Congratulations! You have finally given birth to a beautiful baby! All you want from breastfeeding your baby is to provide the best source of nutrients and quality milk. While nursing is natural, it does not always come easy.
Fortunately, with the right mindset and support, you can get through the first few days (or weeks, or sometimes even months) of breastfeeding challenges.
Here are some of the common issues that most new mothers may experience and how to overcome them:
Problem #1: Low Milk Supply
The most common reason why moms throw in the towel on breastfeeding is that they think they are not supplying enough milk for their baby. That is not the case. If you are giving your baby formula milk or stretching out hours between feeds, you will not stimulate your breasts enough to produce more milk.
The best way to tell if you provide your baby with enough milk is to monitor their weight. At 14 days old, your baby should return to her birth weight and should gain four to seven ounces per week. If your baby is not gaining much or is losing weight, that’s the sign that she might not be getting enough milk from you.
The Solution: If you suspect your baby is not getting enough milk, let your pediatrician know so she can refer you to a lactation specialist. If that is not the issue, try nursing more often to stimulate milk production and nurse on demand instead of following a schedule. You may also want to consider purchasing a breast pump online to help you generate milk between feedings.
Problem #2: Cracked Nipples
It is one of the first problems that many new mothers encounter due to many different things, such as improper pumping, thrush, or shallow latch. During the first few days of breastfeeding, you may even see traces of blood in your breastmilk. Cracked nipples may be uncomfortable and look frightening, but they should go away after a few days to a week.
The Solution: The first step is to correct your baby’s feeding position. With a shallow latch, your nipple is in the front portion of your baby’s mouth, meaning your nipple is rubbing against your baby’s hard palate. Whereas with a deep latch, your nipple is positioned farther back in your baby’s mouth where the soft palate is located, making feeding time more comfortable for you (and your baby).
To treat cracked nipples, applying nursing ointment and soothing gel pads at least 30 minutes before breastfeeding helps ease discomfort. And since cracked nipples can attract bacteria, it is important to wash them with soap and water a few times a day.
Problem #3: Clogged Ducts and Mastitis
Many breastfeeding moms deal with milk oversupply, making the breasts engorged and painful when you are not nursing often enough, or you cannot find the time or place to pump as often as needed.
It can result in your ducts getting clogged up and your breasts developing mastitis afterward. When this happens, immense pain may occur, giving the affected breast a full and aching feeling and causing you fever and chills.
The Solution: Frequent nursing or pumping is necessary. You may also have to take nursing-safe medications to manage the pain and fever. If you cannot feed more often because, say, you are working away from home, purchase milk storage and breast pump online to make and store the breast milk in the freezer when you are at work.
To manage mastitis, make sure to call your doctor as you might have to take antibiotics. Have enough sleep and rest, drink plenty of water, and continue breastfeeding from your unaffected breast. Speak with your doctor for more information on how to handle the situation with your breastfeeding baby.
Problem #4: Baby Refuses the Bottle
Nursing moms who go back to work or cannot nurse every time the baby demands will have to supplement formula milk and use feeding bottles. However, the baby may be confused about your nipple and the bottle’s nipple and may refuse to take the latter.
The Solution: If you know you will have to use the bottle in the future, start introducing it early. Introducing feeding bottles within the first days of your newborn helps stop nipple confusion before it actually happens.
But a better way to get your baby using the bottle is to let someone offer it and try to keep yourself away from your baby so she cannot smell you while feeding. Let your baby try different nipples that resemble the size and shape of your own for her to easily adapt.
These breastfeeding problems can be overwhelming, and it’s not impossible to experience several of them at once, especially during the first few days or weeks postnatal. Equip yourself with breastfeeding resources and products to help you get through these challenges and stay committed to providing your little precious with the best milk there is; your breastmilk!