15 Things They Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding

Ready for Sleep

Maybe you’ve attended a breastfeeding class, seen the pamphlets in your doctor’s office, or done your research online. Whatever the case may be, you’ve no doubt seen the nutritional superiority of breast milk, that you will lose post-baby pounds faster, and read about the blissful bonding experience with your soon-to-be baby. But here are 15 things they don’t tell you about breastfeeding…

1. It hurts. Like a thousand little knives twisting off your nipple every time your baby latches—and you’ll obsess endlessly over that tiny latch!

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2. Your new baby will want to nurse 24/7. They said nursing burns calories? What they don’t tell you is that you really lose the weight because you won’t have time to eat!

3. Actually, she’ll keep nursing way past when you think the well has run dry and you’ll wonder if it’s her intention to suck your soul out of your nipples.

4. At some point, you’ll become jealous that your partner doesn’t have a set of boobs. Why did women get the biological short stick? Why does he get to keep drinking? If anyone deserves a stiff cocktail, it’s you!

5. You’ll feel short-changed. All that glowing literature didn’t adequately express how hard it is to be at the beck and call of the world’s tiniest and crankiest drill sergeant.

6. You bet women in Zimbabwe don’t sit around talking about how “bonded” breastfeeding makes them feel. They just feed the baby. Period. Formula is looking awfully good right about now.

7. Even after you supplement your baby with formula (which your mother claimed would help her sleep better), she’s rooting for you in less than 45 minutes.

8. You’ll cry when the pediatrician says that formula isn’t toxic and it’s not a bad alternative. Really you’d cry for anything right now; it’s been 72 hours since you last slept.

9. You’ll cry when baby takes to formula too much. Isn’t this your job as a woman, you failure?

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10. When your partner asks you why you complain about breast feeding so much, you’ll be tempted to leap off the couch and twist his nipple off while screaming, “How you like that!?!” But you don’t, because you still haven’t been given clearance to exercise.

11. You’ll try pumping and despair when you only collect half an ounce on each side. That’s enough to keep your little monster quiet for ten minutes.

12. One day, you’ll wonder if you’ve showered and brushed your teeth yet. It’s 6:00 PM.

13. Nursing covers are a scam–a waste of money and fabric. Your baby screams and sweats under it making you feel like the worst mommy ever for trying to avoid flashing the entire mall.

14But you’re tough. And you’re stubborn. And you can do it.

15. And if you don’t, or can’t, the world will not come to an end. Even a little.

About the writer


Sara is an expat and new mom to Squeaker (not her real name) who puts her master's degree to good use changing diapers and learning to puree baby food. She blogs at Titleless Blog.


Royalbird 3 weeks ago

To ThatGuy: mixing formula isn’t very hard and for some babies it is much faster to feed a bottle at night than nurse. My babies have all been super slow nurses and take a good hour to fully nurse but it takes about one minute to make a bottle and they suck it down and are back to sleep in twenty minutes. Plus my husband can take a turn on three occasional night that I am so exhausted I can’t see straight. I still nurse as much as I can but feeding a baby formula isn’t the end of the world.

Bex 2 months ago

I love this article! As a new mum who is struggling – it’s given me a push to keep going :) my daughter is mixed fed (due to weight issues) and I’m so close to giving it all up and going completely to formula but this ariticle has put a big smile on my face and I don’t feel so down about it now. I actually want to give it another good go! Thank you :)

Me 5 months ago

Lol this is stupid. Sure some of its true but after a month or two the baby will stop feeding 24/7 and you’ll have more time to yourself. The pain WILL go away and your baby will sleep longer so you can sleep.

ThatGuy 5 months ago

Can’t sit through this one. Not because some of these problems don’t come up, but because it is utterly false that these are things “they don’t tell you” about breastfeeding. My wife nursed all our kids. We went to childbirth classes and also to breastfeeding classes. All these things came up – the pain, the nursing-on-demand, especially of a young infant, supplements, feeling tired, etc.

