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4 Reasons You Could Be Struggling Breastfeeding & Stop Blaming Yourself!

When you dreamed of having a baby you also dreamed about breastfeeding them too. It’s always what you wanted to do and your heart was set on it. It was easy to imagine sitting in your rocking chair looking down at your beautiful baby feeding from you.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out this way and it can be heartbreaking. Everyone you know breastfed without any issues other than the normal– milk everywhere, sore nipples, and trying to find bras that fit.

But sometimes there is more to why breastfeeding creates obstacles for nursing mothers.

We’re going to give you some reasons breastfeeding can be a challenge. We want you to stop blaming yourself for something out of your control. And understand you have options and support.

Here at Free to Feed our mission is to help breastfeeding mothers continue their journey with an infant with food allergies or intolerances. But we care about all babies and mamas. We want women to feel empowered and know they are not alone during this time of their life.

1. Your Baby Has a Tongue-Tie

Have you heard the term tongue-tie before? The medical name is ankyloglossia. This occurs when a thin piece of tissue under the tongue doesn’t develop correctly while in the womb. This creates difficulty breastfeeding because the tongue has less movement than normal.

When the tongue has less movement it can be harder for the baby to latch onto the breast. A study in Australia found that “tongue-tie is linked to breastfeeding difficulties, speech, and dental problems. It may prevent the baby from taking enough breast tissue into its mouth to form a teat and the mother may experience painful, bleeding nipples and frequent feeding with poor infant

weight gain; these problems may contribute to early breastfeeding cessation.”[1]

There are options for a minor surgical repair called frenotomy. The literature is controversial in this area, but the majority lean towards overall success for long-term breastfeeding. [2] One study found that infants’ latch improved and mothers’ nipple pain decreased after surgical repair. [3]

Depending on the severity of the tongue-tie, surgical intervention may not be warranted. Sometimes the condition physically adapts over time and breastfeeding quality can improve.4 Although it’s considered minor surgery, every surgery poses risks. If a surgical repair was unsuccessful or not recommended, you may end up using formula. Or it may just be a waiting game as your baby grows.

This is something that is out of your control as a mom. There is nothing you did or could have done differently for this not to happen. You can’t blame yourself. You need to work with your doctor and lactation consultant to find the best choices for you and your baby.

2. You Have an Oversupply of Breastmilk

There is a lot of talk about breastmilk supply and most of it tends to be on undersupply which causes feeding issues. There is also a problem with oversupply in some women leading to issues with feeding their babies.

Mothers with an oversupply may be in pain due to the amount of milk produced. They can have breast engorgement, painful letdowns, and leaking. [5]

Signs of oversupply in infants include [5]:

  • Signs of distress at the start of feeding

  • Difficulty maintaining a latch

  • Gulping during feeding

  • Unlatching several times

  • Showing signs of gassiness

Oversupply creates another challenge as a mother trying to navigate the waters of breastfeeding. You may not be able to breastfeed, but still having the option to pump your milk to bottle feed your baby with breastmilk.

This is another case where you can’t snap your fingers and have a perfect milk supply or easy breastfeeding journey. There are ways to help with oversupply such as block feeding or only nursing from one breast. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician and lactation consultant about the best options for you and your baby.

3. Your Nipples Real Bad

Pain is often another reason a mother cannot continue breastfeeding. And we don’t mean, “ oh this hurts a little and it’s annoying.” You gave birth, you know real pain. Pain in your breast or nipples while feeding can bring you to tears or knees. And then you’re trying to do that 8-12 times a day!

A study of 1437 breastfeeding mothers showed that 38% compl

ained of wounded or cracked nipples.6 Being in constant pain and trying to care for an infant is beyond difficult. Another study showed that the majority of women discontinued breastfeeding due to cracked nipples. [7]

Causes for nipple pain include:

  • Incorrect position or attachment

  • Tongue-tie

  • Infection

  • Flat or inverted nipples

  • Mastitis