The Grapevine

4 Fears That Keep Women From Breastfeeding: Why Nursing Can Be Hard To Start

Although we are constantly reading news stories highlighting the health benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mommy, the truth is that some mothers are terrified by the idea of breastfeeding. However, addressing these fears, and the facts and fiction behind them, is the first step to overcoming them.

One of the biggest fears new mothers have is that they won’t physically be able to breastfeed. This fear is not completely unfounded: Most new moms do have trouble breastfeeding, but failing to properly breastfeed your baby on the first (or second or third) go doesn't mean you should stop. For example, according to NPR, three days after giving birth, 92 percent of new mothers questioned said they were having problems breastfeeding, and only 13 percent of mothers were able to successfully complete the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding. Counseling is a huge help, and most mothers having difficulty can succeed with a bit of guidance.

breastfeeding You're not alone in your fear of breastfeeding your new baby. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Another popular fear surrounding breastfeeding is that it might hurt. In fact, a survey of 418 first-time mothers revealed that 44 percent cited pain as a problem with breastfeeding their babies, NPR reported. Slight discomfort is a normal part of breastfeeding. When the milk first comes in, a woman’s breasts can swell and nipple burn is common at first. Other causes of pain include a clogged milk duct or a biting baby, but these problems should not persist. According to Plum Organics Baby Food, when done correctly, breastfeeding itself should not be continuously painful. Once again, addressing this issue with a breastfeeding counselor can help alleviate any pain.

Women may also fear how breastfeeding will affect the look of their breasts and whether it may change their sex lives. Although it's true that breastfeeding and just pregnancy in general can permanently alter how your breasts look, this is completely normal and usually does not affect a woman’s sex life. Many women may say they don’t want their breasts touched by anyone other than the baby while they breastfeed, but a couple should discuss how feeding their new child may change their sex lives and find a way to overcome this hurdle together. Also, breastfeeding is just a temporary behavior, and once a woman stops, she may want to return to her normal sex life.

Breastfeeding is not for everyone, and it’s a new mother’s choice as to whether or not she would like to feed her newborn through this method. However, fear shouldn't stop moms determined to breastfeed. Above all, it’s important to speak with a health professional about any fears to ensure it's both physically and emotionally satisfying for both mother and child.

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