Jenna Elfman Overcomes Son’s Nursing Strike

12/07/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Donato Sardella/WireImage

As a new mom to now 9-month-old son Easton Quinn Monroe, overtime at work came with a hefty price for Jenna Elfman.

“I was doing a lot of filming, so he was getting a lot of breastmilk from bottles,” the actress, 39, tells Best for Babes. “When he was 3 or 4 months old, he went through a finicky phase where he didn’t want to nurse.”

Worried and “having flashbacks” of her breastfeeding troubles with elder son Story Elias, 3, Elfman feared Easton’s nursing strike would end with the new mom exclusively pumping again. It was then, notes the actress, that she quickly changed her approach with her baby boy.

“I just [breastfed] more, without forcing him obviously … I also scaled back the bottles,” she explains.

“Easton had gotten where he liked to nurse laying down. So I thought great, I’ll take a little time out and lay down on the bed with him, just to get him reacquainted, and more willing to nurse from the breast more often.”

And according to the proud mama, her determination eventually paid off. “Now he’s totally fine with breastfeeding again,” she raves. “He’s humongous and he’s awesome.”

To read the full interview with Jenna Elfman, visit Best for Babes.

– Anya Leon

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Showing 21 comments

molly on

What a great role model for breastfeeding moms and moms to be! I like that she is honest is her difficulties with nursing. While breastfeeding is a natural thing it doesn’t always come naturally!

I had to exclusively pump for the first month of my son’s life because he wasn’t latching and losing weight but once he hit his original “due date” I tried nursing again and presto! Perseverence and a desire to keep trying made it possible for me to breastfeed him until nearly 15mo. I am so glad I kept at it and was able to have that experience with him!

Lots of support is key-turn to caring (not pushy) women friends! Good luck to others that struggle, too.

Mira on

Good for her! She shows that difficulties can be overcome and mothers shouldn’t give up breastfeeding as soon as they hit an obstacle.

Tee on

Good for Jenna! She should be really proud of herself and so should you, Molly!

molly on

Thanks, Tee. I am proud. Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding accomplishments I have had as a mother because of the struggle it took to get there.

But, I also realize it isn’t for everyone and just hope all women have a good feeling about themselves and how they choose to feed their babies and that others can support them with whatever/however they choose to do so. Too much judging and catty-ness makes us feel more guilty than we already do!

Holiday on

My daughter went through this recently as well. As a small baby we never had any problems but once she hit 3 months she never wanted to nurse! This lasted several months and it was so difficult but she is 7 months old today and nurses just fine. Babies can be very challenging! My son was a difficult nurser as well.

Mommyto1boyandtwins on

I’m currently going through this with one of my twins- they are 3.5 months. He is refusing to nurse since I’ve had to go back to work. It doesn’t help that I’ve been switching back and forth with pumped breast milk in a bottle and breast. I’m not giving up but was wondering if something else was wrong since he arches his back and screams for 15 minutes when it’s feeding time. I glad to know my wants to stick with it will pay off, hopefully! I’m not stressing and not forcing but just trying to nurse when he’s more settled. The other twin has NO problems switching from breast to bottle and I had no problems with my eldest nursing and bottle feeding. All children are different. I’m relieved to know that it’s just a phase, again, hopefully. :)

JMO on

I think all that matters is if baby is happy. Whether nursing or bottle feeding there is no reason to try and force a child to do either. It’s what should be comfortable for them as well as the mother. As long as she felt that it would work again then kudos to her. But my question is if baby is happy with pumped breast milk why so adament on breastfeeding? Is it harder to just pump?? I don’t know as I haven’t had a child yet. I plan on trying it but I’m very impatient and know that if it doesn’t work out I’m not gonna stress about it. I’ll pump until I’m dry and then if I have to swtich to formula I have no issues w/ doing so. It’s whatever makes me and my child most comfortable and happy.

CJ on

@ Mommyto1boyandtwins

Have you looked into it maybe being something like reflux? My daughter was fine with a bottle and okay in certain positions but if we weren’t at my nursing chair she did exactly the same thing and it turned out to be reflux which went away as soon as she started on solids. Might be worth looking into?

Nursing Mother on

JMO, pumping isn’t ‘hard’, per se, but it is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than breastfeeding straight from the ‘tap’. Breastfeeding rather than feeding expressed milk from a bottle doesn’t require assembling pump parts, sterilizing bottles, at least ten-fifteen minutes (and usually more) of having suction cups attached to your breasts every three to four hours, worrying about getting enough out to feed the baby, etc etc.

I breastfeed when I’m with my son (most of the time) and then pump when he’s at daycare. Fortunately, we’ve been lucky in that he hasn’t really had an issue going from on to the other, but that may change as he’s not yet five months old.

