One of the most important things that a mom has to think about when she is pregnant is how she is planning on feeding her baby. There are really only two choices; breastmilk and formula. Both options have their pros and cons, but this article is all about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has a lot of benefits to both mom and baby, so many that this is not another article on how great it really is. This is an article about how challenging it can be. A lot of moms are led into this false pretence that breastfeeding is easy, that it’s simple. When something is labelled as ‘natural’ it can make some think that it should also come naturally. This is not true, and this perception can lead a lot of women to give up on nursing altogether.
As a mother who has nursed herself, I can vouch for all of these concerns and problems when it comes to breastfeeding. There are many more, but we are only going to talk about 15 of the most common concerns that happen when a woman decides to breastfeed. We also will go over 5 solutions that could fix most, if not all, of these concerns.
Newborn babies sleep a lot. Many people think that babies must never sleep because new parents are always so tired. The truth is, they do sleep but in short periods. They need to feed often because their bellies are so small, so they frequently wake up to fill up and then shortly drift back off to sleep.
One of the biggest problems that moms have when they breastfeed is that they can not keep the baby awake at the breast. That the baby will only latch on and feed for what seems like a few minutes before falling asleep again. This can be quite normal in the beginning, it doesn’t take much to fill that little tummy.
It can be exhausting to be an exclusively breastfeeding mother. All of the feeding sessions will fall on mom and this means night sessions as well. This can all lead to a very tired and run-down mom who just wants a break. The only way a breastfeeding mom is going to get any breaks from feeding is if she pumps or expresses her milk and offers it in a bottle.
The problem with this can be that the baby may refuse a bottle. The baby has gotten so used to the mother’s nipple that they do not know how to use a bottle nipple. This can make it hard for anyone else to step in and help feed the baby.
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to breastfeeding is if mom is producing enough milk. When a mom exclusively feeds from the breast, she has no way of really knowing how much milk is coming out. When mom feeds formula or breastmilk from a bottle there are clear measurements on the side of the bottle that can tell mom exactly how much the baby is eating.
This can be frustrating for mom, it can cause a lot of stress and worry. Usually there is never anything to worry about and the baby is getting just what they need. The best unit of measurement on if your baby is getting enough milk is to count the amount of wet and dirty diapers they have.
There is so much more to breastfeeding than just feeding your baby. It involves so much. It is constant affection and comfort for your baby, and there are times when your baby may want to latch on without even being hungry. They will use mom like a pacifier and just need some comfort. This can cause a lot of problems when it comes to bed time.
Trying to get some sleep with a newborn can be hard enough, but nursing brings in some sleep association problems as well. This means that the baby needs to be on breastmilk to fall asleep and when they wake up they immediately need mom again. This can happen all night and it can be a very short time between when they need mom to fall asleep.
Despite it being “natural” breastfeeding is hard, and a lot of women give themselves a very hard time when it comes to learning the ropes. The problem is that a lot of women forget that we need to learn to breastfeed. Just as we need to learn, so does the baby this is all new to everyone. Even if a mother has breastfed before, every baby is different and there are different challenges each time.
When a new mom and baby are learning, one of the most common problems is learning how to latch properly. Mom will be able to tell if there is a latch problem because chances she will be cracked, bleeding and they will hurt.
There may come a time when a baby goes on a milk strike. When they want nothing to do with breastfeeding and breastmilk. This usually happens around the same time solid food is introduced. Most doctors recommend a mom to start solid foods around 6-months, but there are some who suggest it be introduced early for various reasons.
This can cause the baby to start to refuse breastmilk. Even if mom is introducing solid foods, breastmilk should still be their main source of food until they are a year old. A quick tip for this challenge is to always offer the breastmilk BEFORE any form of solid food.
Moms are more than happy to give up any unhealthy habits for 9 months to ensure a happy and healthy baby, but they are sometimes quite anxious to pick it up again. Not necessarily because they are dying for a drink, but because they want to go out and feel like a normal human being for one moment, just one night. This can lead to a problem with mothers who breastfeed and want to have an occasional glass of wine.
Now, research does show that one glass of wine will not affect your milk or our baby, but this doesn’t mean it is easy or moms to do. They are still usually plagued with uneasy feelings about it with an ounce of mom guilt.
Our nipples can get pretty sensitive when we are nursing, especially in the beginning. It takes time for them to toughen up and become calloused, as to were it won’t be painful to nurse. The problem is that baby’s bite. Even a newborn who doesn’t have any teeth can chomp down on a mom’s nipple with their gums and it is enough to send shivers down a mother’s spine.
Then they start to get actual teeth. Some babies get teeth as early as 3-months old, which is no where near being ready to wean. When the baby starts using those small, but very sharp, milk teeth to bite down it can be quite painful and it may even cause some pretty serious injuries to mom.
We talked earlier about a baby who may be going on a milk strike when solids are introduced, but it can also go the other way. There may reach a time when your baby wants nothing to do with solids, and only wants mom’s breast. This can be frustrating and exhausting for a mom who is ready to start slowing down on the nursing sessions and is excited to start solid foods.
The problem is that this is normal. Breastmilk is the main source of food for the first year of their life. It is normal that a baby may want to just continue on the breast, and they will start solids when they are ready. Unless there is a weight and growth concern, there is really nothing that can or should be done.
