Why is breastfeeding SO hard for some?
By Kate Hale
“Breast Is Best “ is what we grow up hearing, from our family, our friends and from health professionals. We know that the breastmilk is the perfect recipe milk for your baby. It is also a wonderful source of antibodies, designed to help protect your baby from getting gastro, ear aches, colds etc. in the early few months. Why is it then, that some of us have such a problem with trying to breastfeed our new baby? Something that should be so natural, yet is so difficult in lots of cases.
Back in the days of the village and larger families, you would have watched your own mum, aunts, friends breastfeed. You would have observed and absorbed the art of attaching a baby to the breast, watched different age babies at all stages of breastfeeding. When you had your own baby, all those wonderful women would have been there to guide you and your baby. These days it is all a little different, often we haven’t ever really seen a baby do a whole breastfeed before we have our own.
Breastfeeding has become something we have to learn!
When you are pregnant, it is so exciting to think about how life is going to be, with a new little person in the family. You happily organise the car seat, outfits, baby carrier and all the other essentials for bringing your baby home. You will no doubt sign up for pre-natal classes! Most expectant mums presume the hardest bit is going to be “getting the baby out”, but if you talk to any new mum that has experienced breastfeeding problems and they will tell you, “giving birth is only one day of your life, feeding the baby is every few hours, every day for the next ever”!
In Australia we have a fantastic early initiation of breastfeeding, sadly though when a mother gets home, the support is not necessarily available and therefore the breastfeeding rates drop off dramatically. Unfortunately, many new mums get sore grazed and cracked nipples. This then makes it hard to enjoy having the baby on the breast for very long, if at all. Sadly, this then leads to a lot of mums choosing to swap to formula.
So, how can this be turned around? I recommend watching a breastfeeding DVD, go to the pre-natal breastfeeding class and see as many attachments as possible before your baby is born. You will want to be as confident as you can to guide your baby in as natural way as possible to the nipple to ensure your baby to get as deep an attachment to your nipple as possible. That way you will be avoiding nipple damage and pain. Also ask for help and go to the hospital breastfeeding classes as often as you feel you need it! Remember ‘knowledge is power’!
We all want to do the best for our baby. First and foremost, the most important thing we are going to do for our baby is love them. Next on the list is to feed them. It would be lovely if in the ideal world, mums never had things like sore nipples or mastitis, enough milk for each feed etc. but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Try to learn the feel of your breasts for where the milk is and how much milk you think you have for the feed you are doing right now. That way you will begin to know when to swap bub to the other side, not just guessing or using the clock. Your breasts are going to have varying volumes in them at each feed, so you don’t expect each feed to be the same. That is also why some feeds will be quicker/slower than others. It is normal for a newborn to take between 20 – 40 minutes per breast, that will get quicker as the baby gets bigger, stronger and more efficient with its suck. It is also normal for an 8 week old baby to be only 10 minutes each breast.
Having a baby is the most amazing thing that will ever happened to you and your partner. When mums understand what is going on with their own body and breasts after the baby is born, she feels more confident to trust herself with the decisions she is making for herself and her baby, which is such a wonderful feeling !
Kate Hale. Registered Nurse, Midwife and Lactation Consultant ( IBCLC ), I am also the mother of 4 adult children.
To find out more about Kate's BREASTFEEDING & BABY CARE GUIDE DVD, go to “ Happy Mums Happy Bubs “ go to www.happymumshappybubs.com.au