In the hierarchy of ‘preferredness’ for breastfeeding mothers, it’s breast, expressed, then formula as a last resort (seriously, why pay for baby’s food if you can make it for free?). I totally understand why Jenna Elfman wanted to overcome Easton’s nursing strike – she would be a particular authority on pumping vs. breast. I think it speaks volumes that despite pumping for Story for so long, she didn’t really want to have to do it again with Easton. Good on her for persevering and getting through it!

LJH on

TO JMO, just answering your question about pumping, I breastfed my daughter and loved it but whenever I tried to pump, the milk just wouldn’t come down. Experts say look at a pic of your child because it is a mental/psychological impulse or something but that still didn’t work. Pumping was very hard for me, it hurt my nipples and the suck wasn’t natural at all. As soon as I fed my child though the milk would stream out.

rhyssa on

it is so hard to struggle with bf. it’s cool of jenna to open up about it. It was such an emotional and difficult time for me. But with lots of time and patience… :)

She’s a trooper for doing it that long! My grandma told me they gave baby’s cow’s milk when they were just a few months old. OMG!

I guess the babies don’t die, formula, cow milk or breast. BF is free but hard work.

blessedwithboys on

Good on ya Jenna! :)

And to the poster who asked, in addition to what was already said, the actuall act of the child latching on and suckling from the breast is healthier than bottle-nursing.

jessicad on

Jenna looks really pretty and natural in this picture!

I fed my daughter mostly from the breast. I found pumping too time consuming and painful. I had a friend who pumped then bottle fed, it would take 10 or 15 minutes to pump (with the baby hungry and screaming next to her) then she had to feed after so it seemed harder in my opinion, but whatever works!

Tee on

Molly, I think you’re right. Women are catty and so often, Mom’s are just as bad if not worse. It’s unneccesary, really!

JMO- I’ll add to what other people have said. Pumping is usually a lot harder than nursing is. It’s a good solution if you can’t nurse for some reason but it really doesn’t make a good long term plan. A woman’s body just doesn’t let the milk down as easily and as a general rule, you don’t produce as much milk when you pump as you do when you nurse.

Angela on

I love Jenna Elfman for all her interviews about BFing! The full interview is way better than the little snippet they posted here, I suggest you follow the link to read the whole thing. :)

To JMO, pumping is usually a giant pain in the butt. It is way more time consuming and some people just do not respond well to the pump. I could pump for 20 mins and get half an ounce, if I am lucky.

Kellymom is one of the BEST, if not THE best, resource for nursing moms!

ForeverMoore on

I think that most women who pump do so in advance, with the milk already on hand to feed the baby when he/she is hungry. It would be so hard to relax enough to pump with a unhappy baby wanting food! I BF my son and I try to do it exclusively (really dislike the pump!)…even if it means finding a place to nurse while I’m out & about. Whatever women need to do to ensure their babies are healthy and well fed, whether it be breast, formula, bottles…more power to ‘em.

CelebBabyLover on

I feel for Jenna. My mom went through that with my brother as well….only she did end up having to quit nursing. My brother was never all that gung-ho about nursing to begin with (he’d rather look around at stuff or be crawling around exploring!), and his first taste of solid food when he was five months old was the last straw for him. He decided that he wanted that yummy solid stuff, not “boring” breastmilk. LOL!

lola on

it’s nice to finally see positive comments and readers supporting each other:)

macayla on

This is the nicest conversation about breastfeeding/pumping/bottle feeding I’ve ever seen on this site! I love it! c:

KNM on

@Mommyto1boyandtwins – My son started arching his back a lot while eating too, and I eventually realized that I had overactive letdown and he was getting milk too fast. He would pull away and get really upset. It can cause symptoms similar to reflux because he spit up a lot, especially if he was on his back. He also had a lot of green stools, which from what I read, indicated that he might have been getting too much foremilk (lots of lactose) and not enough of the hindmilk. I tried some different positions so he would be more “upstream” from the milk flow, but even if he kept up with the flow and didn’t get upset, he always seemed to spit up a lot after he nursed. I gave up when he was around 2 months old and have been pumping exclusively for the last month, and he sleeps so much better on his back and spits up less. My supply and flow have definitely decreased since I stopped nursing, though, and based on Jenna’s comments I’m tempted to try nursing him a bit because I miss it and I think it would help my supply. Do babies “forget” how to do it after a month of only bottles, though? I would think a bottle is a little easier for them.

Glad to hear someone in the public eye talk about breastfeeding and the rewards and struggles! I wish it had worked out better for me, but I’m going to try to keep pumping for awhile. It’s hard to always find the time now that I’m back at work, though.

Rebecca on

What Jenna did is called ‘gentling’. It is a fabulous fabulous way to help baby enjoy close time with you and take the pressure off, when breastfeeding is not working so well. You have to consider it a bonus if they happen to take some breastmilk and just enjoy the close time. Usually it leads to them associating breastfeeding with a lovely Mommy-time and they get right back into it. Good on her taking the time to fit to her boy’s needs rather than expecting him to fit to hers.

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