Why IVF mothers have trouble breastfeeding their baby

ivf mothers, breastfeeding

IVF moms are usually anxious which affects breastfeeding. (Source: Getty Images)


Research has shown that IVF mothers, more often than not, face breastfeeding issues. An Australian study published in Acta Paediatrica surveyed IVF mothers to find out that only 41.3 of them were breastfeeding at four months. So, how does IVF impact breastfeeding mothers? There are a lot of factors at play including the mother's age, her mental health and the available support system.

Dr Nikita Lad Patel, consultant, infertility specialist, Apollo Fertility Centre, Navi Mumbai, told Express Parenting, "IVF mothers are mostly older, about 36-37 years. They usually have a lot of anxiety after having endured the physical and mental stress of an IVF cycle, and perhaps previous IVF failures. They worry about whether they would be able to breastfeed properly or if the baby is having enough milk. When the baby suckles from the breast, you cannot exactly measure how much milk they had, which makes the mother more apprehensive."

The breast milk starts flowing more only after the third day after delivery. But within the first two days itself, the mother tends to lose patience and go for formula milk, remarked the doctor. "If the baby does not drink as much milk in the first two days, it is because they do not need much. Otherwise, there is no major issue about the production of milk," she explained.

Another reason could be hypertension, which can also cause difficulties in breastfeeding as it will make the mother worry more.

Tips for breastfeeding after IVF

Dr Patel suggested some tips for IVF mothers to help ease the process of feeding the baby.

Know about the benefits of breastfeeding

IVF mothers need to be counselled. They can consult the gynaecologist who will sensitise the patient about how milk production works and the overall benefits of breastfeeding. It is only when the baby suckles that the milk production increases. The complete nipple or areola has to enter the baby's mouth. Telling the mother positive things about breastfeeding will encourage them. One can also consult a breastfeeding expert.

Read| The challenges for fertility treatment in India

Take a warm bath

Before breastfeeding, the mother can have a nice warm water bath, which can relax them.

Meditation and music can help

The moment the baby cries, the mother gets worried. Meditation and nice soothing music can also calm them.

The mother should be comfortable

The mother should be able to sit comfortably with a comfortable backrest and pillow when feeding the baby.

Do not panic

The baby does not need too much of milk in the first few days. So, whatever they suckle should be enough. If the nappy is wet six to seven times, know that your baby is well-hydrated.

Family support

If the mother is alone, they should ask for some help. Breastfeeding is not very easy, so they would need support from the partner and other family members.

Read| How fathers can help mothers with feeding