Posted: Apr 22, 2012 10:12 AM
The first few weeks of breastfeeding are rarely easy. Between sore nipples and difficult latches, it can feel like a marathon of frustration. Solve common early nursing problems to get through this tough stage.

Breastfeeding classes and tutorials can go a long way toward preparing you for nursing your newborn -- but nothing compares to jumping in boob first. Until you’re actually nursing, it’s impossible to predict what individual difficulties and successes you might have. Feeding a newborn takes practice, and until you get through those first few weeks, it can be downright difficult. Learn how to get through early nursing problems and get your baby off to the best start.

Problem: I’m not getting enough support

Talk to your partner about your needs as a nursing mother. Whether you need the TV remote within arms reach or you require a fresh glass of water with every feeding, you should be getting everything you need from your partner. The rest of your family and friends are another issue entirely. If you encounter less-than-supportive comments, be firm about your intentions to breastfeed your newborn. Offer helpful links to those who are curious and try to brush off anyone who doesn’t approach your efforts with full support. How you feed your child is ultimately no one else’s business.

Problem: This is difficult and I’m not enjoying it.

Here’s a little secret. Many breastfeeding moms truly struggle with early nursing. Even a textbook latch can cause sore nipples, and if the baby’s latch is even a little bit off, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable or painful. Add initial engorgement and sleepless nights to that equation and you’re not talking about a walk in the park. Talk to a lactation consultant while you’re still in the hospital. Have her observe your baby’s latch. Call her again in a week and make an appointment to observe the latch again. There’s no such thing as a dumb question or too much assistance when it comes to establishing a good breastfeeding routine. It will get better and sooner than you think. Visit’s early breastfeeding challenges page for more help with specific concerns.

Early nursing solutions

  • Set up a few nursing stations around the house or create a nursing toolkit using a basket you can move around easily. Include some snack bars, a book, breast pads and burp rags.
  • Use your baby’s feeding times as a reminder to have a glass of water. It’s important to stay hydrated.
  • Splurge on good, supportive nursing wear. Use a sleep bra and a comfortable non-underwire bra, especially in the early days of nursing.
  • Be patient. Let yourself cry if you need to. Let your baby cry if he needs to. You’re both establishing a new routine and it’s okay to get frustrated or tired. Try venting to a friend who has nursed or reaching out to other moms online to talk about your struggles and celebrate your successes.
  • Feed where you want to feed. You might feel more comfortable nursing at home while you get a hang of it, but don’t feel like you have to only nurse in private. It’s your right to feed your baby anywhere you need to.
  • Soak in the good feelings. As nursing becomes easier, try to let feeding times become a happy time. Quietly contemplate your day, catch up on some reading or blogs, watch some trashy TV or just stare at your baby’s perfect little face. This is your special time.

More about feeding your baby

Pumping exclusively: A nursing alternative
My baby is an advanced foodie
When family, friends and strangers fight your right to breastfeed