Most Common Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions
Good latch, Poor latch
You’ve given birth and you’re committed to Breastfeed your baby. But nursing doesn’t always come naturally and easy. Often, we find new Mums complaining; “Breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural process, why can’t we achieve it easily?”. They feel so dejected and unsatisfied with their breastfeeding journey that they come to a breaking point.
Some babies latch on and breastfeed well right from the start, but it doesn’t always go so smoothly. Many moms and babies need time to learn how to breastfeed together. During the first week after your child is born, you may run into some struggles that can interfere with breastfeeding. But, even once breastfeeding is established and going well, issues can still pop up. Breastfeeding problems can be painful and distressing to a new mom, and they can cause a baby to become fussy, and frustrated.
Often, their inability to experience this beautiful journey first hand and due to peer pressure, they may reluctantly shift to other means of feeding like Bottle feeding, formula milk and cow milk to their babies to ensure that they are at least fed well, having optimal weight gain and nutrition.
Every mother and baby is unique and their struggles with breastfeeding could be different. It can be scary to face a problem that you don’t know how to deal with, so sometimes these unexpected issues lead to early weaning. But, by learning about and understanding these common breastfeeding problems, you will be more prepared to handle them and get through them successfully. From the newborn stage to weaning, here are some of the common breastfeeding problems you may experience along with the solutions to help you deal with them.
Problems with Breastfeeding and their solutions:
1. Painful and Sore Nipples:
“Whenever my baby latches on my breast, I get excruciating pain, and sometimes even bruised nipples”
- This kind of pain is mostly reported by the mothers as the feeling of pins and needles poking at the nipples as soon as the baby latches and starts drinking. The pain could even worsen if not treated for a prolonged period of time.
- It is possible that persistent nipple pain like these could leas to nipple injury.
- This condition is largely due to poor latching or nursing position of the infant.
- A lactation consultant can help you improve the problems of lactation and correct nursing position. This would make your breast less sore and painful. However, if the pain continues or gets worse, there may be a possibility of an underlying issue, like that of the presence of a tight tissue underneath the tongue or lip called as Tongue Tie/Lip Tie, restricting its free movement.
- Applying Expressed Breastmilk over the bruised nipples also help them heal.
2. Breast Engorgement
“Often times my breast feels swollen with too much milk”
- Breast Engorgement(Swollen breasts) can be painful for you and it can be even harder for your baby to latch well on the large, hard breasts.
- This usually happens during the first week of birth, when the milk kicks in and there is a huge let down. The initial phase of engorgement lasts for few days or weeks as your milk supply adjusts to your baby’s needs.
- However, if there are long gaps in between breastfeeding, this may also result in engorgement or if the baby is unable to empty the breast due to some latching or sucking issues.
- Gently massage the breasts. Try to Breastfeed often, avoid long intervals between feeds. A good latch and correct positioning can help your child can help your child breastfeed more efficiently and remove more milk.
- Remove a little breast milk before you begin to breastfeed to soften the breast tissue and make it a little easier for your baby to latch on. The removal of breast milk also helps to release some of the pressure, so the flow of milk out of your breasts will not be too forceful for your baby.
- Alternate warm and cold compresses to help relieve pain. Allow warm water to run over your breasts in the shower.
- If the problem is with the baby’s poor latch and nothing else helps, get your baby evaluated for the possibility of a Tongue Tie or Lip tie.
3 . Poor Latch
“My baby is unable to latch well. Slips off the breast often to a shallow latch”
- This is probably the most common complaint that we come across. Let’s see how a good latch and poor latch looks like.
- The Best is, when the baby is in good latch you’ll instantly understand as the lips are flanged out, the chin would touch the breast and tip of the nose would be slightly away from the breast.
- On the advice of Lactation Consultant, adjusting the angle and position of the baby could be helpful. But, sometimes, if it doesn’t help, you’ll neeed to check with a pediatric dentist for any interference due to tongue ties or lip ties.
4 . Plugged (Blocked) Milk Ducts:
- Plugged Milk ducts are small, hard lumps in the breast. They form when breast milk clogs up and blocks the narrow milk ducts. The area around the plugged duct may be tender, swollen, and red. Plugged milk ducts will often go away on their own within a few days. Here’s what you can do to help it along.
