20 Things That Actually Make Breastfeeding Harder

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways a mother can ensure the health of her infant, and also spend time bonding with her young one. Breastfeeding is nothing new, and it's been an important part of motherhood for millions of years. Some women love breastfeeding, and see it as an important way to connect with their child. Others might not be huge fans.

But whatever the case, it's generally accepted that breastfeeding results in an incredibly healthy infant. There's nothing wrong with formula, but you just can't go wrong with breastfeeding.

But when it comes to breastfeeding, there are plenty of things that can actually make the whole process much harder. These are important factors to consider, and mothers should ideally be thinking about this before they start breastfeeding. Mothers know that breastfeeding definitely isn't easy. But there's no reason it needs to be harder than it has to be, either. There are a few things out there that can make breastfeeding challenging, and some of these things might surprise you. But once mothers are educated about all these potential hurdles, they stand a much better chance of experiencing total ease when it comes to breastfeeding. Here are 20 things that actually make breastfeeding harder:

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20 Piercings On The Affected Area

Many women today choose to get piercings on the chest, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, there is a chance that these piercings can impact a woman's ability to breastfeed. It all has to do with the scar tissue that is formed as a result of these piercings. This scar tissue doesn't usually block the flow of milk completely, but it can hinder it and cause it to be uncomfortable or inconvenient.

That being said, some women who've had piercings in the past are able to breastfeed just fine. If mothers only have one side with a past history of piercings, then using the other should be an easy solution.


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is actually a relatively common illness today. Women who have PCOS experience changes in their level of fertility, and this can impact breastmilk production. Some women with PCOS have much higher levels of fertility than normal, whereas other women have lower fertility levels.

The truth is that some women with PCOS don't have good milk supply, but it's unclear what actually causes this ailment. Some researchers believe that it might be linked to insulin. But in the end, it's clear that PCOS might make breastfeeding harder, and that's definitely not good news for women who have it.

18 Too Many Visitors In The Hospital After Delivery

One of the biggest challenges mothers face directly after giving birth is finding the time to bond with their baby - alone. This is a perfect opportunity to breastfeed for the first time, and learn all about this process right out of the gates. Lactation specialists and nurses are on hand to help mothers if they face any challenges.

But mothers will never get this valuable opportunity if there are too many visitors in the delivery room. We get it, everyone is very enthusiastic about seeing a newborn for the first time, especially family members.

But all this commotion and buzz can be very overcrowding for the mother and the baby, and it can steal away the opportunity to breastfeed for the first time.

17 Judgmental People In Public

Breastfeeding in public is still a pretty touchy subject with a lot of people, although it really shouldn't be. For a mother who just wants to feed their child when the time is right, this can present all kinds of challenges. Firstly, feeding in public can be pretty inconvenient because it can happen in a restaurant, on a train, or anywhere else imaginable.

But one of the biggest challenges associated with public breastfeeding is the extent to which random people judge mothers. It's definitely something that needs to change in society, and people are slowly becoming more open-minded. But that doesn't change the fact that it can be challenging and frustrating for mothers who are feeding in public.

16 Not Enough Maternity Leave

Unfortunately, balancing our careers and parenthood isn't always easy. While some mothers are able to take adequate time off for maternity leave, it's just not an option for other women. This can impact all kinds of things in life, but one of the most important factors is affects is breastfeeding.

For mothers to maintain a good milk supply, they have to pump throughout the day. And for mothers who are working full-time, this just isn't feasible.

Although many women are able to breastfeed while working, they will most likely struggle with maintaining a good milk supply, and they would probably find it much easier if they just had enough maternity leave to handle this important part of motherhood.

15 Formula Companies Pushing You To Switch To Their Products

Breastmilk is probably one of the few things on this Earth that can't be monetized. However, big formula companies make a lot of money selling formula to mothers, and they know how to get women to buy. Usually, mothers are given freebies and samples immediately after giving birth, and companies can be very pushy when they encourage mothers to switch to formula.