This article gets my hackles up because it implies that people who advocate breastfeeding “lie” about these things.

About not getting any sleep and wondering if you’ve brushed your teeth, and the baby wanting to nurse 24/7. Where the heck have you been? That’s how babies are, period. They are demanding, they don’t sleep much, and new moms are exhausted.

But if you do make breastfeeding work, you will get MORE sleep, not less. When that baby wakes up in the middle of the night, and you can just grab him, nurse him, and put him back in the crib, that sure beats slogging down to the kitchen to mix and warm up formula.

Christen 7 months ago

I love this list. Just because it wasn’t hard for you doesn’t mean it’s that way for everyone.
I’m in the beginning of trying to breast feed. I couldn’t breast feed my first because I never produced anything.
Now I’m trying again and im making a little milk but not quite enough. I have a 15 month old and 3 week of who is never satisfied. I’m exhausted physically and emotionally. My nappies hurt. And I just feel like I’m not doing it right.
I just typed “i don’t want to breast feed” into Google. I guess just to find something to convince myself in not horrible for wanting to quit.
Instead I found this article and it made me realize I’m not doing anything wrong and that others have the same experience as me. Because of this article I’m going to keep trying. Even if I end up stopping eventually, I’m not stopping right now.
If you had a good experience that’s great. But by only posting about the good and not letting new moms know about the hard times it can lead us struggling to think that were failing and alone.

Breeze 8 months ago

This completely sums up my experience with breastfeeding my daughter! Trying to “dry up” was hard too. Your told not to express any milk so you don’t produce more but when you bobs feel like over inflated water balloons, your just wishing for a release. And it takes forever. At least it did for me. My daughter was closer to 4 before I finally stopped leaking (yuck right?).

Tonya 8 months ago

I agree with Julia O. To the people who are so appalled, not everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time. It’s not the end of this world if the tone of this article doesn’t agree with you. Don’t act like it. I was determined to breastfeed and it was my determination that got me through the incredible pain. I thought I was going to die every time my baby would latch on it hurt so bad. But eventually things got better in every way. Don’t say it doesn’t hurt and act like anyone who says it did must have something wrong them. I really can’t stand that attitude some women cop.

Dara 8 months ago

What is the point of this article? Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed a human being. If you cannot or choose not to breatfeed, alternatives exist. Ridiculous lists that create fear around Natural process are not only useless, but damaging. Post positive, realistic stories of breastfeeding, please. Those who will not, will not. Those who will need to be taught and encouraged. Breastfeeding is a skill and a natural part of rearing a baby mammal, not a point of political discourse.

Brittanie 8 months ago

My breastfeeding relationship is nothing like this! Me and my 12 week old baby girl have a MUCH better relationship than what this entire article portrays! and I’m a single mommy. I feel sad for the mommy who wrote this. God bless you.

Anonymous 8 months ago

My experience breastfeeding was way better than what is portrayed here. There was way more good from it than bad for my son and me.

Laura 8 months ago

The tone is horrible here!!

Julia O 8 months ago

Some of the comments on this post are absolutely ridiculous. They are mean-spirited, judgmental and narrow minded. Nowhere does the author discourage breastfeeding or create reasons for women not to breastfeed. Rather, she simply tells of her experiences and some of the harder aspects of breastfeeding that often aren’t discussed. I have been exclusively breastfeeding my 9 week-old baby and while it is going well, I came to this site by googling “things they don’t tell you about breastfeeding.” At both the breastfeeding class at the hospital and in my prenatal class, I was only told repeatedly over and over how amazing breastfeeding is with little practical advice about the difficulties surrounding it. You’re not a selfish person or a bad mother if sometimes you find it difficult and frustrating to be confined to the couch for the evening while your baby eats. I am glad to be breastfeeding and I do enjoy it but that doesn’t mean I have to a) love every single aspect of it; b) be called a bad and selfish mother who shouldn’t have had kids if I want to complain about certain aspects of it and c) judge other women whose experience with breastfeeding is different from mine. My nipples hurt and bled the entire first week and it was only with a hard core compound prescription nipple cream that they improved. I definitely felt badly about myself for a few days given that I was told at the hospital by the lactation consultant that breastfeeding should never hurt. My baby’s latch is good but it still occasionally hurts – even now. So that’s great that breastfeeding doesn’t hurt for you but there is no need to judge other women. Just because something doesn’t hurt you or works well for you does not mean everyone else has the same experience. I enjoyed this post and thank the author for writing it.

