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Breastfeeding Joys & Struggles – Nina Planck Book Excerpt


When we went through our years of infertility struggles after our first baby (who I only nursed a short time because I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t have support to help me with that), all I wanted was to have another baby to nurse – my heart would ache when I saw new moms breastfeeding. Our youngest is now almost four, and I still don’t take it for granted that God blessed me with 3 more babies to nurse.

But…it wasn’t as easy as it looked, not at first, and not for me anyway.

After a few days we got into our groove and it became a wonderful experience. It was also super convenient (Nina describes that below and you can also read about how easy it eventually became for us at this baby care post), but at first it was stressful.

  • Getting my babies to latch on was always tricky – thankfully I became close friends with Tricia, a lactation nurse who lived near us, so she was always a great help and support for me. If you are struggling DON’T WAIT until you’re tempted to supplement, call the hospital you gave birth at and ask to speak to their lactation specialist, or call La Leche League – they love to help new moms. (Just don’t listen to their dietary advice.)
  • Then when my milk came in, one side became so engorged that he wouldn’t nurse on that side at all. I cried for almost 24 hours straight until Tricia came over and promptly said, “OK, show me the goods…”, motioning for me to unbutton my shirt. (If this freaks you out, rest assured, at this stage in the game nobody really cares, least of all me – it felt good to laugh at that point!) Within 10 minutes she massaged the clogged ducts out (sounds like plumbing) and had him nursing perfectly, and I was so relieved as you can imagine.
  • These are just a couple issues I had, but there are a few others that may come up for you. Keep in mind that in these situations you’ll receive your share of bad advice. Listen to your heart. A Mom knows what her baby needs.
  • Just don’t be too quick to supplement! If it’s necessary, then so be it, but many will try to convince you to do so when it’s not needed. Breast milk is the best for your baby, so if you can get over one or two humps in the beginning, you’ll be so glad you stuck with it in a very short time.
  • If it is needed for whatever reason (and for a few that happens, and it’s OK!), in my humble opinion I would suggest NOT using commercial formulas! They are full of junk, similar to other processed foods on the market. Here’s the only baby formula I would ever suggest. (Where to get the complete homemade baby formula KIT with everything you need all in one spot…except the raw dairy of course. Read over these FAQ’s on this homemade baby formula and there you’ll also find another link to a yahoo support group for moms making this formula – this support group will be invaluable to you! Making your own formula is not as easy as popping open a can of commercial powdered mix, but just as you’re (hopefully) moving away from processed foods in your own diet, it’s even more crucial when feeding your baby!)
  • What were some of your breast-feeding struggles?real food for mother and baby

Now read this excerpt from Nina Planck’s new book, Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods :

I was not in a hurry for Julian to start eating real food. It was not that I wanted to breast-feed forever. I didn’t. It was not that I enjoyed Julian’s total dependence on me and no one else. I didn’t. When he started to last for longer stretches without nursing, I was delighted. Things were more flexible. But most of all, I didn’t feel quite so much like a bucket of milk on two legs. I loved getting a babysitter, rummaging in the back of the closet for a dress you couldn’t nurse in, and going out with Rob.

But there was something utopian about nursing. My breasts met Julian’s nutritional needs. Anywhere we went, I carried his breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in the perfect container. I didn’t have to think. Julian was eight months old when we went on tour to promote the paperback edition of Real Food. Travel was a breeze. I didn’t have to buy, pack, cook, or wash anything. Long flights, short ones, delays, bad hotel food, time zone changes – none of it mattered. There was nothing to take, spill, or spoil. Extreme conditions were no problem. On a windy sand dune or a desert hike in the blazing sun, Julian didn’t even need water. I had it. Nursing was a kind of Eden.”

  • More about healthy, green, NATURAL parenting – with info on the most comfortable & versatile baby carriers, healthiest first table foods for baby, and super simple cloth diapering! (I was even less green then than I am now, so I was totally a disposable diaper kind of Mom…sorry…)
  • More PARENTING posts for you to look over. :)



  1. I am currently nursing our third child (all of them have been breastfed), but there have been many bumps along the road. The commonality between all of them is that all my children were dairy intolerant. Giving up all forms of dairy long-term was very difficult at first. By the third baby, it was old hat.

    The first baby was hard to nurse, just because I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily I had friends to help me.

    The second baby had a rough start because he was a premature baby in the NICU. The doctor wanted to give him supplemental formula and I was determined that wasn’t going to happen. I can distinctly remember nursing in the NICU my baby with all these wires coming off of him in every direction, my worrying that maybe my milk wasn’t enough, and feeling like the nurses and doctors were just waiting for me to fail so they could say, “See you need the formula.” Fortunately, a wonderful lactation consultant came to my aid and was a wonderful help and advocate. I am also thankful this was not my first child. It is hard enough to learn to bf without having all those tubes and wires on a newborn. Turns out, my child truly did not need formula.

    Currently, we just hit another major bump in the road with my third child. I had to go into the hospital for day surgery, so I pumped milk for her ahead of time. However, the surgery went badly and I wound up in the hospital for a week. My family didn’t have enough breastmilk for the baby and I couldn’t pump enough from the hospital. After many tears and discussions, we mixed my breastmilk with raw goat’s milk. This worked well for my baby. Within a few weeks she was back to exclusive bfing. I am thankful for web resources that helped us through this time.

    Breastfeeding was difficult at times, but well worth it. I will always treasure the times nursing my children.

  2. I was told by my doctor I shouldn’t nurse my first baby and I was just young and dumb enough to believe him. When my son failed to thrive, the nurse slipped me the phone number of a La Leche League leader. I nursed, baby thrived, doctor fumed.

