There is a lot of pressure, stress and bad conscience connected to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is seen by many as something natural, something motherly, linked to femininity. It is also recommended by health care experts that you breastfeed your child. Many women who do not get started breastfeeding for various reasons feel that they fail their children, they feel that their bodies do not work optimally, they are not “good women”. That they are not normal.
That is obviously NOT true.
In fact, the majority of mothers have problems with breastfeeding, milk production does not start, the newborn does not want to or cannot breastfeed. Breastfeeding is often something very difficult. Six out of ten women state that they have difficulty with breastfeeding.
It is only in a few cases that newborn babies just sit at the breast and start drinking.
- Being unable to breastfeed is not something you should feel bad about! It happens to very many women.
Breastfeeding is something you must learn, and it is not uncommon for it to take several weeks, sometimes months before breastfeeding goes painlessly. Nor is it unusual for it not to work at all.
If you want to breastfeed, it’s good to try to get started as soon as your baby is born. The more you breastfeed, the more milk is produced (again: many women cannot produce enough milk – this is nothing to feel bad about and it’s not abnormal).
Breastfeeding can be very painful. Also there is a discrepancy between what it is in reality and the general view of it: breastfeeding is seen as something cozy and beautiful. The fact is that it is often really tough and very painful.
The nipples may become tender and sore. Often it depends on the position of the baby.
Make sure your baby does not just suck your nipple, they should have a good grip on the whole areola. Keep in mind that you should not put your breast in the baby’s mouth too quickly, be patient and wait until their mouth opens up for the nipple. It eases the pain.
It is important to lay skin-to-skin with the baby immediately after it is born. Within one or two hours. Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact early in a child’s life contributes to longer breastfeeding, more and earlier interaction between the child and mother and that causes the child to scream less.
When the child gets skin-to-skin contact with the mother, it begins its “crawling journey”. It begins to instinctively crawl on its legs and try to find a breast to suck on. The contact also releases hormones in the woman’s body that are soothing for both the child and mom. And it stimulates milk production.
If you produce a little milk, try to allow the baby to breastfeed frequently. Newborn babies should breastfeed as often as they wish. Regulating babies to only drinking every two hours is a thing of the past, today the recommendation is that infants should eat as often as they want.
Stress can also inhibit milk production. That’s why having only a small amount of milk in the breasts may result in a bad spiral where the woman is stressed by producing too little milk, which in turn causes even less milk to be produced. Try to find ways to relax.
Letting your child be skin-to-skin against you also helps in later stages to begin breastfeeding. It is also good for the connection (hence why babies should be skin-to-skin even with the parent who is not breastfeeding).
Most women solve their breastfeeding problems themselves. But about a tenth of all women need the help of a specialist.
You can always turn to a lactation consultant and some hospitals have breastfeeding receptions. The website kellymom.com can be helpful. There is a lot of information on breastfeeding as well as other baby-related topics you might find useful.