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What to do when breastfeeding isn’t working

Breastfeeding is a tough gig, there’s no doubt about it. Many of us assume that it will just come naturally. How hard can it be? Baby + boob = blissful nursing experience. The reality is a bit different. 

While around 90% of Australian mums start out breastfeeding, only 15% will still be exclusively nursing at 5 months. While there are plenty of factors that contribute to how a woman chooses to feed her baby, it’s safe to assume that breastfeeding problems are responsible for part of that drop off.

Whether it’s issues with milk supplypain or discomfort, sometimes breastfeeding can seem like it’s not working. This can be devastating for some mothers, especially those who imagined themselves feeding their babies long term.

Here’s what to do when breastfeeding isn’t working.

Seek help                                          

Mothers were never meant to do it alone. Breastfeeding is a learnt skill but in today’s society, many women have never seen another woman breastfeed, let alone learnt the ins and outs from them. When breastfeeding isn’t working, your first point of call should be expert advice. The Australian Breastfeeding Association runs a breastfeeding hotline staffed by experienced breastfeeding counsellors that’s available 24/7 for mums who need advice. A qualified Lactation Consultant (sometimes called an IBLC) can also be a great source of help. These breastfeeding experts are usually able to visit you at home and work with you to fix the problems you’re experiencing.

Investigate solutions

Sometimes there are solutions to the problems you are experiencing. Issues like milk supply, latch and pain/engorgement can be fixed with some expert help and the right approach. Milk Boosters and ‘power pumping’ can be super useful in boosting your supply while engorgement and blocked ducts can be managed with devices like the La Vie Lactation Massager.

Consider your options 

If breastfeeding isn’t working and your baby is under 12 months, they’ll still need the nutrients that breastmilk provides. Pumping and bottle feeding or formula feeding are the two options that you’ll need to consider. Both can take time to figure out, especially to start with. If you decide to try pumping, it can be useful to invest in a highly quality electric pump to make it easier to express the amount of milk you need.

Be gentle on yourself

Motherhood, whether it’s the first or fifth time around, is a wild ride. The newborn days are a heady mix of exhilaration and exhaustion (largely powered by coffee). When breastfeeding isn’t working, or if you make the decision to try a different feeding method, it can be very easy to feel as if you’ve failed. Postpartum mental health is SO important and ensuring that you’re supported by family and friends and gentle on yourself is key to keeping yourself well.

Wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey, Milkbar Breastpumps has you covered. Supplying Aussie mum’s with all the products they need during their breastfeeding journey.

This amazing image is from Maternal Instincts by Amberley. Did you know that not a single country in the world meets the World Health Organisation and Unicef's breastfeeding guidelines. Just 15% of Australian mothers are breastfeeding at five months of age; fewer than a quarter of mums in the States exclusively breastfeed for the first six months; and in the UK, exclusive breastfeeding rates at six months remain at around 1%. If you would like to Support's Amberley crowd funding campaign to create a documentary to improve world breastfeeding rates then please donate here (we have!). 

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