It is a widely known and accepted fact that breastfeeding provides the best nourishment for your baby. Experts almost universally agree that it is ideal to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life. Before the 1930s, practically all babies around the world were breast fed. With the advent of infant formula, and the promotion of the wrong idea that we had somehow improved on nature’s design, women for the first time had a choice concerning how to feed their infants.
Now don’t misunderstand, in general, choice is a good thing. In the case of breastfeeding, however, having the choice to feed your baby a different way has led to some challenges to be seen as somehow insurmountable when they aren’t. Here are some of the challenges commonly facing breastfeeding mothers today, and how to overcome them:
- Social stigma. Believe it or not, this is the number one reason why mothers give up on breastfeeding. A good deal of effort is going forward to educate the public concerning the importance of breastfeeding, but some people still view this very natural part of life as somehow socially unacceptable. In public, of course, it helps to be discreet, but there is nothing strange or unnatural about breastfeeding. Consider joining a support group such as those sponsored by La Leche League.
- Inverted nipples. The best time to catch and treat this common problem is before your baby is born, but even if you don’t realize your nipples are inverted until you’re trying to breastfeed your baby, there are things you can do. Your doctor or breastfeeding coach can teach you some simple exercises that will make feeding easier.
- Engorgement. If your breasts are swollen and sore, chances are they are engorged. This sometimes induces a slight fever as well. Engorgement also flattens the nipples, which can make it more difficult for baby to latch on. The best treatment, in most cases, is to empty your breasts regularly, either by feeding or by pumping. Massaging your breasts can also help reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Tongue tie. This is a condition, caused by the tissues that attach the tongue to the bottom of the mouth being too short, which makes it difficult for baby to suckle. It can cause damage to nipples while breastfeeding. Fortunately, it can be treated with a short doctor’s visit. Babies are usually able to breastfeed much better immediately after the procedure.