You know that breastfeeding offers a myriad of benefits for your baby, but it might not be easy to get started or stick with it. Many mothers face challenges that make or break the decision to breastfeed or use formula. Understanding the possible obstacles you might encounter can help you make the best decision for you and your baby.
1. Socioeconomic Status
New moms who struggle with their finances might make the decision to skip breastfeeding or wean at an early age, according to Deborah McCarter-Spaulding, associate professor of nursing, on the website for the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace. If a mother has to return to work shortly after having her baby, she may choose not to breastfeed because it can be difficult to find time to pump and store breast milk at work. Women with more financial freedom may be able to stay at home with their baby or take an extended maternity leave, which can influence the decision to breastfeed and for how long.
2. Postpartum Emotions
Most women experience some degree of the baby blues in the days and weeks following delivery. For some moms, this progresses to postpartum depression, which can impact breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression, according to the "International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine." However, for women who suffer from postpartum depression, gathering the energy to breastfeed can be hard. Women with severe symptoms may avoid caring for their infant, which includes making the choice not to breastfeed. Many women experience postpartum depression as a result of weaning, adds a study in "BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth."
3. Breastfeeding Success
Breastfeeding isn't always easy and can in fact be frustrating and upsetting to some mothers. Preliminary success can influence whether a new mom sticks with it or not. Even women who are highly motivated to breastfeed might throw in the towel if they don't achieve success in the first week, according to an article in the journal "Pediatrics." Women who receive instruction and assistance from a lactation specialist are more likely to achieve success with breastfeeding, which makes hospital consultations important in the hours after birth.
Having a support system in place after delivery improves the success of breastfeeding. Supportive husbands are particularly important, notes the "International Breastfeeding Journal." Having a husband who backs up the decision to breastfeed improves the chances of initiation and a mother sticking with it. If a husband isn't available, a supportive friend or family member offers similar benefits. If all else fails, moms can ask their doctor for a referral to a mom's group or breastfeeding support group that can help them do what's best for their babies and themselves.