Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world, but it can feel impossible and unnaturally hard to do.

You anticipate the wonderful feeling of being able to nourish your child, the special bond you form while breastfeeding, and the joy of fulfilling this unique role as a mother.

Yet, many mothers can feel overwhelmed, tired, sore, and confused by all the things they don't know. Some moms may also feel like a failure when it doesn't go smoothly.

Both sets of feelings are completely natural. As August wraps up as National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, here are some common worries of how to breastfeed your baby and how to overcome them.

Q: Should I Be Worried If My Baby Has Trouble Latching?

A: Latching is important to successful breastfeeding, but sometimes it takes a little practice to get it right for both mom and baby.

The following tips ensure a proper latch, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA):

Use pillows to support you.

Keep your baby tummy-to-tummy with you.

Bring your baby toward your body.

Aim the nipple toward the baby's upper lip or nose, not the mouth.

Signs of a good latch include:

Wiggling ears

Jaw movement in a circular motion

No clicking or smacking noises

Swallowing sounds

A relaxed, satisfied baby at the end of the feeding

Do Moms in the US Breastfeed? Yes! 79% of newborns start off breastfeeding. 49% of infants were still breastfeeding at 6 months. 27% of infants were still breastfeeding at 1 year. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card

Q: Does It Hurt?

A: It can. Breast soreness is common and can happen for a variety of reasons, says the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Although common, breastfeeding should not be consistently painful. Some reasons for nipple soreness, according to the NLM, include:

  • Odd feeding position
  • Overly dry skin
  • Overly moist skin
  • Chewing on the nipple

Avoiding synthetic bras and ensuring your skin is properly moisturized may help. Also, if the baby continues to suck while you detach, gently insert a finger into the side of the mouth as you pull away.

Q: Is Breastfeeding Really Better For My Baby?

A: Yes. The breast vs. bottle debate has been raging, but it's been proven that breastfeeding offers benefits for your baby that bottle feeding can't.

It's full of the right nutrients, easily digestible, always available, and adjusts naturally according to your baby's stage in development, according to the APA.

The real disadvantages are practical. You need to be available and present if your baby gets hungry. It might be inconvenient, and you need to pump milk for long absences. This can be especially challenging for working moms.

Not everyone is in a situation where they can manage those issues. But if you are, then breastfeeding is definitely the best option.

Q: If Breastfeeding Is So Good For Me And My Baby, Shouldn't I Do It For Longer Than A Year?

A: You can. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for their first six months, and then continued for up to a year while introducing other foods. Beyond that, it's really up to you.

Q: Is There Any Reason I Shouldn't Breastfeed My Baby?

A: Yes. If you have certain conditions or are taking certain medications, formula is the best option, reports the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Some conditions, according to HHS, where formula may be better than breastfeeding include:

  • If you have HIV/AIDS
  • If you are undergoing chemotherapy
  • If you are taking anti-anxiety medications
  • If you use certain sleep aids
  • If you take certain migraine medications
  • If you're on mood-stabilizing drugs
  • If you're using illegal drugs

Q: In That Case, Can I Feed My Baby While I'm Sick?

A: Yes. You don't have to worry about passing an illness through breastfeeding. In fact, the antibodies your body creates can be passed on to your baby, helping her immune system, says the HHS.

Q: Does Breastfeeding Help Me?

A: Yes. It helps you recover more quickly after pregnancy, can speed up weight loss, and reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancers, according to the HHS.

Also, women who breastfeed are significantly less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, reveals an April 2010 report in Scientific American.

Before you give birth, register for West Valley's Breastfeeding 101 classto get started on your breastfeeding journey the right way. Classes are offered the second Tuesday of each month. Register online or call (208) 455-3995.