Breastfeeding is nature’s food for your baby. The minute a baby is placed on the mother’s chest, skin-to- skin, immediately after birth, the baby becomes alert and within an hour starts some sort of suckling action. Even though breastfeeding is a natural process, it may be difficult sometimes. A new mother and baby need to learn breastfeeding together. The more you practice, the better you get at it.
Breastfeeding has several benefits both to the baby and the mother. Your baby will have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea. Breast milk contains antibodies,which help your baby to fight off bacteria and viruses. It lowers the risk of several chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity and some types of cancers. For the mother, breastfeeding helps to lose weight faster. It also lowers the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
Below are some of the most common problems, that mothers may face through their breastfeeding journey:
Due to improper latching, it is very common for new mothers to have sore nipples. Also the nipples are not used to be suckled at, which causes them to be sore.
Solution: It is important that the baby is latched on properly each time you nurse your baby. Try to achieve an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above. If the latch doesn’t seem right, gently remove the suction by placing your index finger inside baby’s mouth to take him off your breast. Tickle his chin or wait until he yawns so his mouth becomes wide open, now offer your breast to your baby. When he is correctly positioned, his chin will touch your breast, his lips splay out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
Avoid using soap to wash your nipples, this can dry them out. Use lanolin ointment to heal sore nipples.
This can be caused due to Thrush - a common bacterial infection, dry skin, improper pumping and latching problems. Cracked nipples may result in some bleeding, but it won’t harm your baby.
Solution: Check the baby’s position and latch, each time you breastfeed. Frequent nursing will result in a less hungry baby, who in turn will suckle softly. Do not use any soap or alcohol, instead use water and soft cloth to wipe your nipples. Also apply your breast milk on your nipples after each feed and air dry them. Lanolin cream can also be useful in healing cracked nipples too.
When there is backing up of milk, the ducts get clogged, causing a lump in the breast. You will notice a lump or some soreness, even some redness. Tight bra & tight clothing, wearing a baby carrier with improper fitting may also cause clogged ducts.
Solution: Massage the breast in a warm shower, to remove the lump. Use warm compress. Do not stop breastfeeding, it will help dissolve the lump.
As the mother’s milk starts coming in between the second and fourth day after delivery, breasts start making large amounts of liquid milk. Moreover, increased blood flow to the breasts causes the tissues in it to swell. Engorgement usually happens in the early weeks after birth.
Solution: Before feeding, soften the breast first with a warm compress or, by expressing some amount of milk manually or with a breast pump. Feed the baby on demand, always ensuring a good latch. Continue to breastfeed to ease the engorgement. Otherwise it may increase the chance of Mastitis, a painful inflammation of the breast. Also use a cold pack after feeding to soothe the pain. Wearing a good support bra is key in reducing the discomfort.
It is a bacterial infection accompanied with fever and inflammation of the breast. Mastitis mainly occurs due to improper latching , sore nipples or untreated engorgement.
Solution: Breastfeed frequently or pump it to ensure that the red firm areas of the breast are softened. Massage them with a warm flannel and try feeding in different positions so as to drain out your breasts . In extreme cases , antibiotic may be required . Also drink plenty of fluids regularly for a quicker recovery.
A milk bleb is a small white spot on the nipple, which hurts when you feed your baby. It may be due to an overgrowth of skin cells or a collection of fatty material from the milk. It can be quite painful though.
Solution: Frequent breastfeeding on demand will result in the bleb eventually dissolving. Applying warm coconut oil or hot compress on the bleb may soften it and drain it out.
This is caused when a mother makes lots of milk. A strong let down reflex, a warm environment like in a bath, hearing her baby cry can cause leaking breasts.
Solution: Breastfeeding your baby on demand will help in reducing leakage. Use breast pads to soak up the extra milk. However, do change the pads if they become wet, as it may result in a bacterial infection. Breast shells can also be worn to collect the excess milk.
A Sleepy baby doesn’t suckle effectively resulting in low milk supply. Breastfeeding is a demand-supply process. Further weak let down reflexes, infrequent nursing due to Sore nipples or breast surgery and strict routine in feeding. Too much dependence on baby formula can also cause insufficient supply.
Solution: Frequent feeding, pumping milk regularly can help in increasing milk supply. Eating galactogogues like fenugreek, fennel, asparagus (shatavari), sunflower, sesame seeds, almonds, pumpkin, dates and ginger can also help in milk production.
There are several reasons for breast pain like let down reflex, lots of milk, thrush, engorgement
Mastitis, Premenstrual pain etc . Ill fitting bras can also cause pain in the breasts.
Solution: Keep breastfeeding your baby to ease the pain eventually. Ensure a good latch and proper positioning of your baby while breastfeeding. Also wear loose-fitting clothes and bras.
Many new mothers doubt their ability to breastfeed. They are not sure if they are making enough milk for their baby. This results in stress and depression.
Solution: Attending a Breastfeeding class will help a new mother-to-be, to prepare for it from pregnancy itself. Further feeding the baby through skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, eating healthy nutritious foods, massage, listening to soothing music and meditation will also help a mother relax.
Breastfeeding immediately after the birth of your baby, ensuring a good latch and position, feeding on demand will pave the path for a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby.Consult a Lactation Expert in case of any problems and pain but never give up! Most importantly, rest, drink plenty of fluids, stay calm and enjoy your baby’s company!
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