Marianne 8 months ago

I was really disappointed when I read this article. #1 and 11 are not true because if it was true for everyone, the human race would no longer exist. Pain while breastfeeding means the kid isn’t on there right Get him/her off and back on and then it doesn’t hurt unless there’s something wrong with your breast. Also pumping an ounce or two is awesome!! We only make what the baby needs or uses up. The more or less they use, the milk follows. The way this is written would make breastfeeding sound super scary for a first timer which was disappointing. 2, 4, 8 is totally true but it’s not the worst thing ever like this article makes it sound either. We all survive! :)

Kelly 8 months ago

When I had my first child I was SHOCKED at how hard breastfeeding was. It hurt so bad – when my milk came in (mastitis), when he ate (which was constantly). It took him 40 minutes to nurse. I bf him until he was 10 months old and it did not get much easier (it’s hard to heal nipples when they are raw and the baby is on them constantly). Plus – I didn’t lose a pound (huge disappointment).

7 years later I had my second child. I was mentally prepared this time. Omg – it was a cake walk!! It didn’t hurt when my milk came in because she was nursing so great I never got engorged. Her latch was nice and wide so while it took a bit to make my nipples toughen up, they never bled or were raw. She nursed 5 minutes at a time instead of 40.

Seek help if you hurt. Seek help if you’re stressed. Sometimes just talking with someone can help you relax and baby relax. I so agree with Audrey – eat a cheese burger and drink lots of water.
Obviously not 100% of moms can nurse and that’s ok (c’mon, its amazing to say – your turn dad!!).

I don’t think this article is meant to scare new moms away from breastfeeding but be educated about what is coming and have some resolve because it isn’t always easy!

Rivka 8 months ago

While all else being equal, breast milk is nutritionally the best, we should remember that the fact of some women having trouble breast feeding is nothing new. Even in ancient times, some women would hire other women to breast feed the babies of the first woman. Perhaps a little traumatic sometimes for the mother, as she wondered if a hired nurse was more similar to a real mother to her child. Nowadays we are lucky to have high quality formulas. Not quite as healthy as breast milk, but pretty dang good.

Anne-Marie 8 months ago

#11. GOD.

BJP 8 months ago

This article is spot on! Yes, it is not for everyone, but I think everyone should try unless there is a medical reason to not. It is so much better for the baby and I am not bashing formula. I nursed our son for almost a full year and I had enough frozen to get him to his first birthday. I always tell new mommies who plan to nurse to give it two weeks.