- Make sure your baby is latching on correctly and removing the breast milk from your breasts efficiently.
- Breastfeed very often to prevent your breast milk from building up and clogging the milk ducts.
- Breastfeed on the side with the plugged duct first. Your baby’s strong suck at the beginning of the feeding may help to unblock the duct.
- Alternate breastfeeding positions to drain all the areas of your breast. Different holds can help target the area of your breast where the blocked duct is and dislodge it.
- Make sure to get enough rest and drink enough fluids.
5 . Mastitis :
“My breast feels swollen, sore and has red dots”
- Mastitis is swelling or inflammation of the breast tissue, and it’s often called a breast infection. Other common issues such as breast engorgement, blocked milk ducts, fatigue, or illness can lead to mastitis.
You may suspect mastitis if you have redness or tenderness of the breast, flu-like symptoms, and fever :
- Apply warm compresses or gently massage your breast under hot water shower to help ease
- You may think that you can’t breastfeed with mastitis, but you can and should continue to breastfeed often. Try emptying the breast after every feed to prevent engorgement.
- If symptoms doesn’t resolve within 24-48 hours, see your doctor for a detailed examination and further treatment.
- Try to get plenty of rest while you recover
6 . Thrush :
Thrush is a yeast infection that can appear on your nipples and in the baby’s mouth. The symptoms of thrush can include breast pain, redness, and itchy or crusty nipples with or without a rash. It may also show up as white patches or areas of redness in your baby’s mouth.
- If you think you or your child have thrush, notify your doctor as soon as possible. An antifungal medication may be necessary for you and the baby.
- Clean and sterilize all pacifiers, bottles, toys, and breast pump parts that come in contact with your breasts or the baby’s mouth.
- Good hand washing is very important to prevent spreading the infection.
7 . Low Milk Production :
A low breast milk supply can cause fear and frustration. The good news is that the common causes of a low breast milk supply are often easily corrected. It is important to understand a basic concept of demand equals supply. So, if there is less demand generated by the baby due to any of the above mentioned issues, naturally the brain would slow down the supply thinking it isn’t needed anymore.
- Consult a Lactation consultant if you truly have a reduced milk supply. They may guide you with either some supplements or using a breast pump after and in-between feedings to increase supply.
- Check your baby’s latch. Your newborn needs to take in all of your nipple plus part of the breast tissue surrounding your nipple to breastfeed well. Your body will increase milk production based on how much breast milk your child removes from your breasts. For this, get your baby examined by a Pediatric dentist for the presence of a tight frenulum underneath the tongue or lip that may prevent your baby from suckling well.
- Eat well, get enough rest, and drink plenty of fluids.
8 . Baby is Colicky/Gassy :
This happens when the baby is swallowing in more air due to poor latch or suckling quality which may result in Air Induced Reflux or a Colicky/Gassy baby.
Distended stomach is most common presentation and the baby may become quite restless due to discomfort. Your baby may even have frequent spit ups after feeds.
- Since, swallowing more air than milk is usually the reason behind this, you may need to burp your baby after every feeds.
- Remember, Frequent colic/ gas issues in babies isn’t normal. Avoid using reflux medications as they have proven to be harmful for the baby’s bone density.
- Get your baby evaluated by either an IBCLC or a Pediatric dentist to rule out possibilities of poor latch causing this.
9 . Biting on Nipples :
Proper breastfeeding positioning alongwith Proper function of Tongue and lip muscles is very essential to help the baby get a deep latch and suckle well. A baby tends to bite only when they aren’t able to get a good latch. In that case, they may use their gums to hold on to the breast and try to gum or chew on the nipples as they suck.
It is also possible, that if your baby has got new sets of teeth, they may try their teeth on the breasts. While this is normal, it is to be remembered that baby cannot bite if they are actively breastfeeding well.
- Continue working on your breastfeeding position and latch correction. Book an appointment with a lactation consultant or paediatric dentist who specialises in tongue function to check for interference due to the tongue ties or lip ties.
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