In addition to offering sustenance for your baby, breastfeeding also provides a much-needed, natural bonding experience between mother and child. But as natural as breastfeeding is, the process doesn’t always come naturally, and proper techniques must be learned. Along with this learning curve, there are a number of common breastfeeding issues new moms can face; however, with a little knowledge, patience and practice, they can be overcome. Here are some of the more common issues you may encounter while breastfeeding your baby.
Cracked, Dry Nipples
Breasts are a sensitive part of the body, and breastfeeding and lactating can certainly take a toll on your skin. Cracked nipples can occur for a number of reasons including improper pumping, improper latch position (how the baby latches on to the breasts) and dry skin. Lactation consultants and pediatricians suggest a few simple solutions for remedying this situation. For starters, check on the baby’s latch position. One of the best ways to prevent pain is by positioning your infant with an asymmetrical latch – that is, where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple instead of above. Likewise, you may use natural moisturizers to keep your nipples supple and moist. Your best bet includes products that are lanolin-based and made with 100 percent natural ingredients – no dyes, perfumes or preservatives that affect baby. Lastly, ensure your bras are not chafing your skin; opt for soft materials or pads to absorb any leakage and provide for comfort.
Infections and Blocked Ducts
In some cases, a breast infection can occur. Mastitis is a bacterial condition marked by red, tender, and swollen breasts, tenderness in the armpit area, and sometimes fever. Your pediatrician or a lactation consultant will be able to help you heal, whether that means prescribing heat and gentle massage, applying hot compresses and frequent emptying of breast milk will usually help as well. If the infection persists after these simple solutions, your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
Low Milk Supply
A reduced breastmilk supply is a common concern for new mothers. The solution may be simple: the more you empty your breasts, completely, the better chance your body will generate more milk. After a few months of breastfeeding, your body will learn to produce the right amount of milk for your baby’s individual needs. Keeping hydrated will translate to your milk supply, so sipping water throughout the day can help you sustain a good supply.
Failure to Latch
Sometimes, for whatever reason, baby and mom can’t find that right latch point. As a new mom, when it comes to nursing, your concerns should be twofold: the first is that baby is receiving enough nutrients; the second, that you and baby are spending good, quality bonding time. If failure to latch is preventing either of these, then consider pumping your milk and storing it to feed baby as she requires. Holding the baby close to your heart will provide that beautiful connection, while baby will be receiving all the goodness of breast milk. Remember: for those who pump, never microwave breast milk. Keep the milk frozen until thawed, or place the bottle of frozen milk in warm water to allow it to rise to naturally to room temperature. For added convenience, use ice cube trays to freeze your breastmilk in pre-measured, convenience cubes so that not one precious drop is wasted.
A quality breast-feeding session should include equal time at each breast. If you notice baby’s sucking is slowing down or that her eyes keep closing before both breasts are done, try temporarily removing her from the breast. Burping, tickling her feet, or gently talking to her will help her to become alert; then switch breasts. And don’t be surprised if one breast is larger than the other; that is natural and will not exist once you stop nursing.
Aside from all the physical aspects of breastfeeding, there are some societal and psychological issues involved with breastfeeding. While some women are born “lactivists”, crusading for the right to perform this natural act in public, others may feel embarrassed or too shy, or insistent that nursing is something that should be done in private. No matter the reason, you should do what is best for you and your baby. Seek out lactation rooms, or a small blanket or sheath to shield your nursing session.
Deciding to nurse your newborn is an exciting and healthy choice for you and your baby. But as natural as breastfeeding is, it doesn’t always come naturally. Don’t let lactation problems get in the way of bonding with your child. Children’s Health Care in Newburyport and Haverhill provides lactation support for mothers struggling to overcome any issues or concerns. To meet with a certified lactation consultant, call 978-465-7121 or 978-388-9880 to make an appointment at the Newburyport offices. Call 978-373-5667 to make an appointment at the Haverhill office.