Breastfeeding may be one of the most rewarding experiences of a mother's journey with a newborn. But there is no doubt that it also can be one of the most uncomfortable.
While the act of nursing the baby to provide mother's milk is natural and organic, moms can find it really difficult to get into the right position and hold the baby — and themselves — in a way that is comfortable, especially in the very beginning. And figuring out the latch is the key to not only making sure that the baby gets the milk that she needs but also to avoid pain while the baby nurses and afterward.
Lactation consultants are pros at helping women figure out how to nurse and how to do it in a way that makes them feel more relaxed and secure. Most hospitals and insurance companies have experts on staff that can help new moms with tips from day one and through the first few months with a baby, as talking to a consultant can make all the difference in getting a good start on breastfeeding.
The more comfortable a mom feels while she nurses, the more relaxed the baby will be. Then, the mom and the baby will be healthier, both physically and emotionally, and the experience will be sweeter and allow for even greater bonding.
Here are 20 things that are uncomfortable about breastfeeding, according to the lactation consultant.
20 Bad Latch
New nursing moms will learn quickly that it's all about the latch. It can be tough to figure out how to get the baby attached correctly when breastfeeding, but the most uncomfortable part happens if the latch is not correct. The tip needs to be all the way in the baby's mouth with the tongue down.
With a bad latch, the experience can be really painful, and the mom's milk supply might dwindle. It'll take longer to get through feeding and each moment might be excruciating. Moms might be afraid to unlatch and start again, but a moment's discomfort isn't worth sticking with a bad, uncomfortable latch.
19 Engorgement Issue
The girls can get really big and full for a nursing mom, and that can make it awkward to get a latch and pretty uncomfortable in between nursing sessions. Engorgement happens for all women when their milk comes in a few days to a week or so after the birth, so even those who don't plan to nurse have to feel the pain.
Even after the milk supply levels out, moms can deal with engorgement when they are ready for the next nursing session. The best way to get relief is to breastfeed the baby since remedies like ice and cabbage leaves can hurt the supply.
18 Leaking In Public
Speaking of getting full when it's time to nurse, sometimes the milk can spill out, and that can make for an uncomfortable situation. Leaking can especially be an issue in the first few months after the birth when the supply is coming in, but moms should consider nursing pads for the entire breastfeeding experience.
Moms can have a let down at odd moments. It can happen when they hear another baby on the other side of a store, and that can lead to some embarrassment if their clothes get wet. It might even be a good idea to throw an extra shirt for mom in the diaper bag, just to avoid this uncomfortable situation.
17 Investing In The Right Bra
Bra shopping is never fun, but it's really important for breastfeeding moms. A nursing mom can have her bust go up by a cup size or two, and she might be really uncomfortable if she doesn't have a bra that matches her new size.
Nursing bras and tanks can make a big difference in making the experience easier. They provide support that can help with back strain, and at the same time, there is easier access for the baby. Plus, moms often need a bra so that they can add a nursing pad. Nursing bras might be expensive, but it's worth the investment to be more comfortable.
16 The C-Shape Situation
Lactation consultants have a tip that can help nursing moms and babies with getting the right latch. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but it will make the actual nursing part go more smoothly. To put the baby on your chest, hold your hand in a c shape with the thumb on the top and the fingers on the bottom nearer to the chest.
This hold can help a woman support her chest as she guides her baby toward it. Make sure that the baby's mouth is open wide and the tongue is down, and then put as much of your chest's tip into the baby's mouth as possible. The c-hold can allow for a deep and proper latch, even if it feels funny at first.
15 What A Letdown
Nursing isn't supposed to be painful, but lactation consultants will admit that there are times that are awkward or uncomfortable. And the letdown is definitely one of them, especially at the beginning. Once the mom gets used to the sensation, she might be okay, but for some, it's a surprise every time.
A letdown happens when the milk is released a few chugs into the process. It can feel really weird, and some women say that they can feel the energy coming out of them. It can also release endorphins, which can help mom and baby bond. But it's definitely a strange sensation that can take some getting used to for a new mom.
14 Cradle Hold
There are lots of different ways to hold the baby while nursing, but all of them can feel a little uncomfortable at the beginning. The most common is called the cradle hold, and it involves holding the baby in the most natural way that parents do.
The baby is held in the crook of the arm with the mom holding him firmly with her hand on the baby's bottom. Using the c-hold on her chest, she brings the baby to nurse. While this might seem like a great idea, it actually doesn't work as comfortably as it does in just holding the baby. It might seem weird, and pillows can definitely help in the beginning. But it gets easier and more natural over time- we promise.
13 Getting Comfortable In Public
Getting used to nursing at all can be pretty awkward for most women, so even those who swore they would never have a problem nursing in public can find the experience to be a little uncomfortable at first. Some women like to try nursing covers to make them feel more comfortable, but figuring out the logistics can be weird.
The truth is that, even with a cover, many moms get looks. They can try to be discrete, but often there is someone in the crowd who will notice. Some people are nice about it, but others give dirty looks and make women feel weird even when they aren't exposed. Just remember that you are doing what you can for your child and try to relax as much as you can.
12 Sore Spots
About three weeks into the breastfeeding journey — maybe even less for some people — moms are going to feel sore and uncomfortable. It's just what happens. Even with the proper latch, mom's girls get a lot of action that they aren't used to, so it isn't surprising that they can don't feel at their best.
The three-week point is usually the first big growth spurt, so the baby might nurse around the clock. Using a little lanolin or rubbing some of mom's milk on the tips can help a little with the soreness. And things do get better over time for just about every mom.