    Baby number three had pretty bad jaundice after being born early. I was advised if I continued to nurse I threatened his life. I was scared but got educated and my son suffered no ill effects from my (threatened) “reckless endangerment.”

    My fifth child was born by C-section after a long and scary labor and had numerous problems nursing. She tongue-thrusted, my nipples cracked and bled, it was a difficult time for both of us. Eventually we got the hang of it, though. All six of mine were nursed until they weaned themselves. Some of my most treasured memories are of holding a nursing child and reading to a toddler at the same time.

    Local Nourishment

  3. I feel so blessed to have had a great homebirth midwife who helped my get started breastfeeding. It was something I was determined to do but then when my son was born, I was truly shocked with how out of my element I felt. I was very lucky though to have a child who also was a big believer in breastfeeding…LOL!

    I think one thing that was really helpful to me was not to have a can of formula around the house. You would not believe how many people told me to have one “just in case”. I remember a few sessions in the middle of the night when formula would have been tempting and I’m glad it wasn’t around.


  4. Breastfeeding was SO MUCH HARDER than I thought it was going to be!! My son wouldn’t eat for the first three days and I argued with every nurse that he was ‘fine’ and actually threw the formula bottles under my hospital bed. Then when I got home though I had no idea how to nurse him and it was so frustrating. Fortunately, I received WIC at the time and they were so excited I wasn’t giving my baby formula the nurses showed me exactly what I needed to do. I am so thankful for those women; they were the only ‘medical’ people who supported me. I totally agree that it’s worth getting over the beginning stages!


  5. For me the biggest problem has always been insufficient supply. I have tried everything to increase my milk supply but it seems that I am incapable of making enough milk. Four years ago I had a baby with a blood disorder resulting in a compromised immune system, so I was determined to do whatever it took. I pumped (with a dual-sided electric pump) every 1 or 1-1/2 hours throughout the day, and nursed and pumped during the night. I was taking herbs galore, eating like a pig and drinking water like a fish, (just in case the problem was because of insufficient food or fluids). I also wasn’t doing any work, besides taking care of my baby, because I got help in the house during that time. My milk supply probably increased a little, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Some people just can’t make enough milk no matter how hard they try, while others, like my sister, have way too much all the time. I think she could feed triplets and still be leaking all over the place.

  6. I didn’t successfully breastfeed until my fourth baby. With each of my first three, I tried my hardest (or so I thought) but with all of the problems we were having, I gave up. With my youngest, I am still nursing at 11 mo. and it is such a blessing. He was born with a heart defect that we didn’t find until he was 2 months old. We had our share of problems this time too, but I decided not to give up this time even though he wasn’t gaining (due to the heart defect- but we didn’t know that at the time). He had open heart surgery at 4 months and even though everyone told me that he would probably have to take bottle, he just didn’t want to and I am so glad the breastfeeding didn’t have to stop there.
    I still think back and wish I would’ve tried harder with the first three but I have to pull myself out of it sometimes or the guilt/depression really gets to me. Also, had I known then what I know now, they would not have gotten commercial formula either!
    Oh and by the way, my little boy just passed the 20 lb mark so I am very happy!

    • My Mother fed all her children that a way. She didn’t go with the bottle until the child pierced the nipple then it was time for the bottle, so she said. I believe it to be a wonderous thing to do if health permits it. Of course everyone has the right to chose. Just my opinion.

  7. Both of my babies had reflux and breastfeeding was the hardest thing I’ve had to figure out. I had the wrong latch with my first and was cracked and bleeding for 8 weeks. I would pump for 36 hours to let my nipples heal and then start the cycle over again. I had several “breastfeeding nurses” at the hospital look at it and they all said it looked fine. I finally hired a board certified LC to come to my house in a last ditch effort to avoid formula. She walked in the door and from across the room shouted “OH MY GOD, HE’S RIGHT ON YOUR NIPPLE!”

    If you are struggling, find a real lactation consultant and not someone on staff at the hospital. La Leche League is great too but they are all volunteers. Collectively we’ve lost our traditional breastfeeding knowledge and support because there was an entire generation that was brainwashed that formula was better then breastmilk.

    Having run an infant reflux website for 5 years now, and been on forums for refluxers I now know there are tons of things you can do wrong when nursing that will contribute or cause infant reflux, like not emptying the first breast before switching sides and pumping too much in between feeds which will increase your milk supply.

    In addition the junk in our diets is causing our babies reflux even when they are breastfed. Consuming more natural enzymes and probiotics in things like kefir and yogurt made from raw milk and eating grass fed and pastured meats versus those fed soy or GM corn can make a big difference too.

    Sustainable Eats

  8. Sustainable Eat’s,
    Your comment about what we are eating contributing to infant reflux is so interesting to me. All 3 of my children have been medicated on PPIs for infant reflux, and I was not eating a traditional food/whole foods diet until very recently. I wonder if I will see an improvement in my daughter’s reflux as we move completely to organic grass fed meats and completely stop using processed foods.

  9. LoriSue,

    I would love to hear if that improves her reflux. I never realized I was sensitive to foods until this year when I discovered NT. Now I realize that when I eat unsoaked grains I do have some gas and my kids are definitely crazier anytime they have anything made outside the home. I thought I was doing great only buying organic “natural” processed foods but now I know just how much natural “junk” there is in that stuff that is not required to be reported, etc.

    Sustainable Eats

  10. Shannon, great link, thanks!

    I always thought that maybe there wasn’t a lot on BF’ing because it’s such a no-brainer how good it is…? Although there’s quite a bit about it on the feeding baby pages at the WAP site.

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