Why is Breastfeeding so Hard: Normalcy Bias and the 11 Barriers Moms Face.

Breastfeeding…nothing more natural in the world, is there? Normal, nurturing, and healthy for both you and your baby.

Breastfeeding should be as easy as enjoying a comforting beverage at home or in a café. 

More than 80% of American mamas and babies are breastfeeding at the hospital, even though nearly every mother worries about not having enough milk. (Why is this?) Afterwards, many mothers are enduring weeks of pain due to bad teaching and insufficient newborn health screening.

As a result, moms turn to formula and pumping; supplementing baby with pumped milk or formula. They steadfastly tackle early challenges with support and grit, and some succeed, but many more give up on their dreams and feel bad about themselves. They blame themselves, thinking they didn’t try hard enough.

I want to tell you something: 

“If you are not exclusively breastfeeding, it is not your fault.”

  • We worry about low milk supply before we’ve even begun.
  • We buy formula to have “just in case.”
  • We order breast pumps to have “just in case.”
  • We express colostrum to bring to the hospital “just in case.”

Because of this normalcy bias, 87% of American babies are fully or partially formula-fed by age six months. Clearly mothers want to breastfeed. So WHAT is happening? The 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding identified seven barriers to breastfeeding and I’ve added four more.

Which ones are yours?

  • Not having support of family and friends
  • Living in a bottle feeding culture
  • Not having enough maternity leave
  • Not knowing the normal process of breastfeeding
  • Having breastfeeding challenges and problems
  • Having an injury or illness happen during or right after birth
  • Having a high pain tolerance
  • Feeling embarrassed by your breasts or body
  • Not knowing who to call for help
  • Not having access to lactation services
  • Not having enough money (or self-worth) to pay for lactation services

How can we begin to feel confident that our boobs can nourish our babies? 

How can we nourish our babies while navigating this minefield of modern day brainwashing that undermines our confidence? Knowing normal human development is the foundation of learning breastfeeding and support ensures that breastfeeding continues. 

We need three things for exclusive breastfeeding:

  1. Feeding guidelines rooted in normal biological newborn’s and mother’s behavior.
  2. Guidance that increases our confidence and breastfeeding skills.
  3. Partners, family, friends, and health care providers who encourage, support, and protect our breastfeeding.

When all three are present in a community where breastfeeding is the norm and the bias is towards breastfeeding, women keep breastfeeding. 

The Breastfeeding Café:

A place where you can get reliable answers to your simple breastfeeding questions in your unique and individual circumstances. You will find answers to these questions even at 2:43 in the morning, when you are nursing for the umpteenth time since you went to bed, and you are worried sick that you are losing your milk. 

The Breastfeeding Café is coming together so you can feel good about breastfeeding, however it’s working for you. You will learn how to prevent problems and how to continue breastfeeding when you come to a barrier. And you will feel proud and confident. You and your baby will be in a community where you can thrive.

Mother of three, including twins; Lactation Consultant; Partner of Michael;

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