September 12, 2014 05:00 PM

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She may have doubted herself a few times during her “marathon” 36-hour delivery, but after welcoming daughter Marlowe Mae, it’s been smooth sailing for Eva Amurri Martino — at least in the nursing department.

“I was really lucky. She latched right away and she’s a voracious eater,” Martino, 29, tells PEOPLE.

She’s such a good eater that Mom actually needs to step in from time to time. “It can actually be a challenge because she eats a little too fast and I have to slow her down.”

But while the actress says her little lady is a natural, she’s honest about the inevitable early challenges of breastfeeding.

“I don’t care what people say and no matter what, it hurts,” she admits. “It’s not comfortable. It has been teaching me to really be much more gentle with myself and I just have to expect that each day is a new day and it takes a while to get used to.”

And while she’s back on her feet and “feeling good” one month postpartum, the struggle of those first days is still fresh in her mind.

“The first week was really intense,” she recalls. “I was not expecting how hard it was.”

At the urging of her midwife, Martino was focused on recovery for that first week and a half. “I didn’t leave my bedroom, let alone go downstairs,” she explains.

“My mom [Susan Sarandon] would bring stuff up for me to eat and I really just stayed in bed with Marlowe nursing.”

For exclusive photos and more on Eva’s emotional home birth, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

— Jennifer Garcia

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