Unexpected Struggles with Nursing And How to Overcome Them!
Nursing your new little one is one of the best ways to connect and bond. It’s a special time between mommy and baby that nobody else can experience. BUT, nursing may be bring some unexpected hardships and might not be as easy as you think.
Read on to see what challenges I faced and how I overcame them!
Heads Up New Mamas!
Nursing does NOT always come as natural as you would think! My first son, Jaxson, had SUCH a difficult time latching. Of course, it was my first time learning how to nurse my new baby as well, but I just didn’t realize HOW HARD something so natural would be.
After his birth, the nursing staff and lactation consultants were ready to help! They checked on us frequently to give us the support, answer our questions and wanted to make sure I was comfortable.
They also made sure he was eating properly and helped get him to latch correctly. It was going well and they made it seem like we were doing great!
Until we got home…
Getting him to latch properly (or at all) was extremely difficult and PAINFUL. There was just so much newness to it all that it felt a little overwhelming.
I needed help.
Nursing became one of my most stressful parts of having a newborn. It was a hit or miss with Jaxson. Sometimes he would latch okay, while other times we’d be struggling for what seemed liked hours…
Jaxson would be hysterical due to hunger and frustration and I was just sobbing because I felt like a FAILURE.
My newborn was hungry and needed me. I was his supply of food and I couldn’t give it to him.
I was a first time mom that couldn’t even nurse my baby. One of the most natural ways to feed our newborns that every other mammal instinctively knows how to do.
How was I going to do anything else right with him?
It was extremely overwhelming, so we decided to try and give him a bottle.
I quickly had to figure out how to use my new breast pump (which I was also not prepared for) so he could still have my milk. Plus, I was ready to burst from the seems and needed some relief!
Thank you breast pump…my new best friend!
ANYWAYS, the bottle didn’t quite work for us. He was so stubborn and refused it most of the time or would choke on the milk coming out.
The mix of emotions I felt during each feeding (which is often with a new born) was a rollercoaster ride!
It was literally exhausting and I didn’t know what to do. I was so determined to nurse my baby so we stuck with it. It took over a month (which felt like years) before he started nursing well. He would take my right breast, but for some reason he couldn’t latch on my left side for a while. Thankfully, as he got bigger, he also got better at it and finally took to both.
I’m pretty sure I cried some happy tears too! It’s the little victories mamas. Celebrate them!
So, to any moms planning on nursing their baby, read the suggestions below!
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1. Be prepared
Before baby arrives, do some research on what to expect with nursing. You’re here so this is a great start mamma!
Learn different types of holds, positions, and latching techniques that you can use with your baby. It may feel weird, but practice with a stuffed animal or pillow if you need to!
In the first couple of weeks of nursing, your nipples will be tender, sore, and cracked as they slowly adjust to their new job of feeding your baby.
Have nipple cream and/or soothing gel pads on hand! I highly recommend the brands Lansinoh and Medela. After nursing three kiddos, these have brought me the most instant relief.
Use any other resources offered to you! Most hospitals offer lactation consultants and have pamphlets with great information. I met with a lactation consultant multiple times to get as much help as I could. This will be a great option for you if you are struggling or have a tongue tied baby!
2. Have a BACKUP PLAN
I didn’t expect to have issues with nursing (why would I?), so I didn’t have a plan B (#momfail). Here are a few tips just in case you need them!
- Have multiple types of bottles (and bottle nipples) washed and ready. If you have a picky baby (like I did), you’ll want to be able to offer different types when they refuse one.
- Get your breast pump out and know how to use it! You’ll most likely be using this anyways for relief and to stock up for later, but if baby is not latching, you’ll want to pump often so your baby still has breastmilk to drink.
- If baby has difficulties latching and sucking, see if he/she will suck on a pacifier first. If they get it, try a quick switch for your breast!
- Have different types of pacifiers as well!
- Try the Nipple Shield. I was desperate for anything, and my mom had heard of this and purchased it for me. Luckily, I found some success in it! Here’s two to try: Haakaa Nipple Shield and Link for purchase: Medela Nipple Shield
- It might take time for each of these, but if you’re motivated to breastfeed your baby, it will come! And I promise it’s worth it.
3. Try nursing before baby is too hungry
Once your baby is frustrated and really hungry, it may be too late. I remember working with my first child for 30 minutes just to get him to latch. At this point he was screaming crying. He was hungry, ready to eat, and he was so frustrated because he wasn’t getting what he wanted/needed.
If it takes some time for your baby to latch, offer the breast 30 minutes before they’re normal feeding time. This will help give some leeway and time for breaks before the baby gets to that breaking point where they are really hungry. Trust me, they’ll let you know!
4. Be Patient
Nursing can definitely take some time to feel comfortable with. Keep calm and breath. Your baby will sense and react to your energy. If you’re frustrated, they’ll feel that. Calming music or your soothing voice can help sooth them.
Be persistent, yet patient. Do your best. And give yourself grace. You’ve got this!
5. Know that you are not a failure
If it doesn’t work out, then its OKAY. Your overall health and well-being are so important too. And your baby will be just fine!
We as moms, tend to run ourselves to the ground for our families. We sacrifice A LOT because we want the best for them. But just know, we can be better mothers if we’re not running on empty every day. It’s okay to be imperfect. You are doing an amazing job mamma! Keep your head up.
And remember, nursing your new little one is completely natural and beautiful! Embrace it!
We’re in this together!
I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, comments or questions! Leave a response below so we can continue to help each other become stronger moms!