Breastfeeding is a natural process, and as such it shouldn’t be a complicated one. Well, that’s what many of us would assume. However, just like any other process there is a learning curve for both the mum and her newborn. There are various breastfeeding problems that could arise and today we will be looking at some of the problems nursing mothers face and how you can solve them. Problems like mastitis should never be neglected.
Breastfeeding Problems and How to Solve Them
1. Latching Problems
Problem: Latching problems are quite common and you should expect to feel some soreness on your nipples when you initially begin to breastfeed. This is especially uncomfortable for first time moms. While latching pain is normal, it should not last long. Should you feel this pain for more than a minute, then you may want to reposition the baby.
How to Solve It:
Begin by repositioning the baby and direct them to your breast. Try your best to have the baby’s mouth cover a larger area of the lower areola. In other words, try to create an asymmetrical latch. To remove the child from the breast, simply tickle the chin or seize the moment the baby yawns to reposition him or her.
The baby’s chin and nose should have contact with your breast. The lips should be spread out and you should not be able to view the nipple or the lower areola. If you are still experiencing latching problems and have sore nipples this could be as a result of dry nipples.
You can resolve this by applying lanolin based creams in between feedings. It also helps to wear comfortable clothing. You can also avoid using soap for washing. The video below describes how to create a comfortable latch position.
2. Cracked Nipples
Problem: Cracked nipples are caused by various factors and these could be the latching problems described above, improper pumping of breast milk, dry skin and thrush as well. When you begin breastfeeding or pumping milk, you could experience some bloody discharge. While this is certainly uncomfortable and maybe even disgusting, a little amount of blood will not necessarily be harmful to the baby.
How to Solve It:
Ensure that the baby is well positioned and like we mentioned above, the baby’s mouth should cover the lower areola. Increase your breastfeeding frequency by having shorter intervals to reduce vigorous sucking by baby.
Remember that the baby will suck softer when less hungry. The temptation to clean your nipples with anything available in your medicine cabinet is one that you should fight. Lotions, soaps, alcohol and perfumes are not ideal, and in fact clean water works just fine. Leaving some milk on the nipples after feeding is actually advisable as the milk can help the cracked nipples heal faster.
That said; you can also use medication such as painkillers and mild painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help. Take these medications half an hour before you breastfeed. If these remedies do no work, lanolin cream could help. The good news is that there are lanolin based creams made for nursing mother. You can also reduce friction by wearing plastic breast shells with your bra.
Problem: Engorgement refers to high milk supply. This is a problem that affects mostly the baby as he is unable to comfortably latch on the breast to feed. High milk supply causes the breast to become hard and the baby experiences difficulty conforming to the mouth to the breast. It can also be painful for the mother.
How to Solve It: You can express a little milk using your hand to get a steady milk flow before your baby begins to feed. This also helps to soften the breast and the baby is able to easily latch on the breast. Engorgement can be relieved by feeding more frequently.
4. Low Milk Supply
Problem: Sometimes nursing mothers may have a low milk supply and this means that the baby is not gaining enough food or nutrients. This could affect the baby’s weight.
How to Solve It: Increasing your nursing frequency can help stimulate milk production. You can also pump during the day to help increase your milk supply. Diet also has a crucial role to play. Watch the following video to learn more tips on increasing milk supply:
5. Hard/ Sore Breasts
Problem: Hard/sore breasts are mainly as a result of inadequate draining of the breasts. This could bring about a hard lump or soreness on the breast and some redness as well. If your hard breasts are accompanied by fever and aches, then you could be dealing with an infection and you need to seek immediate medical attention. Other factors that could contribute to hard, sore breasts include wearing tight nursing bras, stress and long breaks in between nursing.
How to Solve It: Get enough rest and warm compress on your breasts. Massaging also helps to stimulate the movement of milk.
6. Painful Let Down
Problem: Your breasts are milk producing devices and this means that when you let down nursing, the milk producing parts of your body will begin to constrict and push forward the milk. However, these parts of the breast can sometimes hurt, and nursing mothers may experience breast aches and sensations such as pins and needles.
How to Solve It: Pain could be brought about by various factors and one of these could be excessive milk production. Feeding the baby more frequently and longer while switching from one breast to another can help. The pins and needles sensation could also be attributed to a breast infection brought about by bacteria or yeast. With such an infection, the sensation is more than just pins and needles as it tends to be more painful.
Infections require medical attention as they are likely to be accompanied by aches, chills and fever. You will need to get an antibiotic prescription from your doctor so as to help clear this. As unpleasant as it may be, you still need to ensure that your baby is well nourished so do not stop nursing unless advised to.
Problem: Mastitis is characterized by symptoms similar to a flu infection and the nursing mother will experience breast pains and fever. This is a bacterial infection and it is quite common during the first weeks of breastfeeding. It can also occur during the weaning period. Mastitis could be brought about by engorgement, cracked skin or clogged milk ducts.
How to Solve It: In order to effectively treat mastitis, you will need to take antibiotics to clear the infection. Hot compresses and emptying of the breasts also help to relieve the infection. Breastfeeding is recommended even when suffering from this infection and it is safe. Watch a video to learn how a mom cleared her mastitis:
8. Inverted Nipples
Problem: Inverted nipples are retracted or flat as opposed to their normal protruded nature. This makes breastfeeding a challenge as the baby is not able to latch properly.
How to Solve It: You can help improve the condition by pumping the breasts before nursing the baby. Using breast shells in between nursing can also help. If the baby still has latching difficulties, you can use nipple shields.