There are so many unknowns when it comes to breastfeeding, it is enough to have any overwhelmed. Another common problem is being unsure on how many feeds your baby should have throughout the day. Mom’s are so worried about what is “normal” and if their baby falls in that category. The real answer is there is no normal. There are estimated and guidelines, but every baby is different and has different needs.
There are also moments of cluster feeding, which are the days leading up to a growth spurt when the baby will be on breastmilk almost constantly as they try to build up mom’s supply to get them through.
Another common problem a lot of women have when they are nursing their babies is a case of the distracted feeder. This won’t happen as much with a newborn, but when your baby gets a little bit older it can be a real struggle. Once a baby has the ability to look around and be aware of what is going on in the world around them, it can be hard for them to stay focused.
This can cause shorter nursing sessions, which will inevitably lead to more nursing sessions throughout the day which can be tiring. It can also cause some discomfort because a distracted baby does not always un-latch before whipping their head around. Ouch!
A baby will want to breastfeed at anytime, and babies don’t really care if you are busy or if you are not in the comfort of your own home. We can also not expect a mom to stay home all the time just in case their baby wants to nurse. A mom can also plan ahead and nurse before they leave, but that doesn’t really mean anything, and the baby may still want to eat half an hour later.
The only solution is to nurse in public. Women can choose to use a cover or not too, that is her decision. However, this can still be difficult for a lot of women. They could be embarrassed, or they could be worried about any negative comments that may come their way. It is not an easy hurdle to overcome.
One would think a quick and easy solution to a lot of the problems associated with breastfeeding would be to pump her milk. This would mean that someone else could help feed the baby, she can see how much she is producing and there would be no worry about going outside of the house. However, just like many other things that are associated with breastfeeding, pumping is not always easy.
Breastpumps are expensive and not always available to all moms. Not all women can pump their milk, I personally never responded to one and was never able to get much out that way even though I was producing more than enough. It is also never a good way to determine if you are producing enough milk.
Women understand that when they are pregnant, everything they put into their body will have an effect on their growing baby, both good and bad. The same rule still applies when a mother chooses to breastfeed her baby. The food she eats will have an effect on her milk and the baby. If a mom eats spicy food, it can even change the taste of her milk.
Mom’s are always looking for a reaction from their baby’s when it comes to their breastmilk. This could either be an allergic reaction or an extremely gassy baby and then the games begin. Mom has to try and figure out what she has eaten that may have had an effect on her baby. This can sometimes take days to figure out as she slowly cuts things out and waits for a reaction.
Women are always told when they start breastfeeding that it is always important to rotate at each feeding. When you start a feeding session, it is always important to make sure to start with the one you ended the previous feeding on. This can be confusing, so that is why a lot of women wear a bracelet or elastic on their wrist to help them keep track of which one to start on.
This has a lot to do with making sure that the baby is getting the proper amount of fore milk and hind milk. Sometimes, babies will prefer one over the other and refuse to take the other. This can be frustrating when it comes to building supply in both. It is probably due to one having an easier let down than the other, so the baby doesn’t have to work too hard.
Now we are on to some easy solutions that will (hopefully) cover a lot of these issues. There are some that can not be fixed, and it is just the way it is, but here are ways to cope. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, the first thing you should do is look for a certified lactation specialist. When I had my daughter, the hospital provided one who walked around and visited all the women to assist them in their breastfeeding journey.
These women are invaluable, and they are your best bet at determining if your breastfeeding relationship is going well and if you are producing enough milk. They are also vault of information and can help you navigate through any questions or concerns you may have.
Sometimes the biggest problems that are associated with breastfeeding all revolve around the pressure we put on ourselves. It’s not our fault, social media does not help and the constant throwing of “breastmilk is best” in our faces makes us feel like if we do anything else we are failing our children. Breastfeeding is hard, and we need to start recognizing that it is.
More importantly, mom’s need to start putting themselves first sometimes. Constantly struggling to breastfeed can wreck havoc on a woman’s mental health, especially if she is fighting some post partum depression as well. We need to recognize when something is not working, and sometimes that means switching to formula in order to make sure we don’t completely fall apart.
One of the best things you can do when you are breastfeeding is to trust your baby. Sure, they can’t talk yet, but they are telling you a lot if you just pay attention. Watch for hunger cues and feed them when they ask. This will help mom build her supply which will take away the worry that she is not producing enough.
Also, let your baby tell you if something is wrong. If your little one is producing constant and enough wet and dirty diapers and is putting on weight at their check-ups, chances are everything is fine, and nothing needs to be changed. Just go with the flow and let them guide you on your journey, they know what they need.
Remember that lesson our own mothers tried to teach us growing up? That practice makes perfect? Well, I hate to tell you that your mom was right, it really does. The best way to get comfortable and get used to nursing is to nurse. The more you do it, the better you will become. If your baby just wants to latch for comfort, let them. Don’t give them a pacifier. When babies comfort nurse they are practicing their latch and they are also building your supply up.
If every mom gave up when breastfeeding got hard no one would ever continue nursing. These moms push through the hard times and they are so much the better for it as they are now pros.
If you are an expectant mom reading this, good for you! You are already doing something that can help your chances at breastfeeding successfully and crossing all the speed bumps along the way. Education is key when it comes to doing anything well and breastfeeding is no different. When you are expecting start learning. Find a birthing class that also covers postpartum care, like breastfeeding.
Start looking for a lactation consultant now, someone who can be with you almost immediately following the birth to help get you on the right path right away. Or, browse more articles like this for other tips and tricks. Just remember that every baby and experience is different.