Too much – or not enough – milk? In pain when you feed? Solve your breastfeeding worries with these tips
Some babies and breasts go well together right from the start, but there are many mums and bubs who need a helping hand. Breastfeeding is a new skill for both of you, and it can take a couple of weeks before you become used to attaching a newborn to your breast and figuring out when she has had enough. But stay calm, work your way through any hiccups and soon you’ll be feeding with ease and enjoyment.
When your milk first comes in or your baby starts feeding less, your breasts may start to become engorged, feeling hard, hot and painful. This happens because there’s more milk in the breast than your baby can consume in one feed. To prevent engorgement in the early weeks, feed your baby frequently (eight to 12 times in 24 hours). Offer the first breast twice before you offer the second to settle the breasts and give you relief. A cold compress on the breast for short periods can help reduce pain. Paracetamol is also effective and safe for you to take.
At first you may find you have so much milk it causes temporary difficulties. But this will usually settle down during the first six weeks of your baby’s life. She may splutter at times when the milk ‘lets down’ (you’ll probably feel a tingling sensation), but as the flow becomes more consistent, you’ll find your bub feeds more easily without spluttering. In the meantime, try expressing a little milk by hand before feeding. And if you are leaking milk between feeds, breast pads will help keep the skin’s surface dry.
Many women worry about their ability to supply enough breastmilk for their baby. This is natural, since you can’t measure how much milk she is consuming. Signs that indicate bub is feeding sufficiently include correct attachment, strong sucking and swallowing, plus eight or more feeds and about six wet nappies in 24 hours.
Sometimes one of the tiny tubes carrying breastmilk can become blocked, causing a painful lump. To avoid developing an infection called mastitis, you need to get your milk moving again. If your temperature is over 38°C, you have muscle ache and a hard, reddened area on your breast, see your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics for the infection.