In both recent months and past years, we've focused a lot for this blog on the perceived problems of breastfeeding in public, those advocating it and the progress made so far. But for today's post, we want to draw attention to issues that we're sure will be met with universal agreement. From speaking to different mothers and getting the general vibe online, we've put together this list of 5 common breastfeeding concers, and the highly recommended solutions accompanying them.
#1 Sore Nipples & Latching Pain
Overall, when done right breastfeeding should be a comfortable and comforting experience. In fact, the two major causes of sore nipples and latching pain comes either from an already existing abrasion, or improper positioning of the baby. Sore nipples can lead to a breast infection, so getting a good latch is something very much worth spending time on. Your nipple should always look the same way going in as it does coming out; round and long, not flat or compressed.
You ideally want to direct your nipple downwards towards the baby's throat, as an upward angle is what often leads to pain. You can pull down on their chin to unhinge an infant's jaw and widen their mouth as a good way of ensuring their lips are not turned under. If you do notice them biting, see that their cheeks are caving in (i.e. they're sucking their tongue) or hear them gulping air, the best thing is just to remove your baby from the breast and try again.
#2 Decreased Milk Supply
We're fairly certain this is the go-to, imagined concern by those less knowledgeable about nursing, but it is indeed a real possibility. Even when it feels like there's a good supply, you can have that nagging feeling that your baby is not getting enough. The best way to know the flow is to check your little one's weight and growth. If they are gaining one ounce a day during the first months, then they should be getting enough nourishment, but you can always use other measures like the number of wet or soiled nappies, their overall mood after feeding, and of course you can always check with your doctor.
There's a number of ways to help stimulate milk supply, and to ensure it's being used to its best. Feeding frequently, in shorter bursts preferably, will improve not only the volume of intake but the milk's quality too in terms of calorific benefit. Ensuring they switch breasts only when they've had their fill of one, ensuring they're actually swallowing rather than just sucking and limiting or even stopping dummy use can also help things out. Alcohol has also been proven to reduce the volume of milk, so it needs to be cut right out.
It's a given that breasts will become a fair bit bigger and heavier when they begin making more and more milk, but sometimes they can get hard and very painful. Other undesirables, like swelling, tenderness, worrying warmth, reddening, throbbing and flattening of the nipple are all symptoms of engorgement - the result of breast milk building up. It's a regular occurrence after day three or five after birth, but it can happen outside of then (particularly if milk isn't being removed due to a missed or skipped feeding), or if you're using a breast pump too frequently.
Often confused with an infection, aside from just being uncomfortable, it can make latching more difficult. Applying cold compresses can decrease the swelling, whilst a warm shower or washcloth are recommended before nursing. Ensure you're not becoming sleep deprived and that you're breastfeeding often, and the swelling and pain should subside.
This is a breast infection, primarily caused by fatigue. Often referred to as puerperal mastitis by doctors, it's caused by bacteria entering the breast through an open sore on the nipple or other area, or by a plugged duct (due to a build up of milk) becoming an infected area. The breast can become inflamed and painful, and is usually accompanied by a flu-like fever.
Medical attention is necessary to treat Mastitis, so you should consult a GP as soon as you think you may have some or all of the symptoms. The diagnosing process usually involves demonstrating your breastfeeding technique; something you should not feel uncomfortable about doing. Mastitis is easily treated with antibiotics with a quick recovery time.
#5 Nursing Strike
Even after months of successful breastfeeding, you may find your baby refusing the milk. This 'nursing strike' is their little way of letting you know something is wrong, and shouldn't be taken as a rushed sign that they're ready to wean. Figuring out a case of nursing strike is tough as all babies will be different - some may just be fussy - and the causes can be so subtle you might have trouble remedying the situation.
Common causes for nursing strike include painful infections in the baby's ear or mouth, teething, an injury on their body, stressful changes to their usual routine, a blocked or stuffy nose or they may have a change in preference after bottle supplementation. Just as with a lacking milk supply, the signs can be seen in your baby's weight and dirty nappies, and the solutions range from regularising your nursing schedule, to doing what you can to make breastfeeding a more comforting and peaceful activity.
What were some of the major breastfeeding concerns you've had, and how were you able to overcome them? Particularly if you're in need of some sound advice, let us know in the comments, and don't forget to share your concerns with us on our Facebook page, through Twitter or on Google+.