The first days and weeks of breastfeeding are often challenging for new moms. Although breastfeeding is natural, it’s not easy. The stress of wanting to breastfeed your baby but struggling with unexpected challenges makes some moms feel like a failure. And it makes the choice to continue breastfeeding difficult. But most breastfeeding challenges can be overcome. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding but you want to continue, check out these tips for overcoming breastfeeding challenges.
1. Sore Nipples
Sore nipples are one of the most common complaints of new nursing moms. For the first few days of breastfeeding, nipple pain is pretty normal, and it should be treatable with lanolin or other nipple creams. If your nipples remain sore after a week, or become cracked and bleed, you probably need to adjust your baby’s latch. Most of the time the cure for sore nipples is adjusting your baby’s latch or your position during breastfeeding. An experienced lactation consultant is the best place to go for help when sore nipples persist. A few adjustments suggested by a breastfeeding expert can help you find a latch that feels better for you and your baby.
2. Milk Supply
Worrying about whether you are producing enough milk for your baby is one of the most common reasons moms stop breastfeeding. The number of women who can’t produce enough milk is statistically very low. If your baby is gaining weight and pooping often, they are getting enough milk. If you’re concerned about your baby’s growth or they don’t seem to have many dirty diapers, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns before you decide to wean. There are also many natural ways to increase your supply but often times making sure you eat well and stay hydrated can go a long way towards increasing your supply. If you’re concerned because the amount of milk you’re able to pump with a breast pump seems relatively low, know that some women aren’t able to produce as much with a pump. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount their baby is getting.
3. Plugged Ducts & Mastitis
A plugged duct occurs when milk flow becomes obstructed. Typically, you will see a lump or red area in the breast and may experience some pain. The treatment for a plugged milk duct is moist heat and massage. Take a hot shower or use a warm compress on the breast before nursing and massage the sore area firmly. This may not be much fun, but it is effective. You also want to nurse or pump often to drain the breast. Dealing with a plugged duct as soon as possible will prevent it from causing additional problems. Mastitis may appear similar to a blocked duct as it involves a painful red lump on the breast. However, unlike a clogged duct, a fever and other flu like symptoms are usually present and the pain is more severe. The same treatments you use for a plugged duct can be useful for treating mastitis, but you will also want to see your doctor to see if you need antibiotics. If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with a plugged duct or mastitis, make an appointment with your doctor.
Engorgement is a common issue for moms in the early weeks of breastfeeding. Engorgement is when your breasts overfill with milk and become hard and tight. It can be terribly uncomfortable. To treat and prevent engorgement, you need to empty your breasts frequently. Preferably by nursing your baby. You can help the emptying by expressing a little milk by hand before feeding your baby. And massaging your breast towards the nipple while your baby nurses. Cold compresses after nursing can also be helpful. If you still feel full after your baby feeds, consider expressing the milk by hand or with a pump until you feel comfortable.
5. Not Enough Support
When faced with any breastfeeding challenge, new moms need support from their family friends. Not having that support can become a challenge by itself. Let your family know about your desire to breastfeed your baby early on. Educate them about what you need and how they can support you. Try to surround yourself with a support network of people you can talk to about the challenges you face and seek help from when you need it. If there are people in your life who are not supportive of your choice to breastfeed, you may need to give them some space while you get through the early days of your breastfeeding journey and overcome breastfeeding challenges.
- Elizabeth V., Worth Writing For
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