The Institute for Women's Health

Solutions-to-Common-Breastfeeding-challenges

Even though breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful things a woman can do, it often comes with its challenges. One important thing to note is that every woman’s body is different, therefore some might face breastfeeding challenges while others might not. The important thing is to always be prepared and know how to solve problems that may arise. Before you start breastfeeding, it is very important to ask your doctor everything you need to know about it.

Here are some common breastfeeding challenges and tips on how to manage them:

Running Low on Milk?

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Sometimes it is difficult to know if your baby is getting enough milk and if you will be able to produce the milk your baby needs. It is normal for your breasts to feel less full after a couple of months. Let your doctor know if you are concerned. Remember to always check your baby’s weight and growth to see if she/he is getting enough milk. Here are some things you can do if you are concerned about your milk supply:

  • Limit the use of the pacifier.
  • The more you nurse, the more you supply. Remember to always follow your baby’s lead- he will let you know when he is done.
  • Use both your breasts when feeding. Start with one breast and if he is still sucking and swallowing offer him your second breast.
  • Your baby does not need solid foods until he is 6 months old. Try to only breastfeed him and avoid offering him formula or solid foods. The less interest the baby has in your breast milk, the less you will supply.

Supplying Excess Milk?
While some mothers worry about the low milk supply, other mothers worry about oversupplying milk. This can be very uncomfortable for both the mother and the baby. Here are some things you can do if you are an over supplier.

  • Try to gradually increase the length of time you breastfeed on each side.
  • When your breast feels extremely full and it’s not time to breastfeed yet, hand express it for a couple of minutes or use a cold washcloth to reduce swelling.
  • Try to prevent aggressive sucking and feed your baby before he or she becomes very hungry.
  • Positions like “side lying” and “football hold” may help with milk ejection.

What to do if you have a rush of milk:

  • Carefully and gently hold your nipple with your forefinger and middle finger to lightly compress milk ducts and reduce the milk ejection force.
  • Let excess milk spray into a towel if you feel your baby is choking.

Are Your Nipples Sore?

It is normal for breasts to be sore, especially if you just started breastfeeding. Once you find a comfortable position and your baby has a good latch everything should be easier and feel better. Here are some things you can do if your nipples are sore.

  • Changing positions can ease the pain and help you find a good comfortable latch.
  • If your baby is not getting a good latch and only sucking on your nipple, carefully break your baby’s suction by placing your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth and try again.
  • Heal your nipples with your milk. Once you are done breastfeeding gently rub a few drops of milk on your nipples and let your nipples air-dry.
  • Try to stay away from bras and clothes that can put a lot of pressure on your nipples.
  • If you can’t deal with the pain or can’t seem to get a good latch don’t hesitate to get help from your doctor or a lactation consultant.

Nursing Strike:

If your baby refuses your breast all of a sudden, your baby is going into a “nursing strike”. This usually means that your baby wants you to know that something might not be quite right. Here are some of the major causes of nursing strikes.

  • Distraction while breastfeeding.
  • Overuse of pacifier or reduced milk supply.
  • Reaction to overstimulation, stress, constant late breastfeeding, and a mother’s strong reaction to a baby’s bite.
  • Loud noises or discussions while breastfeeding.
  • Major change in routine.
  • Breastfeeding positions might cause pain or soreness.
  • Teething pain, fungal infection, ear infection, or a cold sore.

These are just some of the most common breastfeeding challenges. If you are confronted with pain, infections, or other breastfeeding problems, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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