Why mothers sometimes need help with breastfeeding

09 March 2017

Breastfeeding is a perfectly natural function and women have been doing it for all of human history. So why would anyone need help with such a natural biological function?

Unfortunately, modern, Western life has not been very conducive to breastfeeding. Due to the loss of extended family, most young girls do not see much breastfeeding while growing up. However, human mothers have all the right instincts to feed their baby, and may only need some encouragement to trust those instincts, and a little bit of guidance along the way.

Most women initiate breastfeeding because they understand its importance to their babies and themselves. Sadly, many give up earlier than they planned due to problems such as sore nipples, inadequate milk production, and infant difficulties with breastfeeding. Most of these are either avoidable or manageable when mothers receive the necessary support.

When women receive incorrect or conflicting information, or are discouraged by unsupportive or uninformed health professionals, relatives or friends, it undermines their confidence in their ability to breastfeed successfully.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) help mothers overcome breastfeeding difficulties and thereby increase duration of breastfeeding.


  • is a specialist in lactation management
  • has clinical expertise in and specialized knowledge of lactation
  • provides skilled technical management of breastfeeding problems
  • has been certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE).
  • The IBCLC credential is widely recognised as the gold standard in breastfeeding expertise. IBCLCs have passed a rigorous certification exam and keep their knowledge and skills up to date through a compulsory recertification programme.


The clichés that you’ve probably read 100 times before…

…easy, hassle free, convenient, cheap, always fresh, at the right temperature, nothing to prepare, buy or clean, not having to get up at night… etcetera, etcetera.

What you may NOT know…

Colostrum (milk produced in the first days after birth): is your baby’s first vaccination against bacteria and viruses, contains high doses of vitamins, has a laxative effect (helping baby get rid of meconium, which reduces the risk of jaundice), contributes to the establishment of the good bacteria in baby’s digestive tract.

Babies who are NOT BREASTFED, have a HIGHER RISK of:
Allergies, bronchiolitis, asthma, pneumonia, ear infections, meningitis, diabetes type 1 & 2 obesity, high cholesterol, diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, cavities and orthodontic work, pain during immunizations & other procedures, speech impediments, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and breast cancer.

Breastfeeding promotes/enhances
Higher IQ score, the effectiveness of vaccines, better jaw development, physical closeness and bonding, and it can be lifesaving for a premature baby

Benefits for you
Helps shrink the uterus back to its “new normal”, decreases bleeding after birth, menstruation returns much later, extends the time between pregnancies, return to your pre-pregnancy weight earlier, decreases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, hip fractures, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hormones help you to feel relaxed and peaceful, decrease in health care costs, environmentally friendly.

REMEMBER! No matter how “NEW & IMPROVED” infant formula claims to be, all it can do is to provide nutrition. It cannot achieve any of the benefits listed above. Formula can have many unpleasant side-effects and long term health implications for you and your baby. Make an informed decision, and surround yourself with a support team to help you if the going gets tough.


“Newborns know how to find the breast and they know what to do when they get there – if we don’t mess it up.” ~ Dr Jack Newman

Keep your baby with you!

  • Keep any separation from your baby to a minimum
  • Hold your baby on your chest as much as possible while you recline comfortably. You can do this skin–to–skin or clothed. This position helps to release all the necessary reflexes and instincts in both mother and baby.
  • This is especially important if you have had a caesarean birth, assisted delivery and/or medicated birth (epidural)

Never force a baby onto the breast

  • Let your baby set the pace in the first hour or two. Keep baby on your chest while you lay back and relax.
  • Pushing baby’s head towards the breast interferes with his latching reflexes, and causes him to push his head back or flex forward.
  • Position your baby lying on his tummy on your chest with access to the breast, nose–to–nipple, arms either side of the breast. When his face touches your nipple he may open wide and latch.

Respond to your baby’s early feeding cues

  • These include wriggling, opening and closing his mouth, bringing hands to mouth and rooting
  • Latching and feeding tend to be easier at these times
  • If you wait until your baby is crying from hunger, his tongue will be in the wrong position, and he may become distressed, which makes latching difficult
  • Your baby will probably need to feed 8-12 times in 24 hours

Get help ASAP if things are not going well

Visit The Breastfeeding Clinic at the recommended times for professional breastfeeding advice
This is an extract from The Breastfeeding Guide compiled by Erica Neser IBCLC, Leana Habeck IBCLC and Ida Pistorius IBCLC. For more information on The Breastfeeding Clinic, please visit www.lactationconsultants.wordpress.com.

Guest written by Erica Neser from BABY SLEEP ZZZONE

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