What makes breastfeeding so difficult?
- Lack of knowledge can have a huge effect – reading some good literature and going to some good antenatal classes can help with this – just having a bit more information about how breastfeeding works and what is ‘normal’ can help. You may expect your new baby to feed every 3 hours but if he wants to be on the breast all the time in the first few days, this can be a huge shock to the system and you may feel like you are doing something wrong. It might be a huge learning curve for you and your baby – you both have to learn new skills and this can take time.
- Not asking for help and support in those early days with your baby can lead to sore and cracked nipples if your baby isn’t latched on correctly, which makes it difficult to continue. Women don’t want to feel like a failure so it can be difficult to ask for help.
- Lack of support from partners, family and friends can also impact how long a woman continues to breastfeed.
- Breastfeeding takes practice and time – it is a new skill you have to learn from scratch. Give yourself as much time as you need and you may need to take it a feed at a time until feeding becomes established.
- Receiving conflicting advice can be really hard to deal with, especially when you are adjusting to life with your new baby. Remember the basics: if feeding hurts, stop and try again; accept that your baby will need to feed a lot in the beginning, it won’t be like that forever; ask for some breastfeeding support; do what feels right; be in a comfortable position when you are feeding
I asked some mums what they found hard about breastfeeding:
“The type of birth you have can impact – some pain relief can make a baby sleepy and affect feeding for the first few days.”
“When you’ve just had a baby the temptation is to show him/her off but this can disturb baby and it can mean that feeding doesn’t get off to a good start.”
“I think people are most often shocked by how often a tiny baby will feed – every hour or more is completely normal.
“Hearing comments like ‘ohhh is he feeding again? really wasn’t helpful but I learnt to ignore it because I knew I was giving my baby what he needed!”
“I was given so much conflicting advice that I didn’t know who to listen to! I’d just get one technique down pat and someone would say ‘No no no that’s all wrong!’ and then I’d be back to square one. I was determined to make it work for us so I just kept trying different things until I found what worked. It took me 6 painful weeks but we got there!”
“It was only pure determination that kept me going after the first two months I got in the swing of things and it became second nature.”