Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your baby while giving her the most natural milk and passing along numerous benefits. While all that is true, it doesn’t make nursing any easier. Breastfeeding can be difficult, especially in the beginning.
If you’re nursing, you may be able to relate to the following frustrations:
- Not enough milk
- It’s exhausting
- It’s painful
- It’s taking too long
- I have to go back to school/work
Although feeling annoyed at something new is normal, there are some things you can do to minimize the struggle. In this post, we’re sharing 7 ideas to help cure breastfeeding frustration.
#1 Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It
When you feel like giving up on breastfeeding, it may help to remind yourself why the effort is worth it:
- Reduces your baby’s risk for ear and respiratory infections and asthma
- Reduces risk of childhood obesity
- Reduces baby’s and mother’s risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduces risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Breastfeeding for at least 6 months may reduce your baby’s risk of cancer, according to one study.
- Reduces your riskof breast cancer
- Women who breastfed longer than 13 months were 63% less likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to those who breastfed for less than 7 months, according to one study
- Reduces your risk of hypertension
- May lower risk of postpartum depression
- May help you lose pregnancy weight faster
To see these benefits, it’s best to breastfeed for at least the first 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you continue breastfeeding while introducing foods for one year or more.
To learn more about breastfeeding, read our other guides:
- Everything You Need to Know About Breastfeeding: For Complete Beginners
- Breastfeeding vs Formula: Which is Better?
- Is It True That Breastfeeding Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
#2 Do Something Just for Yourself
This may sound counterintuitive. How can you afford time for yourself when you “should” be spending it learning to or trying to breastfeed? If you’re exhausted and about to quit breastfeeding, find even a short moment you can carve out for yourself. Wait until the baby has a nap—or have your partner or parents watch her for a few hours. Then, do something that either relaxes you or gives you joy. Here’s some ideas:
- Catch up on a novel
- Take a bubble bath
- Simply sit and enjoy a hot cup of tea
- Catch up on your favorite TV show
- Make a craft
- Meditate (read Why You Need to Sit Down & Shut Up: Pregnancy Meditation)
- Practice mindfulness for a few moments (read 9 Super Easy Mindfulness Exercises For A Calmer and More Enjoyable Pregnancy)
- Exercise (read 11 Easy and Super Fun Pregnancy Exercise Ideas That You’ll Actually Do)
- Unwind with prenatal yoga (read Prenatal Yoga: Your Ultimate Guide)
Putting some time back into yourself can help refuel you so that you have the energy to continue breastfeeding. It can also help take your mind off of your worries and expectations.
#3 Go Easy on Yourself
Breastfeeding may look easy in the movies and definitely looks simple when famous Instagram mothers pose in photos. But the reality is that getting a good latch can be hard and continuing to breastfeed can be exhausting. All it takes is a simple search on any pregnancy forum to know that you’re not alone. Not only are you feeding your baby, but you’re literally producing their food—that’s a full-time job, so give yourself some credit!
If you find it impossible and supplement with baby formula, it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t make you a bad mother. While it’s true breastmilk has numerous advantages, you shouldn’t let anyone shame you for having an off day. If you’re not producing enough milk, supplementing is the responsible thing to do while you seek professional advice. If you’re trying your best, that’s what counts.
