What to do IMMEDIATELY if you have trouble Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is unlike any experience in the world.  And, until you’ve done it, nothing can truly prepare you for it.  Every mother-and-child’s breastfeeding relationship and circumstances are unique.  While it can be a joyous time of bonding and nourishment, there may also be some bumps in the road.

There are several common challenges new moms face during breastfeeding and moms, especially first-time moms, often don’t know what to do.  Because milk supply is dependant on repetitive stimulation, addressing breastfeeding issues quickly is vital.  Today we’re sharing what to do immediately if you have trouble breastfeeding.

What to do IMMEDIATELY if you have trouble BreastfeedingThe first two tips in navigating breastfeeding problems can help in every situation.  The first is to remember your commitment to breastfeeding.  If you have set a goal to exclusively or partially breastfeed your baby, do not let challenges deter you for achieving this goal. Once you give up, it is almost impossible to get your breast milk back.  Working through breastfeeding issues will take effort, but if you remain calm and level-headed and keep your eye on the prize, you will persevere.

The second piece of advice is to seek help early.  Lactation consultants are generally the best resource for assistance with breastfeeding issues, however if the problem is related to an infection in you or your baby, you may need to call your OBGYN or pediatrician.  Lactation consultants can help with anything from latching and positioning, to milk supply and pumping.  If you’re not sure where to find one, call your OB or the hospital where you gave birth.

Low Milk Supply

Many new moms worry that their babies are not getting enough breast milk.  The best indicators of whether your baby is being nourished are weight gain and wet and dirty diapers.  If your baby is consistently gaining weight and soiling diapers, she’s eating well.  Increasing your milk supply should happen naturally and gradually as your baby progresses.  The best way to encourage more milk production is stimulation from your baby.  Feed your baby often and let her nurse as long as she wants, letting her drain one breast completely before proceeding to the next.  By draining the breast, your body will trigger a response to produce more milk, plus your baby is getting foremilk and hindmilk, which both offer great nutrition for her developing body.  This continual process leads to increased supply.  You can also pump your breasts to drain them for the same effect.

Oversupply of Milk

When new moms have an oversupply of milk, it can cause problems including choking the baby, engorgement and infections.  If the breast is very full and hard before a feeding, you may want to express some of the milk before the feeding to ensure your baby can latch and your let down does not choke your baby.  Prolonged oversupply can lead to painful engorgement or infections such as mastitis.  Letting your baby drain your breasts or pumping will help relieve engorgement and mastitis. It may be painful but releasing the pressure and keeping milk flowing freely is the best solution.  To reduce your own pain between feedings, try massaging the breast, using warm or cool compresses, drinking lots of fluids and wearing a supportive and comfortable nursing bra.  Both problems can cause fever so be sure to take it easy while your body fights the illness.

Sore Nipples

Sore nipples can be another cause of major pain for new moms.  This problem can quickly derail a mom’s breastfeeding intentions.  Usually sore nipples are caused by poor latch so work to ensure your baby is latching properly.  You can guide the latch by placing one clean finger in your baby’s mouth and helping her envelop your breast.  Nipples should be rounded and erect during feeding times.  Try repositioning your baby during each feeding so she will latch in different spots and not irritate the same areas over and over.  After breastfeeding, rub breast milk on your nipples to help them heal.  Speak to your doctor before using gels, creams and pads to heal nipples as they can sometimes cause further irritation or be harmful to your baby.  Also, change or wash your nursing pads often and wear loose, breathable nursing bras that won’t cause further pain.

Nursing Strike

If your baby refuses to eat, the nursing strike may be due to an underlying issue.  Rarely will babies suddenly wean, especially not before six months of age.  Examine your baby to see what the problem may be – a stuffy nose, a skin rash, clothes that are too tight.  If you can’t figure it out or if your baby is running a fever, take your baby to the pediatrician.  Often the issue is not apparent, such as an ear infection.  Also, your baby may be responding to something else entirely.  If there are many distractions during nursing, your baby may simply be more interested in something else.  Or if there is a stressful situation in your home or you overreacted to a previous breastfeeding frustration, she may fear a similar response from future breastfeeding.  Try to make breastfeeding a tender, loving and distraction-free time for you and your baby.

Acting immediately if you have trouble breastfeeding is key to solving the problem and continuing your breastfeeding journey.  Remember, every breastfeeding challenge has a solution so hang in there and you will reach your goals!