Top 7 Fears Women Have About Breastfeeding

Top 5 Fears Women have About Breastfeeding addressed - do these sound like you?

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Top 7 Fears Women Have About Breastfeeding

Deciding whether or not to breastfeed is one of those first decisions you make when you’re a new mama. Moments after your baby is born, the hospital or birthing center staff will encourage you to bond with your newborn by breastfeeding. Per the World Health Organization recommendations, babies should receive that ultra-rich colostrum (the “liquid gold” mamas make before their milk comes in) within an hour of life.

If you’re not sure you want to breastfeed, or if you are seriously considering not breastfeeding, know that this is not a decision you should make lightly.

Breastfeeding is an invaluable source of nutrients for your baby. The vitamins and hormones contained in breastmilk cannot be replicated by any formula, though formula companies claim to come “close”.

You may be intimidated. When I had my first baby, I knew NOTHING. I actually believed breastfeeding would be, “Here’s a boob, baby!” And the rest would be easy-peasy.

Not so.

It was difficult, but Genny and I (and Ryan and my parents and my in-laws and my friends…it takes a village yall) powered through and came out stronger on the other side.

Let me help quiet your biggest fears by addressing 7 top fears women have about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can be a daunting subject. Depending on your family and friends’ outlook, you may have mixed or very strong feelings about it. While breastfeeding is a natural and normal part of life, it is perfectly normal to have anxieties about it.

Before we go on, you need to understand one very important fact if you are becoming a mommy:

Raising a baby is the hardest, most thankless job in the whole world, but it is also the most important job in the whole world.

Your life will never be the same. Your body will change forever; your life will change forever; your marriage will change forever.

I say thisbecause one reason women have these fears is that they do not want their lives to change. It can be difficult to accept, but you must come to peace with these changes emotionally or you will have a much more difficult time as a parent. Know that you are not alone, and it is normal to have these fears, but you should never ignore them.

Now that we’ve shaken that stigma, let’s get real about breastfeeding fears!

Top 7 Reasons Women are Scared to Breastfeed

  • It will hurt.

  • I will have to get up late at night to feed the baby.

  • My baby will wake up at night more often because breastmilk isn’t calorie-heavy enough.

  • It will ruin my sex life.

  • It’s embarrassing.

  • I won’t be able to do it.

  • I won’t make enough for my baby.

It will hurt.

I will be 100% honest: breastfeeding can be extremely painful at first. When I say at first, I mean it could be weeks before it does not hurt to breastfeed. According to an NPR study, 44% of women report pain in association with breastfeeding.

The good news is that this pain does not last forever! Pain is the body telling you something is wrong. Don’t give up, but don’t be okay with intense pain. If you have extreme, extended pain while breastfeeding, speak with a lactation specialist. These people are amazing! Check with your hospital or OB to see if there is a list of recommended local specialists. Many hospitals have one on staff who will visit mama and baby before they check out. (See below for some breastfeeding resources)

After you and your baby get the hang of it, breastfeeding becomes easy and routine. Genny is 16 months old, and she still nurses in the morning and before bed. You and your baby were made to do this, so don’t let temporary pain stop you from something that will have lifelong benefits for your child!

 

I will have to get up late at night to feed the baby.

Newborns have to eat around the clock, including late-night feedings. When they are very small, newborns are incredibly demanding in the food department. They will wake you up in the middle of the night to eat no matter what. However, this is a temporary situation. Late-night feedings usually last the first month and slack off gradually after the first week.

Another solution is to pump milk and have your spouse help with those feedings. Of course this isn’t the ideal scenario, but it can be helpful. Just so you know, two drawbacks to this are 1) pumping milk within the first week or two of breastfeeding can cause your supply to increase too quickly, causing mastitis (breast infection caused by a clogged milk duct); and 2) You will miss out on the intimacy of mama-baby nursing sessions. More on this another time!

Late at night, when your baby has woken you up for the third time, think these words to yourself, “This will not last forever. I can do this.” To make up for this lost sleep, ask for help from close friends and family. You are not weak or burdensome for doing this: you are doing what is best for your baby.

My baby will wake up in the middle of the night because breastmilk isn’t calorie-heavy enough.

If I had a dime for every time someone recommended I put rice in Genny’s bottle… Do not do that! The reason formulas and bottle-additives help babies to sleep longer is because they contain complex ingredients that tiny developing digestive systems find difficult (and thus take longer) to break down. This does not mean your baby is more satisfied with formula than with breastmilk, it just means his tummy is having to work harder and he a may have a tummy ache later. A common issue with formula-fed babies is colic due to the difficulty of digesting formula.

Your breastmilk is created with exactly the right amount of nutrients for your specific baby. You will be amazed to learn how customized each woman’s breastmilk is!

Yes, you will have to get up at night to feed your baby, but remember your new mantra: “This will not last forever. I can do this.” You are all your baby needs and wants for survival. Even when he’s screaming in the middle of the night, remember you are his mommy because you are the best suited person for the job. It will be hard, but don’t give up!

It will ruin my sex life.

Okay, for real, it’s something you have to think about! This was actually listed as one of the top 4 biggest concerns women have about breastfeeding, according to Medical Daily. It is definitely an understandable worry, especially if you strive to keep your marriage a major priority in your life.

It’s true, nothing will ever be the same again, including your sex life. You may have to find a new rhythm when it comes to many aspects of your life, including exercise and diet.

