Three Ways to Make Common Breastfeeding Problems Easier

Breastfeeding is an intimate exchange between mother and baby. When this exchange happens easily, the experience can seemingly be a magical one. However, breastfeeding isn’t easy for every new mother.

Here are three common breastfeeding problems and solutions for coping:

Trouble latching

Many women report difficulty when it comes to keeping baby’s mouth on the nipple during nursing. If this happens to you, don’t rush to assume your baby is tongue-tied, though ankyloglossia is a common condition in the United States. Check to make sure you and baby are in a comfortable position and that your baby’s mouth is slightly below your nipple. Try squeezing your nipple to express a little milk and get baby interested in nursing. Making your breast shape narrower with your hand can also help slide your nipple farther into your baby’s mouth.

Try a few different holding and breast positions to see what works best. It’s also not a bad idea to attend a support group or speak with a lactation consultant if latching becomes an enduring challenge.

Breast and nipple soreness

Breast and nipple chafing, soreness, and even mild bleeding are common during the first few days or weeks of breastfeeding as the skin on your breast toughens. Over-the-counter creams with lanolin can help relieve nipple irritation, as can cool or warm compresses, per your preference. Look for bra inserts that retain heat or cold for relief without having to hold a compress in place.

You should seek medical assistance if you experience shooting or burning breast pain, a rash that doesn’t go away, or persistent, intense soreness. If you feel a lump and suspect a plugged milk duct, take warm showers and massage the lumpy area. If that doesn’t work, see your doctor right away.

Low milk supply

A lot of new mothers question whether or not they are producing enough milk. Breastfeeding has many stages throughout the course of its duration, including times when you’ll feel as though your breasts are fuller than others. The best indicator of breast milk quantity — and quality — is baby’s perceived meal satisfaction (does he or she fall asleep when done feeding?) and weight gain (is your pediatrician happy with baby’s growth?).

Low milk supply can be supplemented with various types of infant formula. However, you should check with your pediatrician before offering formula. You can also try stimulating your milk supply by feeding baby often (at least eight times per day) and pumping more milk between meals. Check with your own doctor about introducing herbs (called galactogogues into your diet, such as fenugreek or alfalfa, to help boost your milk production. Sometimes, eating spinach and oatmeal can help too.

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for mom and baby, once you get past these challenges. If you need help, it’s always a good idea to ask your OB/GYN for assistance. If he or she can’t help, they might be able to point you toward a class or support group that can. Make an appointment with a PWOG provider today.

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