Why is breastfeeding so bloody hard?!

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Advice & Tips

Nursing your baby can feel like the Mount Everest of early parenthood, but many moms agree it gets better with time.

Between latching and tongue-ties, too much milk or not enough, engorgement and leakage, and will-breastfeeding-make-my-boobs-sag worries, there was no shortage of breastfeeding questions among the new moms I’ve talked to. Some sobbed through cracked nipples, clogged ducts and mastitis, and tried everything from cream to compresses to cabbage leaves in order to ease the pain. It may be “natural” (whatever that even means), but breastfeeding is often the Mount Everest of early motherhood (without the satisfying selfie at the end).

New-mom challenges like breastfeeding are amplified by the sheer pressure of it all, says Elana Sures, a Vancouver-based clinical counsellor in private practice. “If it’s not going well, a lot of moms leap to, ‘I’m failing, there’s something wrong with me, my poor baby.’”

Many moms say nursing gets better with time (and supportive lactation consultants) and becomes a cherished, beautiful thing. But others received less support or were shamed when they wanted to stop nursing (despite all the online efforts around #normalizeformula and #fedisbest). Moms need emotional support, sound advice and zero judgment, whether they use breast, formula, pump or some creative mix of them all.

As for the question “Why is breastfeeding so hard?” It’s a brand new skill that you’re trying to learn while you’re tired, overwhelmed and responsible for a tiny human’s every single need. Give yourself a break.

If you’re looking for additional breastfeeding support, here are some online resources:

1.) Go to todaysparent.com/breastfeeding for articles on just about everything, including combination feeding (bottle + boob), and videos about how to get a good latch. (We’re on YouTube, too!)

2.) The MyMedela app (Android and Apple) offers a 24/7 lactation consultant add-on option. A one-month, three-month or 12-month membership includes live breastfeeding support via video chat, at various price points.

3.) Check out KellyMom.com for evidence-based breastfeeding info. The site is run by a lactation consultant with a science background, and is a trusted go-to resource for moms on staff at Today’s Parent.

4.) The International Breastfeeding Centre website, which is affiliated with the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic in Toronto, is also a great site to bookmark. Visit them at ibconline.ca; the library of videos under the “Info & Videos” tab provides examples of what breastfeeding looks like as an infant grows, and demonstrates the difference between nibbling and “good drinking.”

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