5 BREASTFEEDING ISSUES EVERY NEW MOM WILL FACE
M&B tells you what to expect in the first few days
Nothing and nobody can prepare you for those first few days at home with your new baby. You feel lonely, raw, scared and overwhelmed – with both love and the massive responsibility of now keeping your child healthy. And while these undoubtedly are some of the happiest days of your life, they are also one of the most heart-wrenching. The reason? Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of the most intimate and loving experiences a mother and baby have together, but let’s be real — it can be hard! It is a complete trial and error exercise filled with surprises such as a tongue-tie, supply loss, clogged ducts, supplementing, pumping, leaks, stains, pains and more. Still, don’t be disheartened. It could be sore breasts or a bad latch, but there are ways to make things work a bit more smoothly. Lactation expert Dr Geetika Goswami shares tips to solve the most common breastfeeding problems.
1Painful breast engorgement
At about day three to five postpartum, your breasts may seem more heavy and full. Your milk volume increases and you transition toward producing more milk. However, there can be a possibility that even after adequately feeding the baby you may be unable to drain the milk completely. This excess milk remaining in the breasts could lead to engorgement. Engorged breasts appear swollen, full and hard and are painful when touched. Besides, the hard areola makes it difficult for the baby to latch on it correctly to
continue with a smooth feeding session. Here’s what you can do to get some relief: If you feel that your breasts are turning taut or hard even after you have fed your baby to satisfaction, gently massage your breasts and use your hand expression to release small bits of milk. This will reduce the pain as well as soften your breasts and release some of the pressure making it easier for your baby to latch on properly. You can also store some breast milk for your baby’s consumption later. Alternatively, you can also gently treat breast engorgement by running a cotton cloth under hot water and placing it over your breasts before each feeding. The hot water compress can help some let down of milk and initiate the process of manual expression with your hands. If neglected, engorgement can lead to an infection or an abscess whose treatment may even require a surgery. So always seek your doctor’s advice.
2Inverted or flat nipples
It is not just belly buttons that come in innies and outies -- nipples do, too. And while there is nothing wrong with being born with one or two inverted nipples, they can make breastfeeding challenging with the baby finding it difficult to establish a perfect latch and quench hunger. It is important that your nipples are protractile enough for your baby to latch on them. If you are lactating enough without proper letdown of milk, you can also experience breast engorgement. So it is imperative to treat flat nipples. Here’s how: You can try the inverted-syringe technique to retract flat nipples. Just take a 10 mL plastic disposable syringe and cut the nozzle part of it. Place the cut end of the syringe on the nipple and pull the piston out. Hold to that position for at least one minute. The pressure of the suction will help the nipple protrude. The protruded nipples can stay in the position for sometime before it retracts back to its original position. So when your nipples protrude out a bit, put your baby on your breasts and start to feed. This will help your baby latch better and save you from engorgement, blockage or any other infection.
Sore or cracked nipples typically happens when the baby is first getting hang of breastfeeding. However, it is important that your baby gets a good latch when feeding, taking all the nipple and as much breast tissue
into his mouth as possible. A proper latch will help reduce potential soreness. Another probable cause of nipple soreness is the introduction of artificial nipples like teats or a pacifier during the early days after birth which could lead to nipple confusion and result in improper suckling. If the soreness continues beyond a week or so, be sure to reach out to a lactation professional for help. To treat soreness, you can try out these hacks: Turns out that open air is one of the best healing techniques for sore nipples. So just let your breasts air dry and ensure that they are moisture-free between feedings. Your nipples can be chapped and raw after a feeding. While it can be tempting to soothe them in the shower, avoid using any soap. Rubbing a little colostrum, your own milk onto your nipples have been proven to be a great natural remedy. Applying a purified lanolinbased cream can also help restore softness. There’s no rule that says you have to continually breastfeed especially if it is causing you pain at first. So take a break and alternate feeding the baby directly with pumping. A good breast pump is gentle on sore breasts and allows your partner to get involved with feeding so you can sleep! If you are struggling with intense soreness, nipple shields can be a good fix to explore. So when you find yourself raw and red and ready to give up, use nipple shields to protect your sore nipples and continue breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, position your baby in such a way that your little one has more of the areola in his mouth, which will reduce pain due to soreness and promote healing soon.
