Top 10 Breastfeeding Problems Solved
LEAKS, CRACKS, CLOGS? YOUR TOP 10 FEEDING PROBLEMS SOLVED.
It’s a natural process so it should be easy, right? But just like learning how to ride a bike, you need to learn how to breastfeed (and so does baby, by the way). We consulted with Jane Morton, MD, on how to handle the 10 most common breastfeeding problems. She should know — she’s been teaching doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants how to teach the rest of us for more than 30 years. And she’s on staff at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, California.
Check out The Bump’s chart for helpful solutions:
PROBLEM 1: LATCHING PAIN
It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
PROBLEM 2: CRACKED NIPPLES
Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush (see no. 6), dry skin, pumping improperly, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood, while kind of gross, won’t harm baby.
PROBLEM 3: CLOGGED/PLUGGED DUCTS
Ducts clog because your milk isn’t draining completely. You may notice a hard lump on your breast or soreness to the touch and even some redness. If you start feeling feverish and achy, that’s a sign of infection and you should see your doctor. Most importantly try not to have long stretches in between feedings — milk needs to be expressed often. A nursing bra that is too tight can also cause clogged ducts. Stress (something all new mommies have an over abundance of) can also affect your milk flow.
PROBLEM 4: ENGORGEMENT/HIGH MILK SUPPLY
Engorgement makes it difficult for baby to latch on to the breast because it’s hard and un-conforming to his mouth.
PROBLEM 5: MASTITIS
Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts marked by flu-like symptoms such as fever and pain in your breasts. It’s common within the first few weeks after birth (though it can also happen during weaning) and is caused by cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement.
PROBLEM 6: THRUSH
Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can also spread to your breasts. It causes incessant itchiness, soreness, and sometimes a rash.
Your doctor will need to give you antifungal medication to put on your nipple and in baby’s mouth — if you’re not both treated at the same time, you can give each other the fungi and prolong healing.
PROBLEM 7: LOW MILK SUPPLY
Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand process. If your doctor is concerned about baby’s weight gain, and he is being plotted on the World Health Organization curves designed for breastfeeding babies, this may be the problem.
Frequent nursing and hands-on pumping during the day can help increase milk supply. Surprisingly, forcing fluids and eating more calories or different foods hasn’t been shown to increase milk production.
PROBLEM 8: BABY SLEEPING AT BREAST
Baby is sleepy in the first couple of months after birth (hey, he’s been through a lot) so falling asleep while nursing is common. All that bonding makes baby relaxed!
Milk flow is fastest after your first let-down, so if you want to increase efficiency, start off at the fuller breast, then switch to the other breast sooner, rather than later.
PROBLEM 9: INVERTED/FLAT NIPPLES
You can tell if you have flat or inverted nipples by doing a simple squeeze test: Gently grab your areola with your thumb and index finger — if your nipple retracts rather than protrudes, you’ve got a problem, Houston. Not really. But breastfeeding will be more challenging.
Use a pump to get the milk flowing before placing baby at your nipple and use breast shells between feeds.
PROBLEM 10: PAINFUL/OVERACTIVE LET DOWN
Your breast is like a machine — when you let down, all the milk-producing engines constrict to move the milk forward and out of your nipple. Sometimes the working of these inner parts can hurt, especially when in overdrive. Some mothers feel a prickly pins-and-needles sensation and others just get an achy feeling.
If this feeling of pins and needles goes beyond a mere tingling and feels more like a hundred little daggers poking your breasts, you need to check for a breast infection (yeast or bacteria). Sometimes this pain develops when you have an excessive amount of milk.