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Breastfeeding Difficulties: 5 Reasons Why It's So Hard for New Moms

breastfeeding May 14, 2024

Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Despite common portrayals of breastfeeding as a blissful bonding experience, the reality is that it can be an incredibly challenging journey filled with obstacles for many new moms. From struggling with a proper latch to dealing with low breast milk supply, the difficulties of breastfeeding are very real – and far more common than you might expect.

In this guide, we'll explore the top 5 reasons that make breastfeeding so damn hard and shed light on the battles countless women face when trying to successfully breastfeed their babies.

  1. Latching Difficulties - One of the biggest and most frustrating challenges breastfeeding moms encounter is getting a proper latch. A poor or shallow latch can quickly lead to sore, cracked, and bleeding nipples, as well as inefficient milk transfer to the baby.

But nailing that perfect latch is easier said than done, even with a lactation consultant's guidance. Factors like the positioning of the baby's mouth, nipple size and shape, and the newborn's ability to open wide can all contribute to recurring latching problems. Many new moms find themselves stuck in an exhausting cycle of trying to latch, experiencing excruciating nipple pain, unlatching to try again, and repeating the process over and over.

  1. Low Breast Milk Supply - While breastfeeding is a natural biological process, low breast milk supply is surprisingly common and can leave many mothers feeling inadequate and worried about whether their baby is getting enough nutrition.

A variety of factors from hormonal imbalances and medical conditions to stress and diet can negatively impact a woman's ability to produce sufficient breast milk. The constant concern over low supply adds an immense emotional weight to an already demanding situation. Understanding the root cause for the low milk supply is crucial so that the correct strategies can be implemented.

  1. Physical Discomforts - Beyond struggles with latch and supply, breastfeeding also brings about its own set of unexpected physical challenges that can catch many new moms off guard. Issues like excruciating engorgement, painful plugged ducts, and even mastitis (a breast infection) are fairly common breastfeeding hurdles.

The relentless frequency of nursing sessions around the clock can also wreak havoc, causing significant back, neck, and overall body pain from holding a sustained position for hours on end. These physical discomforts make recovering from childbirth while caring for a newborn even more grueling.

  1. Emotional Turmoil - While the physical aspects of breastfeeding are undoubtedly difficult, the emotional toll it can take on a new mother is often just as challenging. Feelings of frustration, disappointment, guilt, and inadequacy frequently arise when breastfeeding doesn't go as planned.

The intense societal pressure to breastfeed successfully can heavily compound these emotional struggles, especially when a lack of support and understanding exists from others. Mothers may become consumed by fears that they are failing at one of the most fundamental roles of motherhood if they cannot breastfeed. This emotional turmoil is only intensified for those also battling postpartum mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

  1. Lack of Support Resources - Despite how common breastfeeding difficulties are, many women still find themselves isolated and lacking access to the professional support and resources needed to overcome complications. Experienced lactation consultants, knowledgeable healthcare providers, and supportive communities can be difficult to find in many areas, leaving mothers to fend for themselves.

What's more, the persisting stigmas and misconceptions surrounding public breastfeeding can discourage women from seeking help altogether out of embarrassment or shame. This lack of education and compassionate support can prolong breastfeeding issues unnecessarily.

While breastfeeding is often touted as the most natural process in the world, the reality is that it presents a multitude of obstacles that make it incredibly challenging for many new moms. From the physical barriers of getting a proper latch and maintaining adequate supply to the mental and emotional battles of guilt, frustration, and lack of support - the reasons why breastfeeding is so hard are vast and valid.

By shedding more light on these difficulties and providing better resources, education, and encouragement, we can help uplift and empower the many women struggling through breastfeeding challenges. Because at the end of the day, what matters most is the health and well-being of both mama and baby - not how they got there.

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Hey mama,

I'm Brooke Miller,

Before becoming a mom, I chronically dieted & thought "eat less, move more" was the healthiest option. I dealt with exhaustion, mood swings, hormone imbalances (not getting a regular cycle), high cholesterol and weight cycling. I felt like something was wrong with me.

Before I got pregnant with my first son, I discovered the balanced nutrition approach I teach inside The Postpartum Shift. Once I implemented the framework, I was energized, gained strength, got my period back, lowered my cholesterol & maintained my healthiest weight. I continued this during my pregnancies & postpartum periods and recovered quickly after birth, made more than enough milk for my babies, had energy (even with the sleep deprivation) & stable mood. Postpartum was really enjoyable.

With a decade of experience as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor, I created The Postpartum Shift to help moms boost energy, mood, metabolism & milk supply to have a stress-free & enjoyable postpartum experience.

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