How can I overcome these breastfeeding challenges?

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Answered by: Carissa, An Expert in the Breastfeeding Basics Category
Breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial gifts you can give to your child. Breastfeeding is not easy, and does not come naturally for everyone.

It is very easy to become discouraged as you begin breastfeeding. The majority of women do not breastfeed past 6 months postpartum. There are several factors that encourage mothers to give up and resort to formula feeding. Many hospitals encourage you to supplement your child's diet with formula very early on. Sleep deprivation also plays a major role in decision making postpartum. However, regardless of the temptation out there, it is very important to overcome these breastfeeding challenges.

The first challenge new mothers are faced with is getting your child to latch on to the breast. It can be very frustrating to hold a screaming baby to your breast, and not be able to make them latch on. Persistence is key during this adjustment period. Babies are born with a natural suckling reflex that will help overcome this first challenge. When you brush the side of your baby's cheek, they will turn their head toward your hand. This also works with a nipple. A baby will turn toward the nipple when it is brushed against their cheek.

There is research that has shown an advantage to placing the newborn child directly on their mother's chest at birth. This is a great request to include in your birth plan. It is also important to make sure your baby is latching on correctly. When your baby is nursing, it should not be painful. The baby's lips should just cover the base of the nipple. It is important to make sure the baby's mouth is open wide enough to fit your nipple as well as the surrounding skin. If your baby is only nursing on your nipple, your nipples will quickly become chapped and may even crack and bleed.

Once you have mastered the art of latching, there is still one major challenge that causes many mothers to quit breastfeeding and switch to formula. Many mothers feel that their babies are not getting enough to eat. It is natural for babies to lose a percentage of body weight shortly after birth. This does not mean they are not getting enough to eat. It is also possible that a doctor will suggest formula as an alternative. The most important thing to do during these challenging times is to trust your body. A woman's body is made to grow, deliver, and support a baby.

There may be several times that a mother feels that their baby is not getting enough to eat. The easiest way to put your mind at ease is to record all feedings and diaper changes. It is very rare, but possible, that your child may have a failure to thrive. These babies will not grow at a healthy rate and may need alternate nutrition. However, this is fairly rare and will be evident based on recordings of the baby's input and output.

If a baby is producing several wet diapers everyday, this means that your baby is receiving all the nutrients he or she needs and the rest is able to be excreted. The advantages to nursing your baby are endless and growing everyday as more medical research is completed. To provide a healthy life for your baby, and to maximize bonding between the two of you, it is important to overcome these breastfeeding challenges. Both you and your child will be greatly rewarded.

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