Breastfeeding: Not as easy as one, two, three

Breastfeeding may come easily and naturally for some but for others it may be a painful, difficult or impractical experience. 

After you've given birth, another challenge may be awaiting you…
For some women, and babies, breastfeeding can be straightforward. Your milk will come in straight after giving birth and your baby will latch on to your nipple easily. For many others it's not that simple. Maybe: 
  • You've had a premature baby, a Caesarean, or for simply no reason your milk takes a little longer to arrive, or it may not come at all. 
  • You’re nipples are grazed and painful because your baby isn’t latching on.
  • You have mastitis (inflammation of the breast area around the nipple). 
  • Your baby has tongue-tie, where its tongue hasn’t developed correctly. This may affect your baby’s ability to latch on to your nipple and suck. Tongue-tie can also lead to nipple pain and trauma, poor breast milk intake, and a decrease in milk supply over time. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Whatever the reason it’s important to not feel like a ‘failure’ or a ‘bad’ mum and to ask for help. 

"Some people believe that because breastfeeding is natural, it should be easy, yet this is not the case for many women," says Dr Ronald McCoy, spokesperson for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

"Don’t see being unable to breastfeed or to breastfeed for as long as you would have liked as a failure. Feeling guilty doesn’t help anyone. Support is always available if you need someone to talk to about it."
Woman feeding her baby on bed

Other options for you and your baby

If for whatever reason breastfeeding isn’t for you, there are other options:
  • Expressing: using a manual or electric breast pump to express milk that is then fed to your baby through a bottle (or a syringe in the very early days).
  • Milk donation: mothers’ who have a surplus of breast milk sometimes donate their supply for other new mums to use. Milk is screened and pasteurised before being distributed. 
  • Formula: a powdered substance that you add water to which has added ingredients like vitamins, fatty acids and prebiotics. You may need to try a few brands before finding one that suits your baby. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if required.
However you decide to feed your baby, remember that there is no 'one' best way – there is only the best way to help keep YOU and your baby happy and healthy.  
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