#4 Distract Yourself
If you’re frustrated because breastfeeding is time-consuming and is a little sore no matter what you try, distracting yourself may help. While you’re pumping or breastfeeding, focus your attention on something else, such as:
- Talking on the phone
- Listening to an audiobook
- Listening to a podcast
- Watching TV
- Listening to music
- Watching some funny, cute or interesting YouTube videos
- Playing a game (if you’re using a hands-free breast pump)
- Surfing the web (if you’re using a hands-free breast pump)
#5 Find a Good Electric Breast Pump
A breast pump can help reduce your frustrations in a number of ways:
- Can help prevent sore, engorged breasts
- Ensures every drop can be used without going to waste
- Allows you to pump when you have time
- Share the feeding responsibility by pumping ahead of time and having your partner feed the baby
- A comfortable alternative if your baby’s latch is painful or your breasts are sore
Although there are numerous benefits, choosing the correct breast pump is crucial because some may be too aggressive and make frustrations worse. We recommend the Serenity Electric Breast Pump for a couple of reasons:
- 2-phase extraction technology and powerful motor with adjustable 10-step suction allows for easy, yet comfortable pumping
- Breast shields provide snug fit
- Silent pumping makes it discreet for on-the-go
- Compact and lightweight for easy transport
- Easy to assemble, use and clean
- Comes with an automated milk storage system for convenience and to prevent contamination
- Operates with batteries or AC adapter
- Qualifies for Medicare coverage (depending on the policy and state law)
- Affordable for only $49.95
#6 Get Your Partner to Help
Fathers can’t produce milk, but they can help in a number of other ways that could prove beneficial long-term. A 2015 study found that involving the father significantly lengthened the amount of time the mother breastfed. Here are some ways your partner can get involved:
- Simply voice your frustrations and ask for emotional support
- Encouraging them to learn about breastfeeding could increase their support
- Bring your partner to lactation classes or appointments
- Ask for your partner’s help to correctly position the baby
- Ask your partner to help count the number of wet and dirty diapers to see if she’s drinking enough milk
- Ask for your partner’s advice when a breastfeeding issue arises
- Ask for your partner’s help during the process (ex. grabbing the breastfeeding pillow, storing the milk, etc.)
- Have your partner feed stored breastmilk during the night so you can catch some sleep and wake up with more energy to pump
#7 Consider Products to Make it Easier
While some breastfeeding products can actually make it more difficult to feed, others can truly be a game-changer.
- Prenatal or postnatal vitamins— The need for vitamins doesn’t stop after labor. In fact, continuing to take them can help you produce milk. We recommend the MamaNurture Premium Prenatal Vitamins with DHA.
- Nipple cream— Sore nipples may get relief from cream or balm (just make sure it’s baby-safe since residue could end up in her mouth!).
- Nursing bras— Nursing bras can be adjusted when your breasts are full of milk and make for easy and discreet pumping.
- Milk savers— These soft, small cups fit inside your bra and capture the milk that spills out. The first benefit is that you save your bra and shirt from getting wet stains. Another bonus is that no breastmilk ever goes to waste!
- Breast shields— Some lactation consultants advise against using breast shields in favor of getting a proper latch. However, some mothers find that pain reduction it provides prevents them from quitting. If a professional has recommended a breast shield, choose one with a cut-out shape for more skin-to-skin contact and make sure to select the right size.
To see a full list of breastfeeding product recommendations read 6 Products That Make Breastfeeding Way Easier for New Moms.
#8 Get Professional Advice
If you’re having trouble getting a proper latch, you’ll probably be frustrated until you can confidently latch your baby with ease. Luckily, there are many breastfeeding professionals who can help identify the specific problem and train you or the baby how to correctly feed. Here are a few options:
- If you haven’t given birth yet, ask the hospital if they have any lactation specialists who can help you while you’re still in the hospital after labor
- Ask your doctor or midwife if they can provide advice or local resources
- Do a Google search for lactation consultants in your city or town
- Ask for lactation consultant recommendations in local Facebook mom groups
- To learn more about latching, call the Office of Women’s Health helpline at 1-800-994-9662
- Join a breastfeeding support group
- Many hospitals offer breastfeeding clinics
- Some community centers offer free breastfeeding classes
Do you feel frustrated at breastfeeding sometimes? If you do, comment any tips you have below! If you have any new mother friends, share this post to give them a bit of encouragement, too!
P.S. While you check out the Serenity Electric Breast Pump, consider adding this baby nose cleaning hack to your cart as well. The Snotty Buddy, designed and endorsed by pediatricians, allows you to quickly and easily “suck” the snot out of your baby’s nose in the cleanest way possible. If you try one, you’ll never need to struggle with a bulb syringe again. Get one today for $9.99.