Breast may be best, but it's not always easiest. Certainly, the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby, both physically and emotionally, outweigh any challenges that you will encounter along the way, and it can be a wonderful experience that strengthens the bond between mother and child. However, the challenges that you do bump into can be discerning and may leave you questioning whether you will ever be successful at breastfeeding or how much longer you can do it -- I should know since I faced many challenges when breastfeeding my son for 3.5 years. So I was happy to discover the new book The Better Way to Breastfeed by Robin Elise Weiss -- a guide dedicated to breastfeeding success, which discusses five of the most common breastfeeding challenges. Read on to find out what they are, and learn ways to overcome them.
Challenge #1: Fitting Breastfeeding into Your Lifestyle
Breastfeeding can easily and seamlessly fit into your current lifestyle. In fact, one of the best things about breastfeeding is the convenience and portability of it. Wherever you and your baby are, everything that you need to feed Baby is readily available. This doesn’t mean that you won’t run into a challenge or two along the road – however, having a baby will change your lifestyle in many ways. If round-the-clock feedings become too much (or impossible if you return to work), you can pump so your partner or a caretaker can help, allowing you to enjoy a much deserved break. For more tips on making breastfeeding work, read our Editor-in-Chief Jill Fehrenbacher’s five ways to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Challenge #2: Sore Nipples
The number one concern that I had when breastfeeding my son was sore nipples. Nipple pain can be very uncomfortable and when breastfeeding becomes painful, it can be daunting to continue. There are ways that you can prevent and alleviate sore nipples, allowing you to continue your breastfeeding adventure.
The best way to prevent sore nipples is by paying attention to the way that your baby latches on to your breast during feeding. The baby should have at least 1 inch (past the nipple) of breast in their mouth. If your baby isn’t latching properly, then the first side effect that you will feel is sore nipples. By trying different techniques, including positioning of both yourself and your baby, you can maximize the way that you baby is latching. If you already have sore nipples, treatment is key. Nipple ointments can help to alleviate some of the pain, and allowing your nipples to air dry after bathing can speed up the healing process. You may also want to check out our recommendations for the top five breastfeeding items you need including nursing pads.
Challenge #3: Too Many Nursing Sessions
Most babies nurse 8-12 times a day and even more often during growth spurts. If your baby nurses more frequently than normal it may be due to improper latch. Making sure that your baby is properly latched allows him to receive a steady, adequate stream of milk – allowing for more milk consumption and therefore equaling less frequent nursing sessions. To maximize each of your nursing sessions you will also want to make sure that you and baby are both in a comfortable position, making the proper latch easier to achieve.
Challenge #4: Overactive Letdown
Overactive letdown can be frustrating for you and for baby. You might notice your baby seem to choke or sputter, and it can cause your baby to swallow air or drink too much milk to quickly, causing colic or fussiness to ensue. The easiest way to handle overactive letdown is to change positions. Simply laying on your side or sitting in a reclined position can help reduce overactive letdown. You can also nurse from one breast per feeding, rather than from both. Whichever option you choose, be rest assured that overactive letdown should get better as time goes on. Your body will regulate itself and your baby will become a better nurser. In the meantime, you will want to keep a pair of reusable breast pads available to prevent milk from leaking through your clothing.
Challenge #5: Breastfeeding at Night
Another challenge that you will encounter when breastfeeding, is handling your baby’s nightly feedings. All new babies will wake up to eat in the middle of the night regardless of whether they are bottle-fed or breastfed. The easiest way to nurse baby at night is by having your baby in the same room with you in a bassinet, cradle or co-sleeper. While co-sleeping has been surrounded by some controversy and it’s a personal decision, I co-slept with my son the entire time that he nursed, without any trouble. In fact, I found it to be much more convenient and comfortable to have my son next to me at all times. By being so close to him throughout the night, I was able to respond to his needs promptly and it secured a closeness between us, that almost a decade later is still alive and thriving.
This is just an example of all of the wonderful information available in The Better Way to Breastfeed. This guide will assist you in overcoming any nursing challenges that you encounter. You will also find quick references, step-by-step illustrations, and techniques that are necessary for breastfeeding success — all presented in a beautifully photographed book.