Everywhere you look today, there is evidence and encouragement to breastfeed your baby. Truth is, that no person in this world can make that decision for you. And the last thing that you – or any other new mother needs, is to feel pressured or push into doing something that they don’t want to do. Breastfeeding, while healthy – and as nature intended, is NOT for everyone. Some women know during pregnancy that they don’t want to breastfeed, or that breastfeeding won’t work for them. And that is perfectly okay. Other women feel so much pressure and guilt for not at least trying breastfeeding that they decide to ‘try.’ And yet another group of women feel ultra inclined to breastfeed exclusively. Regardless of what side of the breastfeeding spectrum you are on – you should know that to breastfeed or not to breastfeed is a personal issue. And sometimes, it is also an issue that your baby will decide for YOU!
There are five very common issues new moms face with breastfeeding. Sometimes, the solutions are easy and fast. Others take diligence and time – and other issues can become so stressful that nursing is halted altogether.
The following will help you with the five most common issues you might face with breastfeeding.
- Latch problems. Apparently, your baby in utero missed the class on how to latch on to the breast properly. This can be caused because of nipple shape or size, because your baby’s mouth muscles are not strong yet, or because your newborn just doesn’t know how to do it. And unfortunately, a bad latch can cause a new mom to have some pretty sore nipples. Tips to fix this problem are to help your baby latch onto the entire nipple and areola. You may have to use your fingers to get the entire nipple into your baby’s mouth. Expressing milk prior to nursing can also help your baby get a better latch. If this problem isn’t fixed, chances are you will have some pretty tender nipples in the aftermath of nursing.
- Sore nipples! Just like anything in life, it takes time for your breasts to get used to nursing. Sometimes, your breasts can become so sore – or even chafed – that it is virtually impossible to let your baby nurse. Make sure to use creams or ointments with lanolin in them before and after nursing to help keep the skin around your nipple soft and smooth. Additionally, you can soak your nipples in warm water mixed with a little salt after nursing to help keep inflammation down. If your breasts are sore in general, try to express milk during the day, use cold compresses and massage the breast tissue often. Once your milk supply evens out, most women do not feel much breast pain associated with nursing.
- Not enough milk. Nearly every nursing woman will at some point feel that they are not supplying enough milk for their baby. Chances are if your baby is growing healthily, your milk supply is perfect. However, since the breasts work on a supply and demand basis, simply nursing (or pumping) more frequently will increase your milk production. There are also some herbal remedies you can take to increase milk supply, but you should check with your lactation doctor before using as some have dangerous side effects. Another important ingredient in adequate milk production is hydration and nutrition of the mother. Keep taking your pre-natal vitamins and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- Around 1 in every 4 women will get a breast infection, or a blocked duct while nursing. This is extremely common and can make nursing so painful that it becomes impossible. If your breasts feel warm to the touch or you run a fever you should consult with your doctor. If you develop painful lumps, try to offer that breast to your baby first – and massage the lump while he or she is nursing to try and get the milk to drain. Warm compresses, as well as wraps made with cabbage can help to alleviate the problem as well. Additionally, look for signs that you have a yeast infection (common if your baby has thrush) which may have spread to the nipple. This can make the breast painful and itchy, and will need to be treated in order to keep from passing the infection back to your baby.
- Moms not enjoying it. You may have been completely dedicated and on board with the idea of breastfeeding to begin with. Now that you are a few weeks in however – you realize this is not working out for you. A happy mom makes a happy baby, and you have to do what you feel is best for you and your baby. Some mothers who are returning to work, or are having a lot of problems with breastfeeding begin to feel that the stress of breastfeeding takes away from the enjoyment. Switching to formula DOES NOT make you a bad mother, and today’s formulas are extremely healthy and support millions upon millions of thriving babies. If making the switch would make you feel better and less stressed – then remember the choice is ALWAYS yours. If you really wanted to breastfeed but are having an immense amount of problems making it work, then realize it is normal to feel let down, disappointed or even depressed when you decide to give it up. Your baby however, will love you just the same – so try not to fret.