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Q&A: What if I have problems breastfeeding again?

Posted: Breastfeeding » Problems | April 1st, 2004



Question: I had a really hard time breastfeeding my son. From the start, things just did not work out — even after hundreds of dollars for a lactation consultant and months of pain, frustration and tears. Now I am pregnant again and am wondering if it will be the same experience as the first. Do you have any advice for me?

Karen Prior responds: Sounds like you had a tough breastfeeding experience from the start. I completely understand that you would not want to repeat that again!

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Before you totally rule out breastfeeding this time, you might want to give it a try and see what happens. Just as each pregnancy is different, each baby is different and nurses differently. Many women who have had terrible first experiences have much easier times with the next child.

I know from personal experience that it really helps to have a support system, both at home with your partner and family as well as with a group of friends that are also breastfeeding. Many women turn to La Leche League for this type of support. LLL offers free telephone support for problems and have monthly support meetings all over the world. I recommend attending a meeting or two while you are still pregnant so you can get some suggestions on troubleshooting and getting breastfeeding off to a good start.

Birth choices and medications such as epidurals and labor induction as well as long labors and even pacifier use can affect a baby’s ability to latch on correctly at first. Educating yourself on these subjects can help you to make informed decisions and evaluate the risks and benefits associated with these factors. Check out the La Leche League web site for detailed research and information on these topics.

And finally, remember that if it doesn’t work out you can still be a nurturing mom with a bottle!

© Karen Prior

Karen Prior’s impressive breadth of knowledge in the therapeutic uses of yoga, nutrition and prenatal fitness is backed by solid credentials: she is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, a clinical nutritionist and a retired La Leche League leader. Karen runs a Registered Yoga School, where she offers specialized training in prenatal yoga and yoga for children through her programs MamasteYoga and Let’sPlayYoga. Karen lives in Texas with her husband and young daughter.

One Response to “Q&A: What if I have problems breastfeeding again?”

1 Mom of Six says:

I have incredible sympathy for moms who struggle while breastfeeding, as I have with all six babies. My milk supply is abundant and my newborns’ tiny mouths can’t handle the onslaught of milk, and so they don’t latch on properly. In the end that means, of course, intense pain for me and frustration for them.

I have had lactation consultants from a prestigious San Francisco hospital, LLL advice, homebirth midwives, and best-selling books about breastfeeding all at my disposal. It isn’t an issue of lack of resources or lack of experience (I’m about to give birth to our seventh and expect problems breastfeeding him as well).

But what has worked here *might* work for a mom like the one above: after baby gets colostrum from me for several days, I switch to pumping my milk and feeding baby from a bottle. Every time I have done this, baby has gone happily back to the breast around six weeks, with no “nipple confusion” ot fussing in general. Now, maybe it’s just me, but it certainly is worth a try if you are a mom experiencing significant problems breastfeeding.

In the long run, particularly if you plan to breastfeed for at least a year, breastfeeding is so worth fighting for in the first few months. But if it helps you to stop, heal, and take a breath, your baby will not be the worse for it. In fact, your baby most certainly will be the better for it!

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