Ask IM: When Breastfeeding Gets tough Beyond the Newborn Stage

Ask Instinctual Mothering

I am humbled and honored every time a mom, mom to be, or even the occasional father contacts me for advice or information. It never occurred to me that people would actually value my opinion enough to seek out my perspective, it is a shock every time! But it is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to share my perspective and experience with you all.

I thought it may be helpful to publish the questions I receive on the blog in a series titled “Ask Instinctual Mothering”. Remember, the answers are only my perspective based off of my own experiences and what I have read or researched. I will never claim to know all there is to know about pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding/parenting because I am still learning myself (and have no true accreditation besides a breastfeeding counselor certificate)! However; helping, encouraging, empowering, and sharing information with others is why I’m here typing. It is a true passion and gives me great fulfillment and I hope I can be of service.

I promise to only share real questions from real people and always with their permission (and never their name). If you find yourself pondering something yourself, please feel free to contact me with ANYTHING – even critical feedback! You can contact me through facebook, E-mail at, or through the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Okay, enough blabbing. Here is the second “Ask Instinctual Mothering” installment! This was a message I received via Facebook.

When Breastfeeding Gets Tough Beyond the Newborn Phase

Hi Tara!! I hope you are doing great and feeling well!

I’m having a tough time and looking for some help. I’m feeling like I could throw in the towel on nursing my 9 month old. It’s become painful. She just wants to suck all evening and night. My nipples are tender and the one nipple has a milk blister which is painful. I feel like I feel her teeth when she sucks. And she pulls my breast away from her when she is nursing so it pulls my boob. I’m frustrated and yet I don’t want to stop. Any advice? 😢 Does it get better?  Did you ever want to give up? I don’t want to for her sake. I guess I feel defeated right now.

-Frustrated & Defeated



Dear Frustrated & Defeated,

I feel your pain! I know the feeling you’re describing all too well. The first question that comes to mind is could your period (fertility) be returning or could you be pregnant? The sensation your describing of tenderness and the feeling of teeth sounds a lot like the feeling I would get after ovulation or during pregnancy. This *may* be why your feeling more sensitive. I would take a pregnancy test to rule it out.

When my daughter was this age, I remember receiving great advice. A veteran nursing mom once said to me; “your nursing relationship will be the first place you teach your child boundaries” and she was right. At 9 months old, your little one can understand and can communicate with you. If she is doing something that you do not like, (like clamping her teeth or pulling on the breast) end the nursing session and simply say “no teeth” or “gentle”. She will start to get it. It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is a mutual relationship, you and her are in it together, so making sure you are still comfortable and happy is important too. I think you will feel better once the milk blister heals (ouch!). If you want to pump that side only for a while until it heals maybe do that?

As for the all night nursing; it could be a growth spurt, a development leap, teething. Whatever it is, it will pass. And I know it’s not for everyone, but co-sleeping is always my go to answer for nighttime nursing survival. Maybe set mini goals for now and you’d be surprised how much easier/less demanding each month gets. I would try to feed on demand until at least the year mark, and then if you feel the nighttime nursing is unbearable or unmanageable, you can always explore gentle night weaning instead of weaning all together. You can make breastfeeding whatever you want to make it.

Take solace that many mothers have felt at one point or another in their breastfeeding journey that it would be easier to give up. But this WILL pass, you’ve just hit a little bump in the road that you and her can work out together. I don’t think any nursing mother LOVES nursing ALL the time. I know I don’t. Breastfeeding is like any other relationship – full of highs and lows! It definitely has it’s frustrating moments right along with the beautiful.

Hang in there and know that you are not alone!





Wow that makes so much sense the way you explained it! Yes, you’re right –  I need to teach her some boob manners! I never thought about a correlation with fertility. I’ll definitely look into that as well. Your message gives me hope and somehow made me feel like things will be okay and we will get through this. I really want to keep nursing, I just hit a wall of frustration. I’m guessing the milk blister came from her getting lazy with her latch lately and the pulling. I’ve been working with her today and know we will get through it. I guess I thought the hardest part would be when they were newborn. And I’m glad you mentioned that about not always loving it. I’ve absolutely loved it until these past few days. I felt guilty for not loving it. I guess that’s normal  Tomorrow will be a better day!

-Ms. Hopeful Again

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One comment

  1. Xan Bottone (Nursing Mothers Alliance President) says:

    Awesome post! May I also suggest that she revisit the latch? I often see mothers of older babies who are experiencing pain or discomfort and it is usually what I call “the lazy latch.” As baby gets older mom pays less attention to the latch and both mom and baby are often distracted while nursing. A baby that once had a great latch will start to slide down towards the end of the nipple causing pain for mother. Sorry for the unsolicited advice just wanted to throw out another suggestion for your friend!

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