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.

3Sore nip­ples

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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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