7 Common Breastfeeding Challenges & Solutions (Part Two)

By Ebube Imana

As natural as breastfeeding ought to be, it is fraught with so many challenges which can be very discouraging, even to a determined mother. It’s important for every nursing mother to realize that successful breastfeeding is a combination of patience, good technique, and determination. Find common breastfeeding problems and tips on how to prevent or treat them.

Continued from part one here

5. Clogged Duct

This may occur occasionally and could be as a result of infrequent nursing while supply is constant, thereby adding pressure on one or more milk ducts. When this occurs, you would feel a hard, lumpy, painful area on your breast.

To help solve this problem, it is advised to nurse your baby more frequently, ensuring that one breast is empty before moving on to the other. Also, massaging the breast while breastfeeding may help.  Apply warm, moist towels to your breasts before feeding or have a hot shower. Avoid wearing tight and/or underwire bras while breast-feeding as this may contribute to this problem.

If the ducts remain clogged days after, please contact a lactation specialist for assistance or consult your doctor.

6. Engorgement

Engorgement refers to swelling within the breast tissue, which can be hard and painful, making it uncomfortable for babies to suck. In some women with engorgement, the breasts become firm, pink on light skinned women, warm to the touch, and may even throb. Some women develop a slight fever.

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Engorgement is caused by increased blood supply, increased fluids and milk in the breast tissue. Usually, the best treatment for engorgement is to empty the breast frequently and completely by breastfeeding.  Latching may become impossible where the breasts are engorged, therefore, it is preferable to express by hand or using a pump.

Taking a warm shower shortly before breastfeeding will help soften and stimulate milk flow. You can also try putting a warm towel on your breasts to ease the pain and swelling for a few minutes before breastfeeding. Massaging the breasts could also be a good way to soften it and promote milk flow. Do note that the use of heat for long periods of time (exceeding 3 – 5 minutes) may make swelling worse.

If breasts continue being full and uncomfortable after expressing, apply cold compresses to both breasts to reduce the swelling.

7. Mastitis

This is an inflammation of the breast usually caused by bacterial infection that has flu like symptoms and is accompanied by pain and fever. Not to worry though, your baby can still breastfeed because breast milk has its own antibiotics. Just see to it that you empty your breasts frequently. However, if you feel worse after a few days, please consult your doctor or a lactation consultant for other remedies or antibiotics.

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Generally, the first few weeks to months of breastfeeding are usually the hardest, but as you become more adept with these skills, it will become easier and enjoyable. Hang in there, don’t give up, you’re giving your baby the very best of nutrition!

Did you experience any breastfeeding challenge? What did you do?

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