Start and Stay Strong: Breastfeeding Struggles and How Moms Can Overcome It
Learn from these stories for a better breastfeeding experience.
It won’t be easy but it’s definitely worth it. These breastfeeding struggles can be difficult, even frustrating. It is, after all, part of motherhood. Moms are strong and flexible to varying situations. There might be some struggles with breastfeeding, but moms will always find ways to overcome them.
We spoke to moms and learned more about their experiences, struggles, and how they succeeded through their breastfeeding journey.
“I feel like I don’t have enough breastmilk.”
Some moms have so much breastmilk which allows them to share their milk with other babies. On the other hand, there are mothers who feel like they don’t have enough. Some new moms don’t appear to have a lot of breastmilk to offer especially in the first few days after giving birth. The body will adjust over time and produce the right amount of breastmilk that the baby needs.
Breastmilk production is primarily a supply-demand situation in the early postpartum period: the more milk your baby takes from you, the more milk your body makes shortly afterwards, as the removal of milk tells your body to make more. Trust your body. Trust how nature can give enough nutrients to your baby. When you’re in doubt, watch out for signs that your baby is not getting enough breastmilk:
• Your baby has no significant weight gain after the first 5 days of breastfeeding or has even lost 10% or more of their birth weight. If this happens, you must consult a doctor.
• Your baby doesn’t wet at least six diapers per day.
• Your baby’s stool appears dark.
• Your baby’s urine is quite dark.
• It’s hard to get your baby satisfied even if it takes hours at a time when you breastfeed him.
If any of the signs above are present, your baby might not be getting enough breastmilk. Though it is quite uncommon for breastfed babies, it might be a cause of dehydration. Consult with your doctor right away for professional advice.
“Am I overfeeding my baby?”
First-time breastfeeding mom Karen, 32, shares that she breastfeeds her baby every hour. “I was very worried that I’m giving her too much breastmilk.” Karen shared that she doesn’t store breast milk for later use since she’s with her baby all the time. She sought advice from a pediatrician who gave her the assurance that a breastfed baby might just be seeking comfort at her mother’s breast. It may seem like you’re overfeeding your baby but your baby can just be consuming small amounts of milk. Bottle-fed babies, on the other hand, are more at risk of being overfed.
“Breastfeeding hurts. My baby bites my nipples and it feels like she’s chewing on it!”
Breastfeeding is painful for new moms. It takes a while to get used to it. Over time, you will find your own strategies to make breastfeeding a more comfortable experience. Midwife Joan, 37, breastfed all her four children. She said, “It’s all about the baby’s position and proper latching. Lean your baby’s chin against your breast and avoid pushing his head towards you. If the baby bites, very gently and briefly press his nose against your breast. He has to breathe so he would let go. Pulling your baby’s mouth from your best will cause him to hold on and bite even more.”
“My nipples are beginning to crack and bleed.”
It is very common to have cracked, bleeding, and sore nipples. This shouldn’t be a reason for you to stop breastfeeding. Treat your crack nipples right away to avoid infections such as mastitis. Correct the latching position of your baby and find the least painful spot. If breastfeeding becomes too painful, let it rest for about 24 to 48 hours. Use a breast pump first so you can express store breast milk for your baby.
“My breastmilk flows uncontrollably when I’m not with my baby.”
Tricia, a corporate lawyer, struggled with endless drops of breastmilk when she went back to work. She exclusively breastfeeds her baby and when her maternity leave was over, she opted to pump and store her breastmilk. “It was so embarrassing at first because my chest was always visibly wet with breastmilk. I started looking for high quality, thick-padded bras. I also brought my breast pump and a cooler to work. Every time I feel like my breastmilk would start ‘leaking’, I’d pump away!”
“I can’t find a private area to breastfeed when we go out.”
The government has passed Republic Act 10028 (Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009), which requires establishments to provide lactation rooms. Some malls and other establishments offer breastfeeding rooms for moms. Many other public areas do not. While a lot of moms fight for awareness so they can breastfeed anywhere they wish without receiving judgment from other people, there are still many who choose to breastfeed in private. Karen encounters this problem all the time since her baby loves to breastfeed almost every hour. She shares, “I honestly felt a little embarrassed at first. But I realized that why would I adjust for doing something natural just to satisfy some people? My baby matters more to me and I shouldn’t care much about what other people think. I found some blouses and dresses online that are breastfeeding friendly. I got several of those and wear them every time we go out.”
What are the struggles you had to face as a breastfeeding mom? How did you overcome them? Share your experiences with us! Know more about breastmilk benefits, laws that protect breastfeeding, tips from other moms, and other interesting stories.
Visit mbfp.doh.gov.ph or download the Mother-Baby Friendly Ph mobile app.
First Published by Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines / August 2019