After the birth of the baby, breastmilk is the baby’s natural food and breastfeeding is the next natural step in the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Mother & baby together, with practice and time learn the art of breastfeeding. However, during the learning process, some mom’s face a few hurdles. In today’s blog, I will be addressing the 10 most popular issues. In fact, most mothers will mostly face no issues at all. However, its good to be prepared in the situation that you encounter these.
- Pain during latch and/or Sore and cracked nipples:
The most common cause of sore nipples is incorrect latch and positioning of the baby at the breast. When latch/positioning is an issue, the nipple may have a crease, white stripe or one-side flattened. Other causes of sore nipples could be breast engorgement, mastitis, tongue-tie or thrush.
First step towards solving this would be to check your latch and positioning. Visit a professional lactation consultant to help you with this. Also, hand-express some breastmilk after the feed and let it dry on your nipples. Breastmilk has antibacterial properties which will help in healing. You can alternatively use pure lanolin ointment to heal the soreness.
- Inverted/Flat nipples:
Women with flat/inverted nipples can successfully breastfeed their baby as the nipple is only the outlet for milk and does not directly affect milk production. Lactation aids like nipple pullers or nipple shields can be used. Please contact a lactation consultant for help regarding inverted/flat nipples.
Engorgement occurs when there is too much fluid in the breast i.e. milk is not being removed often. The breasts feel heavy, tender, full and hot. It will appear to be tight and shiny. It is very difficult for a baby to latch on an engorged breast.
To prevent engorgement, mothers should nurse the baby at regular intervals. If nursing is not conducive to the circumstances, milk removal through pumping or hand expression is the next best alternative.
To treat engorgement, a mother is advised to hand express/pump milk prior to nursing the baby (as latching on an engorged breast is difficult) and then continue nursing often. Lying flat on your back, massaging the breasts, cold compress and warm showers help to reduce the engorgement.
- Clogged/Plugged Ducts:
Milk flows from your cells to the nipples through ducts. At times, due to reasons like tight bras, missed feedings or baby carriers pressing on the breast, the duct gets clogged. The milk plug can vary in size depending on the location of the plug.
To remove the plug, it is advised that you avoid wearing and underwired bra, massage your breasts, apply warm compress prior to feeding and nurse the baby with his/her chin pointed toward the plug. The massaging movement of the baby’s jaw will help unclog the duct naturally.
- Breast lumps:
If it a lump that comes and goes as your feed your baby, there is no cause for concern. However, if the lump is painful and persistent, please visit your doctor for further investigation.
Mastitis is a condition in which you have a warm, sensitive and red area on one breast, very rarely both. It happens when sore/cracked nipples let bacteria in. The mother will run a slight fever and flu like symptoms. It could/couldn’t be an infection.
In initial stages, keep emptying the breast and take lots of rest. If the situation lasts longer than 2 days, please visit your doctor for medication.
- Thrush/Yeast Infection:
It can occur sometimes when antibiotics were given during labor. Symptoms of thrush in the mother will be shiny, flaky, pink and painful nipples; burning, itching, stabbing or shooting pain in the breast. Inside the baby’s cheeks and gums, white patches can be seen. Thrush is a very rare occurence. However, in case you have the above symptoms or doubt something isnt right, please visit a doctor. If it is thrush, they will prescribe an anti-fungal medication.
- Low Milk Supply:
After the initial few days, milk production works on demand and supply. The more the baby feeds, the more milk the mother will make and vice versa. If your baby is feeding often but urine output is not adequate, check latch to see if baby is taking enough milk. There are also some medical scenarios like previous surgery to the breast and thyroid when the mother will have low supply.
Few mothers are blessed with an oversupply of milk. If you feel that the baby is arching back during feeding, spits up milk and develops a rash, you may be facing oversupply issues. Try laid back nursing so that baby can control the amount of milk it takes in and nurse on one side often till it softens up the breast and then give the other. This will help reduce oversupply.
- Baby Sleeping At Breast:
A lot of mothers face this problem. Within a few minutes of being at the breast, the baby falls asleep. To wake your baby up, nurse him/her with only the diaper on, you could also gently rub near his/her ears or under his/her feet. Wiping him/her with a wet wipe also helps at times. If he/she is still not interested to nurse, try again after some time
Breastfeeding is an art, which the mother and baby learn to master with time. Babies are born knowing how to breastfeed, its possible that at times the teamwork takes time to establish! Never panic or doubt yourself if you face issues. You can contact us through the ilove9months Q&A Forum or request a virtual consult. Most large cities in India have lactation consultants. You can visit them for a face-to-face consult.
I would like to end today with one of my favourite quotes by Grantly Dick Read, “A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.”
By: Anjali Raj L.C.C.E, C.L.E