Breastfeeding Problems (page 3)
Breastfeeding can be challenging at times, especially in the early days. But it is important to remember that you are not alone. Lactation consultants are trained to help you find ways to make breastfeeding work for you. And while many women are faced with one or more of the challenges listed here, many women do not struggle at all! Also, many women may have certain problems with one baby that they don’t have with their second or third babies. Read on for ways to troubleshoot problems.
Many moms report that nipples can be tender at first. Breastfeeding should be comfortable once you have found some positions that work and a good latch is established. Yet it is possible to still have pain from an abrasion you already have. You may also have pain if your baby is sucking on only the nipple.
What you can do:
- A good latch is key. If your baby is sucking only on the nipple, gently break your baby’s suction to your breast by placing a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth and try again. (Your nipple should not look flat or compressed when it comes out of your baby’s mouth. It should look round and long, or the same shape as it was before the feeding.)
- If you find yourself wanting to delay feedings because of pain, get help from a lactation consultant. Delaying feedings can cause more pain and harm your supply.
- Try changing positions each time you breastfeed. This puts the pressure on a different part of the breast.
- After breastfeeding, express a few drops of milk and gently rub it on your nipples with clean hands. Human milk has natural healing properties and emollients that soothe. Also try letting your nipples air-dry after feeding, or wear a soft cotton shirt.
- If you are thinking about using creams, hydrogel pads, or a nipple shield, get help from a health care provider first.
- Avoid wearing bras or clothes that are too tight and put pressure on your nipples.
- Change nursing pads often to avoid trapping in moisture.
- Avoid using soap or ointments that contain astringents or other chemicals on your nipples. Make sure to avoid products that must be removed before breastfeeding. Washing with clean water is all that is needed to keep your nipples and breasts clean.
- If you have very sore nipples, you can ask your doctor about using non-aspirin pain relievers.
Low Milk Supply
Most mothers can make plenty of milk for their babies. But many mothers are concerned about having enough. Checking your baby’s weight and growth is the best way to make sure he or she is getting enough milk. Let the doctor know if you are concerned.
There may be times when you think your supply is low, but it is actually just fine:
- When your baby is around 6 weeks to 2 months old, your breasts may no longer feel full. This is normal. At the same time, your baby may nurse for only five minutes at a time. This can mean that you and baby are just adjusting to the breastfeeding process — and getting good at it!
- Growth spurts can cause your baby to want to nurse longer and more often. These growth spurts can happen around 2 to 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 months of age. They can also happen at any time. Don’t be alarmed that your supply is too low to satisfy your baby. Follow your baby’s lead — nursing more and more often will help build up your milk supply. Once your supply increases, you will likely be back to your usual routine.
What you can do:
- Make sure your baby is latched on and positioned well.
- Breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to end the feeding.
- Offer both breasts at each feeding. Have your baby stay at the first breast as long as he or she is still sucking and swallowing. Offer the second breast when the baby slows down or stops.
- Try to avoid giving your baby formula or cereal as it may lead to less interest in breast milk. This will decrease your milk supply. Your baby doesn’t need solid foods until he or she is at least 6 months old. If you need to supplement the baby’s feedings, try using a spoon, cup, or a dropper.
- Limit or stop pacifier use while trying the above tips at the same time.
Oversupply of Milk
Some mothers are concerned about having an oversupply of milk. Having an overfull breast can make feedings stressful and uncomfortable for both mother and baby.
What you can do:
- Breastfeed on one side for each feeding. Continue to offer that same side for at least two hours until the next full feeding, gradually increasing the length of time per feeding.
- If the other breast feels unbearably full before you are ready to breastfeed on it, hand express for a few moments to relieve some of the pressure. You can also use a cold compress or washcloth to reduce discomfort and swelling.
- Feed your baby before he or she becomes overly hungry to prevent aggressive sucking.
- Try positions that don’t allow the force of gravity to help as much with milk ejection, such as the side-lying position or the football hold.
- Burp your baby frequently if he or she is gassy.
Some women have a strong milk ejection reflex or let-down. This can happen along with an oversupply of milk. If you have a rush of milk, try the following:
- Hold your nipple between your forefinger and middle finger or with the side of your hand to lightly compress milk ducts to reduce the force of the milk ejection.
- If baby chokes or sputters, unlatch him or her and let the excess milk spray into a towel or cloth.
- Allow your baby to come on and off the breast at will.
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