Is breastfeeding always hard?(63 Posts)
I'm only 20 weeks pregnant so still have a while to go , but I've been thinking about feeding and would really like to breastfeed when the baby arrives for lots of reasons. I'm slightly concerned though because no one I know has managed it, so can't give me real life support, and I've been reading threads here and there seem to be lots of different problems. Does anyone find it 'easy' or is it always a struggle at first? Is there anything you recommend to prepare? Reading etc? Or do you just have to wait and see?
I think the more information you arm yourself with the better.
Find out if your area has breastfeeding cafes, lactation consultants etc. Ask your midwife what services they offer and find out the same from your health visitor when you meet them.
There are a lot of online resources, including Kelly Mom and La Leche League. As well as tons of forums.
I found it relatively easy. DD had tongue tie identified and snipped while we were in hospital and I got almost a full day of midwifery help with latch and positioning.
I did have sore nips and used a lot of lanisoh for a while but then we got the hang of it and mixed fed DD for her first year.
I didn't put any pressure on myself and that helped immensely.
Not always difficult, remember that people who are posting on here for advice are only a small percentage, and they are women who are having some difficulty. I was very fortunate with my two DC and we got the hang of it straight away. Under no illusion that this was due to anything other than luck though!
No it's not. Both mine just latched on and fed and that was that.
What can be hard is knowing what's normal, but that's true of formula feeding too.
Read up on things like cluster feeding, don't stress that they're not getting enough - lots of wet nappies and you're good.
Don't worry if they are feeding round the clock and hungry at first - it's how they stimulate your milk to come in. Totally natural and normal, but this is often when well-meaning relatives step in with formula.
Remember that breastfeeding is generally easy. Your body is made for it.
Yes, there will be people who struggle but this is true of anything 'natural' - I've had 2 EMCS for example because my body clearly wasnt built to birth babies.....! But cest la vie!
Remember also, that not everyone really does have as many problems as they say. Not because they're terrible liars etc, but because sadly some mothers who FF feel guilt for their decision, and find it easier to say 'I had no milk/bleeding nipples' than 'I just wanted to FF.'
I do NOT say this judgementally - in fact if anything it's a judgement on society, and NOT mothers.
So yeah. I've helped many women to breastfeed. It usually just happens with a couple of minor bumps in the road. Sometimes you get major bumps, for which there is almost always a solution. And in rare cases it just truly doesn't work out.
But the likelihood is that with support and preparation you'll be fine.
At the risk of sounding smug, my first born breast fed whilst I was laying in bed in the recover room after theatre. I just swipe her nose with my nipple, she opened up and I put her on. It wasn't the best latch ever, but she was feeding.
Try not to worry OP, the threads on here are always more than likely going to be the difficult stories. No one is going to start a thread saying "YAY, I AM AWESOME AT BREAST FEEDING!!"
Learn all you can about it first ad be patient. At the beginning you'll have to feed loads- the best thing anyone told me is they'll feed every hour in the early weeks. Every hour for 24.
I hadn't realised it was that frequent but it prepared me- so many women think there is something wrong when they have to feed round the clock. Also when they go 3 hours without feeding you're happy!
Apart from that, which is hard work (no sleep and no one can help) at about 6 weeks the switch turns and BF suddenly becomes much easier than bottle feeding- you'll be happy you persevered.
My DC latched on straight away and loved it.
I found breastfeeding quite easy compared to some people. I had good support from the Midwife and health visitor and my dh of course.
Learn about it now, read up on it, ask your midwife. If you arm yourself with knowledge it will help massively.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself, be prepared for a few weeks glued to your sofa.
good luck and congratulations.
I think every women is likely to find it a very different experience. My DM fed me and sister, and sister fed her two so I was very normalised by it and really wanted to succeed.
When it came to it I found it incredibly painful but was desperate to continue. At around 6 weeks I was close to quitting but went to a BFing clinic where they diagnosed tongue tie. I had it snipped 4 days later and that same day the pain lessened. Within a week I was pain free!
It was tiring and uncomfortable at times but I'm still feeding DD at 16 months and I'm incredibly pleased I persevered. We have weathered teething and illnesses and during those times alone being able to calm and comfort my distraught DD has been invaluable.
Good luck whatever you choose to do and remember: if you try (or even not) and it's not for you or it hurts too much or whatever the hell reason you like, you won't have failed and will have tried your best.
I found it difficult to establish (very tiny baby) but am a dogged sort and just kept going (mostly to spite my DM who was espousing such things as 'oh give her a bottle and take some Epsom salts: look at the state of you' etc etc).
After 3 difficult weeks it suddenly clicked. Once it was working (and for most people it does come good in the end) it was so very convenient compared to friends with bottles to carry around and I was so comfortable in my own skin.
I couldn't BF the next one (post natal complications and hence medication which precluded feeding for the first 3 months) and she ended up fine, so it's not the end of the world, but for convenience sake I'd recommend sticking with it if you can get past any initial difficulties. My midwife likened it to wearing shoes your whole life then deciding to go barefoot outdoors: it takes a few weeks to get used to the sensation and for your feet to toughen up!
Your MW/HV will offer you help if you want it and the NCT will have pro BF events: coffee meet ups etc which you may find useful if you need advice.
I found it very easy as I had a lot of milk and my children latched and then drained. However, I then got very mentally unwell and had to be admitted so stopped dead. It utterly destroyed me to give up the one thing I thought I was doing well at the time.
So it's not always hard!