At the same time, these changes aren’t necessarily bad! Understanding that things will be different is vital when it comes to being a mama. Kids have a great way of forcing you to “go with the flow”, “roll with the punches”, and basically all of those cliches.

Be sure to talk with your spouse and be honest about how you’re feeling. Ask how he’s feeling as well. When you’re overtired and struggling, it can be easy to forget that communication is essential for a healthy relationship.

 

It’s embarrassing.

Your style of breastfeeding does not have to be uncovered or public. Legally and socially, you are free to breastfeed any way that you like. If covering is your thing, there are hundreds of stylish, convenient options out there. Personally, I never breastfed in public because it made me feel uncomfortable. My favorite covers are from Copper Pearl, modeled after the Covered Goods brand only without the prices (yikes!).

If you’re covering up and breastfeeding in public and it offends someone, well I’ve got to say they can get over it. Honestly, in our sexualized society where boobs are basically a method of advertising, nobody should ever judge a woman for choosing to breatfeed publicly. Especially not with the health advantages for both mama and baby far outweigh how much you should care about uptight strangers.

You’re a mom now. If baby’s hungry, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about putting baby first.

I won’t be able to do it.

It’s true that breastfeeding is not easy. I’ve heard stories of women who breastfed their babies and had difficulty making enough milk. Other women have a very difficult time making milk at all and adjusting to breastfeeding. What many women fail to do in these situations is to seek help!

Lactation consultants and pediatricians are there as resources for you when you’re having a hard time with breastfeeding. Motherhood is not a venture you are to go alone. Sadly, many women feel they should be able to do it all on their own and don’t want to ask for help. Even more unfortunate is when others make mommies feel bad because they need help from those around them.

Know that if you decide to breastfeed, there are people who will help you! If you worry you aren’t making enough, that your baby’s latch isn’t right, that you’re making too much milk, don’t hesitate to get on some Leche League forums or call your doctor. Even consulting your mother or a friend who has breastfed for help can be comforting.

I have a habit of using the phrase, “I can’t do it.” What I should tell myself when I feel this way is that I can do it! Who care’s if it’s a cliche, you can do it! You were made to do it. If you need help, get help. But don’t give up!

I won’t make enough for my baby.

It seems a constant worry in the back of my mind: is Genny eating enough? This began when she was a newborn. As a newborn, she would nurse for 45 minutes on one side, then turn down the other side. Everything I had heard and read told me that baby should nurse on both sides, but when I tried to force it, she would become fussy and not want to nurse at all.

After this phase, she became a very fast eater. She would nurse for a total of 10 minutes, including both sides. I scoured online forums, talked to friends, and counted her wet diapers to see if she was getting enough. At her two-months doctor’s appointment, I held my breath as they weighed her. As soon as I heard those magical words, “She’s at a nice weight,” I was able to relax. Until I started worrying about the next appointment…

Basically wondering if your baby is getting enough food is one of the biggest concerns every parent has. Sometimes these fears are sound, but one way or another there are ways to remedy this. If you feel your concern is well-grounded, consult your pediatrician as soon as possible.

Before trying supplemental feeding (formula and breastmilk), try some natural remedies to boost your supply, such as power pumping and making lactation cookies. Some herbs are also said to help boost supply. In the end, if you need to use a bottle of formula now and then until you can boost your supply, that’s totally fine! Before abandoning breastfeeding, do everything you can to get the help you need.

 

No need to worry! You are a mama, a real-life superhero in society and especially in your baby’s world.

Don’t Go It Alone! Use These Resources

Here are some resources for you to support your breastfeeding journey:

Free resources:

Le Leche League Mother-to-Mother forum

What to Expect forum

Happy Family online breastfeeding support chat

Women’s Health.gov – Call the OWH Helpline toll-free at 1-800-994-9662 Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET to talk to a trained breastfeeding peer counselor in English or Spanish

Infant Risk Center – Articles and resources for breastfeeding support

 

Paid Services-

Tinyhood’s Online Lactation Consultant Service – $20/48 hours of consultation, approx. 3-4 messages/day

Find a lactation consultant:

Le Leche League

Breastfeeding USA

Breastfeeding Gear

Here are som items that I found to be extremely helpful in breastfeeding!

What were your fears about breastfeeding? Comment below to share with me!

Love, Emily XOXO

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I am expecting in june and I’ve started panicking a little… I cannot wait to see my little babygirl out here but am really afraid of the moment of birth and than breastfeeding. I had birth classes and read this amazing guide „How to make breastfeeding pleasant and easy” by S. Urban (https://www.parental-love.com/) and everything was going great. This book gave me a confidence boost but I’m having a little breakdown right now. I am pretty sure I will know what to do, I know I am prepared but the emotions takes over right now.
    And your logo is so pretty btw!

    • Thanks so much, Lisa! Every breastfeeding experience is unique in its own way. Some people have absolutely nooo problem, and others find it so difficult they don’t try or end up giving up. I’m glad you have found some great resources!! That is crucial to a successful (non-stressed-out) experience. Love!

    • Nancy Still says:

      I am so glad I saw the recommendation of “How to make breastfeeding pleasant and easy”! I know that women need to prepare for breastfeeding and that is why I was looking for something good to read and thanks to you I found it! Thanks and big recommendation for this guide!

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