Recognizing the Challenges of Breastfeeding

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“Women who do not breastfeed are not trying hard enough.”

“You could have breastfeed if you just…”

     As a new parent, you feel pressured to do anything and everything to give your baby the best chance at success in this world. You read about babies, join parenting classes, and even try to look back at your childhood to see what you can do better than your own parents. When the future of your bundle of joy rests on you, it can be hard to face the reality of what you cannot control.

     For many, one of those uncontrollable factors is breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Although it can be difficult to confront struggling with such a natural process, individuals from all walks of life experience it. From stay-at-home caregivers to highly-qualified physicians, you are not alone. In this article, we will be discussing some common breastfeeding problems and how to address them to improve your breastfeeding/chestfeeding experience.

Common Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding Problems

Whether the problem stems from hormonal imbalances or not, many women face similar challenges when it comes to feeding their baby. Some of this problems include:

Low Milk Supply: When you are not creating enough milk OR not emptying enough milk from your breasts.

Nipple/Breast Pain: Pain or tenderness caused by a number of factors such as pumping often, poor latch technique, tongue tie, etc.

Engorgement: When you make more milk than your baby uses, your breast can become swollen and firm, making it hard to breastfeed.

Plugged Milk Ducts: When milk does not completely drain out of a milk duct after pump or feeding session, making it difficult for milk to flow freely for the following session.

Breastfeeding during Illness: If your body is fighting off an infection, it may not have enough energy and resources left over to produce enough milk.

How to Address Them

1. Try Your Best to Avoid Them

Just like Benjamin Franklin used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With that in mind, one of the best way to ensure a more positive breastfeeding experience is to prepare in advance and establish good habits from the beginning. Go over indicators of potential risk factors for breastfeeding difficulties with your direct primary care physician. After screening for risk factors, take even more initiative by asking for reputable resources to learn how to address the specific issues you may encounter.

2. Establish a Tight Bond from the Start

Research studies have shown that initiating skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth helps to build a strong bond and comfort with your newborn. The physical connection helps the baby feel more comfortable to breastfeed while effectively signaling to your body to prepare for it. Additionally, the cue of your skin touching your child’s face will make alerting your baby of nursing time much easier, especially when they are sleepy.

3. Empty the Tanks

The production of new breast milk is influenced by the amount of milk present in your breast. Which means, if you want to routinely signal to your body to produce milk, you also have to routinely get rid of the milk you already have. Whether by baby, pump, or by hand, thoroughly empty out the milk in your breasts when it is there so more milk can be there when you need it.

4. Protect the Breastfeeding Relationship

If your goal is to get your baby to breastfeed more, but you have to use supplemental methods of feeding (e.g. bottles, etc.) at the moment, make sure they are as similar to how you naturally breastfeed as possible. Whether it means adjusting the speed of milk flow from your bottle or finding a bottle nipple that closely mimics the shape and texture of your own. Making these minor adjustments can go a long way to help your child prefer the natural breastfeeding experience that you provide for them.

5. Normalize Receiving & Reaching Out for Help

Of all people, you know the planning, effort, and care that goes into raising your child. At the same time, you also know that your love for your child can overshadow your ability to see your limitations to help them. Just because it is possible to do something yourself does not always make it the best way to do it. During those times, instead of reaching within, reach out to those around you, such as friends and family, who can help through the challenging times. Also, helping yourself can also come in the form of delegating out chores such as grocery shopping or cleaning your house towards phone apps or cleaning services.


Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is not as straightforward as the name suggests. Each person’s body, environment, and mentality is different. Which means that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Fortunately, physicians of DCPGH not only have the passion, but capacity to give the level of consideration to your health so you can continue to do the same for your child’s future. Your access to answers does not have to stop once you leave the doctor’s office. If you having trouble with breastfeeding or infant-related issues and think that DCPGH care model could work for you, contact Dr. Berens to set up a consultation.

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