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Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties In The Early Weeks

Mothers are often surprised after birth when 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 are cultural or due to hospital policies that can be different from hospital to hospital and seemly, from staff member to staff member. So what to do? A lot of mothers give up in the first few days or weeks from the lack of support and just not realizing that there are solutions! 1st, contact a Lactation Consultant to discuss your

concerns and have a Breastfeeding Assessment to make sure things are going well. Your IBCLC Lactation Consultant can intervene with problems and guide you towards success!

Some mothers decide to pump and bottle feed. This is not a good long term solution and can end quickly with feelings of hopelessness and failure for a new parent. Sometimes pumping and exclusively bottle feeding are recommended by the baby’s doctor who may not truly understand the time commitment involved with round the clock pumping and the stress on the mother’s health and overall wellbeing. A new parent may assume this is what is best for their baby because of misconceptions about newborn feeding cues and how to know if their baby is really hungry or fussy for other reasons. Some babies have birth trauma after a difficult delivery that can contribute to painful or difficult breastfeeding for the new baby. New mothers assume earlier latching problems are permanent. Get some expert help!

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. New mothers need support, information and understanding of all the 'growing pains' that come when a newborn is added to their life.

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

Although breastfeeding science has come a long way in the last decade and the number of mothers wanting to breastfeed has increase greatly, we still live in a bottle feeding culture. 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 that women unconsciously learn through passive and active observation. What does this mean? It means we should have been able to witness our mothers, sisters, aunts and other women nurse babies openly and in groups to learn different nursing styles and patterns from an early age. We were should have been able to ask questions about common problems and how to avoid them.

To be prepared - take a breast feeding class before birth, go to a breastfeeding support group such as La Leche League to watch infants nursing, Utilize your insurance options and request a Prenatal Breastfeeding Consultation (often it's free). Listen to women's stories in breast feeding support groups, because many of them had very rocky starts to their happy breastfeeding stories. Peer contact in support groups can offer preventative solutions. If you baby must be supplemented, ask for alternative methods to bottle feeding. Look for Lactation Consultant in your area. An IBCLC can help you problem-solve complex and/or simple but not always obvious reasons your baby is not breastfeeding well or even at all. Without this help and support, breastfeeding can feel confounding to a new mom.

Most of all, don’t give up hope. Perseverance and patience can go a long way in your breastfeeding journey. The rewards are self confidence and joy in nuturing your own baby.

Find an IBCLC in your area:

La Leche League USA:

La Leche League International:

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