Why do women struggle with breastfeeding?
I’ve met a lot of pregnant women who are concerned about whether they will be able to breastfeed. Sometimes this is because they have known someone or more than one who has struggled with breastfeeding.
You may know someone whose personal experience of breastfeeding was a significantly negative time of their life, where there were multiple challenges.
It can be easy to think negatively about the whole idea of breastfeeding, and I know that some of you will not even want to breastfeed because of that reason.
It’s understandable, especially in our country (UK). Historically there was not a great deal of breastfeeding education for midwives and health visitors.
If your health professional doesn’t have that knowledge to help you when you encounter difficulties, it can potentially decrease your chances of being able to move forward with breastfeeding.
The great news is, however, that breastfeeding education is now firmly on the agenda for health professionals, and although it is a slow process, midwives and health visitors are gradually gaining the knowledge that they need to be able to support mothers.
Thankfully during this process of training professionals, there are also many more extra avenues of support.
We are now starting to see health professionals and mothers better equipped to be able to understand how breastfeeding works, how to get breastfeeding off to a good start, and how to be able to identify problems and how to rectify them.
However, despite this, it doesn’t mean that you will never get conflicting advice, which is, I feel, a significant problem we have at the moment.
A breastfeeding mother may go to speak to her doctor, health visitor, midwife, peer supporter, or breastfeeding counselor and may get conflicting advice.
Furthermore, many women are seeking information online, using the internet, and find conflicting information out there too!
This situation has arisen because we are in a transitional time, where old ideas mix with the new, along with a whole heap of myths, making finding clear information so much more difficult for mothers, so use reliable sources for your information.
I want to encourage you that there are trained individuals, whether it’s a midwife, health visitor, breastfeeding counselor, or a lactation consultant like myself, who do have information for you and can help and support.
We need to combat a lot of the myths.
Do this by gaining as much understanding of breastfeeding as you can before the birth.
Have a good look at the information in this resource. Book yourself on to an antenatal breastfeeding class with your local midwives, if available.
You may also find it useful to attend a local breastfeeding drop-in or group if available in your area and have a good chat with other breastfeeding mothers too.
I do want to stress that although breastfeeding is a natural thing, and you and your baby are hardwired to do it, there is a learning element to it in the first few weeks.
You and your baby will be learning together, so get information concerning positioning and ways to know that your baby is getting enough milk, which will significantly help you with your breastfeeding goals.
Please understand that your baby’s pattern of feeding will change over the days and weeks and months, and there will be many other hurdles that you’ll come across.
Gaining as much knowledge as you can and seeking out skilled support is a powerful combination to help you overcome any struggle that you might have.
Review dates, references & further resources
Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022
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