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If you’re looking for help with the most common breastfeeding problems then you’ve come to the right place because I’ve got the solutions.
This post will help you overcome breastfeeding problems so you can enjoy motherhood.
Your body gives you breast milk naturally, so this should be easy breezy. But is it? Not really.
Many moms face a lot of struggles while breastfeeding: low milk supply, babies who won’t latch, painful breasts and much more.
Let’s go through the most common problems that moms deal with when breastfeeding.
HOW TO SOLVE BREASTFEEDING PROBLEMS
1. LATCHING PAIN
Breastfeeding might be difficult for first-time moms. I know it was for me. I remember those first days in the hospital were really hard for me. I was quite clumsy trying to ‘act’ like a mom.
That’s a job nobody trains you beforehand. I was lucky enough that my baby took on breastfeeding quickly but at some point breastfeeding her became painful.
If you experience latching pain and the pain lasts longer than a minute you should reposition your baby.
The goal is to get an asymmetrical latch. That means your baby’s mouth should cover more of the lower areola. How do you do that?
- Open his mouth (place your finger in his mouth or tickle his chin to make him yawn)
- ‘Squeeze’ your breast to shape it so it can fit in baby’s mouth
- In a correct latching position, your baby’s chin and nose touch your breast and your nipple is out of sight.
If you still have latching pain, you may consider some lanolin cream (helps you with dry nipples), avoid tight clothing and washing with soap.
2. CRACKED NIPPLES
You might end up with cracked nipples (ouch!) for several reasons: dry nipples, latching issues, incorrect pumping or thrush.
If you see some light bleeding don’t freak out, it’s not going to hurt the baby. Light bleeding is expected in the beginning when your baby still learns how to latch or you just get into the groove of pumping.
The same rule applies. Check your baby’s position and his latch. Make sure he’s mouth covers more of the lower areola. Try frequent and short breastfeeding sessions.
Less hunger means lighter sucking.
Rinse nipples with plain water or let some milk air dry (that promotes healing). If pain persists try lanolin cream and use plastic hard breast shells.
3. CLOGGED DUCTS
Plugged ducts happen when your breast milk does not drain completely, causing milk to back up. When this happens your breasts feel lumpy and are sore or even red.
If you feel like you’re getting a fever that could be a sign of infection and you should contact your doctor. Remember not to have long breaks in between feedings.
Tight clothes and stress (first-time mom anxiety) also affect your milk flow.
Don’t give up on breastfeeding! Warm compress (try warm showers) and gentle massage stimulate milk movement, so you may want to try that.
Don’t be afraid that your baby will get sick from clogged ducts. Breast milk has antibiotic properties so your baby is safe.
4. BREAST ENGORGEMENT
Your breasts become hard after you deliver because your milk supply increases tremendously. Engorgement prevents your baby from latching properly so he won’t get any milk.
The pain will taper down after a few days. Meanwhile, you can use warm compress before feedings and cold compress after.
Squeeze some milk out before you feed him to get the milk flowing and make latching easier. Nursing frequently and alternating positions also help.
Mastitis is a bacterial infection (inflammation of breast tissue) that makes your breasts painful and fever-like.
You have high chances of getting it during the first weeks after your delivery and is mainly caused by dry skin, bacteria entering your breasts, plugged ducts or engorgement.
Because this is an infection you should talk to your doctor. He may prescribe you antibiotics to help you treat the condition.
6. LEAKING BREASTS
I had this problem and I kind of ignored it at first thinking that’s no big deal. I guess it is a big deal when you are out in public and realize your T-shirt is almost soaking wet from breast milk leakage.
Leaking breasts are common mainly in the first few weeks after your childbirth because your body gets ready for the upcoming milk supply-and-demand cycle.
Strangely enough, did you know that you’re likely to leak if you hear a baby crying? That’s because it triggers the let-down.
Nursing pads definitely help. Oh, and go for a dark-colored T-shirt just so you can keep the secret all to your self.
7. HAVING BREAST IMPLANTS
Having implants should not affect your milk supply or the breastfeeding process.
But some moms do have difficulty and that can happen if the implants are placed over the chest muscles or some nerves/milk ducts were damaged during the implant surgery.
Use a breast pump to give your milk ducts a boost and consider getting help from a lactation consultant to help you through this process.
As a woman, now a mom, you are probably familiar with yeast infections. Some women even get it during pregnancy.
Babies can also get yeast infection in their mouth and since it’s contagious it can spread to your breasts. Thrush on your breasts causes soreness and rash with a lot of itchiness.
As always, antifungal treatment is recommended against yeast infection.
It’s important that both of you are treated at the same time, otherwise, the treatment won’t be as efficient and you’ll keep giving the infection to each other.
9. LOW MILK SUPPLY
It’s hard to tell exactly how much milk you’re producing. And if you supplement the feeding with formula that’s going to clearly lower your milk supply.
One way to know your baby is getting enough milk is to monitor his wet/dirty diapers:
- 6+ wet diapers daily
- 3+ dirty diapers daily
Check to see if he’s latching properly, keep feeding him on demand (frequent and short sessions) and you can do some pumping in between feedings.
10. SLEEPY BABY
My daughter used to do this and it was a little frustrating. But it’s common for newborns to do this so don’t lose your temper (yet).
When you notice he’s falling asleep try to wake him up and stimulate him. You can try burping him, tickling or talking to him. Use that as an opportunity to change breasts (start him off at the fuller breast).
11. HAVING FLAT/INVERTED NIPPLES
Don’t know if you do? Squeeze your breasts in between your thumb and index finger. If you’re nipples if protruded you’re ok. If not, then breastfeeding will be more ‘fun’ (not).
Having flat nipples will make it more challenging (not impossible) for your baby to latch.
What you can do is use a pump before having your baby latch and try to compress your areola during feeding. You can also use plastic breast shells in between feedings.
CAN BREASTFEEDING CAUSE TOOTH PROBLEMS?
They tell you not to let your baby fall sleep with a bottle of milk because the milk will pool in his mouth and eventually cause decay. But if he falls asleep while breastfeeding, that’s different.
Breast milk only comes out if he is actively sucking. and even if he is the milk goes behind his teeth. But good hygiene is always recommended so make sure you always wipe/clean your baby’s teeth.
CAN BREASTFEEDING CAUSE THYROID PROBLEMS?
It is possible to experience thyroid problems because breastfeeding can cause your thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism).
Symptoms include: rapid weight loss, anxiety, increased heart rate, insomnia and sweating. Postpartum thyroiditis usually resolves itself within a few weeks but if you see that the symptoms persist go to the doctor.
As you can see most problems have a solution. Some of them may last longer than others but they are treatable so don’t give up.
Whether it’s your doctor, midwife, partner or friend as for help when you need it.
Breastfeeding is very challenging and ‘draining’. But with patience and persistence, there will come a day when breastfeeding your baby will be second nature.
You may want to read 21 Mind-Blowing Breastfeeding Benefits For Mom And Baby