Simple tasks can be daunting when you are a first time mother, and one common concern is breastfeeding. While it may seem straightforward, many women can experience trouble breastfeeding. Breastfeeding challenges are common, but knowing what to expect and when to get help can assist you in overcoming them. Here, we explore three common breastfeeding challenges: sore nipples, low milk supply, and plugged ducts.
Breastfeeding should feel comfortable once you and your baby have found a good latch and positions that work. Your nipples might be tender and sensitive as they adjust to breastfeeding, but if soreness continues to persist you might want to evaluate some of these factors. Forming a good latch is important to breastfeeding, ensure the baby is nursing from both the areola and nipple. If the baby is sucking only from the nipple, gently unlatch by placing a clean finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth and then try again to latch on. Consider changing positions each time you breastfeed. Try these breastfeeding holds and see what works best for you and your baby.
Remember to take care of your nipples. Keep them moist to avoid cracking and bleeding. Minimize the amount of soap, shampoo, and other cleaners that come into contact with your nipples. Consider using lanolin to moisturize; it can help soothe cracked skin and maintain moisture. After breastfeeding, try expressing a few drops of breastmilk and gently rubbing the milk on your nipples. Human milk has natural healing properties and contains oils that soothe. If your nipple pain is caused by yeast or thrush, please have it examined by a doctor so that you and the baby can be treated correctly.
Low milk supply is another common challenge. First, check your baby’s weight to make sure they are getting enough to eat. Nursing more and more often will aid in increasing your milk supply. Follow your baby’s lead, breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to end the feeding. Offer both breasts during feeding. Let your baby finish the first side, and then offer the other side. Make sure to empty your breasts at each feeding, hand express or pump after a feeding to draw out all the milk will signal your body to make more. You can also try pumping or expressing milk more frequently between nursing sessions to build your milk supply.
Plugged ducts are also another common occurrence with breastfeeding, this happens when a breast duct does not drain properly. Pressure builds behind the plug and the surrounding tissues become inflamed; this will feel like a tender or sore lump. Continuing to breastfeed on the side with the plugged duct will help to loosen the plug and keep milk flowing freely. To get some relief, try taking a hot shower or applying a warm compress to the inflamed area. Massage your breast from the plugged duct down to the nipple before and during breastfeeding. Make sure you are wearing a correctly fitting bra that is not too tight; a bra that’s too tight can restrict milk flow. If you have plugged ducts that keep coming back, consider getting help from a breastfeeding expert or a lactation consultant.
GOeBlogger is a health enthusiast and avid reader living and thriving in vibrant Vancouver. When she's not nerding out at her laptop, you can find her exploring the beautiful BC coastline with her dog.
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