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Challenges of breastfeeding

August 20, 2020

Expectant mums over the world prepare themselves as much as they can before the baby arrives, but there are so many unknown challenges of breastfeeding. There’s so much information out there that it can be overwhelming, not to mention the realisation that there’s a whole new vocabulary to learn!

In a lot of resources, breastfeeding is described as an act that is completely natural – while this is true – it does however suggest that it is easy. That’s not always the case. Breastfeeding is a personal journey and what works for one mum and baby, may not work for another.

It may take a while to discover what works for you and your baby, and in this time, it may get messy, very ‘fumbly’, and incredibly emotional. The best breastfeeding techniques aren’t always obvious, yet like most things in life, when you succeed in something that you felt was impossible the rewards are greater than you imagined, and your entire world changes for the better.

Below we have listed some of the most common breastfeeding challenges. Each one has its own ripple effect, as one issue can so often lead to other health issues. These challenges have been recognised by professionals as the areas where mums and babies need the most support; you’re certainly not alone if you too experience any of these problems.

81% of new mums start breastfeeding but only 1% exclusively breastfeed at 6 months due to the pain and frustration experienced and through a lack of support.


Mastering a proper latch can take some time. While mums explore different methods to find the one that’s right for them and their baby, the pain and emotional stress can be too much and they give up prematurely.

Poor latching on can cause sore nipples, breast infections, blocked milk ducts, and mastitis (which leaves you feeling like you have the flu but with extremely painful breasts as well). It can cause damage to your nipples which in turn can result in thrush which impacts both of you. The weight of your baby can be affected too as a proper latch is key to a good milk supply.

Causing pain

Another challenge of breastfeeding is experiencing pain. When a baby latches on properly, their gums surround the areola, but when they haven’t latched on correctly, they can end up chewing on the nipple instead. And in their eagerness to feed, babies will continue to suck hard even when no milk is coming through. No one can prepare you for just how painful this is, how you’re going to feel emotionally and how hard it is to keep going.

55.8% of new mums say that their main breastfeeding challenge is the pain they experience and related health issues.

Repeated attempts

It’s understandable that you keep trying to feed when your baby is clearly hungry. You may change nappies, bend over, straighten your back – anything to feed and comfort your baby.

This inevitably ends in tears.  Not being able to feed your baby after repeated attempts causes a great deal of frustration, to both you and your baby. The result is too often that women give up.


Breast engorgement can occur when your milk production ramps up, usually around 3 days after your baby is born. As they get bigger, they can become rock hard too meaning just putting a bra on can be excruciatingly painful! To reduce engorgement, you need to be nursing regularly. Another frustration, if latching is an issue.

There’s no constant support when you need it

Breastfeeding is not a 9 to 5 thing!  Without one-to-one expert help when needed, it’s difficult for mums to diagnose and improve their breastfeeding techniques. It’s also highly likely that the mums who are already feeling stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed are less likely to reach out to a breastfeeding support group due to the emotional and physical constraints post childbirth. It’s also likely that this kind of support isn’t immediate, and you may have to wait days for it, if it even exists in your area. The alternative of giving up starts to feel like it’s the only way out.

57% of new mums state say that the lack of health professional support is their biggest breastfeeding challenge. 46.1% of mums find feelings of isolation and depression their main challenge.

The cost of help

Before you enter the world of motherhood, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of a Private Lactation Consultant – they do exist and there’s a demand for them. But, they come at a cost making this service inaccessible to so many mums.

It’s your journey

The Anya app has been created for you. It’s been developed to be your personal breastfeeding and parenting consultant that goes everywhere with you. It doesn’t mind being woken up in the middle of the night to keep you company, offer advice, solidarity and support, and to show you animations of the best techniques.

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