Breastfeeding is a journey with ups and downs. During those first few days and weeks, it may feel like there are more downs than ups. It will get easier with time and practice! The key thing is to know what to expect and to get help when you need it.
Below are some breastfeeding challenges and possible solutions to them:
- Latching Pain:
It’s 100 percent normal for your nipples to feel a little (or a lot) sore when you first start breastfeeding, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if the pain lasts longer than a few seconds into your feeding session, there may be an issue with baby’s latch. Remember, both you and baby are still learning here, so an improper latch is one of the most common breastfeeding problems to surface.
To solve this, you can start by gently rubbing your nipple under your baby’s nose to encourage a wide-open mouth. “Most babies will ‘root’ at the breast and give you a good, open mouth when they’re ready to nurse. Next, you can place baby so their bottom lip is positioned well below your nipple, not at the base of the nipple. Be sure to bring your baby to your breast, rather than putting your breast in their mouth. You’ll know your baby is positioned correctly when their chin touches your breast, their lips are splayed out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
- Inconvenient Leakage:
At times your breasts will leak milk even though you aren’t nursing at the moment. This is natural and expected although it can also be highly inconvenient, and sometimes embarrassing. However, don’t let it take away your confidence to still go out in public. In order to overcome this challenge, there are several things you can do. For instance, you can wear a darker printed top. It will help disguise the leakage. Also disposable, and reusable pads are available. These are soft and pliable, forming to your chest. The combination of a dark print and a breast pad takes away insecurities of leaking in public.
Engorged breasts (breasts bulging with a whole lot of milk) are very full, firm and taut, making it hard for baby to latch—and yes, like so many breastfeeding problems, engorged breasts can be pretty uncomfortable for you as the mother. Your breasts may become engorged at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey when your milk first comes in and your body is still figuring out how to regulate milk production. Engorgement can also happen if you go too long between feedings or if baby isn’t properly draining your breasts of milk.
To solve this, you can try hand-expressing a little before feeding your baby. This will get the milk flowing and soften the breast, making it easier for baby to latch and access milk. Of course, the more you nurse, the less likely your breasts are to get engorged.
- Public Nursing:
Breastfeeding is one thing, but breastfeeding in public is totally another. Not all new moms are comfortable nursing in front of others. You can take time to get comfortable with your baby’s routine before heading out in the public eye, if needed.
There is no shame, if you want to go to a quiet space to nurse. You may be comfortable in public with a light weight blanket tossed over your shoulder for a covering.
There are also great nursing covers that you can get to help with public nursing.
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 anytime during breastfeeding) and may be caused by other breastfeeding problems, such as clogged milk ducts, engorgement or even cracked nipples, which can allow bacteria to enter the breast, causing the infection.
The way to treat mastitis is with antibiotics. You can visit your Doctor to prescribe one that’s safe and compatible with breastfeeding. At the same time, it’s still important to frequently empty your breasts. If it’s too painful to nurse or your baby refuses to nurse, you can pump to keep your breasts empty. Milk backing up in your breasts can make mastitis worse. Finally, warm compresses can help soothe the discomfort.
- Other Opinions:
One major challenge all nursing moms have is other people’s opinion. Everyone has an opinion, but not all opinions are based on facts. Learn to smile and change the subject, or to walk away from unsolicited advice. When you do listen, glean what works and throw out the advice that is rubbish. People may mean well with what they say, but you are the one who has to live with the decisions you make for your baby.
As a breastfeeding mom, growing a backbone is essential, or your feelings may be hurt all the time.
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