There’s no denying the tremendous health benefits associated with breastfeeding and that those benefits only continue to increase the longer you nurse your little one.
But even with these known benefits for both mom and baby, it’s also no real secret that many new moms end up quitting breastfeeding within the first few weeks and months after baby is born.
In fact, according to the most recent CDC breastfeeding report card (2018) -
“among infants born in 2015 in the United States, 4 out of 5 (83.2%) started to breastfeed, over half (57.6%) were breastfeeding at 6 months, and over one-third (35.9%) were breastfeeding at 12 months.”
And these numbers only reflect those babies who received any amount of breast milk. For those who were exclusively breastfed, the numbers were much lower.
While these numbers continue to rise due to initiatives put into place towards the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, the truth is, there’s still a considerable drop-off between initiation rates and the rates for those who are still breastfeeding 12 months later.
So, even with these breastfeeding recommendations and all of the known breastfeeding benefits…
Why such a big drop?
What do the numbers tell us?
What these numbers tell us is that many new moms want to breastfeed their babies and even start out doing so.
Unfortunately over time, many of these moms face a number of barriers that may make them totally reconsider this whole breastfeeding thing.
Can you relate?
I’m guessing, yes.
But you know what? It’s not your fault!
Research tells us time and time again that without the right kind of information and support moms are more likely to give up nursing earlier than they intended because — well, breastfeeding can be hard!
Some of the most cited reasons why a new mom might consider throwing in the towel before they originally wanted to are:
not enough milk (real or perceived)
pain (nipple or breast)
going back to work
lack of support
breastfeeding is “too stressful”
The good news though is if you better educate, inform, and prepare yourself — breastfeeding truly can be so much easier!
You’re not alone, Mama
If you find yourself struggling with breastfeeding — know this.
You’re definitely not alone!
So many of the moms I personally know have experienced their share of struggles, especially in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding. And it’s not just the moms I know. After all, the numbers above don’t lie.
Even though breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t always come naturally. But with some practice, patience and persistence, more times than not, it eventually pays off.
As a lactation consultant, one thing I constantly tell my clients is to try and give breastfeeding at least 6-8 weeks. This seems to be a magical time when breastfeeding suddenly makes sense.
Mom and baby generally find their rhythm together, your milk supply has probably leveled itself out and you’re no longer leaking breast milk everywhere, you should no longer be experiencing any pain, and you might finally be on a more predictable schedule or possibly even getting some better sleep at night.
Here’s to at least hoping. Right?
Breastfeeding Does Get Easier!
Now even though I previously mentioned that many times it takes about 6-8 weeks for breastfeeding to suddenly “click” and become much easier, if you haven’t taken the time within those weeks to address any major issues you might be experiencing, chances are these problems aren’t suddenly going to resolve themselves all of their own.
An example of some major problems I’m referring to include not producing enough milk to sustain baby’s needs or chronically sore nipples.
Of course, there are many other breastfeeding issues that need to be assessed by an experienced lactation consultant as early as possible to ensure a more positive outcome.
Fortunately, there are also several things you can do in order to make your breastfeeding experience that much easier.