Breastfeeding problems and their solutions

It is often believed that breastfeeding comes naturally to babies and mothers. But despite what you may believe, the practice can be difficult for many new mothers. Not only does this affect the baby, but it can also adversely affect the mother too.

Breast engorgement is common among new mothers any time between the second and the fifth day after delivery and childbirth. The most common cause of this is the inability to nurse and feed the baby frequently or to drain the excess milk produced in the breast effectively.

As a natural process, after childbirth, a mother’s breast prepares enough breast milk for the baby’s nourishment and needs. However, there can be a possibility that even after adequately feeding the baby the mother might be unable to drain the milk completely.

This excess milk remaining in the breasts could lead to engorgement. When the breasts get engorged they appear swollen, full, and hard. They can also be painful when touched.

Engorgement is a serious issue and should never be neglected as it would not only cause problems to the mother, but will make it difficult for the baby to get a proper feed despite the breasts being filled with milk. This is because a hard areola makes it difficult for the baby to latch on it correctly to continue with a smooth feeding session.

If you feel that your breasts are turning to be taut, hard or full even after you have fed your baby to his satisfaction, try and express some milk from your breasts manually. This is believed to be the easiest and most convenient way in treating engorgement.

If you fear that excessive pumping can make your baby remain hungry during a subsequent feeding session or provide with less nourishment, then you can store your breast milk for your baby’s consumption later.

Treat engorgement promptly, either at home or seek a doctor’s advice. If neglected, this can lead to an infection or an abscess, whose treatment would either be a week long dependency on antibiotics or surgery for extreme cases.

Breast milk is produced by small milk-producing glands or tissues, called alveoli present inside the breast. The milk produced by alveoli then collects under the areola.

During a feeding session, the baby latches on to the areola and suckles to feed self and help you empty the breast. However, there can be times when a milk producing duct or alveoli is blocked internally. This usually happens if the production of breast milk and the suction by your baby don’t match each other’s speed and frequency.

Excess milk if not drained effectively can cause one of the ducts inside the breast to get blocked. This is because the duct keeps producing more milk without proper let down. Sometimes even thickened milk can obstruct the flow from one of the alveoli leading to a blocked duct.

With a blocked duct, there would be a swelling or a lump formed in one of the breasts that could appear hard or painful when touched. If ignored, this situation can lead to engorgement too or any other kind of infection. An infection with blocked ducts can either lead to mastitis, where a part of the breast becomes hot, swollen and painful or an abscess where the breast appears to be full with fluid when examined.

If you feel a swelling or fluid build-up in any one of your breasts, feed your baby from that particular side more often. If you feel that a blocked milk duct can harm your baby, understand that it is the most natural way to treat the problem.

Your baby will not be harmed by the swelling in any way.

For your baby to enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding it is important that your nipples are protractile enough for your baby to latch on them and continue with a feeding session without much fuss.

In some rare cases however, the mother’s nipple might remain inverted or retracted and hence make it difficult for the baby to establish a perfect latch and quench his hunger and thirst. If you are lactating enough then the milk production inside the breast without proper let down can also lead to engorgement or other related infections. So it is imperative to treat flat nipples to promote proper breastfeeding.

Sore or cracked nipples are common in new mums, especially during the first week of breastfeeding. This is usually a result of improper latching or incorrect positioning of the baby during a feeding session.

Another probable cause of soreness at the nipples is due to the introduction of artificial nipples like teats or a pacifier during the early days after birth. These could result in nipple confusion and lead to improper suckling at the breasts causing soreness or cracked nipples. Frequently taking the baby off the breast without breaking the latch would also lead to soreness.

Continue breast feeding your baby despite the soreness or cracked nipples. However, position your baby in such a way that your baby has more of the areola in his mouth, which will reduce pain due to soreness and promote healing soon.

Your breast milk can also help in healing cracked nipples and will treat the soreness. So apply a few drops of the milk on the cracked region and allow it to dry. Ensure that your nipple area is completely dried after every feed.

Treat the soreness promptly as it can give rise to a fungal infection and lead to oral thrush in your baby’s mouth.

Avoid washing the nipples with soap after feeds, as this could promote dryness and lead to more soreness and pain.

Also avoid using over the counter ointments to treat cracked nipples or soreness, unless prescribed by your doctor. — thehealthsite.com

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