6 Helpful Tools and Alternatives When Breastfeeding Isnt Easy


Did you know most new moms try to breastfeed their baby, yet only thirteen percent manage to breastfeed the entire recommended six-month period successfully?

Given this fact, if you’re looking for breastfeeding help or alternatives - you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of the majority!

Below, we’ll take a look at six useful tools and alternatives to breastfeeding so you can be sure to find the right feeding solution for you and your baby.

Most New Moms Need Help with Breastfeeding

A survey conducted by UC Davis Medical Center in 2013 found that ninety-two percent of new moms experienced breastfeeding difficulties within the first week, with many reporting problems within the first three days. Fifty percent struggled with latching and related issues (such as nipple confusion), forty-four percent found it too painful, and forty percent worried they weren’t producing enough milk. Unfortunately, these common issues became the chief reasons why most of the surveyed mothers ceased breastfeeding, along with a lack of breastfeeding support.

Thankfully, with the help of a few simple tools and tips, you can overcome these potential hurdles with ease.

1. Seek the Help of a Lactation Specialist

Researchers involved in the aforementioned study stressed that one of the main reasons so many women struggle with breastfeeding is because they don’t have a breastfeeding expert on-hand during the first week (or few weeks) of breastfeeding.

Seeking the advice of an in-home lactation consultant or looking at online lactation counseling doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Rather, it ensures your breastfeeding journey will be much easier and healthier for you and your baby.

2. Nurse Frequently to Avoid Breast Engorgement

Particularly during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, it’s normal for your breasts to feel full and heavy. However, if they’re also extremely uncomfortable or painful, you may be suffering from engorgement. This tends to indicate that not enough milk is being removed from your breasts when your child nurses.

To overcome this, nurse your baby frequently - around 8 to 12 times each day (including through the night) is recommended. Be sure to not omit any feedings, and you can make sure your baby is getting enough of your milk by learning the right latching techniques. This can also help you avoid other common breastfeeding difficulties like cracked and/or sore nipples.

3. Find the Time and Right Equipment to Pump

One of the most common reasons why women stop breastfeeding is lack of time due to other commitments, e.g. work or other children. By creating a pumping routine, you can not only get into the habit of producing enough pumped milk for your baby, but may also be able to build up a good milk supply in your freezer!

Again, your lactation consultant can offer great breast pumping tips and will be able to advise which pump is best suited for your situation (i.e. a hands-free option that allows you to multitask while you’re expressing).

4. Avoid Nipple Confusion by Establishing a Nursing Routine Before Introducing Bottles

Breastfeeding by bottle is a great way to share feeding responsibilities with your partner and to gain some freedom; however, try not to introduce bottle feeding until you’ve established a nursing routine first. This should help avoid nipple confusion where your baby doesn’t latch properly or rejects your breast. In turn, this should help prevent engorgement because you’re fully emptying your breasts while nursing.

Allow around three to four weeks for your baby to get used to breastfeeding, and be sure to check your baby’s diapers regularly to ensure they’re getting enough to eat.

5. Consider Using Breastfeeding Alternatives like a Donor Milk Bank

The benefits of breast milk are proven and frequently quoted but, sometimes, breastfeeding might not be right or comfortable for you. In these cases, there’s an alternative to formula milk -- donor milk.

Often available from local hospitals or donor banks, donated milk comes from moms who produce more milk than their babies can consume. Each mom is rigorously tested before they donate to ensure their milk is safe for consumption.

What are the benefits of donor milk vs. formula?

Donor breast milk provides the same plethora of benefits as your own milk. It helps prevent infections, builds up a strong immune system in your baby, and gives them much-needed nutrition to help them grow and develop successfully. It also gives you peace of mind that your baby is getting the absolute best start in life, while taking any unnecessary pressure off you to breastfeed.

6. Try Switching from Breastfeeding to Formula

If you’ve tried some of the above or are finding breastfeeding impossible, it’s time to consider switching to formula. Remember, any amount of breastfeeding has proven vital to your baby’s health. So, while at least six months of breast milk is recommended, you shouldn’t feel like a failure or under pressure to meet this goal.

Look for a recommended formula that’s closest to breast milk and chat through your options with your lactation consultant. Feeling happy and healthy in your choices is ultimately the best solution for you and your baby!

Breastfeeding is Unique to Every Mom and Baby

It’s important to remember that what may work for one mom may not work for you. Try a few of these alternatives to breastfeeding, seek advice, and do what feels right for you.