Common Breastfeeding Challenges

By Terese Larkin

While nearly nine in 10 U.S. mothers initiate breastfeeding, only two in 10 breastfeed exclusively for six months, citing pain, too little milk, and the need to return to work/school as the main causes behind their early stoppage.

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​Many mothers report pain (others describe a tugging or pulling sensation) at the start of a feeding when their babies latch onto the breast and draw the nipple and the surrounding breast tissue into their mouths. If pain does occur, it should last only a few seconds and it should disappear entirely within a week or two. If the pain persists, it is usually a sign that the baby is sucking just on the nipple. If nursing is painful remove your baby from the breast and try again to get a better latch. If necessary, seek help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. 

A good latch will lessen the pain. Your comfort during breastfeeding depends, in large part, on where your nipple lands in your baby’s mouth. And that depends on how your baby takes the breast, or latches on. When your baby attaches to the breast deeply, she’s able to get milk effectively, and you are able to nurse comfortably. For online pictures and video help in achieving a correct latch check these websites: breastfeedingmadesimple.com and the video ‘Your Baby Knows How To Latch On’ at Ameda.com.

Don't wait too long to ask for help. We all think that breastfeeding should be easy, but sometimes it takes time. We live in a culture where we maybe haven't seen anyone breastfeed until we try to do it ourselves. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family where breastfeeding is the norm. Being with other people who can give you a pat on the back or a shoulder to cry on because they truly understand and support your decision will give you the confidence you need!