This obviously represents a pretty large challenge for women who want to breastfeed, and many women have been convinced to stop breastfeeding in favor of formula. Don't get us wrong, there's nothing wrong with formula, and some women actually need to use it. But there is a huge problem when women's decisions are influenced by big corporations who just care about making money.

14 Not Finding The Right Nursing Undergarments


Tons of women underestimate the importance of choosing the right nursing bra. Depending on a mother's choice of bra, it can either help or diminish her ability to properly breastfeed. It's common knowledge that women's breasts typically grow in size during pregnancy, and they routinely grow two sizes bigger for many women. This obviously means choosing new bras, and this is an important step before the actual breastfeeding takes place.

But choosing the right nursing bra means more than just simply choosing a bigger size. Mothers will also have to avoid underwire bras, as these can constrict the flow of milk and even clog the milk ducts in some cases.

13 Having Multiples

Raising twins and multiples is always a challenge, but it poses special difficulties when it comes to breastfeeding. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why mothers with multiples find it hard to breastfeed - there's just more mouths to feed. Having multiples means pumping more often, and encouraging your body to produce more milk than a normal mother would.

That being said, it's definitely possible to establish a system whereby the body can create enough milk for multiples.

If the babies are drinking a certain amount of milk, then your body should adapt to provide that amount. The challenging part is pumping more often.

12 Discomfort And Exhaustion

Fatigue is often something that goes hand in hand with breastfeeding, and it's actually quite normal. After giving birth, some mothers suffer from something called postpartum fatigue, and this can be exacerbated by breastfeeding. Your body is having to spend a lot of energy creating a constant supply of breastmilk, so it's only logical that mothers feel tired during this time.

Luckily, mothers can keep their energy levels high quite easily. Getting enough sleep is a big factor, but eating right is also very important. Drinking plenty of water and exercising well can also stave off exhaustion. Some mothers might also experience pain when breastfeeding, and this can also pose a bit of a challenge.

11 Drinking

During pregnancy, even having one glass is definitely not recommended. After giving birth, some mothers might feel like they can finally have a glass of red or a cold brew. Unfortunately, mothers probably should wait until they've finished breastfeeding, because alcohol can cause problems during the breastfeeding process.

Doctors used to actually recommend a beer before breastfeeding, primarily to help mothers relax. But more recent studies show that infants consume less milk from a mother who has a moderate intake. Researchers aren't quite sure why this is, but it's theorized that it can change the odor and the taste of the milk.

10 Consuming Certain Herbs

Veteran moms know that certain herbs can actually help a mother who is having trouble breastfeeding. These helpful herbs boost milk production, and can be a great natural way to make sure infants are getting enough milk. But there are definitely a few herbs which pregnant women should steer clear from, and these herbs can cause problems.

Sage, parsley, peppermint and menthol are all herbs that decrease a woman's milk production. Before you eliminate these herbs from your diet altogether, it's important to understand that a decrease in milk production only occurs with large quantities of these herbs. But rest assured, the negative effect of these herbs is proven.

9 Chasteberry

Chasteberry is the dried fruit of the chaste tree, and it's something which has been used in traditional medicine for many years. It's mostly been used by women who have reproductive issues, including those who are having trouble with breastfeeding. Specifically, mothers use chasteberry when they are experiencing engorgement and painful swelling while breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, chasteberry actually inhibits the secretion of prolactin, which leads to a lower supply of breastmilk. In the end, chasteberry actually causes more problems than it solves, and there are better options for any mother who wants to deal with breastfeeding issues such as pain and swelling.

8 Waiting Too Long To Start Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a great way to ensure the health of your infant, and to bond with your young one. But one you've committed to breastfeeding or formula, it's hard to change things at a certain point. Waiting too long before starting to breastfeed can cause issues, and that's something mothers need to keep in mind.