4Clogged milk ducts
It’s normal for a nursing mom to get clogged milk ducts. There can be times when a milk producing duct or alveoli is blocked internally. This usually happens if the production of breast milk and the suction by your baby don’t match each other’s speed and frequency. Excess milk if not drained effectively can cause one of the ducts inside the breast to get blocked. Sometimes thickened milk can obstruct the flow from one of the alveoli and lead to a blocked duct. A blocked duct can cause a swelling in one of the breasts. This condition if left untreated can lead to mastitis making your breasts sore and painful. Here’s what you should do to prevent it: The best way to release the blockage is to keep feeding, even if it is sore. You can also gently massage your breasts to help get the milk moving down the ducts more freely. If you feel a swelling or fluid build-up in any one of your breasts, feed your baby from that particular breast more often. If you think
that a blocked milk duct can harm your baby, remember that your baby will not be affected by the swelling in any way. Understand that it is the most natural way to treat the issue. To drain your milk effectively from a blocked duct, try different feeding positions. So if you like to feed your baby lying down, try sitting upright.
5Baby falling asleep while nursing
A baby struggling to nurse effectively in the early days, can sometimes fall asleep at the breast. It can be extremely frustrating for you if you are constantly worried that your baby isn’t drinking enough. In fact, it can worsen breast engorgement which sets in around day three. If your baby has trouble staying awake to eat for at least 10 to 15 minutes, you can try out a few of these tactics to wake your little one up: Switch to the other breast when your baby seems to be drifting off to sleep. Or just squeeze your breasts to encourage more flow of milk. The best solution is to have someone sit with you during a feeding. The person’s sole job would be to tickle up and down your baby’s spine or to lightly scratch your little one’s feet. This constant stimulation will help keep your baby alert and help them to receive more milk. Understanding some of the ouch-inducing side effects of breastfeeding can make the whole experience much easier. If you are a first-time mom, here’s what you should expect.
YOUR BREASTS MAY TINGLE
Don’t be surprised if your you feel all pins-andneedles on your breasts before the milk starts flowing. It’s a neurological phenomenon when the baby suckles at the breast and its called a ‘letdown’ reflex. A rise in the hormone oxytocin opens the milk ducts, starting the flow and causing all the tingling sensations in the breast. In fact, oxytocin can rise and make your breasts tingle when you simply think about your little one or hear them cry.
YOUR NIPPLES WILL TOUGHEN UP
Your nipples are full of nerve endings that have not often been exposed prior to breastfeeding. Luckily, your body preps for breastfeeding on its own. Pregnancy itself makes the nipples stretchy and strong. You may feel some pain the first time the baby latches, however, any discomfort should start to go away by day two or three. If it doesn’t, there may be an issue with the latch or a tongue tie so be sure to see a lactation consultant.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MOOD SWINGS
For as many times as you breastfeed during the day, there may come a time when you physically would not want to breastfeed anymore. You may feel agitated, angry or even be disgusted by it. Breastfeeding can trigger a range of intense emotions, including negative ones. Many moms complain that when their infant tweak the nipple on the other side while feeding, often set off these feelings. While you may feel guilty when this happens, it’s important to remember that these emotions are totally normal.
YOUR BREAST MILK CHANGES
Did you know breast milk changes depending on the age or health status of your baby? The characteristics of breast milk if you have a dayold newborn is completely different from the breast milk you feed to a one-month-old infant or toddler. As your baby gets older, certain immune factors in the milk change. Also, if your baby or you fall sick, the antibodies in the milk adjust to fighting the infection.
NURSING HACKS FOR A NEW BREASTFEEDING MOM:
To ensure that your nursing sessions are as good as they can possibly be, we’ve rounded up a few tricks to help you and your little one be as comfortable and happy as can be during this precious time together: To keep things comfortable and a bit more hands-free, carry a sling with you when you are out and about. If you keep forgetting which breast you last nursed from, wear an easy-to-remove bracelet and keep switching after every feed. Use a nursing pillow to ensure that your baby does not tug relentlessly at your nipple and make sure that her mouth is level with it when she eats. Eat a lot of pineapples. Not only it is delicious and healthy, but also it is anti-inflammatory which can help relieve blocked ducts and engorged breasts. Consult your lactation expert to help you figure out how many extra calories should you be consuming to keep the milk flowing. You can also use a ‘calorie needs calculator’ as a guide. Although you may feel like you need a bit of extra support, a bra that is too tight especially a sports bra can put pressure on certain parts of the breasts and cause the milk to get backed up. Like anything worth doing, breastfeeding is not without it’s difficulties. But while some hurdles at the start is inevitable, they can be countered with proper help and learning the right way to help your baby latch. Do not forget that the skin-to-skin contact creates an instantaneous bond between you and your child so give breastfeeding a go.