5 breastfeeding challenges and effective management tips

While breastfeeding may not be for everyone, Moms who choose to breastfeed will be happy to know that breast milk is somewhat of a natural miracle. It contains all the nutrients and vitamins that can help promote healthy brain development and is also known to lessen the effects of ear, chest and stomach infections. In addition, there is some indication that in the long run, breast milk may help to prevent certain diseases, including colitis, Crohn’s disease and childhood obesity.

Breast milk is always available, at the right temperature, and promotes healthy bonding between you and your baby.

This being said, breastfeeding can be a challenge and does not come as easy to some moms as it does to others. Below are common breastfeeding challenges and 5 effective management tips for each.

  1. Sore Nipples

    Some mothers experience nipple discomfort while mom and baby learn to breastfeed. The most common cause is due to sore nipples and to a poor latch. When breastfeeding your baby, make yourself comfortable in a quiet relaxing space. When your baby latches and starts to suck, you may feel a discomfort or pain through the nipple, this pain will lessen after a few minutes, and often improves with feedings. After you feed your baby, air dry your nipples to prevent them from cracking. If your nipples have started to crack, rub expressed breastmilk on your nipples after feeding, use ointments that are safe to use if swallowed by baby. Change your breast pads often, use soap and water to clean the area and air dry.

  1. Latching

    A proper latch will aid in the discomfort of breastfeeding, allow milk to flow easily to baby and relieve nipple soreness. We never want the baby to be tugging on the nipple, rather that her lips are flared and wide around your areola. To ensure that your baby has a proper latch follow these guidelines: Look for cues that your baby is ready to feed, this is typically when they begin to wake, and it is important to prepare to breastfeed before they cry or wake completely. Have your baby in a good position to latch 1) tummy to mommy 2) face to breast 3) nose to nipple 4)bottom tucked in. It is also important to find a breastfeeding position that is comfortable for you and baby. Take a better look at breastfeeding positions from La Leche League

  1. Engorgement

    A few days after birth when your milk production changes from colostrum to milk, your breast may become swollen, tender and engorged. During the time your baby will be nursing frequently but may not be able to expressing enough milk to reduce the engorgement. When breastfeeding, make sure your baby has a good latch, suckling and is feeding well. You should hear a sweet suck swallow from your babe. Use both breasts at each feeding and/or if your baby will not take the second breast, express enough milk from that breast as you feel comfortable and start with that breast at the next feeding. If you still feel some discomfort after feeding, stand in the shower under warm running water, massage breasts or wrap cold compresses on your breasts after feedings.

  1. Breast Infection

    Sore breasts from a blocked milk duct or breast mastitis (breast infection) can be very painful to mom. Plugged ducts occur when the milk is not properly flowing to baby and breast become painfull and often red. When the plugged duct becomes infected this can lead to an infection. You may feel achiness, tiredness, and a fever which may need to be treated by antibiotics and it is important to see your doctor. The healing time for a plugged duct or breast infection can be speed up with frequent feedings, lots of rest, a massage after a warm shower or bath and warm compresses to breast. If you are prescribed antibiotics it is still safe to nurse baby.

  1. The fussy or sleepy baby

    The fussy baby may cry for different reasons such as fear, loneliness, discomfort, tiredness and may make it difficult for mom and baby to get a good latch. Cuddling her, rocking her, holding her and placing her skin to skin will give her comfort and will aid in relaxing her. Offer her one breast at a time and cuddle her in between, remove or add clothes if you feel that she is warm or cold and breastfeed when you first start to see cues of her waking. Breast feeding cues include: wiggling and moving of arms and legs, hand to mouth movement, rooting by turning her head from side to side looking for a nipple, soft cooing and sucking sounds.
    The sleepy baby will often need to be woken to feed and she may fall asleep quickly during feedings. To keep her awake and interested 1) Unwrap her from any warm clothing 2) Express some milk from your breast and bring baby close to taste and tempt her 3) Draw up and down the spine 4) Tickle her feet.

Having encouragement and support around you is also important. Seeking help when you need it or contacting a local breastfeeding group is a great recourse to use. Breastfeeding groups offer mother to mother support and education, tips and tricks of Breastfeeding. You may also find comfort in having a nurse or lactation consultant visit you at home.

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