Breastfeeding is one of the most essential sources of nutrients for your baby. But it’s not always easy. It is not uncommon to face challenges and barriers when it comes to breastfeeding, especially for new mums.

There are situations when your baby won’t want to breastfeed. Sometimes, you will wonder why your baby is latching too long or not at all. In other circumstances, you will feel discomfort nursing your baby. These are just some of the breastfeeding concerns mothers experience.

Barriers to breastfeeding are masked in different challenges and it is important to identify if the barrier lies with the child or the mother. 

Breastfeeding Barriers In Babies

breastfeeding barriers

Some cases of breastfeeding barriers occur because of the baby’s position or latching. In other circumstances, your baby might have an uncontrollable condition. 

Improper Latching

Latching can be a barrier to breastfeeding when it is not properly executed. To do a proper latch with your baby, slide your nipple down your baby’s nose to their mouth and make sure that their lips are turned out. 

You will know when the baby is properly latched when:

  • you do not feel uncomfortable pain
  • their chin is touching your breast
  • your baby is latched on to your breast and not just the nipple

To avoid an improper latch, make sure your baby’s head and chest are facing your body.

Tongue-Tie

breastfeeding barriers

There is skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. When it is shorter than usual, it causes the baby to not open their mouth wide enough to accommodate the breast while breastfeeding. This often leads to pain, and later, inflammation of the breasts because the baby’s latch only accommodates the nipple.

This is an uncontrollable breastfeeding barrier, which leaves the mother with the decision to continue breastfeeding despite the pain and discomfort, or switch to formula milk.

Cleft Palate or Lip

Some babies are born with a cleft palate or lip. Either your baby will not be able to suckle enough breast milk or nothing at all. 

In some instances, there is no division between the nose and mouth. If this is the case, the suckled milk from the mother may enter the nose of the baby. Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft palate will have to be supervised.

Weaning

breastfeeding barriers

Weaning your baby may mean your baby is starting to get used to other ways of feeding. If they are starting to prefer bottle feeding, or they are starting to exclusively eat solid food, it may disinterest them to breastfeed any further.

Breastfeeding Barriers In Mothers

barriers to breastfeeding

Some barriers can be caused by the mother’s preference not to breastfeed for different reasons. These reasons can be normal but hinder any motivation to push through with breastfeeding.

Employment

In this day and age, both parents like to work for the future of the family. Some mothers would get back to work as soon as they recover from childbirth and they are allowed to return to work. This would mean lesser time to breastfeed your baby due to work and exhaustion when the mother returns home.

Lack Of Knowledge About Breastfeeding

barriers to breastfeeding

The lack of knowledge about breastfeeding can lead to doubts and painful experiences of breastfeeding. A mother would feel discouraged to further breastfeed her baby when the barriers become too unbearable or overwhelming.

Social Norms

We live in a society where breastfeeding is considered taboo. People would discourage breastfeeding in public as they deem it inappropriate due to the sexualisation of breasts. 

Other social norms include being surrounded by peers who are very much into fashion and beauty. Breastfeeding is not common among social groups who value their image and figure.

Insufficient Milk Supply

barriers to breastfeeding

While it is normal for all mothers to produce breast milk, it is not uncommon for mothers to run low on milk supply. Some reasons mothers have problems producing enough breast milk are:

  • too much time between breastfeeding sessions
  • improper breastfeeding latch
  • breastfeeding issues with baby
  • taking certain medication
  • previous breast surgeries
  • hormonal imbalance
  • weaning baby

The best way to increase breast milk supply is exclusive breastfeeding. This means breastfeeding your baby as much as they want, whenever they want. Nursing on demand and breast pumping help increase breast milk supply.

Misconceptions Of Breast Milk And Formula Equivalence

Some mothers believe that breast milk and formula milk are equally nutritious for the baby. For starters, breast milk and formula milk are not equally nutritious.

Breast milk contains vitamins and antibodies that can help babies adjust to the new life, combat obesity, stay strong against infections and illnesses, and keep the risks of allergies at a minimum.

While formula milk does have some of the vitamins essential to a child’s growth, overfeeding formula milk to a baby can cause obesity. It also does not have the antibodies to protect the baby against germs, bacteria, and viruses.

In A Nutshell…

Breast milk is essential to a child’s growth and development as it keeps them healthy and strong along the way. Professional advice always recommends breastfeeding for at least six months. But, some breastfeeding barriers will always be present as well depending on you and your child.

Properly identifying these breastfeeding barriers will help you find ways to handle them. Seek help from your paediatrician for counsel on how you can start a smooth transition into breastfeeding.