When the little bun is out of the oven, he will have a savage appetite and milk on his mind. Most, but not all, women opt for breastfeeding, as it is the most natural and economical way to feed the little mini. Although breastfeeding might seem like an uncomplicated choice, the adjustment period can be gruelling on a tired new mom. Unexpected difficulties and unforeseen challenges can cause the process to seem nearly impossible for some.
Before giving up entirely, there are some factors that might be affecting the experience. Unfortunately, many first time moms are not exposed to the resources needed to help them through the rough patches. Proper education and support from nurses, pediatricians and midwives are just some of the things that can help a woman find her groove in the breastfeeding world. Sadly, a negative breastfeeding experience can really discourage a woman, as our culture places such pressure on women to avoid formula and stick to natural feeding. The "breast is best" campaigns don't help, as they further enforce the idea that bottle-fed babies are somehow worst off. Here are 15 Things Women Don't Realize Make Breastfeeding Harder
15 No Confidence Because Of All The Pressure
The societal pressures to breastfeed are rampant in North America. With thousands of groups dedicated to the "breast is best" campaign, women are often discouraged from giving their babies formula. The choice to bottle-feed and opt out of breastfeeding entirely is often met with scorn and criticism.
It seems that women are expected to naturally want to breastfeed their babies, although, this is not the case for many.
Whether you are just uncomfortable with the concept, or have been victimized in the past, leading to issues with sharing your body, the choice is yours and yours alone! There are plenty of reasons that a woman would not want to breastfeed, and they are all valid. You don't owe anyone an explanation. A happy, fed baby and happy mom are the most important factors.
14 Incorrect Latching
Incorrect latching can be caused by a tongue-tied baby, but often the baby has no actual physical reason for their troubles. Some babies just need to be guided towards the correct positioning and technique. Although their natural instincts kick in to seek out the source of milk (known as rooting, when the baby turns her head towards your breast to feed), the latch might be a little more complicated for these baby beginners! Make sure that your babe has her lips on the outside of her mouth (not sucked inwards, which can cause a very painful situation for you and her). The baby should have her mouth opened super wide before snapping on for a snack. If baby is yawning or crying, you can try to latch them on right away while the opportunity strikes.
13 Lack Of Sleep
Lack of sleep is pretty much par for the course when you have a newborn. Even if your baby is a great sleeper, he will still wake (or need to be awoken, depending on your feeding plan) every 2-4 hours for some milk. Not to mention, if you are exclusively breastfeeding (or trying to!) you might be awake for 10-30 minutes per feed. So if you calculate an average of 4 wake-ups a night, and 30 minutes of awake time each session, you are looking at some pretty broken sleep patterns.
Some fatigue is unavoidable, but being extremely exhausted with no rest for days, weeks or months on end can cause your milk supply to dip.
The old saying "sleep when the baby sleeps" might be irritating to hear over and over, but it's really worth considering. Do your best to try to nap (or at least relax!) while your baby is napping.
12 Stress Over Becoming A Parent
Becoming a parent is one of the biggest life changes you will experience. If it's your first baby, the adaptation period might be even longer. Learning what your baby wants and needs is a full-time job, and the workload is high. Adding baby feeding, rocking and diaper changes to your routine can make you feel like there are not enough hours in the day. The early months can leave you so exhausted that you feel like you won't ever see the light of day.
Keep in mind, the stress of the entire experience can be causing your body to produce less milk.
Although it's not always possible, try to sleep as many hours as you can, focus on eating well and try to find a little time each day to do something just for you. Whether it's escaping in a bubble bath, reading a chapter of a book or going for a walk, the small time-out will help you recharge.
11 A Tongue-Tied Baby
If you've tried everything to get your baby to feed, but she doesn't seem to be getting the hang of it, it might be time for a trip to the pediatrician.
Roughly 2% of all babies are born with a condition called ankyloglossia, more simply referred to as a tongue tie.
This condition is often hereditary, and occurs when the baby's frenulum (the skin under the tongue) extends either too far forward, or is too short. This condition generally poses little side effects to the baby, but it can interfere with your baby's ability to latch on for feeding. Often, the frenulum recedes on it's own (if too long, often the case), but if the tie is getting in the way of breastfeeding, your doctor might suggest a quick snip to allow the baby to have better control with suction. The snip itself is generally painless for the baby, and is often more upsetting to a new mom. The good news is that it can help fix your feeding issues pretty quickly!
10 Not Eating Properly
Pregnancy is often a time when women indulge in additional treats. Cravings for sweets and junk food are all too common while you're baby in on the inside, and honestly, it's totally acceptable to use the "I'm pregnant" excuse from time to time! If you've spent 9 months snacking on pizza and chips, though, you might want to revisit your habits once the baby is born.
Not only can an improper diet contribute to a fussy baby, you will notice that your energy (and milk supply!) might dip if you're not getting enough nutrients from your diet.
Because breastfeeding burns approximately 500 additional calories per day, you can afford to eat more food during this period. Try to fill up on fruits, veggies, high fiber foods and lean meats and don't skip out on snacks and water! Feeding your body properly will ensure that baby is getting the best milk supply possible.
9 Not Hydrating Enough
Perhaps more important that maintaining a healthy diet is hydrating properly. Because breast milk is almost entirely made up of water, you will need to replenish your sources more regularly in order to keep the milk flowing.
Many women find that they are naturally more thirsty while breastfeeding, and some even drink water while their babes are latched on.
