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Prior to even deciding on breastfeeding and being tangled up in breastfeeding struggles, you probably felt an overwhelming pressure to breastfeed. And that’s because there’s a lot of people out there (women, moms, hospitals, health institutions, and even men) that hold unrealistic expectations for new moms to breastfeed their babies.
Breastfeeding isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. And breast is not always best. Fed is best, whether your baby is getting nutrients through pumped breastmilk or formula. And in this blog post, I’m going to go over the different struggles of breastfeeding.
1. Forever worrying if you’re producing enough.
This is one of the breastfeeding struggles I personally had a hard time with. I wasn’t sure if I was producing enough milk for my baby. It all began on day one when nurses checked my baby’s blood and she was jaundice due to high bilirubin levels. So the doctor had me supplement formula for a few weeks to essentially wash out excess bilirubin.
Although my daughter was quite the chunk the first 9 months of her life solely from breastfeeding, I always had that doubt in my mind that she wasn’t getting enough milk from my breasts.
2. Initial latching problems.
A lot of moms struggle with latching issues at the beginning. And this is what causes a lot of moms to pump rather than exclusively breastfeed. Latching problems can also mean more serious issues like tongue-tie, where the baby’s tongue movement is restricted.
Other latching problems include incorrect breastfeeding positions, empty breasts, and flat or inverted nipples.
3. Babies bite.
At the start of your breastfeeding journey, your nipples are in the beginning stages of getting used to constantly being sucked and tugged on. So naturally, you’re going to experience cracks and soreness.
Then, when your baby begins teething and producing teeth is when you’ll experience a whole new level of pain and soreness. Babies will bite your nipples and it will feel worse with more and more teeth (currently breastfeeding a 17-month-old with a mouthful of teeth).
4. Pumping can be a whole different story.
I assumed since I was breastfeeding just fine, that pumping would come very naturally. Was I way wrong. There is a whole different range of breast pumps out there and I might’ve had bad luck with the one I got.
I was struggling to pump breast milk and put away ounces of breastmilk in storage bags no matter how hard I tried. I’ve always wanted a freezer stash full of breastmilk (I envied those moms).
5. Your boobs and nipples will always be sore.
They might not be cracked or sucked raw. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be sore. Your nipples will get tugged on a lot the more your baby grows and develops. They never want to stop moving which means they will jerk your nipples left and right.
6. Engorgement sucks.
In the earlier months of breastfeeding, your boobs get engorged quite often. And it’s a very convenient way for your body to let you know that you should feed your baby. But it can also be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.
7. Clogged ducts can quickly lead to mastitis and that’s no fun.
One of the worst breastfeeding struggles I personally dreaded was when my milk ducts would get clogged and then I’d get mastitis. Clogged ducts are no fun and you’ll know when you have one because there’ll be a hard ball-shaped lump on one of your breasts. And if you don’t take care of it, then it can lead to mastitis which is also no fun.
Ways to treat a clogged duct is by putting a warm compress on the clogged milk duct, breastfeeding your baby more often, pump, and massage it. Watch this video on how to properly massage a clogged duct.
8. You will leak through your shirts in public.
The best thing to do is to wear a black shirt. And if you’re an over-supplier, get you a thick nipple pad to wear on the inside of your nursing bra. Don’t be like me wearing a grey t-shirt walking around with two wet spots on the nipples.
9. Your baby will want to breastfeed at the most inconvenient times.
Talk about the struggles of a breastfeeding mom. You’ll be in the middle of a grocery shopping trip when your baby is tugging on you or crying ballistically wanting to nurse. And you’ll find yourself hiding in empty Wal-Mart aisles to breastfeed your baby (this literally happened a couple of times).
Plan ahead by feeding your baby before you leave the house, bring a bottle, or bring other snacks and toys as a distraction.
10. You will always be hungry.
This might not be one of your breastfeeding struggles, but it is for some. Breastfeeding moms burn an extra 300 to 500 calories a day. Your transferring your nutrients to your baby meaning your body will be hungry to replace those nutrients and calories.
11. Always make sure your boobs are easy access for your baby.
This means you’re going to want to purchase clothes that allow for easy access. I always found it helpful to either wear crop tops or lower cut tanktops where I can either easily pull my crop top up or pull down my lower cut tank. Whatever you do, just make sure your boobs are easily accessible.
12. Breastfeeding becomes baby’s number 1 comfort.
This can be a blessing in disguise. Although it can get a bit tedious at the most inconvenient times if anything is going to comfort your baby, breastfeeding will.
There were times I’d complain about my baby always wanting the boob (just for comfort) when I’m in the middle of doing something or getting things done. But on the other hand, realized that this out of all of my other breastfeeding struggles was a saving grace. She would get really upset out in public or even at the house and it was never anything breastfeeding couldn’t cure.
Positive Note On Breastfeeding Struggles
Don’t let this list of breastfeeding struggles discourage you because breastfeeding has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have learned an incredible amount on these 17-months of breastfeeding (and continuing for I don’t know how much longer). And it will be the most gratifying bonding experience for you and your little one.