While producing breast milk is natural, breastfeeding a baby is something that takes time to learn. And that can be frustrating. At a time when you’re already sleep deprived, stressed, and dealing with all the changes a new baby brings, struggling with breastfeeding is the last thing you need. Fortunately, there is a wealth of breastfeeding resources and help for new moms who are struggling. You just need to know where to look. Check out these tips for where to find help when you’re struggling with breastfeeding.
Find a Support Network
If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family around you with breastfeeding experience, don’t hesitate to bring your questions to them and seek out their support.
When friends ask how they can help you after you give birth, ask them about breastfeeding. They may be able to answer questions or offer advice. Chances are they struggled too! So many women have difficulty in the early weeks of breastfeeding and think they are alone! You’re not. Almost everyone struggles in one way or another.
Breastfeeding can feel so personal that friends and family may hesitate to offer help or breastfeeding advice if you don’t let them know what your questions are. So, ask!If your friends and family are not knowledgeable about breastfeeding or are unable to support you, expand your network! Look for a La Leche League group or other breastfeeding support group in your area. Your obstetrician or pediatrician may be able to help you find a group.
If there are no breastfeeding groups, look for new mom groups. Often, they will have experienced breastfeeding mamas among them or group leaders who can help you find resources for your questions.
You can also find breastfeeding support groups online if you aren’t able to connect with any groups in your area.
Seek Out a Professional
If your breastfeeding struggles go beyond the scope of what friends or family or even a breastfeeding support group can help you with, it’s time to find a professional. A professional like a certified lactation consultant can help you recognize any physical issues that are causing your struggle with breastfeeding and help you address them. Many hospitals have lactation consultants on staff and you may have met with one before you were discharged after your delivery. If so, you can reach out to them for a follow up appointment if you are struggling with breastfeeding at home.
You can also find lactation consultants by asking your pediatrician or obstetrician for a referral. Or do an online search for an IBCLC, which is an international board-certified lactation consultant.
Other breastfeeding professionals include Certified Lactation Counselors or Certified Breastfeeding Educators. Some doulas are also knowledgeable about helping new mothers with breastfeeding issues.
Many moms take a breastfeeding class during pregnancy, but it’s not too late to take one now. In fact, it may be even more helpful now that you know what struggles you’re having. If you did take a class during your pregnancy, you may be able to reach out to your class instructor for follow up help. Or if you had a birth doula, consider asking her if she can help with breastfeeding or knows someone who does and can help connect you.
Check Out Online Resources
For help with questions about breastfeeding or minor breastfeeding issues that you’re struggling with, there are a number of breastfeeding resources online.
Online resources can be useful for non-urgent questions or issues that come up during middle of the night feedings or other times of day or night when reaching out to a professional or even a friend is not reasonable.
If nothing else, online resources can help you narrow down your questions before you see a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding professional.
As with any health-related issue, consider your sources of information carefully. For example, the La Leche League website or www.womenshealth.gov are sources of reliable information about breastfeeding. The comments section of an unknown blog, not so much. And please remember, no matter what information you can find online or learn from a friend or support group always take your questions and struggles to a lactation consultant or your doctor if you have concerns about pain you are experiencing or any symptoms or concerns that are related to your health or the health of your baby.
– Elizabeth V., Worth Writing For