Five tips for when breastfeeding isn’t going as you’d planned

Five tips for when breastfeeding isn’t going as you’d planned

The month of August is an exciting time for breastfeeding awareness. World Breastfeeding Week starts the month with empowering stories and images of moms and babies breastfeeding everywhere imaginable. Friends and family who normally don’t discuss breastfeeding share facts and info. There are giveaways and specials from companies showing support. You can even set a world record!  A plethora of resources are unveiled to moms looking for information and support to help them succeed at reaching their goals. It’s the best month ever.

All this may make you feel validated, recognized and empowered – unless you are a mom who is struggling, has had to change your breastfeeding goal, or give up breastfeeding all together.

“All the attention on breastfeeding and the media coverage of moms successfully nursing increases the stress and sadness for a mom who is not meeting their breastfeeding goals,” says Kathleen Huggins, IBCLC, author of the best-selling book, The Nursing Mother’s Companion. “The focus becomes what mom is not doing well enough.”

Huggins offers the following suggestions:

If Breastfeeding is Difficult

  • Remember that breastfeeding is not all or nothing! Every drop of breast milk is special. Every struggling mom should print this out and read it several times a day.
  • Every breastfeeding relationship is special, unique and has its own challenges. Get expert help early from an IBCLC who is well versed in your current challenges and is supportive of your personal goals.
  • Lots of direct skin-to-skin contact with your baby helps your body produce milk and it’s comforting, bonding and healing for both of you.  If your baby can latch onto your breast, nurse as much as you like regardless of how much milk you are making.
  • Give yourself a break from feeling guilty about how things turned out in your breastfeeding relationship.  Know that many mothers are still not getting the help they need right after giving birth. All too many women are sent home with “a hope rather than a plan” which can lead to serious feeding problems and sometimes premature weaning once they are back home.  
  • Nurture and care for yourself. You are doing the very best thing for your baby that you can, and you need support and nurturing too. Find an online community, family or friends who will support the progress you are making without judgment.

If You Have Ended Your Breastfeeding Relationship Early

  • Regardless of what milk you feed your baby, consider bottle feeding like a breastfeeder. While bottle feeding is a bit of a chore because it keeps your arms completely occupied, one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it naturally provides the important physical contact and bonding with the baby.  Even when your baby is older and can hold the bottle on his own, continue holding him for all of his feedings.   
  • Cradle your baby against your skin whenever possible while you feed the baby.  Switch sides at each of his feedings or half way through the feeding.  Devote your attention to the baby during feedings.  

Do you have other suggestions or ways that you have found to nurture yourself? Do you have a community for moms who are having supply issues that you’d like to share with other readers? What would you tell other moms who are pregnant and not yet breastfeeding?

By Motherlove Herbal Company with Kathleen Huggins, IBCLC, RN

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