As a second-time mom in the midst of breastfeeding again, I am reminded of how unique this experience can be. But, with all of the positives around breastfeeding, many challenges come with it, too. Often, these challenges leave moms wondering, ‘When does breastfeeding get easier?’
I definitely wondered when breastfeeding would get easier as I was learning how to breastfeed my first baby. Between painful clogged ducts, engorgement, and round-the-clock feedings, breastfeeding certainly wasn’t what I thought it would be.
But after sticking with it and pushing through the discomfort, I learned breastfeeding does get easier! And I was able to breastfeed my firstborn for 21 months.
So in this article, you’ll learn what makes breastfeeding so hard, plus the answer to the age-old question, ‘When does breastfeeding get easier?’ You’ll also find some of the best tips for breastfeeding success that I’ve used while breastfeeding the second time around.
Let’s get started!
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Why is breastfeeding so hard?
When trying to figure out ‘when does breastfeeding get easier,’ it can help to identify what makes breastfeeding so hard in the first place. Here are some of the most common challenges that moms might face while breastfeeding:
Mom and Baby Are Learning Together
One of the most common challenges when breastfeeding is that mom and baby are learning how to breastfeed together.
For example, moms are trying to figure out the most comfortable nursing position and how to get a proper latch. Plus, moms are learning their baby’s hunger cues.
And while breastfeeding is pretty instinctual for many babies, they still have to practice it, just as they would with any other skill.
All these new things to learn can create anxiety for moms, initially making breastfeeding difficult.
Your Body is Adjusting to Making Milk
Another thing that makes breastfeeding so hard is that your body must adjust to making milk for your baby. As your body learns the supply and demand process of breastfeeding, you can face many difficulties.
For instance, as your body learns how much milk it needs to make, you can experience engorgement and clogged ducts, which can lead to a painful infection called mastitis. In addition, most moms encounter nipple pain, either from poor latch, cracked skin, or both.
These painful situations can lead to many moms wanting to give up breastfeeding, which is a complex, emotional decision.
Frequent Feedings While Exhausted
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for both mom and baby, but frequent feedings can be very challenging, especially while recovering from giving birth.
Babies have small stomachs and require frequent feedings, so new moms must remain attentive to their baby’s needs. This can be tiring and exhausting, especially during the first few weeks when mom and baby adjust to their new routine.
However, it’s important to remember that frequent feedings are necessary for a healthy, thriving baby. And with time, practice, and your baby getting older, it will become easier.
You’re the Sole Milk Provider
Another breastfeeding challenge for many moms is that you’re the sole milk provider. When you choose to breastfeed, you must ensure your baby gets enough milk by watching their weight gain and monitoring how many diapers they have daily.
Or, if you decide to pump, you’ll have to build up a freezer stash to ensure you don’t run out of milk.
Whether you pump or exclusively breastfeed, it’s a lot of work initially. Your partner can’t just run to the store to get more milk, which can be discouraging for some moms.
Pumping is a Lot of Work!
For new moms, pumping breastmilk can be a challenging experience. While it’s a great way to give your baby the necessary nutrients, finding the time and energy to pump regularly can be a struggle.
Some moms also experience pain or discomfort while pumping, which can be frustrating and discouraging. Additionally, there can be a lot of trial and error involved in finding the right pump and accessories and finding time to ensure the pump parts are sterilized between sessions.
Despite these challenges, many moms find that pumping is a rewarding and worthwhile experience that allows them to provide their baby with the best nutrition.
Lack of Support
Because breastfeeding can be so challenging, nursing moms need all the support they can get. So when a new mom doesn’t have much help or feels like she isn’t supported enough, breastfeeding can be even more difficult.
Lack of Education
Not all hospitals offer breastfeeding classes, let alone free ones. When moms don’t have enough resources to learn about breastfeeding thoroughly, it can make the challenges seem even more difficult.
Also, speaking with a lactation consultant after labor and delivery can be crucial. Lactation consultants can help fix poor latches and tell moms what to expect when breastfeeding in the first weeks postpartum.
