The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the challenges in most cases.
While most mothers want to breastfeed and most experts recommend breastfeeding, it can still be a challenging and frustrating experience. New mothers, in particular, frequently encounter unexpected obstacles like latch issues or engorgement that upset their breastfeeding expectations and may lead to abandoning breastfeeding goals. If you can stick it out for those first exhausting weeks of motherhood, you’ll find the rewards of breastfeeding far outweigh any difficulties you may face, and the difficulties usually resolve themselves through time and practice. In this article, we’ll look at five common obstacles to breastfeeding and provide practical solutions and advice to help you overcome challenges and stick with your breastfeeding goals.
Obstacle 1: Unrealistic expectations and goals
Mothers often expect breastfeeding to be a natural and easy process, which can lead to feelings of disappointment or frustration when it proves to be more challenging than expected. At the same time, expecting to exclusively breastfeed from the moment your baby is born or expecting to breastfeed for a certain length of time may also be unrealistic. If you cling to unrealistic expectations and goals, you’re likely to feel guilty or inadequate, and give up on breastfeeding prematurely.
Solution: Set achievable goals and be flexible and open to making adjustments as needed, focusing on your own individual needs and circumstances to find success and satisfaction in your breastfeeding journey.
Obstacle 2: Latch problems
It can take a while for your baby to get the hang of breastfeeding, and latch problems are common during the early phase of breastfeeding. A shallow latch, when an infant only takes a portion of the areola into their mouth, can cause significant pain and discomfort for the mother and lead to reduced milk transfer. Improper latch can also lead to sore nipples and incomplete nipple drainage.
Solution: Most latch problems will sort themselves out with a little trial and error. Try:
- Experimenting with different breastfeeding positions,
- using a nipple shield,
- encouraging skin-to-skin contact, and
- allowing the baby to fully empty one breast before switching sides.
If baby can’t seem to get the hang of it, seek support from a lactation consultant.
Obstacle 3: Engorgement
Engorgement is a key culprit in latching issues. When milk build up in your breasts, they can become swollen and painful, making it difficult for baby to latch effectively. This, in turn, can lead to reduced milk transfer, clogged ducts, and even mastitis.
Solution: Regular breastfeeding supplemented by pumping can help relieve pressure and reduce engorgement. Massaging and applying a warm compress can help relieve the pain associated with engorgement.
Obstacle 4: Milk supply issues
Hormonal imbalances, stress, or a lack of stimulation to the breasts may cause some mothers to struggle to produce enough milk to meet their baby’s needs. This can be a frustrating and stressful experience and may lead mothers to abandon their breastfeeding goals prematurely.
Solution: If you have found your ideal breastfeeding position and baby has mastered latch but you’re still concerned about milk supply, try power pumping. In this technique, you pump for short intervals throughout the day to stimulate milk production. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and well rested. Healthy milk production depends on a healthy mom!
Obstacle 5: Returning to work
Returning to work after having a baby can be a difficult transition, especially when you’re committed to breastfeeding and maintaining your milk supply. Balancing the demands of work and pumping can be a challenge, and finding a suitable place to pump and storing and transporting breast milk can be additional obstacles. However, with the right support and tools, it is possible to successfully continue breastfeeding and reach your breastfeeding goals while returning to work.
Solution: Prepare ahead of time by discussing your breastfeeding and pumping needs with your employer, finding a private and comfortable place to pump, and investing in a high-quality breast pump that is convenient and easy to use.
Find success in breastfeeding with the help of our support team.
Breastfeeding can be a rewarding experience, and with the right resources, you can overcome most common challenges. Keep in mind that every mother and baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Trust in yourself and your abilities and reach out to lactation specialists like the experts on our team if you need answers or insights when it comes to meeting your breastfeeding challenges.