Whether you’re a parent or an expectant mother, it’s safe to assume that many of your concerns revolve around feeding your new little one. Some people can breastfeed their newborns from the moment they first see them, but for others, challenges arise that may last for some time. With as much knowledge as there is about what advantages breast milk has over formula and the risks associated with bottle-feeding your baby, challenges to breastfeeding are more common than you might think. If you’re on the fence about whether it’s worth going through the hassle of nursing your child instead of using a formula, these common challenges should help you decide sooner rather than later.
Don’t Breastfeed Until Your Baby Can Drink From a Cup
There’s no denying that breastfeeding offers many health benefits over formula, but it’s also a very intimate experience that can’t be rushed. Similarly, if you’re struggling with a baby who isn’t ready to take a bottle, you won’t be able to produce enough milk to meet their needs. This is why it’s important to start breastfeeding your baby as soon as they’re born. If you’re breastfeeding exclusively and your baby isn’t drinking enough breast milk, you can speak with your doctor about the best ways to increase your supply. Some moms find that taking a break from breastfeeding and pumping their breasts with a pump (while allowing the milk to return to its original concentration) can help them increase their production.
You Don’t Produce Enough Breast Milk
It’s common to encounter this challenge in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. You might find that you need to supplement your baby’s diet with formula or other foods/drinks because you’re not producing enough milk to feed them adequately. While it may seem frustrating, you should be grateful that you can produce enough breast milk for your baby. If you’re struggling with a low milk supply, most experts recommend taking some time off from breastfeeding and doing things that will relax you. Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest will help you relax your body so that it’s better to produce breast milk when you return to feeding your child.
The Baby Shows No Interest in Nursing
Sometimes, even if you’re producing plenty of breast milk, your baby isn’t interested in it. If you’ve already tried several methods to get your baby to drink more breast milk, it may be time to figure out why they’re not interested. Breastfeeding experts recommend speaking to your doctor if this is a longstanding issue or your baby isn’t gaining weight. A physical exam may be able to pinpoint any underlying issues that are keeping your baby from drinking breast milk. If your baby isn’t interested in breastfeeding, there are things you can do to entice them. First, try adding a few drops of your favorite food to the bottle, so your baby associates the smell/taste with the breast milk. Try making your baby’s bedtime bottle a special treat by adding a few drops of lavender oil (the smell is commonly used for baby-calming purposes).
You have a fear of Nipple Eruption or Thrush.
These common issues can make breastfeeding challenging, but they’re also preventable! If you’re concerned that your nipples are likely to erupt very painfully, you should consult your doctor. Similarly, if you’re worried about thrush, you should also speak to your doctor about whether a special antibiotic is necessary. If you’ve been breastfeeding for a few weeks and your baby isn’t drinking breast milk, it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue as quickly as possible. Finally, try speaking to your doctor about any feeling of fear or anxiety that may contribute to your baby not drinking breast milk.
You Have Concerns About Bottle-Feeding Safety Or Comfort
It can be nerve-wracking to give your baby a bottle after nursing them for a while, but you should also be concerned about bottle-feeding safety. For example, suppose your baby has a history of swallowing large objects or has a developmental disability that makes it difficult to swallow foods safely. In that case, they may not be ready to take a bottle. Similarly, if you’ve struggled with nipple issues while breastfeeding or if your nipples have been damaged from being pinched/abused from bottle-feeding, you should also be cautious about switching to formula. Breast milk protects your baby from many diseases/disorders that can be passed through formula, so you should only give formula to your child if they have a medical issue that requires it.
You Have Skin Issues That Make Breastfeeding Uncomfortable
It can be difficult to have skin issues that make breastfeeding uncomfortable, but it’s important that you still make the switch to formula. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to produce enough milk to meet your baby’s needs while you deal with this challenge. If you’ve been struggling with cracked or damaged skin while trying to breastfeed, taking care of your body as soon as you’re done breastfeeding your baby is important. Exfoliating with a mild cleanser and moisturizing with a lightweight oil can help. It can also help to wear loose-fitting clothing (such as a long-sleeved shirt) so your skin doesn’t get pinched and irritated.
Like most things in life, breastfeeding has its challenges. The sooner you realize that it’s not for everyone and that you need to supplement with formula, the sooner you can feel confident again. Even if your baby doesn’t drink much breast milk initially, be patient! Research shows that it can take your child as long as a year to get used to eating solid foods. When you’re ready to overcome breastfeeding challenges, have the right support system.
Make sure you have a lactation consultant (if you can) who can help you navigate any challenges you face. Finally, try to focus on the advantages of breastfeeding, such as the health benefits and the fact that it can help your baby develop a close bond with you.