I’m having trouble with breastfeeding. Is that normal?

By Kaz Cooke
From the latest edition
of Babies & Toddlers

I’m having trouble with breastfeeding. Is that normal?

Most people have some sort of trouble getting started: like anything, breastfeeding takes practice to find a successful technique. After all, it’s quite possibly the first time you’ve had to do tricks with your bosoms. The fact that it’s ‘natural’ to breastfeed doesn’t mean that knowing how to do it comes naturally. Puberty and menopause are also ‘natural’ and they can be a pain in the everything. We don’t see women breastfeeding around us every day, so don’t be surprised if you feel awkward! Most mums take a while to get used to breastfeeding.

Mums who’ve had more than one baby say that breastfeeding depends on the kid: with some it’s easy, with others it’s hard. It doesn’t seem to get easier or harder with each child – it’s just the luck of the draw. So you mustn’t blame yourself if it’s difficult.

Many women have some kind of problem, but many go on to breastfeed for a year or more – even women who have inverted nipples or painful breast infections. The first month or two are usually the hardest. Expect some hurdles and know you’ll usually be able to get over them, with help.

Feeling a bit panicked is a normal response to not being able to feed your baby enough breastmilk, but it’s okay. Your baby will also thrive on formula milk. If you can’t breastfeed, there’s the bottle, and always feel you’ve got the time to have a second or third go at a new technique: your baby won’t starve as long as you are under the care of a good lactation consultant, child & family health nurse, or doctor.

There’s much more on breastfeeding, as well as a handy list of professional and support organisations that can help with free advice, as well as everything you need to know about bottle-feeding, in the book Babies & Toddlers: The Sequel to Up the Duff.