5 Common Breastfeeding Challenges – and What to Do About Them!
I have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding.
On one hand, I love the special bond it gives me with my newborn daughter. I love our daily snuggles, my excuse to check out Facebook while she gets her fill, and the pride I feel when her pediatrician praises her weight gain.
But on the other hand, breastfeeding hasn't always come easily for me. And I'm definitely not immune to the challenges that breastfeeding brings like …
Worries about low milk supply
“With first time mothers, one of the most common obstacles is perceived low milk supply,” explains Brandy Walters BBA, IBCLC with In Home Lactation Specialists. “Usually baby is gaining well and both mother and baby are comfortable, but mother is still wondering, ‘is baby getting enough milk?'” Walters suggests checking in with your baby's care provider for weight checks and remembering that what goes in must come out. “If baby is peeing and pooping in the right quality and quantity, everything is ok,” she says.
Oh my gosh, the nipple soreness. Luckily I know from experience that the worst part of the nipple soreness generally lasts the first few weeks after the baby is born. It really does get better! “Typically some nipple soreness and breast fullness or engorgement are normal,” explains Walters. “Any trauma like cracked or bleeding nipples need to be checked out because something is wrong with baby's latch, or the breastfeeding hold.” Nipple cream or cooling breast pads may help ease soreness as well.
Lack of support
Although “breast is best” is touted quite heavily, well, everywhere, the reality of breastfeeding doesn't always make breast feel like it's best. Say, for instance, when you're out in public and your baby is screaming and you have to choose where to feed her without wondering if the whole world will judge you. “We need to remember it takes a community, a village to raise a child and we need to take care of the mother too,” comments Walters. So stay strong, mama, and reach out for the support that you need to do what you feel is best for your baby.
If your baby is having a tough time latching on, he or she may be tongue-tied. “I would say I see about 1/10 babies with a tongue tie that could be clipped to help with breastfeeding,” says Walters. “Everyone has a frenulum under the tongue, and some are restrictive, making the tongue look heart shaped when raised and some are tight but loosen with time. Some restrict the tongue movement needed to adequately nurse the breast. The tongue must nurse the breast for milk transfer. If the tongue is not able to move in a wave-like motion, milk supply will drop, baby will not be gaining well and mother will be in pain during each latch.” Consult with your baby's pediatrician if you suspect he or she is tongue-tied.
An isolated partner
While breastfeeding a baby can be a wonderful bond and relationship between mother and child, it can also be hard for a woman's partner to feel involved. This can lead both partners to feel isolated and alone, contributing to less success in the breastfeeding relationship. If you have a partner, encourage each other to stay involved. “Tell her how awesome she is, remind her how baby is growing on her milk, keep her fed and hydrated,” suggests Walters. “Get her help in the form of another woman during the day and night. Snuggle the baby, change diapers, bathe the baby, take baby for a walk. Do everything other than feed the baby.”
What breastfeeding challenges have you been met with?