Why Am I Having Trouble Breastfeeding?

Curran Amy Curran, NP 
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital
Wynne Lynda Wynne, PA
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

Many of us have heard that breastmilk is best for babies. But breastfeeding isn’t something that always comes naturally or happens easily. We reached out to our Certified Lactation Consultants, Amy Curran, NP and Lynda Wynne, PA for answers to questions about why and when to seek breastfeeding support.

Why is breastfeeding difficult for some mothers? 
There can be many reasons. One of the most common is that the baby doesn’t latch on to the breast properly. When this happens, the baby may not be able to suck effectively and won’t get enough milk to satisfy hunger or gain enough weight. An improper latch or a medical issue such as mastitis can also cause the mother’s breasts and/or nipples to become painfully sore. What’s more, every baby is different. Even if a mother was able to successfully breastfeed a previous child, she may have a different experience with her new baby. Plus there are other challenges as well.

What other challenges?
A new mother is usually pretty exhausted. In addition to caring for a newborn who wakes often at night and needs frequent feedings, she may also be caring for other children, trying to maintain tasks around the house and going to doctor visits. If she had a difficult birth experience, she may need extra time to recover. If she has a preemie, multiples (twins, triplets), or a child with a medical condition, she’ll probably require additional strategies. She may also not be getting all the nourishment or rest she needs. All this can make successful breastfeeding more difficult to establish.

When should a new mother see a lactation consultant?
As soon as she notices any issues or has any concerns. Some reasons might be: if the baby isn’t latching on and suckling long enough; if the baby isn’t meeting the weight gain milestones set by the pediatrician; or if she’s having pain. If a mom needs breastfeeding support for any reason, time is of the essence. The faster she gets help, the better.

Can’t a new mother get advice from other nursing mothers or the internet?
Since every baby is different, advice from other moms or generic information from the internet might not apply and could even be detrimental. Certified lactation consultants are specially trained to recognize the many reasons why there are breastfeeding difficulties, and will offer solutions specifically tied to that mom’s and her baby’s needs. What will the consultant cover in the session? During our one-to-one sessions with mother and child we go over:
• How to properly position the baby
• How to achieve an effective latch
• The baby’s weight 
• How to pump and safely store breast milk
• Back-to-work strategies when breastfeeding 
• Rest and nutrition for nursing moms 
• Where to get additional support over time

Why should a new mother come to Stony Brook Children’s Lactation Consultants? 
At Stony Brook we believe that the most important goal for any new mother is to ensure that her baby is getting the nutrition he or she needs. We created this new service to provide support for mothers who want to ensure they have a successful breastfeeding experience, and offer  appointments at six different locations. Since every baby and every mom is different, we tailor our approach to meet the specific needs of the mom and her family. Most breastfeeding issues can be resolved in two visits: one initial and one follow-up session that takes place about a week later. And phone support is available at any time. You’ll leave with a plan of action, recommendations for resources you can tap into such as breastfeeding support groups, and the knowledge that we’re here for you to support your breastfeeding goals.

For an appointment with a Stony Brook Children’s Certified Lactation Consultant, call (631) 444-KIDS (5437).