I covered benefits you need to know about breastfeeding for your little one in this post, however breastfeeding doesn’t just benefit…or affect…your little one. So, I want to make sure you mommas know everything about breastfeeding & how it benefits and affects you!
In this post, I want to cover how breastfeeding will benefit you as a momma, some challenges you might face & what you should expect. Since breastfeeding is all around amazing, let’s start with the benefits!
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mommas
Again, I can’t say enough about the benefits of breast milk for your baby. It really is the best thing you can do for them. But, there are so many benefits for you as a mom as well:
- Helps your Uterus Contract (to it’s pre-pregnancy size)
- Helps reduce bleeding after birth
- Lowers your risk of breast cancer
- Lowers your risk of ovarian cancer
- Lowers your risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, anemia & urinary tract infections
- Helps you lose weight
- Releases hormones that helps you relax & enjoy time with your baby
- Decreases the risk of depression
- May prevent mensturation
- Saves time (& money!)
Every single one of those benefits are awesome for you but I think that most women would agree that the best benefit is the bond you have with your baby. Pregnancy is an amazing experience, there is nothing else like it! Breastfeeding is similar, that is a bond only you can have with your baby.
Even those looking at those benefits are awesome, know that breastfeeding comes with challenges. Breastfeeding is not an easy road, & I hope that those breastfeeding mommas out there are not traveling this road alone. Know that there are many resources out there to help you if you are struggling. If you have any questions or need help on where to start, feel free to reach out to me & I would love to help or point you in the right direction! Don’t let these challenges scare you away from breastfeeding though. For those mommas who are looking to breastfeed, and haven’t yet, I want you to be prepared.
Yes, every good thing will have challenges but it gets better! Keep that in mind! Okay, lets look at some of the challenges that you could run into.
Challenges with Breastfeeding for Mom
- Sore, cracked, bleeding nipples
- Plugged duct
- Low milk supply
- Over Supply of milk
- Not feeling connected with your baby
- Inverted or flat nipples
If you haven’t breastfed before, don’t think you will experience all of these challenges. You most likely won’t! The most common are sore/cracked/bleeding nipples & engorgement. While this can be really painful, keep in mind it is only temporary. Your body is doing something that it hasn’t done before, so you just need to adjust to it.
Let’s look at each one a little closer and find some solutions for them.
Sore, Cracked, Bleeding Nipples:
This one is pretty straight forward. Many women will experience this within the first few days of breastfeeding. Typically, it will last a few weeks & then get better. If you are experiencing this, know that it is normal! It’s hard, but normal! Keep pushing through, it will get better!
Sometimes this is caused from a bad latch. Make sure your baby is latching properly. Otherwise, this is just caused from your body adjusting to breastfeeding. It can be so hard that you push off feedings, or even want to quit breastfeeding. Here are a few things you can try to help:
- Make sure your baby is latched properly (they should have their whole mouth around the areola)
- Use some of your breast milk on your nipples after feedings (this actually works wonders!!)
- Make sure your nipples are dry
- Don’t wear bras or clothing that is tight
- Lanolin cream can be used
- Avoid using soaps or ointments since those can further dry out your nipples
- try using a nipple shield
If you are still having issues, you should get in contact with a lactation consultant. They are here to help, so don’t feel ashamed to reach out!
This is another very common challenge, and very painful! This one too, is only temporary! Engorgement is when your breasts feel very hard and painful, they may even feel hot to the touch. This happens because your milk is building up. Typically, this will happen a few days after birth (usually around 3 days after birth). Engorgement can happen anytime when breastfeeding though, when you have an oversupply of milk or are not feeding your baby often.
It’s important to try to prevent engorgement since it can lead to plugged ducts or even infections. If you are experiencing engorgement, here are a few things you can try to alleviate some of the pain and help:
- Breastfeed often
- make sure your baby is latched correctly & let them eat until they are satisfied
- Pump or massage the breast
- Get enough rest & fluids
- Wear a supportive bra that isn’t too tight
A plugged duct happens when a milk duct does not drain the way it is supposed to. When that happens, pressure will build up behind the plug & the tissue surrounding that area gets inflamed. If you have a fever along with it, it will typically be an infection. If you are experiencing a plugged duct, there are a few things you can try to help:
- breastfeed on the side with the plugged duct often, this will help keep the milk flowing & loosen the plug
- massage the area
- use a warm compress on the area
- don’t wear a tight-fitting bra
Low Milk Supply:
This is a very common one that moms will worry about, but isn’t ever a problem. It is, however, a problem for some. The best way to tell if you are producing enough is to see if your baby is getting enough milk. If you are breastfeeding, this is hard to do since you can’t tell (unless you pump & bottle-feed) but here are some signs that your baby is getting enough:
- Your baby is passing enough urine (babies 3 days+ should have at least 6 wet diapers)
- Your baby is passing enough bowel movements (babies 2+ days old should have at lease 3 bowel movements)
- Your baby is satisfied after feedings & is content
- Your breasts feel soft after feedings
If you still think you aren’t producing enough milk, here are a few things to try:
- make sure your baby is latched correctly
- make sure your baby is actually drinking & not just sucking
- breastfeed often & let your little one decide when to stop
- offer each breast at each feeding
- avoid introducing a pacifier & bottle for the first 6 weeks
If you still think you aren’t producing enough & your little one might not be getting enough to eat, see a lactation consultant or go in to your pediatrician .
