Mom's Brutally Honest Post Reminds Us Breastfeeding Isn't Always Easy

by Ashley Austrew

Every nursing mom will relate to this woman’s confession about the difficulties of breastfeeding

As moms, we hear a lot about how beautiful and natural breastfeeding is. What we don’t hear nearly often enough is how hard it can be. One California mom thinks women should be able to speak more openly about the struggles we face while nursing, and that’s why she recently shared a painfully real confession about the difficulties she’s encountered while trying to breastfeed twins.

Elaina Bellis is an art director and mom of three, who recently gave birth to twin daughters, Quincy and Rowe. In a post on Instagram, Bellis is seen tandem nursing her daughters like a champ, but it’s the photo’s caption that’s really got people talking. In it, she explains that she’s not producing enough breastmilk for her babies and never will, and after a very difficult few weeks, she’s learned to accept that what she’s doing is enough.

“I tried everything in my power to build a supply for my girls,” Bellis writes on the post. “Pumping, lactation consultants, mothers milk tea/vitamins, formula wired to my nipples, up all hours of the night and having emotional breakdowns not understanding why my body couldn’t build up any milk over the last month.”

Bellis says that due to a difficult birth and lasting trauma, “my breasts aren’t able to supply even enough milk for one baby.” Like most moms, she says she assumed breastfeeding would happen naturally and easily, but she’s had to rely on a lot of help — including donated milk from friends — and writes, “I… realize now I did the absolute best I could.”

She says she shared her struggle because it’s rare to see moms open up about the hardest parts of breastfeeding, and she wants other women to know they haven’t failed if it doesn’t work out. “I feel like people don’t talk about how hard breastfeeding can be and if you can BF you’re incredibly lucky,” she writes. “I pump all day to be able to provide my girls with one ounce of my milk, and I’ve excepted [sic] that’s the best I can do. All I can give them is my love and that’s most important.”

Like Bellis, I also struggled to breastfeed my kids. I’d read the books, gone to breastfeeding classes before the birth, and bought all the fancy accessories. I was fully prepared for nursing to be a breeze, but then it took over a week for my milk to come in and my nipples were cracked and bleeding by day two, my daughter had a tongue tie, and my supply dwindled. Nursing is natural, I learned, but that in no way means it’s intuitive or easy.

Lots of moms struggle to breastfeed, but we tend to only hear about the success stories. We see these gorgeous, ethereal breastfeeding photos and hear women talk about how rewarding their years-long nursing relationships have been. But there are women for whom breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned or doesn’t work out at all, and their stories are just as important. Baby-feeding can be a long, difficult process, no matter which method you choose, and it’s important that we support all moms in their endeavors. As long as our babies get fed, we’re all doing a fantastic job.