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Breastfeeding: Easier or harder than you expected?

The reality of breastfeeding is often very different than what new mothers expected. Picture a cheerful, colorful image of the happily breastfeeding mom in a comfortable chair, smiling with love and affection while looking down at her charming and healthy baby, rocking and singing while her baby nurses. What a picture! Is that reality?

“It's actually easy”

Many moms do find it easier than they expected after hearing how difficult it could be. After the first two weeks of trial and error and, possibly,  a bit of discomfort, they (and their little ones) will simply find their groove. They may even be one of the lucky women who find themselves with extra breastmilk. Still other moms surprise themselves with their ability to meet their goal. Take the breastfeeding mom with the 14-month-old baby who never planned to nurse beyond six months, but it just seemed comfortable and “right.” What makes breastfeeding easy for one mom might not work for another. But there are many strategies for achieving breastfeeding success. Plus, having patience and not giving up go a long way.

“It's definitely difficult”

Other moms don’t exactly find it a garden of roses. Maybe they have physical pain or they’re concerned they don’t have enough milk. Perhaps they don’t have much support from family and friends. And babies born early or who need special care may have difficulty latching on.

Then there’s the mom with the three-week-old baby in the throes of his first growth spurt, attached to his mom’s breast every 45 minutes, with mom still not showered and in her pajamas at 3 p.m. (sound familiar?).

Moms who find breastfeeding challenging may find it helpful to talk to a lactation consultant certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, whether it’s in the hospital, after getting home, or five months into nursing. Being prepared for what to expect and how to deal with common problems can be a huge help to novice nursing mothers.

The good news is there are usually ways to troubleshoot any problems that arise.