I have been breastfeeding my son now for 9 months. It for SURE was not easy for us in the beginning. He was born a month early, and I didn't get to see him (besides right when he was born) for 4 hours after birth. He wouldn't latch when they brought him to me. Instead of having me try for a while, the lactation consultant nurse just handed me a nipple shield (which ended up being the wrong size for his mouth, didn't find that out until he was 5 weeks old). The first week, I supplemented with formula since he would not latch. When he was a week old, we ended up back in the hospital for a severe case of jaundice. They recommended I only use breast milk in addition to the bili lights to get it out of his system. They brought me a hospital grade pump and I pumped and fed him every 2 hours until the jaundice was at a less severe level.
Immediately when we got home from the hospital, we went and bought a second hand pump from someone in town. For the next 4 weeks I pumped exclusively, every 2-3 hours around the clock. This was particularly stressful when we flew home for Christmas when he was 6 weeks old and I was not able to pump on the long plane rides (I had checked my pump in the luggage). So for those few weeks I was exclusively pumping and had already pretty much given up on breastfeeding normally. He just couldn't do it, he wouldn't get much even with the shield and he would be mad after. Pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock is NOT fun.
When he was 5 weeks old I had my WIC appointment to see the lactation consultant. She immediately figured out that he was tongue tied, and that the nipple shield I was given was the wrong size. She weighed him, gave me the correct nipple shield size, and then I fed him. She weighed him after and he had taken a full feeding for the first time, with the new nipple shield size. She also gave me a brand new Medela Pump In Style (I had been using a used one I bought locally because I could not afford a new one). I immediately called our pediatrician when I got to the car about the tongue-tie.
The nurse called me back and said he had seen that he had a slight tongue-tie at birth. She told me he would check it out at our next appointment in January (it was early December at this point). I told her no, I wanted to be seen immediately and get it taken care of, not "checked out." She scheduled me an appointment for the next day. I expected the doctor to tell me it wasn't bad and we would just keep an eye on it, that's what I was warned would happen, but he took him and fixed it immediately. It took two seconds and he was fine immediately after, took a bottle with no pain.
It was still two weeks after this until he latched, we went on vacation for Christmas and it was exhausting. I was pumping but not enough because we had too much to do and so many people to see. Pumping in hotel bathrooms while your entire family is in the other room is not a good way to spend a holiday. I ran out of bottles on the airplane home, and had to use the breast shield in the airport, which was annoying. But, the day after we got home he latched perfectly with no breast shield! We have had no issues since then. Now he hates bottles and is on a great schedule.
My favorite part of breastfeeding is that I can tell how much we have bonded from it. I am his main source of nutrition and he needs me. He holds on to me while he eats and I can tell he loves it! I think it's fine to nurse in public. I personally use a cover, but I don't think anyone should have to. Breasts are for feeding a baby, that's the only reason we have them, so people shouldn't think its weird or gross to feed a child in public. No one has ever said anything about it to me, but I've heard a lot of horror stories that people have had comments made to them while nursing in public.
My main tip for anyone struggling, or who plans to breastfeed, is JUST KEEP TRYING. It took us almost 2 months for him to latch and I never gave up. Having to wake up all night long to pump was more important to me than sleeping, knowing he was getting breast milk instead of formula. Boston is now 9 months and still going strong. We plan to go at least 14 months (if I want to go to school next semester I’ll have to wean to be able to take my medication). But if I get pregnant beforehand we will continue at least until the new baby comes!