When moms don’t have access to this education, it can have a negative impact on their breastfeeding journey.
When does breastfeeding get easier?
Now that we’ve discussed what makes breastfeeding so challenging, you’re probably anxious to know when it should get easier. The hardest weeks of breastfeeding are typically the first 6-8 weeks, during which both mom and baby are adjusting to the process.
However, it’s important to remember that every mom’s experience is different, and one mom’s experience may be completely different than another’s.
As babies grow and develop, they become more efficient at breastfeeding. Around two months old, many newborns will start to find a routine and become more predictable in their feeding patterns. And, as moms and babies continue to adjust and find their groove, breastfeeding will become easier and more natural.
Also, as time passes, breastfeeding becomes much more manageable for moms, as they can anticipate when their baby will be hungry and plan accordingly.
With this being my second time breastfeeding, I can say that I’ve had two pretty different experiences. My first time breastfeeding was difficult and didn’t seem to become easy and manageable until my son was between 10-12 weeks old.
But my second go-around with breastfeeding has been much more manageable. Don’t get me wrong; it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park. The first month was the hardest, but around week five, we started falling into more of a routine and having an easier time.
Tips to Help Make Breastfeeding Easier
Because breastfeeding can get so difficult, especially in the beginning, it’s crucial to have some tips to reference for help. Here are some of my top tips for breastfeeding success:
Ensure You’re Stocked With Breastfeeding Essentials
Stocking up on breastfeeding essentials can help make nursing your baby more comfortable and enjoyable. Taking care of yourself during this new time is critical; having the right tools can make all the difference in the world.
From nursing bras to nipple creams and breast pads, these items can make a significant difference in your breastfeeding journey. One of the most critical breastfeeding essentials is a comfortable nursing bra.
A good nursing bra will give you easy access during feeding times and help support your breasts, as they can become heavy and sore in the early months of breastfeeding. Nipple creams are also a must-have to soothe sore and cracked nipples, which are a common occurrence during breastfeeding.
To check out our whole list of breastfeeding must-haves, check out this article!
Take a Breastfeeding Class
As a first-time mom, taking a breastfeeding class was one of the best decisions I made. It helped me prepare for breastfeeding challenges and gave me the confidence to know that I could stick with it.
Some of the most important things taught in a breastfeeding class are proper latching, different nursing positions, and how to tell if your baby is getting enough milk. These were all critical pieces of information I learned that helped me get through the challenging first few months.
I chose to take a breastfeeding class from our local hospital and preferred it over an online course. If I had questions during the class, I could have answers right then. Plus, being in a supportive environment with other new moms gave me a sense of community and encouragement.
Speak With a Lactation Consultant
When it comes to breastfeeding, many new moms face various challenges that make the process difficult and frustrating. This is where a lactation consultant comes in.
Lactation consultants are trained to provide expert guidance and support to moms struggling with breastfeeding. They can help moms overcome many obstacles that might prevent them from successfully feeding their baby.
Speaking with a lactation consultant is also necessary because they provide personalized guidance tailored to each mom’s unique needs. They can help new moms perfect their latch technique, show them how to position their baby comfortably and provide tips on increasing their milk supply.
They can also help moms experiencing pain or discomfort while breastfeeding and offer suggestions for alleviating these issues.
In addition to providing breastfeeding support, lactation consultants can also offer emotional support and encouragement to new moms. Breastfeeding can be a sensitive experience, and having someone to talk to who understands what you are going through can make a huge difference.
Overall, speaking with a lactation consultant can help new moms feel more confident and empowered in their breastfeeding journey and help ensure that they get the best possible start at breastfeeding.
Ask For Help
When exclusively breastfeeding, it can feel like the responsibility of feeding your baby weighs solely on your shoulders. That’s why it’s imperative to ask the people around you for help!
While your partner can’t take over a feeding for you (unless you’re pumping), they can still do other things to help give you a break. For example, when my husband isn’t working, he will burp our baby after her feeding. Or he will change her diaper while I get comfortable and ready for the next nursing session.