Getting into this habit will only help your efforts, and you will feel less sluggish and tired if you have the right amount of H20 in your system. It's suggested that breastfeeding women up their water intake by about 32 oz. a day, aiming for a total of 100 oz. of water on daily (roughly 3 litres). Keeping a reusable water bottle in the fridge can help you remember to meet your daily quota.
8 Drinking Too Much For Fun
Our culture is quite lax when it comes to young moms drinking. It seems that everywhere you look, there is a new meme encouraging women to drink in order to deal with the stresses of parenthood. It's no wonder that more and more women are taking to the bottle to take the edge off after a stressful day. Unfortunately, the habit of drinking regularly can be very counterproductive when you're breastfeeding. Not only is the alcohol passed on to baby in breastmilk, it has been shown that babies consume about 20% less milk in the 4 hours after mom has had a drink. If you want to have a drink here and there, make sure to time things properly so that you aren't nursing until at least two hours later (for one drink, not several!). If you're really planning on going big, you can express or pump some milk before hand to make sure that baby isn't getting laced milk.
7 Puffing And Feeding
It's not news that smoking is bad for your health. What some young mothers don't realize, though, is that the smallest bit of nicotine can have adverse reactions to breastfeeding.
First off, the nicotine gets into your blood and milk supply, meaning that the drug gets passed on to your nursing baby.
On top of that, the chemicals found in cigarettes can reduce the amount of milk that your body produces. Overall, a baby feeding off of a smoker mom will be at risk for lowered immunity, greater chance of falling ill, greater risk of respiratory troubles and a higher incidence of SIDS. Although health professionals still agree that it is better to smoke and breastfeed than to not breastfeed at all, it would be a good idea to at least try to cut down if this is a habit you are having a hard time kicking. Limiting smoking directly before feeding is also wise.
6 Bad Posture And Positioning
Posture and positioning make a big difference in the success of your breastfeeding. The baby (and you!) need to be in a position that is both comfortable and efficient for milk flow. The baby should not be straining his neck, back or body, and you should have a straight back and not be slumped over. Pillows are a great help in getting everyone comfortable.
Try putting a pillow behind your back, and one under your baby, to lift him upwards towards your breast.
This will make everyone more comfortable, and subsequently, the experience will be more positive for you and baby! Feeling comfortable and at ease will also guarantee that you are giving your baby enough time to feed fully, and not unlatching him prematurely because you've got a cramp or aren't comfortable.
5 Giving Up Too Early
One of the biggest mistakes women make when breastfeeding is giving up too early. Getting discouraged when your milk doesn't come in quickly? Feeling like baby never latches on properly? Tired of hearing a crying, hungry baby? All of these factors are enough for any woman to want to throw in the towel, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Often times, just when a woman is ready to give up is around the time that things start to get better, so don't be too hard on yourself!
Like any new habit, breastfeeding will take time to adapt to. Try different things, skip what doesn't work, and stick to what does. It's important that you find your own groove, even if it's different from the way your friend/sister or people in online forums do things.
4 Incorrect Usage Or Supplementing Of Formula
When baby is hungry, it's natural that mom wants to feed her, no matter how.
When breastfeeding is proving challenging in the early days, it's quite common that moms will supplement their breastmilk with some formula.
Keep in mind that it's normal for a baby to drop a bit of their body weight right away birth, but anything over 10% loss in the first 3 days can be dangerous and baby will need something to get her weight up. If your baby hasn't dropped much weight, though, its a good sign that they are getting enough food from your milk supply. If you intend to breastfeed exclusively, try not to introduce formula unless medically necessary. Some babies get accustomed to drinking from a bottle and then have a hard time going back to breastfeeding.
3 Not Getting Educated By A Professional
Sadly, most parts of the world don't offer adequate educational resources when it comes to breastfeeding. Nurses and doctors might give you a brief rundown on how to feed your newborn, but more hands-on training and ongoing support would go a long way! Information about technique, massage, pumping and feeding times can be found online, and there are now many breastfeeding forums with mothers and healthcare providers available to answer questions. Don't hesitate to reach out and ask as many questions as possible if you are feeling stuck or in a rut! You are certainly not the first mom who has struggled with breastfeeding, and you might learn some valuable information and get some proven tips that will help with your experience.
2 Lack Of Support When Returning To Work
For most moms, returning to work after having a baby is met with mixed emotions. On one hand, taking back adult duties and having a varied routine can be great. For others, the thought of leaving their baby in daycare or with family members is very hard to adjust to. Whichever camp you fall into, if you are breastfeeding, you can expect the return to work to be a learning curve.
In order to keep your baby drinking breastmilk full time, you will have to pump and store your milk so that baby can be bottle fed while you are not around.
In certain European countries, women are actually given a certain amount of paid hours at work to pump. Other, less progressive countries don't have this option, so it might take a bit of time to find a routine that works for you and baby.
1 Feeling Rushed And Anxious
One of the biggest milk limiters is stress. Feeling anxious, jumpy or stressed out will definitely not help your breastfeeding experience. In fact, many moms who report having little (or no) milk are inadvertently blocking themselves from having a good flow just from the amount of stress they are carrying around. Yes, it is that powerful! In order to fix this and get your milk flowing, try to keep things in perspective. Yes, having a new baby can be overwhelming and you'll have no shortage of new and challenging tasks. For those who are sleep-deprived, the stress can seem even more overwhelming. Trying to stay centered in the moment and focused on only the task you are engaged in can help the catastrophic snowball thinking. Take time outs throughout the day, even if they are only mini moments to have a cup of tea or phone a friend.