    Thank you. I’m going through this exact thing and while I gave up trying to nurse about six weeks ago, I still try from time to time and she still crys so clearly I’ve got some kind of hope. I’ve been looking for someone with this story that was so like mine, and now I’ve found you.

    • Stephanie
      April 23, 2013 at 1:07 AM

      There is still hope! Let me know if I can be of any help.

  • miley
    September 21, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    great post! you must be a great parent:)

    • Stephanie
      September 23, 2013 at 12:46 AM

      Thanks! I wouldn’t say I am great, but I try really hard and I put a lot of effort into doing the best I can.

  • Bonna
    December 2, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    Stephanie-
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure that so many moms out there will feel inspired and empowered through your words. I am a mom who’s youngest child is now 12. All four of my babies nursed until anywhere from 21 months to 3 years old. Nursing is one of the most amazing connecting experiences that I have had in my life. I look back with fondness and when I see a baby nursing it sometimes brings tears to my eyes. I know that there are times it just doesn’t work regardless for some duos and that not everyone feels the same commitment to find a path to make it work, somehow. That tenacity that you have is addicting and admirable. This is one of the first opportunities to advocate for your child in a way that many can’t understand. And unless one has a special needs baby or one that has gone through very early life struggles, most haven’t found that advocating “voice” yet. Thank you for bringing back some beautiful memories and for sharing your journey.

  • Chelsea
    December 18, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    This was such an amazing inspiration to me. I had a HORRIBLE time with my first and gave up way to fast. Then was determined with my second but she wouldn’t latch and I would try and get frustrated and cry and cry. So I was pumping all the time! i was miserable! And so was she I kept trying to get her to latch and she would react badly so eventually she have up eating. We ended up in the emergency room from dehydration! That was my breaking point! Seeing my baby girl all hooked up to an IV and I felt completely responsible. So I gave up and started formula. I regret that it happened again. But now I get another chance. We are expecting our 3rd baby in march and I am so hoping it goes well with feeding. Thank you so much for this post! I really needed it!

    • Stephanie
      December 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      You are so welcome Chelsea. You will be in my prayers. I so hope things are different this time around.

  • Mary Kubiak
    December 31, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Just wanted to say thanks for this post …I read it months ago before I was even pregnant. I’m now 11 days PP and am successfully BF my second child so far (can’t say the same for my first but that’s ok :)). We have def had an easier road the second time around but at times when it’s challenging I just remind myself to “Make my boobs a happy place” and everything seems to work itself out. I shared the phrase with the hospital LC and she loved it. Thanks again!

    • Stephanie
      January 2, 2014 at 2:05 AM

      Oh, that is so good to hear, thanks for sharing! Congrats on your second baby!!

  • sarah z
    September 16, 2016 at 7:23 PM

    Thank you so much for this (and to all of the ladies in the comments section!). I’m in the middle of my daughter refusing the breast more and more – we’re down to one breast feed per night when she’s too exhausted to resist. It’s a heartbreaking experience, and has left me feeling “rejected” and defeated. At 2 months old, and after tongue/lip tie revisions, chiropractic care, CST, and visits with the lactation consultant, I have been afraid it is too late to fix this. I will continue to try knowing that it is possible to eventually change this – so thank you, thank you.