Whitney Port On Her First Days as a New Mom: "Breastfeeding Was So Painful I Had to Stop"

Feeding didn't come naturally for The Hills star as a new mom—and stopping was even harder. Her story is a reminder that a fed baby and happy parents really are best. Full stop.

Whitney Port is getting vulnerable about her first days as a new mom, and it's a reminder that things don't always come naturally—including nursing.

Though it's often billed as the world's most natural act a person can do for their baby—mammals do it in the wild, after all—lactating people often struggle with latches, supply, and pain. Port did, too, after she had her son, Sonny, in 2017.

"The night I got home, my nipples were already so chafed and dry and bloody and painful that I couldn't breastfeed anymore," the former star of The Hills told Me Becoming Mom podcast host Zoë Ruderman.

It sent Port into a panic.

"All of a sudden, I was like, 'What is Sonny going to eat?' That wasn't even something I had thought about yet," Port recalled.

Though human milk has benefits for a baby, including a reduced risk of ear infections and gastrointestinal issues, formula also has all the nutrition your baby needs. No one should feel bad about formula feeding for any reason.

But that's not always easy for new parents to understand because of all the "breast is best" messaging that comes their way during the pregnancy and postpartum periods. The struggle for Port was real.

"This [was] when things got really hard for me emotionally, and I started to feel really ridden with guilt," Por said. "I stopped breastfeeding after two weeks because it was just too hard for me. It was just too painful."

But Port was determined to give her child human milk for six months, so she exclusively pumped instead.

"I was able to get enough milk to feed him exclusively with breast milk for six months," Port said. "I told myself I was going to get through the six months."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend giving your child human milk exclusively for six months. Port accomplished that, but did the cost outweigh the benefits?

"I would never put that much pressure on myself," Port said. "Looking back on it, those six months were a complete blur. I was just so focused on getting through the pumping…the whole job of it.

Exclusive pumping is hard. You not only need to remove the human milk from your body but store it, clean the parts, and, oh yeah, feed the baby. On top of all of that, Port got mastitis, a painful bacterial infection in the breast, three times. Actress and model Brooklyn Decker recently discussed her bout with it, too.

Port, who has also been open about her struggles with pregnancy loss, says she and her husband, former The City producer Tim Roseman, have already discussed a different approach to infant feeding if they have another child.

"The plan is that if I start to feel those feelings again where I feel overcome by it, and I am not able to enjoy having a newborn…to really listen to that and not let the guilt override those feelings," Port says.

Breast is only best if it works for the family and the baby. Ask yourself the last time you discussed how you were fed as an infant with your friends. Was it the first day of kindergarten? In your college dorm? Or, more likely—never. Your relationship with your parents almost certainly has nothing to do with what you drank in your first year of life. Remember to give yourself and other parents who are feeding their child differently from you some grace. There are plenty of ways to nourish a baby, most importantly with love.

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