Audrey 8 months ago

I didn’t like this article either.
With my first, I had a “traumatic delivery” ( that’s what the nurses called it) and they took my son away instead of letting my hold him or nurse him. He was fine, btw. It was over the weekend so the lactation consultants were not there until I was being discharged. There were several other issues with the weekend shift (like they lost my baby TWICE even with the 15 bracelets and monitors). Also, I had nerve damage from the epidural, so I was stressed about that and not able to walk around/shower/move the baby alone. The first night we came home, he cried for about 5 hours and refused to latch on even though he had at the hospital. We eventually gave him a small amount of formula so that he could calm down, and he was able to breastfeed again after that, but I was so scared because my milk took longer to come in than I expected, and my husband acted like I was going to kill the baby by only having colostrum. He was scared, too. It was rough. Finally things lined out, and he was nursing great, until the pediatrician made me feel like a failure at the 1 month appt. She said he didn’t weigh enough, and I should just go with formula. I was devastated. She didn’t even ask any questions or offer any other solution. I was able to call an aquaintance who had lactation training a few days later. The first thing she asked was if I was eating. I wasn’t. She told me to relax, eat a cheese burger, drink a milkshake, and take better care of myself. Call her again in a few days. She was right. My son started gaining more weight, and was perfectly back on track. I never went back to that pediatrician. I couldn’t trust her when she didn’t think to ask me the one thing that a girl who had only met me a few times knew right away. Instead she made me feel like the worst mother ever. I didn’t realize it until my son was over a year old, but I had postpartum “issues” for a long time after he was born. I was in a fog for months. I didn’t think I was depressed. I didn’t want to hurt anyone or run away, but something just wasn’t right. I couldn’t think. I struggled to take care of myself, let alone the house, and I had to return to a stressful job much too soon because I had run out of vacation and needed to get a paycheck. I pumped at work, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with his growth. I nursed at home and on weekends, and I kept pumping until he was 6 months even though it was so little compared to his appetite by then.
There are lots of things that go on with a pregnancy, delivery, and adjustment postpartum. Lots of people give you advice. Some of them are doctors. Some of them are wrong or uninformed about issues such as lactation. My only advice is 1. Don’t be afraid to change doctors or get opinions from other professionals. Finding a doc, especially for your kids is stressful, but it is so much better when you truly trust them. 2. Make sure there is someone who cares about you that knows what’s going on with you, and tell them the whole truth -about breastfeeding or any other issue. They can point you in the right direction when you aren’t sure of yourself.
On a happier note, we just had baby #2. Got a new OB. Told hubby I was getting a Doula and never having another epidural. Labor was NOT traumatic. Recovery was faster. No depression. Breastfeeding/weight gain is going well. It still hurt, but after a couple weeks that I thought would never end due to the new mommy sleep deprivation, the nipple scabs and pain were gone. :) The weight isn’t coming off quite as quickly as before, but I’m not in my 20’s anymore…

Holly 8 months ago

No matter how educated or versed you are, you still might not meet supply and demand. Even after doing everything the lactation consultants told me to do to boost production, my daughter still ended up in the ICU for dehydration. If I hadn’t turned to formula, she would have died. Stop bashing those who formula feed their babies. You don’t know the whole story sometimes and IT’S NOT YOUR KID.

Stackey 8 months ago

Ah honey!!

I nursed 3 kids. My second had a latch problem right at first…you read that right, my SECOND. And you are right, that was miserable for a week or so.

But I got help from a lactation consultant…free service most hospitals…and if not look up my aunties Web site… the pump station in Santa monica.

It doesn’t have to be that way…and if it IS it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Danielle 8 months ago

This is funny! all the thinks i thought about 3 times through (3 kids)
Could i borrow this to put on my blog. Im happy to refer back of course! (danielleinnz@hotmail.com)let me know

Paola 8 months ago

I get you had a bad experience, but is not the same for all of us, I breastfed 2 kids and with both was hard the first two weeks, but then your breast get use to it. I did enjoy doing it and when the babies wanted to just be latch I use a pacifier and problem solve. I really don’t think you didn’t have one day that was amazing when breastfeeding you baby and looking at his perfect little face, I just can’t believe it.

Beatrice 8 months ago

I don’t like this article. Any new mom reading this would go running to formula and wouldn’t even try to breastfeed. I didn’t have pain. All babies eat 24/day. Even if you give formula you are still sleep deprived and have a hard time getting ready everyday. If you’re stuck somewhere without extra formula you have a problem. As long as I’m with my baby the milk won’t run out of my breasts. The smile you get when they look up at you while breastfeeding is something you’ll never forget.


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