How to deal with the struggles of breastfeeding? There’s nothing like breastfeeding. It’s a wonderful bond between a mother and her child. But as easy as it may sound for other people, breastfeeding is a journey with lots of ups and actually, more downs. For majority of moms, it’s a battle of desperately wanting to continue, but they’re faced with a long list of uncertainties that makes them doubt themselves as a mother. People talk about it but the struggles of breastfeeding is still taboo.
Breastfeeding is also knowing your body more as you tend to your little ones. You don’t automatically gain knowledge on how to deal with latching issues, fussy nights, sore nipples, nursing strikes, and more overnight; you don’t acquire it the moment your baby was born. It’s a learning process—a tough one. And your teacher? Is your own experience and others’, too!
What are the Struggles of Breastfeeding?
As a nursing momma, you often ask yourself these questions:
- Am I feeding my baby right?
- Is my baby getting enough milk?
- Why are my breasts not cooperating?
Especially when dealing with these:
- Latching issues
Though this one is common for babies to have trouble latching on, fixing this dilemma can be tricky and excruciatingly painful at times. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration that affect the way your baby extract milk from your breasts—could be the position, your nipples, baby’s tongue, medical condition, and more. Proper latch is essential for your baby to get enough breast milk and nutrition.
- Sore & Cracked Nipples
Most of the time, nursing mommas experience sore and cracked nipples. It may be due to the fact that your nipples are very dry, so letting your breast milk air-dry around it could help ease the feeling. Though this dilemma is completely normal and expected, this could be scary during the first couple of weeks when the baby is just learning to latch.
- Low Milk Supply
You’re probably thinking that your baby is not getting enough milk. This is a supply-demand situation. The more you nurse, the more breast milk your body should produce. Though this may also be caused by some factors that are beyond your control—specially for women who have medical conditions and are experiencing hormonal changes, not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, not taking proper supplements, and sometimes, not pumping enough can also affect your milk supply.
Now, this one’s uncomfortable, and I’m sure, every single breastfeeding mom went through this at some point of their nursing journey. This is when your breasts are full of milk and need to be emptied. They feel like hard and swollen balls about to explode. Most of the time, this happens when babies skip nursing session and just refuse to be fed. You may use breast pump and just store the milk for later.
- Clogged Duct
Do you notice that tender lump on your breast that is very sore and sometimes, red? That’s a blocked duct, it’s where your breast milk travels to the nipple and to your baby’s mouth. It happens when a milk duct does not drain properly during a nursing session. Though they can be unclogged by your baby, but if it began to ache, it could be a sign that the clogged duct has become infected and you need to have it checked as soon as possible.
- Nursing Strike
This can be extremely frustrating when you’re regularly breastfeeding your baby, then suddenly, they just don’t want to be fed anymore. They keep on refusing. It can sometimes last for days or weeks! Reasons for this could be congestion, sore throat, mouth disease, teething, having low milk supply, and more. Getting over this phase and coaxing your baby back to breastfeeding would take patience, but make sure to still keep your milk supply flowing.
How to Deal with the Struggles of Breastfeeding
There are still a lot of breastfeeding issues mothers face that I haven’t mentioned, but if you’re experiencing any of it, I encourage you to open up. Get help. It’s more than just a physical struggle, it’s an emotional roller coaster for mothers, too.
1. Join support groups.
I once read a post from a breastfeeding mom where she shared all her struggles in trying to nurse her son. It’s her first baby and she said, “It wasn’t like anything I had imagined”. One of the ways that had helped her was seek assistance from different amazing mommas who were dealing with the same issues. By having these people around you, you feel valid and accepted.
2. Celebrating little success.
What to do when you feel like nothing is going your way? Retrospect. Look on the bright side. Change the way you view your struggle. Again, breastfeeding is a learning process. You learn together with your child. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The line of progress is never straight.” If you look back, you’ll see your progress. Big or small, changes are still changes. Small successes are still successes. Celebrate it!
3. Appreciate yourself.
Give yourself time. Be gentle with yourself, too. Every woman’s breastfeeding journey is different and most of the time, it doesn’t go according to plan and would definitely not go as smoothly as you anticipated. But always remember that you are doing the best you can for your baby and that is enough.
Whatever breastfeeding issues you are dealing with right now, remember, don’t give up, open up! You are not alone.
Sharing with you all a quote about breastfeeding, not only beautiful but true.
A newborn baby has only 3 demands. They are warmth in the arm of its mother, food from her breast, and security in her knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three!-Grantly Dick Read
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