We are all aware that breastfeeding is essential for the benefit of both, mother and the child. Breast milk acts as a source of nutrition for the newborn and is equally advantageous for the mother, as studies show that mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop postpartum depression or stress.
However, this does not gratify every step during the journey of motherhood. Many women are anxious and scared when it comes to breastfeeding.
New mothers are usually uncertain on how they are supposed to breastfeed their babies and seldom know what to expect. The initial introduction to breastfeed their newborn can be overwhelming even though it is a natural art, which takes a while to get accustomed to. There are various factors that cause a mother to be hesitant while beginning the latching process and it is understandable that fear arises. These fears can make it harder; however, even though breastfeeding is not an easy feat to begin with, fears can be overcome.
Today we shall deal with the common problems new mothers face while breastfeeding their babies.
Unable to latch the baby properly: Unable to physically breastfeed and ensure that the baby’s feeding needs are met is a common fear a lot of women face.
Firstly, overcoming this fear requires patience as not all new moms succeed at the first go. This does not mean you have to stop feeding your baby. Taking directives from counsellor can help induce the initial feeds.
Maintain a strong and gentle hold and positioning the baby comfortably at the breast can enable the baby to achieve a successful latch. Watch out for signs that your baby is hungry and do not wait to hear a cry as this is generally the last sign of hunger and can limit a baby from latching on.
Insufficient milk supply: First time mothers often experience failure or difficulty to produce milk at the first go. Unable to produce on the 2nd or 3rd attempt causes them to worry and many stop trying as the fears grows.
But, they need to be explained that milk starts coming in properly only after the third-fourth day of baby’s life and that this is normal. The first few days baby’s requirement is also very low, and it is met by the Colostrum (first milk).
Change in the form of breasts: Pregnancy and breast feeding alters the way a woman’s breasts look; women often fear that by breastfeeding the shape of their breasts will change resulting in sagging.
Many draw a conclusion that this will affect their sexual life with their partner and thus try and avoid breastfeeding.
Regardless whether a woman breastfeeds or not, the breast is bound to change shape. During pregnancy, as the breasts get fuller, the ligaments stretch as they support the breast; this may contribute to sagging whether you breastfeed your baby or not. Do let sagging limit you to make sure your baby is well fed.
Adapting healthy lifestyle habits, eating nutritious food and being active can ensure healthy weight and posture.
Moisturising your breasts in circular motions helps in keeping the skin supple and maintains the elasticity.
Breastfeeding causes pain: Another cause of concern amongst first time moms is that nursing their baby might be a painful experience. The new experience and the concept of latching create an overwhelming feeling, making them assume that the baby might bite and that their nipples would swell and bleed.
Mild discomfort is a normal factor when it comes to breastfeeding. The initial few feeds can cause nipple burn and the breasts tend to sore. Pain is generally nearly always because of an improper latch on the nipple not being held properly in the baby’s mouth. It can later also be caused due to the baby biting.
However, this usually does not last long. If the baby is carefully placed under the breasts and the mother guides the baby, there will be less discomfort; a breastfeeding counsellor can certainly provide additional help to soothe the nursing process.
Change in lifestyle: Many women are of the opinion that by ensuring the baby’s needs are met in supplying nutrition through breastfeeding, it limits them to certain daily routines and that this results to a change in lifestyle. Mother’s fear that if they return to work they might experience leaking and that their baby is left hungry.
Many also feel that it might cause an inconvenience to other family members during feeding hours.
While nursing her baby, a mother definitely needs the additional support from her partner and the family too. Milk can be pumped and fed to the baby to ensure the mother is not tired from feeding. Taking turns to feed the baby helps. This also enables other members of the family to strike a bond with the baby.
Nursing can be tiresome and overwhelming at times; however, it ensures appropriate growth of the child and it cannot be neglected. Once accustomed to, it certainly enhances the mother-child bond and creates a beautiful feeling of belonging forever.
The author is a neonatologist and Consultant Paediatrics at SL Raheja Hospital, A Fortis Associate Hospital