Breastfeeding

Advice for pregnant mothers and new mothers

When they thought back over their experiences, most of the women we spoke to said that they had enjoyed breastfeeding their baby, even those women who had dealt with difficult times or weaned prematurely, and that there was no substitute for that experience. No one said that their experience had not been worthwhile. They drew upon their own experiences and things that they might have done differently when considering advice for other women. Many said that breastfeeding was the best thing that they had ever done and urged other women to 'give it a go', 'be confident' and 'enjoy it'. Many said that they wanted the best for their baby and breast milk was proven to be the best. They gained a sense of achievement from having been the only one who could provide breast milk for their baby. For many, it was a big part of being a mother. Several said that it had positively changed their lives and one woman said that it had helped her to parent her children in a better way. Another said that motherhood was an overwhelming experience, that it was important to acknowledge the emotional part that breastfeeding played and to be realistic about expectations.

Many women spoke of things that they wished had been different for them and incorporated these things into their advice for others. Many said that it was important to seek out support from someone who had breastfed or was knowledgeable about breastfeeding and to keep their phone number handy. Some said that they wished they had done more reading about breastfeeding before the birth of their baby while others recommended doing the reading after the birth and one said not to read too much but to trust your instincts. All agreed that it was important to become knowledgeable.

A few women wished that, while they were pregnant, they had seen more women breastfeeding and been able to closely observe how it was done, for example, at breastfeeding classes, workshops or support group meetings (see 'Positioning and attaching/latching the baby at the breast').

While many women found breastfeeding easy, several said that they wished someone had told them how hard it could be in the first week or two and that they would get through the difficulties. Several recommended setting achievable goals, like marking six weeks on the calendar as a time to aim for before reassessing the situation, to persevere and not to give up because it would get easier. Others said that it was important to get help early before problems became unbearable. One woman, whose baby was diagnosed with a heart problem before birth, recommended having a feeding plan in mind and discussing this with health professionals. Another said that she kept a diary to help her to remember when certain things happened and as a way of off-loading feelings.

There were several do's and don'ts that the women mentioned. The do's included' expect the unexpected; go with the flow; accept that things will change; trust and follow your instincts; be confident; be patient and take it slowly; share your experiences with other people; let go of the housework and accept help so that you can spend time with your baby; only do what you are comfortable with; keep trying and stick with it for longer than a week; enjoy it the best you can; be proud of yourself and every drop of breast milk that you are giving your baby.

The don'ts that the women mentioned included' don't be embarrassed, ashamed or scared; don't worry about what other people think; don't try to set up routines; don't buy unnecessary goods; don't expect breastfeeding to happen straight away; don't put pressure on yourself for everything to work out perfectly; and don't panic or beat yourself up if things do not go according to plan. Several women said that it was important to keep things in perspective and not to buy into the feeling of failure because any breast milk was better than none.


Women who experienced breastfeeding difficulties thought it important to make new mothers aware that breastfeeding sometimes doesn’t work out. And if this is the case, they shouldn’t feel ashamed or stress out and that the most important thing is to enjoy the new baby.

Last reviewed August 2013
Last updated November 2011

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