11 Inverted Issue
There are some physical parts that can impact how comfortable a woman is breastfeeding, and that includes some differences to a woman's parts. But lactation consultants have tips that can help moms figure out how to be successful despite those physical limitations.
For women with inverted tips, it's important to know that you can still nurse the baby, but you just might have to try something different. Sometimes a shield can help the baby to latch. There are some other treatments that can help get the tip in the right position to allow the latch. Talk to a lactation consultant, and they can make things a lot more comfortable.
10 Side-Lying Position
It makes sense that one of the most comfortable positions that a mom can get in while nursing is laying on her side with the baby beside her on the bed. She doesn't have to hold the baby at all, but she might still feel uncomfortable until she can figure out the best way to support her body so that the baby has access to her girl.
Many times the side-lying position ends up being mom's favorite, but it can't happen every time. It takes time to figure out how to get comfortable, but once moms figure that out, the process gets much easier for mom and baby.
9 Co-Sleeping Situation
The side-lying position works great when a mom is tired, but we have to leave a note at this point about co-sleeping since often using that position can end up with the mom and baby sharing a bed for a nap or longer. There are dangers associated with co-sleeping, so moms have to be prepared before they fall asleep.
Moms often sleep lightly with their baby by their side, but they need to make sure that they aren't impaired. And just like pillows and blankets aren't safe in the crib, they aren't safe in the bed. Be aware of crevices and the possibility the baby could fall, and make sure that dad is aware of the dangers too.
Some people aren't comfortable with the baby in bed, and that is probably safer if the baby sleeps in a bassinet to the side. Co-sleeping could end in a worst-case scenario, so be careful.
8 Mastitis Hurts
Most lactation consultants are quick to point out that if breastfeeding hurts then the latch is probably wrong. But there are times when it will hurt, and that includes when the mom develops a blocked milk duct that turns into an infection called mastitis.
To say that mastitis is uncomfortable is downplaying the truth. Women can end up with fevers and feel like they have the flu. Their girls can get red and the milk can even get bloody. But the best way to clear a duct is to nurse, even if it hurts (and it will), so be sure to feed the baby through the pain and go see the doctor for some antibiotics.
It won't last forever, mama!
7 Trying Out The Cross Cradle
While every lactation consultant has her favorites, there is no doubt that the cross cradle hold is one of the easiest- at least once moms get a grip on how to do it. The idea can be very confusing at first, but it basically means that the mom is holding the baby with his rear in the crook of her arm and his head in her hand.
She's crossing her body to take to her chest, so she can use her nearer hand for the c hold. The configuration might seem complicated, but it actually allows the mom to have more control to guide the baby and make sure that there is a good latch. It might be uncomfortable first, but it won't be for long.
6 Pumping Can Be The Pits
The life of a nursing mom almost always involves some pumping. Even if the mom stays at home, she deserves a break such as a night out, and working moms can pump and still be able to provide breastmilk to their little one. But most moms admit that it can be the most awkward part of the journey.
While companies are required to provide a hygienic place for moms to express their milk, many offices aren't prepared to find a solution and the conversation might be awkward. Having to excuse yourself to go pump can also be odd. And then the actual set up and use is uncomfortable, to say the least.
5 Bedroom Situation
There are times that breastfeeding is awkward even when the baby isn't around. That can happen in the bedroom. too!
Even after the six weeks or so after the mom has healed physically, grownup time can be intimidating, but it can be even more uncomfortable for nursing moms. That's because the milk that is forming can cause things to be drier down below, which can make it hard to really enjoy the experience for both partners.
Plus, that leaking problem that we mentioned before has been known to happen in the bedroom. That can kill the mood and make mom feel even more uncomfortable about getting her groove back.
4 Football Hold Works Best For Twins
Nursing one baby is one thing, but getting a handle on nursing two can be really uncomfortable. That's when lactation consultants talk about the football hold, which can be comfortable for moms of singletons as well — at least after you get over the initial weirdness.
With this configuration, the baby will be under the arm, with their head near the chest and their feet to the mom's back. The mom guides the baby's head with her hand. A breastfeeding pillow comes in handy for this setup, but it allows twins to latch at the same time and mom to figure out how to get comfortable.
3 Biting Moments
Most moms get a lot more comfortable with nursing after the initial two months or so, but there are times when it can get weird again later on. One of those is when the baby is teething. Even before the teeth show up, the baby wants to rub her gums on things, so she will clamp down on anything, including her mom.
Those biting moments are more than uncomfortable — they can be painful. Lactation consultants recommend that moms immediately let the baby know that they have hurt their mom by crying out. Many times the baby gets upset, and eventually, she will learn not to bite.
2 Standing While Nursing
One of the first tips of lactation consultants is to set up a comfortable place to nurse the baby. But there are times when that favourite spot is in a rocker or on a couch that isn't available. So then what is a new mom supposed to do? At some point, the mom will find herself standing while nursing. Don't worry- it's not as challenging as it sounds.
The worst part is that it usually happens after the baby is bigger and heavier, and it might even involve having to walk. Standing while nursing can be hard on the back, but a mama has got to do what a mama has got to do.
1 Weaning Woes
As difficult as it is to get comfortable at the beginning of your nursing experience, it can be just as hard during the weaning process. Often times the mom has to be tough and distract when the baby wants to nurse, and that can make her feel uncomfortable and sad.
There are times when weaning is physically uncomfortable, too, since the mom might go through engorgement as her body gets used to the new normal. And it's normal to go through some emotional hard times too. Breastfeeding is often uncomfortable, but it's amazing too, and moms need to hang on to those great memories.