Breastfeeding challenges

Breastfeeding is a continuous journey of learning and understanding feeding patterns for both the mother and the baby.

Good support, guidance, and help make mothers comfortable on this journey.

You should, however, rest assured that it all gets easier with time and practice.

While breastfeeding is a rewarding experience as a mother, there are some common problems some mothers tend to face.

Common breastfeeding challenges

  • Breast engorgement โ€“ this is when your breasts feel full and hard. It is often painful too. This occurs due to the stagnation of milk which may cause pain, redness, and hardness.  
  • Sore nipples โ€“ In the initial few weeks, the nipples tend to feel sore and tender. This tends to happen when the baby does not latch correctly. Babies tend to latch on nipples only and not the areola causing sore nipples. 
  • Fungal infections โ€“ Sometimes, the nipples or the breasts may develop a fungal infection. This is a very painful condition that needs immediate medical help. The pain experienced mostly is a shooting or burning pain.
  • Low supply โ€“ You may, at times, wonder whether or not your milk production is enough for the baby’s appetite. This can easily be addressed with the help of counseling, guidance, and family support.
  • Plugged duct โ€“ It is a tender and sore lump in the breast. This usually happens when a milk duct does not drain properly and feels full and choked. It is also called a blocked duct and can be easily treated with the help of your obstetrician or lactation consultant. 
  • Nursing strike โ€“ Some times, after properly breastfeeding for months, the baby might suddenly refuse to be breastfed. 
  • Exhaustion โ€“ The new role of being a mother, all the added baby chores along with breastfeeding, may sometimes take a toll on the mother’s health and leave her feeling exhausted.
  • Feeling sad or depressed โ€“ It is common for new mothers to feel this way. Adjustment to the new role and added responsibilities in life will take some getting used to.
  • Feeling deprived of any me time โ€“ Frequent nursing sessions tend to make you feel like you can never leave your baby alone. 

Not all women need to experience all of these challenges. Each woman’s journey is different, and so are the challenges faced. It is good to seek the help of experienced elders and trained healthcare professionals as you go along the way. After all, you only wish the best for both yourself and the baby.

Understandably, there are concerns whether the baby is feeding well, properly, and to his full appetite. Apart from these, there are some common concerns facing mothers who breastfeed. These are:

  • It hurts when the baby latches on to your breast. Breastfeeding never hurts. If you are experiencing pain, you are definitely doing something wrong which needs to be corrected. 
  • Sometimes, the baby does not latch, and the nipple keeps slipping out from his/her mouth. A deeper latch and helping the baby in position at the breast can help. 
  • The baby falls asleep while nursing. Have they even fed themselves? All mothers have this worry – Has my baby fed enough? Am I producing enough milk? Is my baby satisfied? The flow of milk and the adequacy of the latch can easily be assessed by the mother herself.
  • Some kids constantly need to be at your breasts even when they are not feeding. They tend to cry when taken off. This could be due to flow or supply issues. 
  • The baby is often fussy while nursing may gulp fast and tends to choke.
  • Cracked nipples. This happens when the latch is shallow.
  • The baby may bite at your breast making them tender and painful.
  • Oversupply of milk
  • Inverted or flat nipples
  • There could be many other problems concerning either the mother or the baby which can be addressed individually.

The journey to a healthy and natural breastfeeding process is something you should enjoy. First-time mothers especially face these issues and need to consult with elders and medical professionals to get the hang of it. There is nothing that can’t be solved and treated with a little effort and practice.

wish you all the best 

Special Thanks to Dr. Zinal (MBBS, DCH, IBCLC ) for the expert advice.

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