How you feed your baby is something that you need to learn about and this may end up involving a lot of trial and error. As with other stages in the journey of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, breastfeeding may come easily to you or it may be yet another challenge, and different to what you expected or hoped for.
Many women report difficulties with breastfeeding initially, and with time, assistance and support they have managed to overcome initial struggles and successfully breastfeed.
For others however, breastfeeding challenges continue to cause frustration and pain, leading many to decide that breastfeeding is not working for them. These experiences are often compounded by our own expectations, pressure we put on ourselves, pressure and conflicting advice from health professionals and/or well meaning advice given by others. Furthermore, messages informing us that ‘breast is best’ places even more pressure on women. As a result, being unable to breastfeed can cause additional feelings of guilt and failure.
I struggled with breast-feeding. Cracked nipples, incredible pain …in the end I had to give up and do you know I felt an enormous sense of relief that I didn’t have to go through this anymore. I felt so guilty thinking that I was disadvantaging her…. There was a lot of frustration and disappointment there.
All of this stress and pressure can be managed – at least at some level.
Ultimately it is up to you to decide if, or for how long, you want to continue to persist with breastfeeding.
Your primary focus is that your baby is feeding – and thriving – whether that be via breast or bottle. If breastfeeding is important to you, access quality information and support from health professionals to give yourself the opportunity (if that’s what you want to do).
The local health care nurse saw that I got anxiety – mainly from trying to be successful to breast feed. They got help for me straight away, they were fantastic and it really helped.
However, if the distress caused by breastfeeding difficulties is beginning to take over and cause ongoing distress to you and/or your baby, it may be time to weigh up the costs and benefits of breastfeeding for you right now.
I felt under immense pressure to breastfeed and that breast was best for baby. What I learned was that when a mother is struggling, it is the recovery of the mother that is best for baby.
Either way, it’s important to remember consider what is right for you. There are also a range of places to access help and support for which ever decision you may make.
Your role as a parent is to feed your child. If breast-feeding is not working for you, or not what you choose to do, you are no less of a loving mother or provider.