Breastfeeding: The Biggest Issues and How You Can Overcome Them
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Breastfeeding: The Biggest Issues and How You Can Overcome Them

Are you preparing to breastfeed your baby? If so, congratulations! Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mom and baby. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth and continuing with breastfeeding along with solid foods until at least 12 months of age. However, many new moms find it challenging to get started on this process. Some struggle with the mechanics of getting milk flowing; others have problems with milk supply; and still, others face other challenges related to learning how to breastfeed their baby. 

So…what is the truth about breastfeeding? Are there really any common problems with breastfeeding that new moms face when trying to do this? What can you do if you’re having trouble getting things off on the right foot? Let’s take a look at some common issues and how you can overcome them.

The Basics: How to Breastfeed Your Baby

To start, let’s review the basic steps of breastfeeding:

  • First, you’ll want to make sure that your breasts are ready to produce milk. The average length of time that it takes for your breasts to “come in” is between two and eight weeks.
  • When your breasts are ready, you can help trigger the flow of milk by gently and regularly squeezing and/or pumping your nipples.
  • Once you start to produce milk, your baby will “kick-start” your milk flow by sucking and triggering the let-down reflex. 
  • At the same time, you should also make sure that your baby’s mouth is positioned properly on your breast so that he/she can latch on and start to breastfeed properly.
  • You’ll want to keep going with this process until your baby has ingested enough breast milk to meet his/her nutritional needs.
  • At that point, your baby should release your breast and finish the rest of his/her meal by drinking additional fluids (i.e., expressed breast milk or formula).

Supply Issues

One of the most common breastfeeding challenges is related to the low supply of breast milk. This may be due to a variety of factors, including a lack of confidence in your ability to produce enough milk, insufficient time spent breastfeeding your baby, or an underlying medical condition. If you have a low breast milk supply, you may want to consider trying a few different strategies to boost your output. These can include eating a healthy diet, taking special supplements, and getting more rest. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe medications that can help boost your breastfeeding success, such as herbs and/or prolactin (a hormone that stimulates milk production).

Milk Supply Issues

If you’re facing issues with a low milk supply, you may want to consider these strategies:

  • First, make sure that you’re breastfeeding your baby frequently and for long enough periods of time.
  • Try to avoid nursing exclusively on one breast. 
  • Drink plenty of water and/or other fluids, which can help to increase your fluid intake and boost your milk supply.
  • Talk to a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding expert.
  • You may also want to talk to your doctor about taking a prescribed medication that can help increase your breastfeeding success.

Pain and Injury During Breastfeeding

Another common breastfeeding challenge is pain and/or injury while nursing. Fortunately, most injuries associated with breastfeeding occur because a new mom and/or her baby is not yet properly trained in the mechanics of breastfeeding. If you experience pain while breastfeeding, you first want to make sure that both you and your baby are latching on to each other properly. If you can correct the positioning of your baby’s mouth and/or you can reposition your breast, you’ll likely be able to stop the pain. Another common cause of pain during breastfeeding is a clogged duct. If this happens, you can try applying warm compresses to unclog the duct and reduce the pain. You should also speak with a lactation consultant to make sure that you aren’t dealing with a more serious issue.

Finding a Comfortable Position for Breastfeeding

You’ll want to find a comfortable position for breastfeeding that works for both you and your baby. One common approach that many new moms use involves breastfeeding in a semi-reclined position. However, you may want to experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you. Some moms prefer to sit upright in a chair, while others prefer to lie down on a couch or bed. Whatever position works best for you, try to make it as comfortable as possible. You may also want to consider using pillows, blankets, or other items to make breastfeeding more comfortable.

Your Baby Doesn’t Like Breastfeeding or You Don’t Like Nursing

Is your baby struggling with breastfeeding? Does he/she seem uninterested in nursing at the breast? If you’ve tried everything you can think of but nothing seems to be working, you may want to consider switching to formula. This is especially true if you’re experiencing issues with a low supply of breast milk. Finally, some babies (especially newborns) may simply be uninterested in breastfeeding. In some cases, this may be due to an underlying medical condition. In others, it may be a simple matter of preference. Fortunately, in most cases, these problems can be resolved. However, before you can do so, you’ll want to rule out any underlying causes for your baby’s dislike of breastfeeding.

Conclusion

If you’re preparing to breastfeed your baby, you’ve probably spent a lot of time researching the benefits of this process. However, you may be less familiar with some of the potential challenges that can come with breastfeeding. Fortunately, most breastfeeding problems can be overcome with a bit of patience and determination. To start, make sure that your breasts are ready to produce milk, and then you can help trigger the flow of milk by gently and regularly squeezing your nipples. Once you start to produce milk, your baby will “kick-start” your milk flow by sucking and triggering the let-down reflex.

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