This is a question I asked myself when I was pregnant. I didn’t understand why the midwife felt the need to explain all the benefits of breastfeeding. Of course I was going to breastfeed! Who doesn’t breastfeed? I’m ashamed to admit that before I became a mum I thought most women who didn’t breastfeed didn’t put their babies needs first. Now I know better. Since I shared my story of my breastfeeding failure I have heard plenty of stories from mums giving up breastfeeding. So in a world where we are constantly told ‘breast is best’ the question is why don’t women breastfeed?
Baby doesn’t latch properly
If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I gave up breastfeeding at 12 weeks. Who knows if my baby ever latched properly. At the beginning it poured out of me so he just had to swallow but when my milk levels adjusted he had to work for it but he just couldn’t. He had a tongue tie which a pediatric surgeon cut at 10 weeks but by then he was used to bottle feeding so couldn’t re-learn. Some women have flat or inverted nipples and sometimes there isn’t a reason, babies just don’t learn to latch and there’s nothing mums can do about it.
Having a baby feed from you every 3 hours for 30 – 45 minutes a day is seriously draining. It’s a huge adjustment, your freedom is completely stripped from you. Some babies cluster feed so it feels like every 45 minutes they’re trying to latch. Trying to look after a baby with post natal depression and sleep deprivation while breastfeeding is a really tough gig. Hats off to anyone able to cope with all three.
Some women simply don’t produce enough milk to feed their baby and some women don’t produce milk at all. Sometimes the mum has plenty of milk at the beginning but the babies aren’t latching properly and the mum has no idea until weeks later when the milk supply has reduced or dried up.
Victim of Abuse
It’s a common saying that when women are abused the mind can forget but the body remembers. Some women just can’t handle anyone going there, even a little bub.
It was a big reality check when I got mastitis and realised that I couldn’t take a sick day because this beautiful little human being needed me. I had a moment where I realised I would never truly be alone again which is both lovely and terrifying. Imagine the worst flu in the world with a really, really sore lumpy breast and all you want to do is sleep but you can’t unless your baby sleeps but then again, it’s a baby. I only got it once but some women end up in hospital and I even know someone who got it five times.
Some babies just can’t keep the milk down in their little tummies. Some mums have to express and add thickener but expressing while looking after a baby is really hard work.
Some mum’s have to go back to work after having a baby. Legally employers are required to give pumping breaks but the pressure to prove that becoming a mother has not hindered your ability to work can be hard. If you miss pumping sessions your supply goes down then you need even more sessions to try and build it back up.
Lack of Support
Support and encouragement from those around you is vital. A mum might just need company while she feeds or someone to help with a demanding toddler. If you are a new mum struggling with breastfeeding then reach out to the hospital you delivered at and ask for help.