Failed miserably with both and read books, watched YouTube clips😀 Had specialists out etc . However had hurdles with both. So we were on the back foot. Most of my friends have breast fed successfully. One friend couldn't with first but with second he latched great and she said he was easy to feed. I will try again if we are lucky enough to have a third baby in the future but best advice would be to get lots of support and try your best but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work. It's lovely if you can but if it doesn't work out that's ok too. Good luck X
Ds was born at 35 weeks and was tube fed for a few days as he wasn't well. After the first couple of feeds, he never looked back. I fed him for 23 months, no problems at all.
I found it quite painful for the first week, then it became very easy. I recommend lansinoh for the first few weeks
Both my dc were born knowing what to do. I've never had cracked nipple's, thrush or mastitis.
DD2 needed top ups because she didn't eat enough so that was stressful but not hard, her latch was fine so I wasn't in any pain or anything.
My biggest problem has been them biting me around 9m
Thanks so much. This is really reassuring. I'll check out the websites suggested and look into local services.
I think one of my problems might be the well meaning relatives who didn't breastfeed stepping in with formula- I've already had some comments that it will be hard! Maybe I'll get DM to read some of the websites beforehand actually!
No it's not always hard for everyone. That said, I found the first few weeks really hard and pretty much everyone I know in real life had a similar experience. Those I know who stuck with it (I include myself) would mostly tell you that it can and does get easier. I found that there was a lot of support from the midwives, health visitor, breastfeeding support workers and even just generally from other women and new parents. Visitors (like neighbours and people I don't even know very well!) would say 'keep going, it's really tough to start with'. There is also good support and loads of information online, everything I googled for the first few weeks of DS's life was related to feeding!
It's good that you are looking into this already and arming yourself with information. My advice would be to go into it with an open mind, hope for the best and see what the experience is like for you. It could well be plain sailing, but if it is not and you want to continue, be sure to seek the support you need. I found it easiest to give myself small goals. 'I'll make it through the next feed, the next day, the next week, the next month...' That made it manageable for me and now at 7 weeks it all feels very doable. I still have questions and the odd panic about things but in general it is now a very positive thing for the baby and for me.
Ooh I took ages to type and there have been loads more replies! Thanks so much! This is all really helpful.
Good luck and as pp have suggested - make sure your support network gets good info too.
I'm in the
probably irritating 'found it easy' camp too. It was still stressful with DC1 as I couldn't trust my own body to feed her, and I didn't bf for as long as I'd hoped because of it. Baby was actually healthy and GP was more than happy with growth, it's just the sheer weight of people around me saying stuff like "she'll sleep better on formula" liars and "are you sure you're making enough milk, it's been 3 months now?" (because milk dries up at precisely 12 weeks postpartum ) meant that I lost confidence in myself.
Having both BF and bottle fed I have to say that I personally found bfing a lot easier. I didn't even go through a sore/painful/cracked stage which I feel very lucky about.
<nipples of steel>
Nope. I'm rubbish at being pregnant but it turns out that DD and I took to BF, and never looked back - I fed her for 20 months with no problems.
I would definitely second (third) the advice you got to read up about it though, so you know what is normal. It's normal for them to feed all the time at the beginning, to cluster feed, for it to hurt for a couple of seconds right at the beginning when they latch on. That helps, because you'll know you're not doing anything 'wrong' and give you the confidence to continue.
I found it easy and agree some of the horror stories are a bit off putting but forewarned is definitely forearmed. My sister was still breastfeeding when I got pregnant so I knew a lot about it from observing her. You do have to be prepared to sit and feed a lot at first and when growth spurts happen so even if it is painless and baby takes to it I can see that sometimes that might be hard. A supportive partner helps. I am quite partial to sitting down and watching tv so I didn't mind just settling down with ds for days on end! It also makes you hungry/thirsty/tired even though it looks like you're not doing much.
I loved doing it and hoping dc2 takes to it like my ds did (35 weeks and counting), can't wait to do it again!
I found it really easy with both my dds. Bit of soreness for a day or 2 with dd2, but apart from that really straightforward.
Just don't promise yourself to do it then feel like a failure if you don't.
I said I'd do 6 months : I did 6 weeks. It was excruciating. I had thrush, mastitis and DS never seemed full. I get the whole feed around the clock, cluster feed, watch box sets etc but if it doesn't work it doesn't work. It is relentless, I can tell you that.
I felt like a failure. I put too much pressure on myself, and I feel like health professionals did too.
Don't be a martyr. Formula is fine.
Hitting and running but FGS if there is a tongue tie make sure it gets snipped pronto and properly: my DD had to have hers done twice and it almost scuppered my breastfeeding of her (as it'd been so effing tough first 4 weeks of her life).
I think for some people, its not necessarily breastfeeding that is difficult on its own if you see what I mean, its that being a new parent is hard.
So the physical act of feeding can be hard – and in some circumstances, if you weren’t on your knees with tiredness or if your body didn’t hurt so much, or that you knew the baby was getting enough and was “normal”, then it might make it easier when you’re struggling. But the breast doesn’t come with a handy gauge to see how much milk you’ve produced / given, you can’t ask someone else to do it when you just need to sleep and like many other things with parenting, everyone wants to do their best and puts themselves under massive pressure.
I completely agree that its hard to start with, especially as you don’t know if you’re doing it properly, can be extremely painful, demoralising, frustrating. But in my case (I had twins), it clicked after 2 or 3 weeks. And after that, it was easy. The sleep deprivation etc was hard, the constant waking etc, but they got the hang of feeding (got to be quick feeders) and so did I (I got to know them too). It would have been much harder to get out of the door with sterilised bottles / get up in the night to make bottles etc. It was really convenient, quick. I did eat massive portions for a while, and had equally massive boobs, but it worked out well. Good luck!
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