#21 Challenges in Breastfeeding

If you are committed to breastfeeding, then you are no doubt already aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. While there are many advantages of breastfeeding, there can be challenges!

Sore nipples, babies having a hard time latching on, and low milk supply. These are just a few of the issues you may encounter during breastfeeding. But don’t fret! You can overcome these challenges and provide your baby with the nutrients needed for the first few months or even years of life.

Your Baby Doesn’t Latch on Well

Sometimes babies have trouble getting the nipple in their mouths. Babies need to take not only the nipple in their mouths, but also the areola to stimulate milk production. Sometimes babies have trouble getting a good latch, especially if your breasts are engorged.

At birth, the baby only needs to have its mother’s colostrum. If a baby hasn’t learned to latch on at birth, it is very important for mom and baby to learn how to accomplish this. Place the baby’s lower lip on the lower part of the areola and nipple at the baby’s lips. Sucking is a very basic instinct. Babies like to suck on everything, including their toes.

Your Nipples Get Sore

The most common challenge of breastfeeding is having sore nipples. Often, this is why women decide to stop breastfeeding their babies. Having sore nipples is uncomfortable, although it usually is short-lived. Within a few weeks of breastfeeding, your nipples toughen up and you get used to the sensation of your baby latching on to your breasts.

The best treatment for sore nipples is teaching your baby how to latch properly. You can also apply a cold compress on your nipples to make them feel less painful. In the meantime, you can nurse with the breast with the less sore nipple to give the other a break.

Your Milk Supply Is Low

While some mothers encounter leaking breasts due to an increase in milk supply, some mothers might worry about low milk production. There are times when your milk isn’t coming in and you might feel that your milk supply is inadequate for your children’s needs. However, your body makes exactly the amount your baby needs. Your body also needs time to regulate your milk supply according to your baby’s demands.

Insufficient breast milk supply is often a result of other factors. The medication you are taking, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, and more can affect your breast milk production. In fact, worrying about whether your baby is getting enough to eat can decrease milk supply.

There is a lot of pressure to not supplement breast milk when nursing, but if your baby is crying, 90 percent of the time it’s because your baby is hungry. For babies, gaining weight is very important. If you need to supplement breast milk with formula, I recommend you do so. A baby should double its weight in 6 months and triple it at one year. So an 8-lb baby should weigh 16 pounds at 6 months and 24 pounds at a year.

If you are concerned about your supply of breast milk, consider the following:

  • breastfeed often and don’t skip feedings or pumping,
  • nurse your baby on both breasts, and
  • call your doctor for a referral to a lactation consultant to help you increase your milk production.

For more information about how to overcome problems with breastfeeding, please see my YouTube podcast.