Oversupply of milk:
On the other side of the spectrum, some women produce too much milk. When your breasts are too full, this is uncomfortable for you & can make it harder for your baby. If you are an overproducer, try a few of the following to try to help:
- Feed on one side for each feeding, continue to offer that same breast until your baby is full
- If you feel unbearably full, try pumping or hand expressing before you feed to relieve some pressure
- Feed your baby before they become overly hungry
Mastitis is a breast infection, a soreness or lump in the breast. Typically, this only happens in one breast & it’s hard to tell the difference between an infection & a plugged duct. If you have some of these symptoms, you may have mastitis:
- Yellowish discharge from the nipple
- Your breasts feel hot to the touch
- Your breasts appear pink or red
If you do have mastitis, try the following:
- breastfeed on the infected side every two hours, or more often (this will keep the milk flowing)
- massage the area
- apply heat to the area with a wet, warm washcloth
- Wear a bra that isn’t too tight but supportive
If you do not feel better within 24 hours, ask your doctor. You may need medicine to get better.
One challenge with breastfeeding is the amount of work it takes! If you, or your baby, are having troubles with breastfeeding, it can make it even more challenging & more exhausting. When you breastfeed, you are tied to your baby. Unless you pump, you are the only one that can feed your little one. Even if you pump & have someone else feed, you still need to get up and pump. None the less, it can be exhausting.
Not feeling connected:
Breastfeeding is supposed to be amazing for connecting & bonding with your little one. This becomes challenging when you are having issues breastfeeding or your little one isn’t taking to your breast. It can be very discouraging to want to breastfeed & not be able to. If you are having issues & don’t feel connected with your little one, reach out to a lactation consultant. They are there to help, don’t be ashamed to get help. You want to do what’s best for you and your baby.
Inverted or flat nipples:
Some women experience inverted or flat nipples that make breastfeeding very difficult. Inverted nipples are when your nipples turn inward instead of pointing outward (or are flat). For breastfeeding to work, your baby needs to latch on both your nipple & breast. So even with flat or inverted nipples, breastfeeding can still work. Just continue to work at it! Typically with time, inverted nipples will become more normal as your baby sucks more and more.
If you are still having issues & are concerned, try a few of the following:
- Try a device that gently uses suction to pull out your nipple
- Talk to your doctor or lactation consultant
For some women, these challenges definitely outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding it not an easy road, but it is worth it, I promise. The pain is only temporary. If you are having issues though, please get help. There are so many resources out there to help you!
As I mentioned above in some of the challenges, it helps to have the proper products to help with breastfeeding. If you plan on breastfeeding, there are some products that can be REALLY helpful in this process. We will look at breast pumps & bottles in a different post since that is a larger topic (and there are so many to pick from) but here let’s look at some of the products that can help you in your breastfeeding journey.
As you become more and more comfortable with breastfeeding, you probably won’t need most of these products. But starting out, some of these can be a life saver! I know they were for me!
A nursing bra is one thing you will need all throughout your breastfeeding journey. And trust me, you don’t want to settle when it comes to nursing bras. You want your bra to be comfortable and easy to use. Especially in the beginning stages of breastfeeding, you want one that is comfortable! The nursing bra I use, I just got off of Amazon. It is really affordable and the best one that I have found! The quality is amazing (holds up better than more expensive ones I have bought) but it is amazingly soft too!
A nipple shield is a product you won’t need to use the entire time you are breastfeeding. But, if you are having nipple pain (soreness, bleeding, etc.) or having latching issues, a nipple shield could be a life saver for your! These are not very expensive & could make all the difference in your breastfeeding experience. Again, you won’t need to use these all the time, just until the pain goes away or until you are able to fix the latch issues.
With these, you can buy them in a one pack or two pack. They also come in two different sizes. These ones are thin & flexible silicone, BPA/BPS free & easy to clean.
This is, again, another product that you hopefully you won’t need your entire breastfeeding journey. However, it can really relieve the discomfort you are feeling the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Since I like to focus on natural & organic products, here are a few awesome natural, nipple creams. Especially when we are looking at where your baby will be feeding from, I think it is especially important to know what products you are using!
This will definitely be a personal preference but nursing pillows can definitely be helpful when you start out breastfeeding. Some women find these really helpful, while others find they can just use a regular pillow under their arm. I used both! The most well-known nursing pillow is the Bobby Pillow. I used a couple different styles of nursing pillows and this was my favorite. I did find that I didn’t use it longs though. As my baby grew I found that it didn’t work as well (but that again is my personal preference!). You can use this for your little one from birth to 12 months!
This is a product you will probably want all through your breastfeeding journey. There are so many different types of nursing covers out there, but this was by far my favorite. There are some that will just wrap around your neck and cover your front side. What I like about this one is it covers your entire body. It’s really easy to use, soft & affordable. Plus, with this one you can use it for more than just a nursing cover.
You can use this over the car seat, in a shopping cart, in a high chair, in infant swing and of course, as a nursing cover. A bonus with this one….there are cute patterns and designs to pick from 🙂
Breastfeeding is definitely a journey. It can e a long and challenging one but also a very rewarding one. The nice part though, it can be however long you want it to be. I can’t say enough about the benefits breastfeeding does for your little one but there are benefits for you too, momma! If you want to breastfeed but are having trouble, get help! What has been your experience with breastfeeding? Haven’t tried it yet? What are you looking forward to or nervous about? Leave a comment below 🙂
All the best,