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Top 7 Challenges For New Breastfeeding Moms

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Like any new skill, breastfeeding for some women comes with its own set of challenges. Click To Tweet

Practice makes perfect!

Think about what you did to plan for your birth and write your birth plan. You researched, asked questions, explored options, and found out what would work best for you and your family. If you’re still pregnant and plan to breastfeed, include that choice in your birth plan so your care team can work with you. And remember to put that birth plan on your hospital bag checklist!

We humans have always breastfed our babies.

Modern lifestyles, though, often pose challenges that our ancestors didn’t have.

Some women sail through breastfeeding like they were born to do it. That’s wonderful!

Others encounter issues that can create stress, insecurity, or invite criticism.


 1. Isolation or lack of support 

Breastfeeding moms and babies are most successful when they are supported by partners, family, and community. Some new mothers may be pressured to use formula or can be scared into giving up by well-meaning advice or the unsuccessful breastfeeding experiences of family and friends.

What to do:

  • Nurse on demand to establish a strong bond and breastfeeding routine (about 8-12 times per day)
  • Eat and drink well and often
  • Ask your partner to run interference for you, if possible
  • Hire a postpartum doula, if possible, to help you establish a good breastfeeding routine and answer your questions
  • Connect with La Leche League International
  • Call helpful friends and family
  • Reach out on social media for support

 2. Pain 

Moms who had challenging deliveries or cesarean sections (C-sections) may be dealing with postpartum pain. Some moms experience pain when they begin breastfeeding. Both of these can cause you to think you weren’t built for, or ready for, breastfeeding your baby.

What to do:

  • Ask for help from a lactation professional, postpartum doula, your care provider, or LLLI
  • Make sure baby has a good latch! Poor latch is a very common reason for breastfeeding pain.
  • Try holding baby in a different position, especially if you’re healing from a cesarean birth.
  • Have enough pillows to support your back, arms, belly
  • Eat and drink well and often to prevent fatigue and dehydration that can lead to mastitis
  • Get enough rest – sleep when baby sleeps

3. Exhaustion 

Every mother needs to recover after birth. That means getting a lot of rest in order to have energy and to heal well.

What to do:

  • SLEEP WHEN BABY SLEEPS – really, every single time during the first couple of weeks. This isn’t indulgent, it’s essential to healing.
  • Ask for help – friends and family can clean the house, play with your older kids, fix meals, run errands, and run interference with well-wishers
  • Hire a postpartum doula, if possible
  • Eat and drink often

 4.  Overwhelm

Many new breastfeeding mothers are surprised by how demanding a tiny new person’s needs can be!

What to do:

  • Remember that baby should nurse 8-12 times a day. Each nursing can take from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. That means that you could be nursing about 15 hours a day at first.
  • Relax – remember that you are both learning this new breastfeeding dance and it will become easier the more you do it. Put on a movie so you can sit back and relax
  • Eat and drink well
  • Snooze – you can catch some zzz’s if you nurse in positions that allow that: laying down, reclining, propped up with pillows
  • Ask for help from trusted and professional sources: lactation consultant, postpartum doula, LLLI, your care provider

5. Worry about too little/too much milk 

You can’t see how much milk your baby is drinking, so how do you know if it’s too much or too little?

What to do:

  • Feeding on demand means baby gets what he needs and you can prevent engorgement or mastitis
  • Know that once your milk comes in on day 3-5, well-fed babies have about 5 wet diapers and about 4 stools/dirty diapers per day
  • Make sure your baby has a good latch so they can take as much milk as they need to fill their tiny belly (did you know that a newborn’s belly is only about this big?)  

  • Your milk production will match your baby’s demands. Letting baby nurse whenever she wants tells your body how much milk to produce
  • If you have too much milk, store it in breast milk bags in your freezer
  • Have baby weighed at the pediatrician’s to be sure they are gaining the weight they lost right after birth

6. Inhibition about nursing in public 

Some women are concerned about showing their breasts to anybody who’s in the room.

What to do:

  • Ask people to leave when it’s time to nurse – it’s OK to say, “It’s time for baby to eat. Would you please give us a little privacy? Thanks.”
  • Ask your partner to do this for you, if possible
  • Have a nice big cover for you and baby
  • Go into another room – increasing numbers of public places offer nursing rooms or stations

7. Sexual arousal during nursing 

One of the most surprising things some women discover is that nursing turns them on!

What to do:

  • Know that it’s completely normal (no, you’re not weird)
  • Your thoughts and feelings are from stimulation and do not mean that you’re sexually attracted to your baby[1]

Breastfeeding is as old as the first mother and baby. Breastfeeding in modern culture is not. Every new mother, her partner, and her baby will learn from practice what works for them. Practice, like always, makes perfect. You got this!


[1] Newman, Jack, M.D. and Pittman, Teresa. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. Three Rivers Press, New York. 2006


To learn more about breastfeeding support, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.

Published: February 24, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula |  Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: January, 2017


Sabriga TurgonTop 7 Challenges For New Breastfeeding Moms

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