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10 Common Breastfeeding Problems in Infancy and Early Childhood


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Nursing your newborn is one of the joys that motherhood brings with itself. Your baby can start to breastfeed from the very first moments after birth. Holding him close to you, skin-to-skin contact, is the very first relationship that your baby forms after coming into this world. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding as it is invaluable for the health of the mother and the baby. Along with this novel experience comes weariness, discomfort and anxiety. Every first time mother’s expectation is that since it’s a natural process so it should be easy, right? Even if you hit a few roadblocks, don’t feel stressed out and remember breastfeeding has vital benefits for your growing baby which cannot be supplemented in any other way.


If it still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Apply Lanolin based creams between feedings.


1.Latching pains


It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed. But if the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, you need to reposition the baby by forming an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above. His chin and nose touch your breast, his lips should splay out so that you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.


2.Cracked Nipples


Cracked nipples can be the result of dry skin, pumping improperly or latching problems. There might be some bloody discharge during the first week of breastfeeding. But don’t fret as a little blood won’t harm the baby. Check baby’s positioning and try breastfeeding more frequently, and at shorter intervals. Wash your nipples with plain water only. You can also take a mild painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, 30 minutes before nursing.


3.Clogged milk ducts


Ducts clog when milk isn’t draining completely. You may notice soreness, a hard lump on your breast or some redness. If you start feeling feverish and achy, it might be a sign of infection and you should immediately consult your doctor. Try not to have long stretches in between feedings and use a nursing bra that is not too tight as it can cause clogged ducts. Stress can also affect your milk flow. Get adequate rest and apply warm compresses to your breasts and massage them to stimulate milk movement.


4.Breast Engorgement


Engorgement makes it difficult for baby to latch on to the breast because it’s hard and un-conforming to his mouth. Try hand massaging a little before feeding to get the milk flowing and soften the breast. The more you nurse, the less likely your breasts are to get engorged.


5.Low Milk Supply


Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. If your doctor is concerned about your baby’s weight gain, it is a serious problem. Frequent nursing and hands-on pumping during the day can help increase milk supply. According to research, drinking too many fluids and eating more calories hasn’t shown a significant increase in milk production.


6.Inverted or flat nipples


Use a pump to get the milk flowing before placing baby at your nipple and use breast shells between feeds. Once you feel like your milk supply is adequate, try using nipple shields if baby still has problems latching.


7.Frequent feeding


Some babies seem to need to breastfeed a lot, or for prolonged periods of time. More than 12-15 feeds a day is considered as frequent feeding. Offer both breasts every time you feed, and don’t be concerned if your baby sometimes doesn’t want the ‘second’ side. Respond to your baby’s cues and do not schedule the feeds as it can reduce your body’s ability to make sufficient milk, and also distress your baby.


8.Baby refuses your breast


If your baby is very sleepy and doesn’t seem interested in breastfeeding, it could be the after-effects of birth or pain relief used during labour which might be affecting his responses. When breastfeeding, keep your baby close to you, so you can respond to every little feeding cue quickly. Gentle holding and cuddling, skin-to-skin as much as you can, is helpful. You can also try using a spoon, cup or bottle to give breast milk.


9.Mastitis


Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts marked by flu-like symptoms such as fever and pain in your breasts. It’s common within the first few weeks after birth and is caused by cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement. The proper way to treat the infection is with antibiotics, hot compresses, and most importantly, frequent emptying. Use hands-on pumping, making sure the red firm areas of the breast and the periphery are softened. It’s safe and actually recommended that you continue breastfeeding when you have mastitis.


10.Thrush


Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can also spread to your breasts. It causes incessant itchiness, soreness, and sometimes a rash. Your doctor will prescribe you antifungal medication to put on your nipple and in baby’s mouth. It is important that you and your baby, both are treated at the same time because you can give each other the fungi and prolong the healing.


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