8 Suggestions For New Moms Struggling With Breastfeeding

I’m just going to be very honest here and say that breastfeeding has been one of the biggest challenges for me thus far. BUT, it was a challenge that I was up for, and with determination, patience, practice, a REALLY great lactation consultant and a handful of remedies that helped my breasts, it got better day by day.

Before I get into the remedies, I want to stress how important the determination part was for me personally. Given the pain and the amount of tears shed, I definitely contemplated quitting quite a few times. In fact, a consultant told me that I should. “Some women don’t have the anatomy for breastfeeding, it’s too painful and I think you may be one of those people, it’s ok to give up – happy mom, happy baby.” I had my out and I could have taken it, but reminded myself of one of my favorite quotes, “what you think, you become,” and chose not to allow my mind to give up. I knew I could get there. I doubled down on my determination, just like I had many many times in life, and persevered. I have now survived ten weeks of breastfeeding (amen!) and am hopeful to last quite a few more. I’m really glad that I didn’t give up and that my body allowed me to eventually continue, because it truly has gotten SO much better. With that, here is what helped keep my head in the game:

1. A good lactation consultant

If you live in LA and need a lactation consultant, Linda Hanna from My Nursing Coach is it! She’s basically the breast whisperer. She’s been a nurse for 40 years, but more importantly, she pioneered the Lactation Education programs at Cedar Sinai (in 1999) and Kaiser Permanente (in 1996). She comes to your home, gives a full assessment, helps make very specific adjustments, and designs personalized plans to help you succeed with breastfeeding. If you don’t live in LA, find your town’s Linda Hanna – it will help tremendously!

2. Silverette’s

While working through the pain as a beginner to breastfeeding, my nipples were incredibly sore to touch (bras and soft t-shirts included) so keeping them covered when the baby wasn’t feeding was important. Enter Silverette’s. Small cups crafted out of pure 925 silver that fit over and help to protect nipples while breastfeeding. Silver is a natural antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial metal that also contains anti-inflammatory agents. It heals and prevents cuts, wounds, cracks, soreness, and infections.

3. Chair, pillows, stools, etc.

Sitting in a comfortable position with support is key, and what that looks like is different for everyone. Some people like the Brest Friend, others like the boppy, some like using a nursing stool and others are perfectly fine holding the baby on their own in a cozy chair with arms (we got ours from Restoration Hardware who has some pretty cute ones). If you’re not feeling supported and comfortable, play around with switching things up so that you can be as relaxed as possible.

4. Nipple balms & patches

Dry cracked nipples don’t make things any easier, so it’s important to soothe the skin in between feedings. I slathered on organic nipple creams as often as I could, opting for Earth Mama, Motherove and Honest. The nice thing about those is that you don’t need to wipe them off before feeding again since they’re all natural. If your nipples are burning, Lansinoh Soothing Gels can bring a lot of relief, especially if stored in the fridge. And last but not least, if you have serious injuries like bites or tears, you may want to consider taking a break from putting the baby on the boob, pump instead, and treat the nipples with a topical antibiotic. I had to do this and the break-cure combo gave me the time I needed to heal, and once we tried again, it was so much better.

5. Massage, hot & cold

If your boobs are engorged, lumpy, aching and/or tender, it’s important to treat them properly to avoid clogged ducts or mastitis. Try gently massaging the breasts to loosen them up and apply moist heat compresses or a heating pad before nursing and a cold compress after nursing (these Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack, Hot or Cold packs are great). The heat with help with pain, discomfort, and milk flow, while the cold compresses help relieve pain in between nursing sessions. Taking a warm bath or shower may help, too, not only for the heat but because it may help you relax.

6. Nursing bras

I never really had much of a chest and didn’t understand the need for supportive bras until breastfeeding but wow, what a difference they make! The key is finding soft bras that fit right – you don’t want them too tight as that can impact your milk but too loose that they don’t provide enough support. Of all places H&M has an EXCELLENT selections (including sports bras) and I also really like Bravado especially these in the basic colors.

