“Breastfeeding is the natural and best way to feed your baby!” It is no surprise you might have heard this all throughout your pregnancy and now that your baby is born. You must be thinking if it is natural it should be easy, right?
Wrong! Just like learning how to ride a bike, you have to learn how to breastfeed – These things take time (and a lot of failed attempts).
Because many breastfeeding mothers face a few challenges, we have decided to discuss the six most common problems and provide you with solutions to help you fix your breastfeeding experience.
However, if these solutions do not work for you; be sure to seek advice from your doctor, midwife or someone experienced whom you trust.
Table of Contents
#1 She won’t latch!
Latching is the term used for attaching her mouth to your nipple. Many other breastfeeding challenges can be avoided if you get the hang of this first because it is the key to any good breastfeeding experience.
A poor latch will cause discomfort to you and your baby will be unable to remove milk from your breasts. She will only be sucking on your nipple rather than keeping her mouth wide and far back onto the areola.
Below are seven good latch pointers for you to try out with your baby.
- While you are still in the hospital, get help from your doctor or midwife on how to position your baby well. Do get them to check on you a couple of times to make sure you are doing it right and baby is latching on well.
- Make sure you are comfortable before each feeding; empty your bladder, have a glass of water by your side and take your time when getting into position.
- For a better latch, have your baby be awake and ready to nurse. Start by swaddling her and changing her diaper, there are higher chances she would be all set now.
- It is crucial that her mouth is wide open for a good latch. You can try tickling her upper lip with your nipple to get her mouth to open, only then bring her close to your breast for feeding.
- Good latches normally feel comfortable – like a tug or pull. If it feels like she is biting or pinching your nipple, break apart the suction with your fingers and re-latch.
- Check to see that her mouth is open wide all the way back onto the areola, if it is only on the nipple then she is not doing it right.
- You want to make sure your baby is really drinking from your breast and not just nuzzling. Nuzzling is okay, but she might come off your breast not being satisfied, which is why it is important to listen for swallows to ensure she is getting enough to eat.
#2 My nipples are sore
Poor latching on causes sore nipples. Most women have some baseline nipple tenderness due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. Plus, the eight to ten feeding sessions a day does not help either, making the nipple seriously sore.
You need to get help if your nipple is reddened, cracked, bruised or even bleeding as these things are not normal when you are breastfeeding. This would most likely be cured when the latching is fixed.
Try the following if you have reached a point of more than normal discomfort.
- Get help from a lactation consultant to fix the latch.
- Rub some breast milk onto your nipples after feeding and allow to air dry.
- Practice changing your breast pads between feeds to maintain dry nipples.
- Make sure you don’t wear tight bras as this could further irritate your nipples.
- Start nursing on the side that is least sore.
- Change your positions of feeding often.
- Apply nipple cream to soothe the irritation.
If the methods above don’t help and you still have sore nipples, your lactation consultant might recommend the treatments below.
- Pump milk for a couple of days to allow your nipples to rest if the soreness is severe.
- Use a nipple shield. It is a thin, silicon artificial nipple that fits over your own nipple. However, this should be use under the guidance of your lactation consultant to ensure your baby is getting enough milk.
As your milk supply increases, your breast goes through something called engorgement. Approximately 48 to 72 hours after your baby is born, you will feel your breasts getting fuller. Besides that, there is still fluid in your breast tissue and extra blood flow to the breasts left over from pregnancy.
Some women may experience minimal engorgement, some moderate while the rest severe engorgement. This is basically a management issue and with a few very helpful tips, you will be able to ease the discomfort.
- Feeling of warmth
- Always thirsty
- Noticeable fullness of breasts
- Weepy or tearful feelings
As you feel your breast milk supply increasing, try the following engorgement treatments.
- Feed your baby frequently.
- Place a warm compress on your breasts before feeding to soften them.
- Once nursing is completed, place ice packs on your breast to reduce swelling.
#4 Plugged milk ducts
Milk ducts deliver milk from the milk-making cells through the breast tissue and nipple pores to your baby. When they are plugged, the results are hard, tender areas around your nipple.
Clogged nipple pores may prevent emptying of breasts, which would eventually result in your breasts feeling too full and uncomfortable. Avoid infrequent feeding and tight fitting bras as these could also cause plugged milk ducts.
- Firm, tender areas on the breast
- Slight warmth
- Milk blisters
- Use the tips below to treat plugged milk ducts.
- Practice massaging your breasts gently before and after feeds.
- Place ice packs on your breasts after nursing or pumping to the affected area.
- Feed frequently to maintain empty breasts.
- Call your doctor if you catch a fever or start feeling achy, your breast might be infected.
- Change feeding positions to promote emptying of breasts.
#5 Low milk supply
New mothers often worry about having little to no breast milk to feed their newborns. One common worry is being unsure how much your baby is drinking. You don’t have to know in ounces how much your baby is drinking, but there are many ways to tell if your breast milk supply is sufficient.
There are a number of reasons why your milk supply is low. Some of them include;
- Over use of pacifier
- Maternal illness or return to work
- Poor latch
- Premature baby
- History of hormonal issues
If you would like, you could have a word about it with your doctor and get treatment based on what the situation is. However, without knowing the exact cause for it, below are some good strategies to implement to boost your milk supply.
- Get sufficient rest and have a balanced diet.
- Breastfeed frequently as the more milk is removed, the more is made.
- Make sure your baby is latched on properly.
- Spend time working with a professional to diagnose the cause.
- Make sure baby is wetting and soiling diapers enough for her age.
#6 Yeast infection
If either you or your baby has developed yeast infection, both of you will be infected and would definitely need treatment. It is very hard to determine who started the yeast infection.
There are a few reasons as to why the yeast infection may have started. Your baby might have been exposed to yeast in the course of being delivered. If you have been prone to vaginal yeast infection or were given antibiotics during labour, these two could be factors as well.
- Itching and burning of nipples
- Painful latch
- Nipples hurt after feeding
- Fussiness with feeds
- Diaper rashes
- White spots in mouth
Some guidelines for mum to follow at home include;
- Start by visiting a doctor or lactation consultant to get diagnosed.
- Begin treatment for both you and your baby.
- Remind everyone who takes care of your baby to wash their hands frequently.
- Wash all bottles, nipples and pacifier used by your baby in hot water after each use.
- Reduce your sugar intake.
- Wash all your bras in hot water.
- Sterilize breast pump parts if you are using one.
- Alternatively, you could try the treatments recommended by your doctor or lactation consultant.
It is very common for many women to feel discouraged when having to face these challenges. As tempting as it is to throw the towel and quit this whole breastfeeding phase, try not to! With proper guidance, lots of patience and practice, you will overcome them and enjoy breastfeeding. Hang in there – it is totally worth it!