"The myth is that nursing comes naturally," says Lisa Spiegel, co-director of Soho Parenting in New York City and co-author of A Mother's Circle: An Intimate Dialogue on Becoming a Mother, with Jean Kunhardt. "But for most women that's just not true. It may finally feel natural after many weeks, but it takes work and practice to get it right." For sure, moms often feel intense pressure from their doctors, friends, and family to nurse their baby. And while the entire medical community recommends breastfeeding for the benefits it offers both mother and child, Spiegel and Kunhardt strongly encourage moms to keep the breast-versus-bottle debate in perspective. "The most important thing is that feedings are comfortable for you and your baby," says Spiegel. In other words: If you're always tense and frustrated while you're nursing, it's not doing anyone any good.
How to cope: If breastfeeding isn't going well, get help from a lactation consultant or another mom who has nursed her kids. "Ask her to come over for a couple of hours to just watch and see what you're doing," says Spiegel. "She may have some suggestions that'll make things better -- or it may help just to know that you're doing everything right and that it will get easier with time." Give yourself the goal of sticking with it for at least a month, since it can take this long to get the timing and positioning down. After that, if you're still frustrated, consider switching to formula.