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What to do when breastfeeding is difficult - 3 easy steps

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

It is surprising how many health care professionals still underestimate the importance of breastfeeding. If a mother has problems feeding her baby, those difficulties should be addressed. Is the problem on mum's side, or baby's side, or maybe on both sides? One problem that is still persistently overlooked in the baby is 'tongue-tie' or ankyloglossia. This is a congenital, oral anomaly, often causing severe breast feeding problems, like pain and insufficient weight gain in the newborn baby.

Too many women are still not told how to solve this, or worse again, the particular HealthCare Professional doesn't 'believe' in tongue tie. Tongue-tie release, a simple procedure, can help to re-establish successful breastfeeding often instantly. Many HealthCare Professionals and even some hospital policies, still don't see the necessity for this treatment 'if the mother can successfully bottle feed'. I find this attitude is dismissive of the many women who want to breastfeed their babies and encounter problems along the way.

This attitude is also dismissive of the fact that breastfeeding is so much more than just nutrition.

Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby, cortisol ( stress hormones) levels are reduced, the microbiome develops healthily, and so on. Even in later life, speech problems can be avoided and digestive problems also.

So what should you do if you have a problem feeding your baby? Here is my advice in three easy steps

Step 1:

Seek professional help.

Ask to speak to a lactation consultant in your hospital.

Many hospitals have lactation consultants employed but sometimes it can be hard to catch them, as there is often an insufficient number, so persist and don’t give up!

Oh, and by the way, a casual look into the baby's mouth is NOT a proper diagnosis.

Tongue tie is diagnosed by a suck assessment, among other diagnostic tools.

Step 2 :

Get a proper diagnosis.

If it's not the baby....what is it?

Is it the position? Or the latch? Is it that the importance of baby led feeding hasn't been explained? Is there too much emphasis on feeding to a time table? Could it be that your nipples are inverted? All these are just some of the basics.

Step 3:

Be proactive.

Only a very small percentage of women have an underlying problem causing breastfeeding problems, so the good news is that chances are, it's not you!

If your breastfeeding journey is getting difficult after 4 to 6 weeks for instance, it is probably not true that your baby is particularly hungry but more likely that milk removal is impaired, i.e. tongue-tie. It's never too late to have it checked.


Luckily we have midwives, GPs, paediatricians, lactation consultants and other professionals recognising the importance of breastfeeding now.

So, don't be put out by people telling you it's not THAT important, that formula is a good alternative. It is not!

Apply the above tips and get help if you need it. If you're looking for breastfeeding advice, get in touch, I'd love to hear from you at elkehasner (at) or contact me or you can contact


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