5 Common Breastfeeding Problems That New Mums Face
You are bound to encounter some challenges in your breastfeeding journey. Here are some ways to overcome these common breastfeeding challenges.
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy and if you’re experiencing difficulties you’re not alone. In fact, a study of more than 500 new mums found that 92% reported breastfeeding challenges by day three. Thankfully, many early breastfeeding difficulties are simple to deal with. Here are our solutions to the most common breastfeeding challenges mums experience in the early months after birth.
It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
Solution: Try to achieve an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above. To reposition him, place your index finger inside baby’s mouth to take him off your breast. Tickle his chin or wait until he yawns so his mouth is wide open and seize your opportunity. (Sandwich the breast as described in the video clip below to shape it to the baby’s mouth.) When he is correctly positioned, his chin and nose touch your breast, his lips splay out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
If baby’s position is correct and latching on still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Make sure to wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Lanolin-based creams are good for applying between feedings.
Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush, dry skin, pumping improperly, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood, while kind of gross, won’t harm baby.
Solution: Check baby’s positioning — the bottom part of your areola underneath your nipple should be in baby’s mouth. Also, try breastfeeding more frequently, and at shorter intervals. The less hungry baby is, the softer his sucking will be.
As tempting as it is to treat your cracked nipples with anything you can find in your medicine cabinet, soaps, alcohol, lotions, and perfumes are no good — clean water is all you need to wash with. Try letting some milk stay on your nipples to air dry after feeding (the milk actually helps heal them). You can also try taking a mild painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen 30 minutes before nursing. If all this fails, try an over-the-counter lanolin cream, specially made for nursing mothers and use plastic hard breast shells inside your bra.
Ducts clog because your milk isn’t draining completely. You may notice a hard lump on your breast or soreness to the touch and even some redness. If you start feeling feverish and achy, that’s a sign of infection and you should see your doctor. Most importantly try not to have long stretches in between feedings — milk needs to be expressed often. A nursing bra that is too tight can also cause clogged ducts. Stress (something all new mommies have an over abundance of) can also affect your milk flow.
Solution: Do your best to get adequate rest (you should recruit your partner to pick up some slack when possible). Also, try applying warm compresses to your breasts and massage them to stimulate milk movement.
Clogged ducts are not harmful to your baby because breast milk has natural antibiotics. That said, there’s no reason why you have to suffer. Breastfeeding should be enjoyable for mom and baby.
Engorgement makes it difficult for baby to latch on to the breast because it’s hard and un-conforming to his mouth.
Solution: Try hand-expressing a little before feeding to get the milk flowing and soften the breast, making it easier for baby to latch and access milk. Of course, the more you nurse, the less likely your breasts are to get engorged.
Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts marked by flu-like symptoms such as fever and pain in your breasts. It’s common within the first few weeks after birth (though it can also happen during weaning) and is caused by cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement.
Solution: The only sufficient way to treat the infection is with antibiotics, hot compresses, and most importantly, frequent emptying. Use hands-on pumping, making sure the red firm areas of the breast and the periphery are softened. It’s safe and actually recommended that you continue breastfeeding when you have mastitis.
Resource: Web MD
Also read: Exclusive Breastfeeding Tips For New Mums