There are surprisingly many ways that your partner can help you with breastfeeding. To get more examples of ways your partner can help, check out this post!
Do Skin-to-Skin Often
Skin-to-skin time with your baby is an essential aspect of establishing successful breastfeeding. When you do skin-to-skin, it helps regulate your baby’s body temperature, heart rate, and breathing while promoting the release of crucial hormones that support milk production and bonding between mom and baby.
Additionally, skin-to-skin contact can help reduce stress for both mom and baby, making breastfeeding a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
So as you can see, skin-to-skin contact with your baby is a simple yet powerful way to support successful breastfeeding and promote a strong bond between you and your baby.
Setting goals is something that can help you stay motivated, no matter what it is you’re trying to accomplish. So why not set breastfeeding goals?
When I had my first baby, I wanted breastfeeding to work so badly. It seemed like we were running into roadblocks at every corner, and I was struggling with wanting to stick with it. But once I thought about setting breastfeeding goals, it helped everything seem more manageable.
If you think setting breastfeeding goals would help you, try to start small. Here is an example of what my goals looked like during my first time breastfeeding:
- Make it to 6 weeks of breastfeeding
- Next, make it to 3 months of breastfeeding
- After 3 months, make it to 6 months of breastfeeding
- Then, make it to 9 months of breastfeeding
- And lastly, make it to 1 year of breastfeeding!
Once my baby and I made it to one year of breastfeeding, I didn’t set any more goals. My ultimate goal was to get to the one-year mark, so everything afterward was a bonus!
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated while breastfeeding is crucial. Breastfeeding requires a lot of water because your body needs fluids to produce milk.
Not drinking enough water can lead to a decrease in milk production and make breastfeeding more difficult overall. If you’re unsure how much water you need to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, ask your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician. They will be able to give you some clarification.
I’ve found it easiest to keep a large water bottle nearby all day, so I always remember to keep up with my water intake. Also, you can stick a couple of water bottles in your breastfeeding stations.
Room sharing with your baby can be tremendously helpful when breastfeeding at night. When you are exhausted and have to feed your baby in the middle of the night, it’s much easier to grab your baby from their bassinet than go to a different room.
Need More Breastfeeding Tips?
While the suggestions above are some of the tips that have helped me the most in the past, there are still a lot of great tips to help you with your breastfeeding journey! Check out this article for the complete list of breastfeeding tips.
What if breastfeeding doesn’t get easier?
If you’re a new mom struggling with breastfeeding and wondering what if it doesn’t get better, know you’re not alone. Many new moms experience difficulties with breastfeeding, and it’s okay to seek expert help.
When seeking professional help, don’t be afraid to contact a lactation consultant or your doctor for advice and support. These experts can provide valuable information, tips, and techniques to help you overcome any challenges you may be facing.
It’s essential to remember that breastfeeding is not the only way to bond with your baby. If you’ve tried everything and breastfeeding still doesn’t get easier, it’s okay (and encouraged!) to consider formula feeding as an alternative.
Your mental and emotional health is important, and being a happy and healthy mom is essential for your child’s well-being. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed if you choose to formula feed – it’s a personal decision that doesn’t concern anyone but you and your partner.
Ultimately, the most noteworthy thing is that you and your baby are both healthy and happy. Whether you breastfeed, formula feed, or use a combination, be kind to yourself and know you’re doing your best.
Motherhood is a journey filled with ups and downs, but with the proper support system, you can overcome any obstacles and enjoy this special time with your little one.
And there you have it, all the answers to ‘When does breastfeeding get easier?’. I hope this article has helped you feel like you’re not alone as you get through the struggles of early breastfeeding. You’ve got this, mama!
Before you go, check out these related articles:
- What To Do When Your Baby Falls Asleep While Breastfeeding
- The Ultimate Guide for Nigh Weaning From Breastfeeding
- What To Do When Your Baby Refuses a Bottle
- How To Wean Your Baby From Breastfeeding
- The Best Tips for Pumping At Work
What was your favorite tip for helping make breastfeeding easier? I would love to know in the comments below!