Working Together to Overcome the Challenges of Breastfeeding – #WBW2017

Breastfeeding is truly amazing, isn’t it? I mean you’re growing another human with the milk your own body.

But breastfeeding isn’t easy. It’s a learning process for mom and baby full of challenges and obstacles that can hit you hard and make it difficult to continue. In fact, despite the current recommendation by the World Health Organization to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, less than 20% of U.S. women are able to do so.

There are some cases where some mothers are not able to breastfeed due to naturally low supply, health issues, or certain medications. But these cases are rare, and luckily, there are other options out there for these women, like donor milk and formula.

Moms that want to and are capable of breastfeeding need the support and knowledge necessary to overcome these obstacles and continue to breastfeed their babies well past the first six months of life.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and the emphasis is on “working together for change.”  I would like to do my part by sharing my experiences in overcoming the five most common breastfeeding struggles that new moms face,  so that you too, can have the best chance at being successful.

1. Knowledge is Power
You visit your OB/GYN throughout your whole pregnancy, yet they rarely discuss or provide information on breastfeeding (if at all). And your clinician and pediatrician seem to always give conflicting information on breastfeeding.

I am fortunate that I had access to free breastfeeding classes, support groups, and lactation consultants through the local hospital. But if you don’t have this kind of opportunity, it can be difficult to know what to expect on your breastfeeding journey.
If you don’t have access to breastfeeding education in your area, then the internet and social media are your best tools. Facebook groups were so helpful in my experience. Especially, the local La Leche League group. Gaining as much knowledge as you can before your baby is here will boost your confidence and help you be successful at breastfeeding.

2. Don't Fret Low Supply
Having a naturally low supply is rare, but does happen, and could be due to mom having insufficient glandular tissue or hormonal abnormalities. However, most of the time moms think they have a low milk supply when in reality they are doing just fine. There are a number of reasons why moms may believe they aren't making enough milk, such as baby suddenly nursing more frequently (cluster feedings), or when baby isn’t sleeping well, or your baby downs a bottle right after nursing.

These are all inconclusive signs that you’re not making enough milk. Counting wet and dirty diapers and keeping an eye on baby’s weight are the best ways to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat.

Most of the time low supply can be resolved by a few simple changes, such as increasing your water and calorie intake, nursing on demand, or eating lactation promoting foods, such as fennel and oatmeal.

If you are concerned about your supply, be sure to contact an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).  

3. Latching Sometimes Needs Guidance
From preemies to nipple confusion, from lip ties to tongue ties, there are a variety of reasons why your baby may not be latching properly. Your baby’s latch should be comfortable for you.
If you are in extreme pain while nursing or experience any pain beyond the first few weeks, be sure to have your baby’s latch evaluated by an IBCLC as soon as possible, as a poor latch can create poor milk transfer.

4. Get on the Same Page With Your Partner
Your partner can play a significant role in your breastfeeding success. In fact, some women don’t even attempt to breastfeed because their partner is so adamant about bottle feeding because they want to be involved.

If you are dealing with an unsupportive partner, I suggest sitting down and talking to him about the many benefits of breastfeeding and other ways that they can be involved. They can help baby latch, fill up your water bottle, bring you food during those crazy cluster feedings, and prop up your pillows. There are other ways they can bond with your baby like bath time, reading books, singing songs, and if all else fails, there is still the option of having them bottle feed breast milk.

5. Mommas Got to Pay the Bills
Returning to work can be a huge barrier to your breastfeeding success. You may not receive any paid maternity leave and have to go back to work before your breastfeeding relationship, and milk supply is fully established. Or, you may work for a small company, that is not required to provide any pumping breaks, and you have to squeeze as much out as you can during your lunch break while hovering over your sandwich. A hands-free pump will be your best friend in these cases.
But maybe you won’t respond well to the pump, and you’ll struggle to make enough for your baby. In these cases, I would try a manual pump or hand expressing and be sure that you’re staying well hydrated and getting enough calories. Breastfeeding when returning to work won't be easy, but just know that it can be done.

In Summary
Breastfeeding is a bonding experience unlike any other but doesn’t come without challenges. It's up to us to help new moms overcome these obstacles, not only this world breastfeeding week but for the 51 remaining too. Let’s do our best to provide them with the information, support, and tools they need to be successful at breastfeeding. Because only together can we sustain breastfeeding. 

About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a writer and a breastfeeding advocate. You can find sharing advice and guides for overcoming common breastfeeding struggles on her
blog MomLovesBest.com.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for letting me share Melody! It was a pleasure to partner with you this WBW <3

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