Many mothers have reported that it's very tough to start breastfeeding if they've already put their infant on formula for a long period of time. This can get in the way of breastfeeding, and it can mean that mothers aren't even able to start.

7 Not Breastfeeding Enough

Not breastfeeding enough can also pose a problem. Every veteran mom knows that breastfeeding can essentially be summed up by a rather simple principle - supply and demand. Breastfeed and pump often, and your body will get into a system whereby a good supply of milk is produced. But if you go long periods of time without pumping, your body will naturally assume that you don't need to produce as much milk.

This means that if you're going to breastfeed, you should make a commitment to do so often. If not, then the supply of milk will be lower and unreliable.

6 Certain Medications

Pregnant mothers and women who have just delivered little ones might have to go on certain medications. There's nothing wrong with that, and all women should definitely listen to what their doctors recommend for them. But women should also be aware of how certain medications can impact their production of breastmilk.

There are many types of medication that can affect breastmilk quality and production, but the main ones are Pseudoephedrine, methergine, and bromocriptine. These medicinal ingredients are often found in relatively innocuous products, such as cold medicines. These ingredients can cause a drop in milk production, and there are plenty of alternatives that your doctor can recommend.

5 Consuming Caffeine

Coffee is yet another luxury that pregnant women have to cut down on or eliminate during pregnancy. When the child is finally born, it might seem tempting to finally enjoy a caffeinated beverage once again. But when breastfeeding mothers drink coffee, the caffeine is actually present in the breastmilk, and this can result in a fussy and overtired child.

What's more worrying is that young infants can't get caffeine out of their system as fast as adults. In fact, caffeine remains active in their system for up to four days. That being said, older infants can handle caffeine in breastmilk better than younger ones.

4 Eating Chocolate Can Give Your Milk Laxative Effects

Chocolate can also be a source of caffeine, and many moms choose to eliminate it from their diet while breastfeeding. This is a food that many of us have massive cravings for (pregnant or not!). But chocolate can cause some pretty severe problems with breastfeeding, and it has nothing to do with caffeine...

Some moms have reported that chocolate can have an extreme laxative effect on their breastmilk, meaning that their babies are a lot less comfortable. Obviously, the baby's digestion is important, so some moms might choose to eliminate chocolate for these reasons. Other moms have noticed no ill effects, however.

3 Eating Spicy Food Can Change The Taste Of Your Milk

Some women love spicy food, while others steer clear of it. But whatever the case, most women don't consider the effect spicy food can have on breastmilk. In some cases, spicy food can actually change the taste and the odor of the breastmilk, and that's cause for concern in many cases. When the taste and odor of the breastmilk changes, the baby might be more likely to drink less, and that could be unhealthy.

Like many other types of food, spicy food is particularly tempting for some women. But in this case, it might be better to consider the preferences of the baby before eating something that could potentially change the flavor and odor of the breastmilk.

2 Past Procedures

A past history of surgical procedures can also be a potential problem when breastfeeding. There are actually quite a few surgeries that can affect the area, and many of these are quite common. Many women get augmentations, but reductions are also common. All of these can affect the flow of milk, depending on how many milk ducts were affected or removed completely.

While this is certainly a potential issue, it's important to remember that it's very rare to produce no milk whatsoever, even with these issues. At the very worst, mothers will probably just have to supplement with formula, and they can still bond with their babies by breastfeeding them.

1 The Shape Of The Area


The shape of the area in general is something that can definitely impact a woman's ability to breastfeed. Probably the most common issue is inverted nipples, which some women are just born with. And at the end of the day, most women's bodies are perfectly fine for breastfeeding, no matter how they're shaped.

As many doctors have pointed out, the area actually changes during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the girls often become enlarged, and this can cause inverted area to "pop out" as the chest grow in size. So in the end, this probably aren't worth worrying about, and they'll only affect breastfeeding in very rare cases.

References: mom.me, thebump.com, fitpregnancy.com, mom365.com, livingandloving.co.za, thebump.com

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