If you’re able to breastfeed your baby, it can be a wonderful experience for you both. But breastfeeding is not without its challenges.
Many thanks to thebump.com for much of the below info for the best tips from experts on how to handle the most common breastfeeding problems new moms face.
The most common breastfeeding problems and how to solve them.
Problem #1: Latching
An improper latch is one of the most common breastfeeding problems new moms face. It’s normal for your nipples to feel a little sore when you first start breastfeeding, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if the pain lasts longer than a few seconds into your feeding session, there may be an issue with your baby’s latch.
The solution: First, gently rub your nipple under baby’s nose to encourage a really wide open mouth. Most babies will ‘root’ at the breast and open their mouth when they’re ready to nurse. Next, place baby so their bottom lip is positioned well below your nipple, not at the base of the nipple.
At the same time, be sure to bring baby onto your breast, rather than putting your breast in their mouth. You’ll know baby is positioned correctly when their chin touches your breast, their lips are splayed and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
Problem #2: Cracked Nipples
This is one of those breastfeeding problems that can be the result of many different things: a shallow latch, pumping improperly, thrush and sometimes even dry skin.
First, check that your baby is properly positioned. If baby has a shallow latch, your nipple is positioned in the front of baby’s mouth and will rub along baby’s hard palate. Once you get a deeper latch, your nipple settles farther back in baby’s mouth where the soft palate lies, which is much more comfortable (and effective) for you both.
Some moms recommend letting some milk stay on your nipples after feeding and air-drying them to aid healing. And because cracked nipples can allow for bacteria to enter the breast, wash sore nipples with soap and water at least twice a day. If the problem persists, it’s best to consult your doctor to rule out thrush or any other problems.
Problem #3: Clogged Ducts
When your breasts are overly full (engorged) or you’ve gone longer than usual between feeds, milk can back up into your ducts, clogging them up. You’ll know you’ve got a blocked duct if there’s a hard lump on your breast, if your breast is sore to the touch, and/or there’s some redness.
If you’ve got a fever too, that’s a sign of mastitis (see below). To clear clogged milk ducts, try feeding baby on the affected side first at each feed until the duct is cleared. Applying warm compresses to your breasts and massaging them gently can also help break up the congestion.
Problem #4: Mastitis
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 anytime during breastfeeding) and may be caused by other breastfeeding problems, such as clogged milk ducts, engorgement or even cracked nipples, which can allow bacteria to enter the breast, causing the infection.
Your doctor will need to prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection – make sure they prescribe one that’s safe and compatible with breastfeeding and add a probiotic to your daily routine too. At the same time, milk backing up in your breasts can make mastitis worse so be sure to frequently empty your breasts – the milk is perfectly safe for baby.
If it’s too painful to nurse or baby refuses to nurse, pump to keep your breasts from getting engorged.
Problem #5: Thrush
Thrush is a common yeast infection in baby’s mouth, which can spread to your breasts. You’ll notice red, shiny and sometimes flaky nipples, and/or a lace-like milky pattern on the inside of your baby’s cheeks and lips. You may also experience an itching sensation or deep, shooting breast pain.
Your doctor will need to prescribe an antifungal medication to put on your nipple and in baby’s mouth (OTC meds don’t cut it here). If you and baby are not both treated at the same time, you can easily pass the fungi back and forth.
To keep the yeast contained, make sure to sanitize all pump parts that come in contact with your breasts, and wash all bras and nursing pads regularly in hot water and vinegar to kill any yeast spores. In addition, rinse any dummies or bottles that have been chemically sterilized before putting them in baby’s mouth… while sterilizing solutions aren’t toxic to baby, they can kill the good bacteria in baby’s mouth and upset the pH balance – making them more prone to pick up yeast infections.
Those are top 5 breastfeeding problems – let us know if you’ve got any tried-and-tested tips to add!
And remember, a well-fed baby is a happy baby – whether you breastfeed or don’t, you’ve got this, mums.