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Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties In The Early Weeks

Many mothers are often surprised after birth the hardest part of caring for their newborn is breastfeeding. They have been told breastfeeding is natural and easy, so they are often unprepared when their new baby cannot latch after birth. There are a myriad of reasons breastfeeding goes wrong, most of them surprisingly are cultural or hospital policies that change from hospital to hospital and seemly, staff member to staff member. So what to do? Most mothers give up in the first few days or weeks from the lack of support.

Some mothers decide to pump and bottle feed. This is not a long term solution and usually ends of up with feelings of hopelessness and failure as a new parent. Sometimes pumping and exclusively bottle feeding are recommended by the baby’s doctor who poorly understands the time commitment of round the clock pumping on the mother’s health and overall wellbeing. Other times new parents assume this is what is best for their baby because of misconceptions about newborn feeding cues and how to tell if their baby is really hungry or just fussy. Other times babies have lingering birth trauma after a difficult delivery that can make breastfeeding painful or difficult for new babies. New mothers assume earlier problems latching are permanent.

Problems in the early weeks can be overcome with a variety of techniques employed by a well-trained lactation consultant. Other therapies such as cranial sacral therapy or chiropractic adjustment can help with mild birth traumas. Most of the time, your baby just needs time to grow and patience.

Why does this happen so often and what can be done?

We live in a bottle feeding culture where the average woman has never seen a breastfeeding baby and mostly likely she was not breastfeed herself. Breastfeeding management like other forms of infant care is meant to be a cultural, social norm women unconsciously learn their entire lives through passive and active observation. What does this mean? It means you should have been able to witness your mothers, sisters, aunts and other women nurse babies openly and in groups to learn different nursing styles and patterns from an early age. You were supposed to be able to ask questions about common problems and how to avoid them. Be prepared,take a breast feeding class before birth, go to a breastfeeding support group such as La Leche League to watch infants nursing. Listen to these ladies stories in breast feeding support groups can be helpful because many of them had very rocky starts to their happy breastfeeding stories. If you baby must be supplemented as for alternative methods to bottle feeding. Look for lactation consultant in your area. An IBCLC can help you problem solve complex and confounding reasons baby is not breastfeeding well or at all.

Most of all don’t give up hope. Perseverance and patience can go a long way in your breastfeeding journey. Here are a few thought from women who have been in your place.

Pumping is a HUGE commitment especially with more than one child! I wish I had not given up with my first but I know so much more now and learned a lot more solutions trying to get her to the breast, lots due to your help and partially just hearing other moms obstacles/solutions. With my first I gave it a few good weeks before just committing to exclusively pumping but if I had a few more tricks, and a little more confidence that if I tried a little longer I would be successful in getting her to the breast I would've stuck it out. It's so hard being in the limbo phase of trying to get baby to the breast combined with think it was mainly a confidence thing. Confidence at 2AM is hard to come by when it's hard to get baby to nurse. It's easier to give up without having the confidence that all the efforts in getting baby to breast is going to work. As a first time mom you don't realize the challenges that pumping brings and that if you work hard for a few more days or a week or so, it will pay off. Pumping, it seems so much easier at the time to only pump.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am and how awesome it is to be able to nurse this baby! But it is such a better experience than pumping for my first. I hope to nurse her past a year, whereas with pumping I was lucky to make it one year. ~ Emily

I pumped for ten months with my first daughter, it was stressful but I got through it. Pumping was so hard, I felt like it affected my relationship with her. I couldn’t enjoy her or parenting. It was all about pumping. Around six months, I tried to use formula but she refused to take it so I was just stuck. I decided to get help with this baby and so far everything is much better. I wish I knew now what I did then, I would have tried more things. ~ Katherine

Find an IBCLC in your area:

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La Leche League International:

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