Benefits and Challenges of Breastfeeding

February 24, 2020

blog watch me bloom, recipes for growing me ~6 months, benefits and challenges of breastfeeding, close up of baby being breastfed

Are you a new mom who is trying to breastfeed?

We’ve learned so much in the past few decades about the importance of breastfeeding; but, let me tell you from my own experience—the pressure can be a bit overwhelming for a new mom! The day my daughter was born, she was on my chest in a matter of minutes and the nurse stood over us to watch her latch, ready to make that checkmark on the chart! I felt great for about half a day, until someone else came in and said “You’re not doing it right!”. After that, my daughter wasn’t gaining weight and had jaundice. So, homecare visits were ordered and finally in came someone with some compassion to the situation, advising that perhaps I wasn’t producing enough milk. Breast pumps were recommended to help with the production, a review of a proper latch and away we went. The breast pumps helped get the production of milk going and we were finally off to the races. 

I say all of this lightly, but I’ll never forget that feeling of wanting to cry every time someone imposed their advice on me and acted as though I was about to give up! 

newborn baby resting in mother's lapChallenges that Cause Impact

Several factors can affect successful breastfeeding (none of which I knew when I had my baby):

  • Cesarean (C-section) delivery
  • Birth weight of less than 6.6 lbs
  • 5-minute Apgar score of less than 9
  • First contact with baby later than two hours after birth; or not staying together in the same room during hospital stay
  • Breastfeeding fewer than 8 times; and/or pacifier use within the first 24 hours
  • Suboptimal breastfeeding behaviour at three days postpartum
  • Flat or inverted nipples; or edema with moderate-to-severe pitting [1]

Further research explained that some women may stop breastfeeding before six months, due to additional challenges, such as: 

  • Lack of confidence in ability to breastfeed 
  • Not having a plan for the duration of exclusive breastfeeding
  • Little knowledge or breastfeeding problems during first week
  • Experience of less than five baby-friendly practices during hospital stay
  • Perceived milk insufficiency; or early supplemental feedings
  • Low breastfeeding self-efficacy
  • Lower maternal age and/or education [2] [3]


The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has long-term benefits for children—including lowering the risk of Type II diabetes, obesity, and better intelligence scores. Breastfeeding helps protect infants from childhood illnesses; breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant requires until 6 months old (then complementary feedings can start with continued breastfeeding up to and beyond two years). Breast milk has antibodies and helps protect against childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia. 

Breastfeeding is great for mothers—it helps lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as Type II diabetes, and postpartum depression. Also, breastfeeding can promote infant bonding, as well as greater postpartum weight loss. 

Breastfeeding has also shown to reduce acute otitis media (inner ear inflammation), gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections, atopic dermatitis, asthma (in young children), childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and necrotizing enterocolitis (where bacteria invade and damage the wall of the bowel) [4] [5]

baby boy toddler with pacifier happily gazing with fatherTidbits and Key Takeaways

Some people may talk about nipple confusion and advise against a pacifier; however, a systematic review of two randomized trials after successful latching showed no significant difference in breastfeeding rates between those that used a pacifier and those that did not. [6] Also, including fathers in breastfeeding education may help improve breastfeeding rates. [7]

Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Many challenges can affect successful breastfeeding and any new mother will require support and education
  • Challenges exist for continued breastfeeding and parents need to be educated on these challenges
  • There are outstanding benefits of breastfeeding for infants that also influence their health into childhood
  • Breastfeeding is great for moms too!
  • Including fathers in breastfeeding education may help improve breastfeeding rates

In our book, Recipes for Growing Me ~6-months, we’ve highlighted the continued importance of breast milk at this developmental stage:
sample page from recipes for growing me ~6 months, baby's first cookbook, "Did you Know?" happy face number 6 character illustration on grey background with glasses and magnifying glass, black lettering poemDid you Know? 

When I’m 6 months old
There are so many things to try
But it’s mostly for exploring
And here is why
I need most of my nutrients
From formula or mother’s milk
It is so good for me
Like a natural silk
Don’t be afraid to tell me no
I’m just curious to ask you so

And remember…don’t hog the blog!
Please share with friends today.

Have a bloomin’ day!
Sarah & Karen


[1] Journal Pediatric 2014 Jun;164(6):1339

[2] International Breastfeeding Journal 2015;10:19

[3] Journal Pediatric Gastroenterology Nutrition 2015 Nov;61(5):577


[5] DynaMed, Ipswich (MA): EBSCO Information Services. 1995. Record No.T115517, Breastfeeding; [updated 2018 Nov 30]. Available from

[6] Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Aug 30: (8): CD007202

[7] DynaMed, Ipswich (MA): EBSCO Information Services. 1995. Record No.T115517, Breastfeeding; [updated 2018 Nov 30]. Available from

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Watch Me Bloom, you can buy a book, say hello on Facebook or follow us on Instagram. If you liked this blog, share it with a new mom. Reading this for the first time? Subscribe and receive a complimentary digital download of our ‘Love Me Forever’ Digital Print.

Also in Hello Mama!

eat the rainbow, eat the rainbow challenge, eat a rainbow worksheet, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, eat a rainbow every day, eat your colours, food rainbow, blue fruits, red fruits, orange fruits
Eating a Rainbow of Foods: Why this is Important

August 31, 2020 0 Comments

Have you ever heard of ‘eating more colour’, or ‘eating a rainbow’? What does this mean? And why is this important? The American Heart Association divides eating in colour into five main categories: Red/Pink; Blue/Purple; Yellow/Orange; White/Brown; and Green. In this blog, we dive a little deeper to understand why eating in colour is important, and explore its benefits.

Read more

blog watch me bloom pros and cons for homemade baby food, Different healthy grocery food in paper bag, Zero waste shopping
Pros & Cons of Homemade Baby Food

July 27, 2020 0 Comments

These past few months have been an interesting time! With a forced slow-down of the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives have been turned upside down; however, some might argue this is for the better! Busy lifestyles lead us to easy solutions for the short term, yet they aren’t providing the long-term outcomes we desire. The importance of eating healthy is something that we hear everyone talk about—but we need to dive deeper into how nutrition impacts our little ones and carve out the time to make infant nutrition a priority.

Read more

blog watch me bloom, recipes for growing me ~9 months, what is responsive feeding, close up of dad holding baby in kitchen, baby reaching for food on plate
What is Responsive Feeding?

June 29, 2020 0 Comments

Responsive feeding involves understanding your baby’s cues regarding feeding—and responding to them appropriately. It sets the foundation for healthy eating habits and leads to developing the skills necessary for self-control and management of food intake. This includes ‘responsive parenting’—the positive interactions you have with your baby (including, but not limited to food) that lead to a mutual understanding and bond that results in optimal feeding behaviours, as well as secure relationships and better cognitive and language development.

Read more