Mamas on Bedrest: When Breastfeeding Hurts

August 2nd, 2012

August 1-7 is World breastfeeding Week. Twitter, Facebook, blogs and national and international agencies will all tout the benefits of breastfeeding to convince some, while spurring on others to breastfeed.

I am sure that at this juncture, few if any will dispute the benefits of breastfeeding. Yet, for some mamas, breastfeeding is a tortuous nightmare. Difficulty with latching on, sore and cracked nipples, engorged breasts leading mastitis…will leave some mamas asking if the benefits of breastfeeding are really worth it.

For some mamas, the pain is just too much to endure and they stop breastfeeding. Yet, it doesn’t end there. Many mamas continue to second guess themselves, feel a tremendous sense of guilt and feel tremendous shame when confronted with their decision to cease breastfeeding.

In one of my very first blog posts, Breastfeeding: Natural But Not Always Easy, I recount my own challenges with nursing my children. Still I was lucky. Despite my challenges, I never had cracked nipples nor suffered with Mastitis.

When a mama decides to breastfeed, it is critical that she have a support system. To improve the number of mamas who breastfeed at all as well as the number of mamas who breastfeed long term, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin makes several specific suggestions on ways family, health care professionals, employers and businesses can support nursing mamas. A summary of Dr. Benjamin’s recommendations are listed in our blog post Surgeon General Calls for Support for Breastfeeding.

Finally, How The US Can Overcome Barriers to Breastfeeding, reviews what the US needs to do in order to reduce barriers to breastfeeding and to improve breastfeeding success to achieve the Healthy People 2020 benchmarks.

When it comes to infant nutrition, Breast really is best. However, Mamas need not suffer in order to give their babies a healthy start. With adequate support and education, most mamas who want to breastfeed their babies will be able to do so with minimal discomfort and certainly without pain.

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