Breast­feed­ing both­ers solved

For ev­ery breast­feed­ing is­sue you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, there’s a so­lu­tion, writes Beth Cooper How­ell

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

BREAST­FEED­ING, AS NAT­U­RAL a prac­tice as it is, comes with its own chal­lenges. While we all ex­pect it to be a breeze, we’re of­ten dis­cour­aged and dis­tressed when we try it and prob­lems arise. Nurs­ing your baby is also a learned art, and that is why in­for­ma­tion and sup­port are vi­tal for en­sur­ing you have an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence and can deal with the nor­mal ad­just­ment nig­gles.

“Breast­feed­ing takes time and ef­fort – some­times even pain – but it’s well worth learn­ing,” ex­plains Dr Nan Jolly, a lactation con­sul­tant.

The root of most prob­lems lies in in­ef­fec­tive latch­ing and po­si­tion­ing. Get­ting these sorted early on is key. Feed­ing your baby on de­mand and not ac­cord­ing to a sched­ule – and es­tab­lish­ing breast­feed­ing as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter birth – are also cru­cial fac­tors for suc­cess.

If you’re hav­ing trou­ble latch­ing cor­rectly, speak to your lo­cal mid­wife or lactation con­sul­tant. The most com­mon breast­feed­ing prob­lems are painful, cracked nip­ples, en­gorged breasts and blocked milk ducts.

Mys­te­ri­ous lumps and bumps may also sur­face and need at­ten­tion.

NIGHT­MARE NIP­PLES Nip­ples that are painful to touch, red, cracked or feel in­flamed are most of­ten caused by in­cor­rect latch­ing. Some tips on what to do ac­cord­ing to Dr Jolly:

• If you have cracks in your nip­ples, mas­sage a small amount of nip­ple cream onto them af­ter feeds. Find a kind that doesn’t need to be washed off be­fore feed­ing your baby.

• Fresh air aids re­cov­ery. Ex­pose your nip­ples to non-mid­day sun for just a few min­utes and go with­out a bra for around ten min­utes af­ter each feed­ing ses­sion.

• Mas­sage a lit­tle breast­milk into the af­fected area – it re­ally helps!

• Use a pain re­liever (ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist to rec­om­mend one that is safe for breast­feed­ing) if nec­es­sary.

ENGORGEMEN­T Feel­ing like you have a pair of rocks bal­anced on your chest is not fun! Engorgemen­t is com­mon in the first few days (usu­ally day three), when your main milk is com­ing in.

• Empty your breasts reg­u­larly by feed­ing on cue – you don’t have to es­tab­lish a feed­ing sched­ule just yet.

• Don’t time feeds, let baby drink for as long as needed.

• Af­ter your baby has fed from both breasts, man­u­ally empty ex­cess milk by hand-mas­sag­ing the blocked ducts. Mas­sage your breasts firmly but gen­tly to­wards the nip­ple.

• Use both cold and warm com­presses al­ter­nately to in­crease milk flow.

• Take a cab­bage leaf out of the fridge and tuck into your bra, change it ev­ery few hours. It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but many a woman can at­test to the ef­fec­tive­ness of cold cab­bage leaves. The only dis­ad­van­tage is that you will smell of cab­bage though!


Ten­der, sore or sen­si­tive masses on your breasts are usu­ally caused by blocked milk ducts. To pre­vent this hap­pen­ing, re­mem­ber to feed your baby on de­mand and pump or hand ex­press milk be­tween feeds to pre­vent engorgemen­t.

• Take a break from the world and sim­ply spend as much time as pos­si­ble feed­ing your baby and rest­ing.

• Con­tinue to treat the engorgemen­t us­ing the tips out­lined above.


There are sev­eral other kinds of masses that are un­re­lated to milk duct prob­lems and that may cause dis­com­fort.

Galac­to­ce­les are nod­ules caused di­rectly by blocked milk ducts, but they usu­ally don’t ap­pear un­til wean­ing. If they don’t dis­ap­pear spon­ta­neously, they can be as­pi­rated by your doc­tor.

Milk blis­ters are caused by milk col­lect­ing be­neath a very thin skin layer form­ing over a milk duct. The blis­ters may have a white, yel­low or clear dot in the cen­tre. To treat them at home, soak the area in olive oil or Ep­som salts, fol­lowed by a hot com­press be­fore a feed. The blis­ters usu­ally burst with­out any in­ter­fer­ence, but you can very gen­tly scratch the skin with a clean, dry fin­ger­nail be­tween feed­ing ses­sions. Your phar­ma­cist or doc­tor may ad­vise you to use a heal­ing cream, but be sure to wash this off thor­oughly be­fore your next feed.

Mont­gomery glands are found in the are­ola and may be­come in­fected through pres­sure or an in­fected scrape or cut. While painful, they are not se­ri­ous. Sim­ply breast­feed as much as pos­si­ble, place your breast in warm wa­ter be­fore feeds and gen­tly mas­sage the lump.

MASTITIS This is a breast in­fec­tion re­quir­ing prompt med­i­cal treat­ment. If you don’t ad­dress the prob­lem, it may re­sult in a breast ab­scess. Symp­toms of mastitis in­clude a shiny, hot, red and painful area on one breast, chills, nau­sea, fever or fa­tigue. Causes in­clude engorgemen­t, blocked milk ducts and dam­aged skin in the nip­ple area. Your doc­tor will pre­scribe an­tibi­otics and lots of rest. Con­tinue to breast­feed, start­ing with the un­in­fected breast. When you feel a let­down re­flex, switch to the in­fected breast, as the faster milk flow will make it far eas­ier to han­dle the pain. ABCESS If you’re di­ag­nosed with an ab­scess, get in touch with a lactation con­sul­tant, as these pro­fes­sion­als know ex­actly how to deal with breast­feed­ing dur­ing this painful pe­riod. IS BABY GET­TING ENOUGH? Since we can’t mea­sure how much breast­milk our ba­bies are drink­ing, it’s nat­u­ral to be con­cerned about hav­ing a suf­fi­cient sup­ply. At birth, your baby’s stom­ach is the size of a small mar­ble and can com­fort­ably di­gest 5ml. In the first week, his stom­ach will grow to the size of a golf ball and be able to hold up to 60ml. The amount of milk your breasts pro­duce ad­justs to your baby’s chang­ing needs.

While you get into the swing of things, there are ways you can tell your baby is get­ting enough milk, such as:

• Your baby switches be­tween short

sleep­ing and wake­ful pe­ri­ods.

• Your baby is sat­is­fied and con­tent af­ter

be­ing fed.

• Your breasts feel softer af­ter you have

fed your baby.

• Your baby has be­tween five to six wet or dirty nap­pies a day. His urine should be pale in colour.

• Your baby is steadily putting on

weight. Re­mem­ber that in the first few days af­ter birth it is nor­mal for your baby to lose a bit of weight, but by 10 to 14 days he should have picked this up again and be back to his birth weight. Af­ter this, your baby should gain about 30g a day for the first three months.

Lastly, try to re­lax, take your time and en­joy it – prac­tice makes per­fect!

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