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Tips for Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties

Posted by: Sue McWatt Fitzgerald

Mom-to-Mom — Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties

When I attended November’s La Leche League meeting, I expected to hear the  joys mixed with the pains of nursing. Stories of difficult breastfeeding experiences can rise to the top, but underneath these stories is where I found a common thread with the other moms. A thread that tied us together was a genuine desire to give our children the best possible start in their lives — even when it meant stretching in ways we couldn’t have predicted.

Breastfeeding brought a powerful, innate, and joyful bond between me and my first baby. For many, the learning curve between mom and baby resolves itself naturally. As I experienced with my second baby, breastfeeding also brings unexpected struggles
— both physically and emotionally.

Breastfeeding Difficulties are Being Avoided.

I found the best way to avoid breastfeeding difficulties was networking with breastfeeding moms and healthcare professionals. In addition, following the preventive care we’ve grown-up hearing:

  • eating a healthy and balanced diet of whole foods
  •  lowering stress levels
  • and - one of the more challenging bits of advice to achieve - taking a rest.

Although following these guidelines can’t guarantee a nursing experience free of challenges, preventive care helps prepare body and mind.

When I started breastfeeding, I needed role models and a supportive community. The collective knowledge of experienced moms was (and still is) invaluable. It’s refreshing to see pregnant moms and medical professionals at La Leche League meetings — it helps align expectations in what can be an emotional journey. La Leche League’s book, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” offers additional support and includes a section on “New Beginnings” with several gems for nursing families.

On a more private side, I found being able to identify changes in my body and breasts was an early cue to resolving engorgement, blockages, mastitis as well as latching problems so that any adverse affects were minimized.

Resources are Available Any Day, Any Hour.

Breastfeeding difficulties — from breast pain, supply issues, mastitis, plugged ducts, nursing strikes, teething to gas — don’t follow business hours. La Leche League offers additional resources to help troubleshoot difficulties:

Breastfeeding Difficulties are Being Overcome.

We all hope for the ideal portrait of the breastfeeding pair — joyful, connected and healthy. For some, this ideal isn’t a reality and frustration, guilt, helplessness and exhaustion arise — I’ve been there. Each breastfeeding pair of mom & child is unique and we have our own challenges and, as one of our La Leche League leaders, Jan, points out, our own success stories.

Whether we find resolve with help from a medical team, holistic remedies sleuthed by ourselves and by other moms, or through simple, motherly intuition, what stands out amongst breastfeeding moms is the determination to find answers and to move past complications. For some, it means educating family members who don’t support breastfeeding, moving to a healthcare provider that was more supportive of breastfeeding, connecting with experienced moms, and at times, reaching out of comfort zones or communities for expert assistance.

Staying the Course Benefits Everyone.

Avoiding and overcoming breastfeeding difficulties are two ways to tackle the low breastfeeding continuance rate we see in Newfoundland and Labrador. In the future, our children will be able to pull together resources for other breastfeeding families thanks to the hard work that communities are investing. We are moving past difficulties, setting higher standards and sharing insight to make breastfeeding the norm.

Parting Questions

  1. What advice can you offer for avoiding breastfeeding difficulties?
  2. How have you been able to overcome breastfeeding difficulties?


About the Author
Susan McWatt FitzGerald is a professional graphic designer who lives in Paradise, NL with her husband, Ryan, and two sons, August and Raleigh. Through the invaluable support of her husband and other moms in Manitoba and Newfoundland, Susan joyfully breastfed both her sons. In gratitude for this support, Susan is a member and advocate of La Leche League Canada and breastfeeding.

Tips for Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties

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