7. Supplements

I struggled with engorgement, blocked ducts and my supply but luckily didn’t suffer too long thanks to adding a few supplements to my daily routine. To help with my engorgement/blocked ducts, and to prevent mastitis, I started taking Sunflower Lecithin. Sunflower lecithin helps unclog ducts that are “stuck” by making the milk more “slippery,” by emulsifying the fatty bits with the watery bits of breastmilk and I swear by it. Since taking it, I haven’t been engorged once (knock on wood). To help my supply early on, my lactation consultant had me take Motherlove More Milk Special Blend and Motherlove Malunggay (Moringa) and it made a huge difference.

8. Support

I saved the best for last and that is support from other women. Talking to family, friends and/or strangers in a group/class about their breastfeeding experiences, most of which struggled, made me feel as though I wasn’t alone. It turns out, just about everyone I talked to had similar challenges which kept me from feeling as though I had some sort of shortcoming. Plus, they all had great recommendations to help get me through it.

The next challenge: diving deeper into milk supply. More to come on that.

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  1. I agree with all of this! I think a great lactation consultant is a must..I had a “relatively smooth” time with breastfeeding in the beginning (quotes because it was still hard even without any issues and there were still lots of tears), and I benefited so much from a couple sessions with a consultant anyway. My son is almost 11 months and we’re still going strong on our nursing journey. Have you tried the madewell or storq bras? I love those because the cups can be pulled aside—no clips, which I actually prefer.

  2. Linda Hannah is 🙌🏻 BF is so hard in the beginning, I’m glad it’s starting to get better! 👏🏻

  3. Thank you so much for talking about this. Breastfeeding has been the hardest thing for me too and I wish I had read this post before starting because it’s all so true. I ended up quitting and regret it everyday.

    1. I quit early with my first and had regret until my 2nd was 3 months old and I realized that this is what breastfeeding is suppose to be like. Both kids are older now and both are healthy and happy. That’s all that matters.
      My brother had bottles of milk with honey when he was a baby and he turned out fine.
      We need to stop being so hard on ourselves.

  4. I’m sorry you found it hard at the beginning. I just want to add a word of caution – there is really no evidence for and no need to take supplements. If it has coincided with less engorgement then that really is just coincidence.

    (And supplements don’t help with supply either – the answer to increasing supply is to feed more often and if you want to increase more than the extent to which your baby feeds, use a pump in between)

  5. I’ m from Germany. And I agree, that Breastfeeding could be very difficult.

    What really helped me, was infrared light on the Breast before feeding the Baby. The Milk starts to run and the Baby don’t have to suck so hard.

    When the Breast was sore, we use in Germany pure Sheepwool, from which is the Lanolin not removed. That heals the Nipples in a few hours.

    So enjoy the time with your Baby.

  6. I would also add to be aware of tendonitis in the wrists when nursing. It is common, but not talked about. It can be very painful. I had to wear a hard plastic brace for a month and get a cortisone shot.

  7. Yes to all this! A good way to psych yourself up for the painful feeds is to repeat “one feed at a time”, when I was in agony nursing I would think “there’s no way I can do this next X months” and then I remembered my nurse during labour telling me “take them one at a time”, so I applied that to nursing. The nights were the worst obviously. A shield SAVED my breastfeeding journey, I had a HOLE on my nipple that got worse ever feed. The shield saved me even though doctors and nurses told me to avoid it. 13 months later and we are still nursing and it’s pure magic XOXO

  8. Thank you for sharing this! As a mother of a 2 month old struggling with breastfeeding, you don’t read too many stories about challenges. I would love a follow up on this as to where you are at now with your breastfeeding journey and if you have any additional tips!

  9. Thanks soo much! It helped me a lot! Incredible post and incredible tips. Thanks for making everything much easier for the new mums!
    regards from Spain

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