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.
1. Painful Latching
Arguably, one of the most common breastfeeding problems is improper latch-on. This can cause pain to a nursing mother while the baby may not get enough milk. Painful breastfeeding is a clear sign that your baby is not properly latched on.
Babies usually develop sucking reflex while in the womb, however, they may not be able to latch onto your breasts successfully and this causes pain. In my case, I would even cry sometimes while breastfeeding, and having an inverted nipple didn’t help.
To beat this:
- Make sure your baby’s mouth is open wide before trying to latch him onto your breast.
- Baby’s lips should be turned out, not sucked into the mouth while feeding.
- As much as possible, baby should take in the areola as well, especially at the bottom lip.
- Hold up your breast to help baby latch on.
- Tease baby’s lips with your nipple to get him to open his mouth.
2. Sore or Cracked Nipples
Your nipples may crack and become sore due to improper latching or pumping. To avoid cracked or sore nipple, ensure that your baby is properly latched on by getting the whole areola into his mouth. Prolonged pain during breastfeeding for more than a minute is a clear sign that your baby is not latching properly. To treat sore or cracked nipples, use a nipple grease or paraffin to lightly lubricate only the affected area.
At the end of each feed, squeeze out some milk and apply on your nipples, making sure nipples air-dry before covering up, as this will facilitate healing.
When bathing don’t scrub your breasts with soap, just wash with water. Allow breasts to air dry.
3. Inverted Nipples
Babies nurse areola, not nipples! Initial feedings may therefore be more difficult with flat or inverted nipples. My mother-in-law and I did all that we could possibly do to bring my nipples out so it would be easier for my son to latch! Sometimes, after trying to latch for minutes on end, we would both get frustrated and burst into tears!
We were advised by a nurse in the hospital to express some milk by hand or using a breast-pump before I breastfeed, and it worked!
4. Low Milk Supply
Breast milk flows according to demand and supply. I, of course found this out the hard way.
When I stopped giving my son formula and focused on breastfeeding alone, it wasn’t easy initially because my supply was not at its peak and therefore could not meet his demand at the time.
Nursing mum must remember that the more your baby sucks, the more milk you will produce. Sometimes, during growth spurts, the baby may seem to want more milk. The key is to feed more frequently, and in a few days, your milk supply will increase to match the baby’s demand.
To help increase your milk supply, increase your fluid intake, express in between feeds and get your baby to breastfeed as often as possible. More importantly, get some rest. Rest when your baby sleeps, you’ll be recharged when he’s awake and demands another round of feeding.