“I Love My Baby, But… I Haven’t Loved Breastfeeding That Much.”
As a new mum, Whitney Port is experiencing the highs and lows of caring for a baby for the first time ― from sleep challenges to breastfeeding. The former reality star (remember her in the Hills?) and her husband, Tim Rosenman, welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sonny, on the 27th July and has just opened up about her struggles over the last few months in an emotional YouTube video titled, “I Love My Baby, But… I Haven’t Loved Breastfeeding That Much.”
It’s not often that I can relate to the day-to-day struggles of reality stars, but at the same time, the way she talks and looks in this video, does look a lot like my own reality. Wearing the uniform of new mums everywhere (hoodie, ponytail, bare face), Port confesses to the camera something I have experienced myself: Breastfeeding can be frustrating and painful…. and kinda sucks. Pardon the pun.
“I’m not obsessed with breastfeeding. There. I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the fact that my baby is getting all the amazing nutrients from my milk and that I am literally giving him life, but it has been quite the challenge. A challenge I didn’t feel prepared for at all,” she wrote in the YouTube description.
In the video, the new mum said she really wanted to breastfeed her baby, but was disheartened to find how painful it was for her.
“It feels like someone’s like, slicing my nipples with glass,” she recalled saying on one of her first days home from the hospital.
When she reached her breaking point, Port started feeding her son pumped breast milk and formula and made an appointment with a lactation consultant, who suggested the baby’s tongue-tie might be causing the issue. But even after the procedure to address his tongue-tie, the pain persisted.
Port teared up talking about how she feels about her breastfeeding challenges. “I think I’m just tired and I obviously want to breastfeed,” she said. “I guess because that’s what people say is the best bonding experience”.
The mum noted that she feels pressure from other people to keep trying to breastfeed, but the prospect of no improvement and continued pain makes her feel very anxious.
“Like, how much longer do I continue to try it before I just give up and pump and give him the bottles and be OK with it?” Port said. “A lot of the new mums and my friends have said not to put so much pressure on myself and that they pumped or switched off and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.”
Port’s video has been viewed more than 200,000 times. I myself have watched it at least 3 of those times. Ultimately, the new mum said she would tell other women in her position to not worry about outside pressure and to follow their hearts ― something she’s struggling to do.
“I think some of the things I’m feeling, I’m right for feeling ― I think that they’re real issues,” she said at the end of her video. “And some things are probably being magnified by my hormones and these post-baby blues that people talk about… But I think it’s all normal.”
These complex and confused feelings are often kept far from view when new mums are struggling with feeding their babies. Whitney’s honest and raw discussion provides a valuable insight into these often dark early days. But what is great to remember and something that really shines through about her story, is that you are not alone. Looking at some of the comments on her Instagram, and blog post, you see so much love and support from women who went through exactly the same thing. Myself included.
One new mum Anna writes, “You are not alone! I felt the same about it with my two little ones“. She then continues on to say, “We all know how great it is for the baby and everything but also we need to remember what is good for Momma. I struggled with bonding with her because I dreaded feeding every time. Choose what is best for you because if you feel good then you can take care of baby to the best you can… You are a wonderful mum no matter what you decide to do…breastfeeding, pumping or formula feeding. Baby is getting fed and that is the most important thing”.
Another mum says “Your mental health is more important than anything. The baby will be just FINE with whatever you choose!”
I’m so sorry to hear that Whitney is going through this, but so glad she shared her story with other parents (myself included) who may be experiencing similar struggles.
5 common breastfeeding problems and tips for how to solve them
1. What’s the one thing mums should know about breastfeeding?
Don’t put up with pain. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. If it does, there’s a reason so make sure you reach out for support.
2. My baby keeps falling asleep during a feed. How can I keep him awake?
When babies are only a few months old, they sleep a lot. If lots of tickling doesn’t encourage the baby to keep feeding and your baby dozes off halfway through a feed, put them down on their back and go do something else.
Have a drink, make a snack. Then come back and continue the feed once your baby wakes.
3. I have to go back to work soon and introduce a bottle, but my baby is refusing to take it. What can I do?
If you want to use a bottle, use a long thin teat that mimics the nipple. Make a game of it, letting your baby play with the teat when they are happy and relaxed. Always offer the bottle before a breastfeed and don’t make a battle of it.
4. My 4-month-old baby is a snacker, wanting to feed almost hourly. Should I be worried that she’s not getting enough milk?
Make sure you are reading your baby’s cues correctly, rather than offering a feed all the time. Very often mums will offer a feed before investigating other possible causes for discomfort. If nothing but a feed will settle your baby and this is a pattern, it would be worth investigating possible issues with milk supply.
5. I’m worried I have low supply. What can I do to help increase my milk production?
The more milk your baby takes from your breasts, the more milk you will make. It will take a week or more of more frequent feeds to see a real increase in milk supply. So try breastfeeding your baby more often, and also just relax and hold your baby skin-to-skin a bit more. Parenting website, Make Your Baby Laugh also has a great round up of ways to increase your milk supply.
Who you can talk to if you are having issues breastfeeding
Breastfeeding happens more easily when the people closest to you are supportive. You need information, rest, time to learn and your own needs cared for. Most of all, you needs the emotional support and commitment from the people closest to you, especially your partner. The more your partner knows about breastfeeding and is willing to help and encourage your, the more likely you will breastfeed successfully.
You could also talk through your breastfeeding concerns with an Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) breastfeeding counsellor by calling the 24-hour national Breastfeeding Helpline, on 1800 686 268. This service is available for everyone involved with breastfeeding. You can also attend, and encourage your partner to attend, a local ABA support group where you will be able to chat with a breastfeeding counsellor face-to-face and meet with other parents and their child(ren).