Breastfeeding: The Most Common Challenges
For many moms who are still new to motherhood, breastfeeding can be a very challenging process. However, you are not alone because there are other women who face the same predicament. This article highlights some of the common breastfeeding challenges and their solutions.
Inadequate Breast Milk
At the start of breastfeeding, your body is bound to produce small amounts of milk. This is because the hormone that’s responsible for the production of milk will not be fully effective. However, this shouldn’t be a cause of concern because it will take a couple of days for it to sufficiently trigger the production of milk.
- Eat foods that are rich in nutrients especially liquids. Focus mainly on breastfeeding your baby and get enough rest.
- Feed the newborn when required and not on a schedule. During the first few weeks, your baby is going to feed throughout day and night, after 2 or 3 hours.
- Try using a breast pump to increase your milk supply. •Seek the advice of a lactation consultant or a healthcare professional for assessment.
This is a common problem that occurs in the early breastfeeding days when the production level of milk is still getting established. Although most moms find leaky breasts embarrassing, physically, leaking is harmless. It may occur unexpectedly as a result of reflex stimulation e.g. hearing another baby cry or when you’re breastfeeding the baby with the other breast.
- Try to feed the baby often
- Wear reusable or disposable nursing pads
- Put milk collection shells inside your bra. The shells help to prevent leakage by collecting milk. Note that the collected milk shouldn’t be given to the baby immediately. Put it in a sterile container and store it in a fridge and should be used within 24 hours. You shouldn’t wear collection shells for two or more hours
Tender and sore nipples can make breastfeeding painful. A newborn usually feeds every now and then which means that this condition may quickly worsen. It’s not strange that some moms may end up with bleeding, blistered, or having cracked nipples. This sounds hurtful, right? Well, there’s no need to worry because there are multiple remedies which are effective.
- Try using different types of breastfeeding positions. You can try the underarm, cross-cradle, laid-back, lying down etc. Find a position that helps to reduce the amount of pressure on painful parts of your breasts.
- Inspect the baby’s latch. The larger part of the areola which should be in their mouth is the lower side. The nipple should be against his/her mouth’s roof and gently held underneath the tongue.
- Use a cream to sooth the nipples.
- Place refrigerated hydrogen pads on your nipples for instant relief.
- Use a moistened piece of cotton wool to remove any debris after feeding. This helps to reduce the chances of infections.
- Use breast shells to protect your nipples and reduce friction that’s caused by garment rubbing on the sore nipples.
- Apply your own breast milk on cracked nipples in order to soothe them. Note that breast milk is an antibacterial that helps to reduce the possibility of infection.
- When you are nursing, begin with the breast that’s less painful because babies are usually very vigorous at the start of breastfeeding.
- Seek the services of a breastfeeding consultant or a lactation specialist.
- Try to be patient because the pain usually diminishes a few days after the body fully adjusts to breastfeeding and the baby becomes efficient in sucking.
Baby Can’t Latch Properly
There are newborns who can’t latch properly. This could be as a result of health complications like difficult childbirth or they were born while they are still premature. Additionally, inverted or flat nipples can make latching difficult. This is a problem that I also faced and though I was worried at first, I found out that it can be solved.
- Nipple formers are great for inverted or flat nipples. They fit perfectly inside the bra and by applying gentle pressure, they help to draw the nipples out.
- Remember that your baby needs to feel comfortable while feeding. Hold them in a comfortable position and ensure that they get adequate air supply. Using the laid-back feeding style works well with my baby because it encourages them to use their innate reflexes. This makes it easier for them to access my breast and properly latch on.
- You can use nipple shields which provide a firmer and larger target which they can easily attach on.
- Consult with a breastfeeding specialist in order to determine the cause of the problem.
The Baby Gulps or Chokes While Breastfeeding
Often times, mothers may produce more milk than what the babies need. This causes a faster flow of milk as the baby breastfeeds. As the baby tries to gulp the large milk output, they may end chocking. Besides that, they may end up producing frothy-green poop. Well, this problem can be managed.
- Try to switch breasts after every two minutes to ensure that there is equalized milk flow.
- Come up with “block-feeding” plan. This means that during a certain period, you’ll nurse the baby with breast milk from one side. Although the other side will end up getting full, this will signal the body to produce less milk. You can thereafter switch to the other side and apply the same technique.
During the first couple of weeks, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable because of engorgement. This is a condition where the breasts end up feeling uncomfortable and hard. Breast engorgement is caused by inadequate removal of milk i.e. the breasts have large amounts of milk because either the baby doesn’t feed long enough or they don’t nurse quite often. Engorgement is a problem that can be solved. As a new mom, this is a problem that I also experienced because the baby’s stomach was still small.
- Make sure that you nurse your baby constantly and avoid skipping feeding sessions.
- Find ways of expressing milk e.g. by using a breast pump or via manually means