Breastfeeding is a natural process which is healthy for the baby and is beneficial for the mother as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding a newborn baby exclusively for 6 months and then up to one year by supplementing it with other foods.
In spite of this and the best intentions of the mothers who, during their pregnancy, want to breastfeed their babies, studies have found that while 80% of the mothers start breastfeeding their babies at birth, at the end of 6 months, only 15% of them are still breastfeeding their babies, while the rest have shifted to artificial milk.
This is not because of any change in the mother’s desire to give her baby the best source of nutrition but is due to the problems a mother faces during breastfeeding. These obstacles make her change the baby’s feed from breast milk to artificial milk. These problems vary from medical to social to emotional causes and may inconvenience the mother. Below is the list of problems a mother might face during breastfeeding and ways to overcome them:
Weakness And Fatigue
A mother might feel weak during or after breastfeeding. She might feel fatigued and dizzy too at times. This is because during breastfeeding the amount of nutrition a woman requires for the normal functioning of her body is quite significant. When she is unable to meet these requirements of her body, she gets tired.
To deal with these issues, a mother needs to increase the amount of food she eats daily. She also needs to add variety to it and consume a balanced diet. She needs to eat fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products such as milk and yogurt, so that she can meet her body’s daily requirements, not only for herself but also for her baby.
Pain During Breastfeeding
One of the reasons mothers stop breastfeeding is because it causes pain. Breastfeeding by itself is never painful. A mother might get a feeling of fullness before she feeds due to a collection of milk in her breast but this feeling will stop once a baby starts feeding. If a mother experiences severe pain during her feeding then she needs to consult a doctor.
The most common cause of pain during her feeding is incorrect latching. If the latch is not correct, then it not only hurts the mother but the baby too, as it does not get enough milk. To overcome this problem she needs to consult a lactation specialist to learn a suitable feeding method so she can feed her baby comfortably.
Baby Getting Insufficient Feed
One of the most important reasons due to which mothers stop feeding their babies is because they believe the baby is not getting enough milk. This is not true and is a common misconception worldwide. Research reveals that only 5% of women are medically unable to produce sufficient milk, 95% of women can.
To overcome this problem, try weighing your child before and after feeding so that you can see the weight gain after each feeding. If this does not work, try continuously feeding your baby for 2 to 3 days as it will stimulate production. If this does not work either, consult a pediatrician to check if your baby is growing normally.
Medical Issues A New Mother Might Face
Sometimes a mother might face medical issues such as breast infections leading to red, painful breasts. Other issues include breast swelling and engorgement leading to painful and uncomfortable feeding.
If you are dealing with a red, painful breast, then you immediately need to stop breastfeeding and consult your doctor so that you may start treatment without infecting your baby. If your breast is simply swollen then you need to empty it frequently by using a breast pump.
A new mother might be going through a number of emotional changes that might lead to a decrease in milk production or cause uncomfortable feedings. This is due to the hormonal changes that are going on in her body because of birth and breastfeeding.
These changes are normal and to deal with them, a woman needs emotional support from her partner or from her family. But if the symptoms are extreme, then she should always consult a doctor to make sure she does not have postpartum depression.
Feeling Shy About Breastfeeding
Some women, especially first-time mothers, are very shy about feeding their babies in public or even before family members. To deal with these situations, new mothers use bottled milk to feed their babies.
The first step to deal with this situation is to understand that it is natural to breastfeed and become comfortable with the breastfeeding process so that it becomes easy for you in public situations. The next step is to keep a blanket, sheet or towel handy for you so that you can cover yourself and your baby while feeding in public.
Some working mothers or those with large families to deal with do not have time to breastfeed their babies every 2 or 3 hours. When working women return to their offices they leave their babies at home with family or caretakers and cannot feed their babies, and therefore turn to artificial milk.
In situations like these, a mother can freeze and store her milk by using breast milk pumps so that her baby can be fed this milk. If that is not possible, then she can feed her baby just before leaving for work and immediately after coming back home. One feeding is not harmful to the baby and some milk is better than no milk.
Unless there is a specific medical reason stopping you, always try to breastfeed your baby as much as possible. If you cannot due to a medical reason, then try feeding milk to your baby from a milk bank. A milk bank is a collection center where human milk is banked; please check with your pediatrician for one near you. If you need to use artificial milk, then try to limit the number of feedings. Use natural milk as much as possible. Remember, breastfeeding is best for your baby.