Natural Reality

Difficulty with breastfeeding does not equal failure, and there is help for struggling moms

Despite the occasional controversy about breastfeeding in public, the health benefits of a mom’s breast milk for most infants are fairly inarguable. Milk from the breast is easier to digest and is rich in antibodies and nutrients. The bonding between mother and child also provides an emotional benefit—except when it’s not working.

Fortunately for mothers who find themselves frustrated and lost when it comes to breastfeeding, there are specialists who are trained to help them find their way. They are known as lactation consultants, and they often begin a session with the same two words: it’s okay.

“Even though you read the books and went to the classes, once the baby is in your arms it’s an ongoing learning process,” says Cate Glyn-Jones, one of the lactation consultants at The Telfair BirthPlace at St. Joseph’s/Candler. “It is okay to ask for help. We want to help you.”

Cate often sees mothers who, when dealing with lack of sleep, hormonal shifts, and post-delivery pain, become easily overwhelmed when breastfeeding does not occur as naturally or as smoothly as they thought it would.

“Just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also take work,” Cate says. “And even with a baby that latches on easily, it might hurt, even though many of the books say it shouldn’t.”

Cultural expectations and familial pressures can sometimes converge on an exhausted mother who only wants her baby to be well-fed and healthy.

“We always see images of a baby cradled in mama’s arms, looking up,” Cate says. “Women may not have a true understanding of how positioning works with breastfeeding, and they jump to the conclusion that something is wrong with them.”

“New moms have to face the realization of all the other variables involved,” Cate adds. “For example, infants are not going to have a schedule. Every cell in their body is growing rapidly and they are acting on primal instinct.”

The stress from a tough delivery can sometimes be brought home with the mother and baby, which can affect breastfeeding. In those cases, the proper support from family is crucial.

“A calm support system can help a mom feel protected and relaxed,” Cate says. “Fill the fridge, do the laundry. Take care of things like that so that mom can just hold her baby.”

Protection and support are also what lactation consultants can offer, even if it’s just over the phone.

“You’re already in a marathon, going to follow-up doctor visits, learning all these new responsibilities, and trying to make sure your baby is healthy and happy,” Cate says. “If breastfeeding isn’t working and you’re getting overwhelmed, call us. We can offer a helping a hand so that you feel more protected and your body can do the work that it needs to do.”
  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000