5 of the Most Common Breastfeeding Issues and How to Solve Them
8 min. read
Like all the best things in life, breastfeeding can be exciting and scary. Preparing for breastfeeding is a great place to start, but for some moms, there are hiccups and breastfeeding problems that come along with those precious moments shared when feeding baby. These are part of your breastfeeding journey, but having clear answers to your breastfeeding questions can help put your mind at rest.
If your baby won’t latch, your nipples are cracked or if you’re experiencing overall breastfeeding pain, you’re not alone, and here you’ll find some tips and techniques to help you through. We’re right by your side, but our advice doesn’t replace that of your healthcare professional. Always consult your doctor if you’re worried about your breastfeeding issues.
5 common breastfeeding issues
1. ‘My baby won’t latch’
Latching can take a little time, but be gentle on yourself: you’ve both got this. Trouble latching is one of the most common breastfeeding problems, and it can be one of the reasons that breastfeeding hurts at times.
If your baby won’t latch, there are several problems that could arise as a result, which is why it is important to ask for help if you and your baby are struggling to achieve a good latch. Clues that your baby may not be latching correctly may include the following:
Your nipples hurt during feedings
Your baby is only latching to your nipple
Your baby’s lips are tucked in
You hear clicking or loud sucking sounds
Your baby feels frustrated after attempting to feed
Overtime, your milk supply is decreasing, even though you feed often
Your baby is losing weight
Here are a few breastfeeding tips to keep in mind to help encourage your baby to latch properly:
Create a calm environment. The key to a comfortable feeding session is to be calm and relaxed. Lay in your bed with pillows or sit in a comfortable chair.
Cuddle your baby skin-to-skin. Place your baby on your bare chest between your breasts for relaxing skin-to-skin contact.
Don’t force the latch. Allow your baby to take the lead during nursing sessions. You will want to guide and support your newborn, but you certainly shouldn’t be forcing the latch.
Use a good latching technique. Start by brushing your nipple against your baby’s nose to activate their senses. This will help your baby to open their mouth wide, which may help to get more of your areola in their mouth.
2. ‘My nipple hurts’
In the early days, it’s quite common to experience some tenderness on your nipples. But that doesn’t mean that you must bear the pain. Breastfeeding pain can be linked to multiple causes, from skin sensitivity to poor positioning. The following tips can help you manage the problem in the first few days:
Drain your milk. It is important that you fully drain your milk from your breasts during feedings. If you feel that you still have milk remaining, consider pumping to fully empty your breasts.
Getting into position. Ensure that your baby is latching properly during feeding sessions. Your entire nipple and most of your lower areola should be in your baby’s mouth.
Use a hot and cold compress. Use a gel pad to cool down your breasts or apply a warm compress. You can use this in combination with a massage to help soothe your sore nipples.
If the pain persists, you should seek advice from your lactation consultant to quickly troubleshoot. Sometimes if problems persist too long, it can lead to breast problems such as lower milk supply or mastitis.
3. ‘My nipples are cracked’
Another common issue among mothers who choose to breastfeed is cracked nipples, often caused by a shallow latch. This is when your baby is not getting enough of the breast tissue in their mouth and sucks on your nipple instead, which can cause cracked or sore nipples. It should be dealt with promptly to avoid worsening the pain or causing infection.
Here are some of the best ways to soothe and protect your nipples so you’re able to comfortably breastfeed:
Place expressed breast milk on your nipples. That’s right, you can actually use your own breast milk to heal your cracked nipples. Simply apply a few drops of breast milk on your nipples and air dry.
Encourage milk flow before feeds. Applying warm compresses over the area and express some breast milk before you feed your baby will help stimulate milk flow.
Protect sore nipples with nipple protectors. And while you are healing your sore nipples, why not relieve some of the breast pain when breastfeeding with nipple protectors? These nipple shields can help to ease any nipple discomfort while nursing. Applying nipple cream after feeds also helps to soothe and moisturize the area.
Prevent chafing between feeds with breast shells. Protect your nipples from chafing on your clothes in between feeds with these breast shells. Simply wear them inside your bra to help prevent nipple irritation and to collect excess breast milk.You may also wish to consider using breast pads to keep your clothes stain-free from your breast milk.
Use a proper positioning technique. Often it is as simple as using a pillow to elevate your baby to your breast, or latching them in a different position to avoid sore or cracked nipples.
Try thermo pads before and after feeds. To soothe sore nipples use them cold after feeds.
Ask for help. If the cracks won’t heal or you simply have more questions, remember to ask for help. Reach out to your healthcare professional.
It is common to produce a strong milk flow when establishing your milk supply as a new mom. This fast flow of milk could be causing your baby to choke, cough, or spit up milk during feedings. While this problem typically goes away as your supply stabilizes, there are a few techniques that can help you in the meantime:
The scissor-hand trick. Restrict the flow of your milk by gently putting a scissor hold on your nipple while feeding.
Reclining position or expressing before nursing. You may find it useful to try a reclining position while breastfeeding your baby to help slow your milk flow. Another trick to help slow down your flow is to try expressing a little breast milk before you start nursing.
5. ‘I have flat or inverted nipples’
The beautiful thing about the female body is that no one pair of breasts are the same. Nipples come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are flat, some are inverted, and some are large.
Because your newborn must latch fully onto the nipple and breast to successfully breastfeed, inverted or flat nipples require a little extra help to help your baby latch on successfully. First know you are not alone: up 10% of women experience the same issue.1 Here are some helpful tips if you are breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples:
Use your fingers. You can try to use your own fingers to extend your nipples.
Use the Niplette. Consider using this simple, non-surgical solution that gently pulls your nipples out to help latch your baby.
Speak with your doctor. If you are worried or concerned about your nipples, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor.
Take care of your breasts
If you experience breastfeeding pain or discomfort, remember that this is common but not something that you have to grin and bear. Whether it be your first time breastfeeding or your fourth child, every baby and mother duo are different and no one breastfeeding journey is like another. Discover how to properly care for your breasts so that you can enjoy your breastfeeding journey.
Part of the beauty of parenthood is getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding allows you to enjoy precious skin-to-skin moments together with your newborn, allowing you both to experience a moment of closeness and wellbeing.
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