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Child And Public Health Physician, Rotimi Adesanya Highlights Common Breastfeeding Problems, Gives Tips On How To Prevent Or Treat Them

Child And Public Health Physician, Rotimi Adesanya Highlights Common Breastfeeding Problems, Gives Tips On How To Prevent Or Treat Them

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.

Child and Public Health Physician, Rotimi Adesanya highlighted some common breastfeeding problems and tips on how to prevent or treat them. The health expert cited a woman’s experience with breastfeeding, saying:

”Mrs BY had a baby three weeks ago. She was said have developed a high grade fever with chills and rigor. She said she could not go for outings due to her cultural belief, which forbade nursing mothers whose babies were less than six weeks-old from going out. Then she contacted the hospital where she had the baby for a solution.

The hospital recommended an anti-malaria drug and Paracetamol for her. She still did not get better and decided to see a doctor in a clinic close to her house.

She was examined by a doctor, who found that her body temperature was 39 degrees centigrade, her breasts were swollen, tender and spotted a red patch (evidence of inflammation) each. He explained to her that these were symptoms of a breastfeeding problem, not malaria. He described it as a condition known in medical terms as Mastitis.

Thereafter, the nursing mother was treated with antibiotics and analgesics and got well. She was also reassured that she could continue using the prescribed medication and breastfeeding her baby.”

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Worldwide, breastfeeding is recognised as the best way to feed an infant because it protects both mother and infant from a variety of health problems. With medical guidance and appropriate medical treatment, most women will overcome these obstacles and continue breastfeeding their babies for longer periods.

The expert highlighted the common problems, signs and symptoms and prevention below..

Breast engorgement

Engorgement is a medical condition that can be experienced by breastfeeding mothers. The breast milk usually comes in around 24 to 72 hours after giving birth. A degree of fullness may be experienced in the breasts at this time. After feeding, at least one breast should feel soft and light(drained).

Engorgement is caused by a build-up of blood, milk and other fluids in the breast. It will occur if the baby is not feeding and attaching well and the breasts aren’t drained well during a feed. Less commonly it may occur if the body is making more milk than the baby needs.

SEE ALSO: 3 Cool Moms Open Up On Their Breastfeeding Experiences, Struggles, Joys: ‘I was losing my mind’

Signs and symptoms: Engorgement results in very full and often painful breasts.

Treatment: Ensure your baby is attached well when breastfeeding. Feed the baby frequently, at least between eight and12 times every day. Do not limit the baby’s time at the breast. Express a small amount of milk before you feed to soften your breast and help the baby to attach. Use cool a towel or a piece of cloth from the refrigerator (not freezer) for comfort.

Blocked milk ducts

A blocked duct causes tender or painful lumps as a result of milk building up in the breast behind a duct. Milk ducts are small tubes inside the breast that carry milk through to the nipples.

Signs and symptoms: A painful red lump or swollen spot on the breast. One may also see a white spot on the nipple which is another sign that a duct may be blocked. Blocked or plugged ducts are areas of the breast where the flow of milk is blocked. They can stretch the nearby breast tissue and cause a painful breast lump.

Management of blocked ducts: Feed frequently from the affected side first. Gently stroke the breast towards the nipple during breastfeeding. This may assist the let-down reflex. For comfort and to reduce swelling from excess fluid, apply a cold cloth or towel. Express after feeding.

If there is a white spot on the nipple – soak the nipple with a warm moist cloth and ask the health worker to rub or scratch off the spot with a sterile needle to allow the duct to open and the milk to flow again. Use paracetamol or anti-inflammatory tablets according to directions.

Prevention: Ensure correct positioning and attachment. Frequent drainage of the breast. Alter your position during breast feeds to include underarm position, cradle position or lying on your side. Check for a white ‘spot’ on the nipple as this may be blocking the milk duct.


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Mastitis occurs when there is a blockage of milk in the milk duct. Some milk may leak into the surrounding tissues, thereby causing inflammation and infection. Milk ducts are small tubes inside the breast that carry milk through to the nipples

Signs and symptoms: the breast has a red, painful area, An aching flu-like feeling such as a fever, feeling shivery and generally unwell. Seek medical help if fever lasts more than 6 hours.

Treatment of mastitis: Drain the breast frequently. Attach the baby to the affected side first. You may need antibiotics for 10 to 14 days. Keep the breast drained by expressing the affected breast after each feed. Anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen will reduce the inflammation and pain. Paracetamol may be taken to ease discomfort.

READ ALSO: How Mothers Can Enjoy And Achieve Exclusive Breastfeeding- Nutrition Society of Nigeria

Nipple pain, sores and cracks

One major reason why nursing mothers stop breastfeeding early is nipple pain. The causes of nipple pain includes injury on the nipple(caused by the baby or a breast pump). Sore nipples are one of the most common complaints by new mothers.

If the nipples are cracked or raw, one can put expressed breast milk or a nipple cream, petroleum jelly, ointment on them and cover them with a non-stick pad. This will keep the injured part of the nipple from sticking to the bra.

Nipple vasoconstriction is another reason. This means that blood vessels in the nipple tighten and do not let enough blood to pass through. To determine the cause of your pain, your healthcare provider will examine you and your baby, and watch you breastfeed.

Are you having issues with establishing breastfeeding? Talk to a lactation expert or doctors, gynaecologists, paediatricians, nurses and other health workers who are highly skilled in breastfeeding issues.

There are foods and medications known as galactagogue that can help to increase breast milk supply, this works best when a nursing mother has low prolactin level and after she has received support and education to improve her breastfeeding or expressing technique.

Source: PUNCH.               

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