It is 2 am in the morning, and your baby wakes up hungry. You scramble in the dark for a bottle and some formula. Then you stopped to remember; your breasts got this.
It is alluring to see how convenient breastfeeding is, you would think it is so easy. However, when you hold a fussy baby and try your tenth attempt at a proper latch, the situation gets overwhelming fast. Breastfeeding is not easy to copy by merely looking at other nursing women and reading breastfeeding books. Breastfeeding problems are so common among nursing women that a surprising number of new moms can do nothing but stop breastfeeding.
Some moms are lucky to have their milk flowing even during pregnancy. Once the baby arrives, the hungry little one latches on quickly as if she practiced how to suck for nine months. Some breastfeeding journeys consist of latching problems, painful breastfeeding, and (gasp) losing your milk. Read on for tips on how to make breastfeeding a joyful experience for you and your baby.
Common Breastfeeding Problems
Breastfeeding is a journey that requires patience. Your determination can only win half the battle. As natural as it may seem, breastfeeding can be an actual learning curve for many.
Studies show that one or more breastfeeding concerns are common among nursing moms, half of whom eventually succumb to formula feeding and stop breastfeeding altogether. Here are some of the reasons why a new mom will cease from exclusive breastfeeding in the first few weeks:
A good latch is like singing the right chord from the beginning. You need to get the correct latch on both breasts every few hours, and that is where the learning curve happens. The nurses at the hospital can guide your baby to the right latch, but things can get out of hand at home on your own. Latching problems can lead to the following:
Your breasts need to toughen up, and those milk ducts need to open and start flowing with milk. As feeding signals milk production, you can feel discomfort from the fullness of your breasts. If you feel pain around the nipples, it could hurt under your clothes, in the shower, and more so when you are feeding. Feeding through the pain is not only tricky, but it can also be unsafe as in the case of a breast infection.
Some moms complain about having too much milk while others stress about not having enough. Oversupply can be temporary, but it can also lead to other concerns such as leaking breasts, plugged ducts, and mastitis. A lack of supply, however, can stop milk production and lead to discouragement and a dehydrated baby
Too Much Milk- A fast flow can cause your baby to choke, spit up, and become gassy. Engorged breasts can also cause flat nipples making it challenging to secure a good latch. Expressing milk with your hands before feeding can help regulate the flow your baby receives. In severe cases, you can revert milk production by feeding on only one breast every four hours to signal the other breast to make less milk.
Delayed or Not Enough Milk- Delays can happen after the birth of a premature or high-risk baby. It can take a week or two for milk to come in for these women. Factors that contribute to delayed milk production include:
Cracks in the nipples due to poor sucking can cause a breeding ground for germs. Although the breasts secrete a natural oil that kills bacteria, wounds open the doors for bacteria to enter the bloodstream fast. Common breastfeeding infections include mastitis (inflammation or swollen breasts) and thrush (a yeast infection that can also appear on the baby’s mouth or bottoms).
Babies often feed 15 to 20 minutes on every breast, but drowsy babies can get distracted during feeding and sleep on the breast. Frequency in between feeds can last in between an hour to three hours, so if you breastfeed on-demand, it can get tiring. Also, once your infant starts teething, he can get into the habit of biting when feeding.
Despite troubles in breastfeeding, many women are still determined to make it work. UNICEF and the World Health Organization recommends nursing for two years and up to three years while the AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding until your infant is six months old. Regardless of how short or long you want to breastfeed your baby, here are several reasons why you would want to breastfeed:
5 Safety Tips for Mum and Baby
The mom and her baby should mutually enjoy breastfeeding. Several people and tools are useful to help both mom and baby in their breastfeeding journey. You may also have concerns over breastfeeding when sick, pregnant, or taking medication. Read on for some tips to keep breastfeeding safe and enjoyable for mom and baby.
TIP #1: GET HELP
When breastfeeding becomes a challenge, new moms can get support from family, friends, health professionals, and the government. A supportive community ensures the well-being of both the mother and the baby when breastfeeding. Here are ways to get help:
TIP #2: BE PREPARED
As a general guideline, newborns should feed 8 to 12 times a day in the first month. By three to six months, your baby can store more breast milk and stay full for 3 to 4 hours until the next feeding session. A breastfeeding session can take 40 to 90 minutes as your baby can fall asleep while feeding. During periods of growth spurts, your baby will want to breastfeed more frequently so your breasts will make more milk to meet the demand.
The simplest breastfeeding session will require nothing more than your baby and your breast. However, you may find some supplies are necessary to make breastfeeding more comfortable. Breastfeeding while you’re away from home and pumping during feeding time also requires a few supplies.
What You Need:
TIP #3: CONSULT BEFORE YOU MEDICATE
Over-the-counter drugs, antibiotics, some sleeping aids, and diabetes medication are generally okay for breastfeeding moms. Whatever medication you need to take, it is best to consult your doctor. She can prescribe the right drug and dosage for your health needs as well as monitor your intake and your baby’s health during your medication. Below are some general guidelines:
TIP #4: BREASTFEED WHEN SICK
TIP #5 BE CAUTIOUS WHEN PREGNANT AND BREASTFEEDING
If you get pregnant before your baby starts weaning, breastfeeding is safe to continue in most cases. However, you may be advised to start weaning your baby if you had a high-risk pregnancy, multiple child pregnancy, experience bleeding or uterine pain and advised to avoid sex during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding while pregnant can also cause sore nipples, nausea, and fatigue. Your infant may also commence weaning in the second trimester of pregnancy when your milk changes its taste.
How to breastfeed successfully?
Some moms and babies don’t need much guidance to start their breastfeeding journey, but others can get all the help they can. Some nursing moms rely on the advice of lactation experts to teach correct latching, breastfeeding positions and sucking.
Other moms find relief in nursing shields, nipple inverters, breast therapy packs, and other tools to correct poor sucking methods. New moms and those who want to prolong breastfeeding will also find lactation treats and drinks beneficial for milk production.
How long does the average mom breastfeed?
Health experts recommend breastfeeding in the first year, two, or up to three years of life. At a minimum the recommended duration is the first six months of life. On average, moms stop breastfeeding when the child is 2.5 years old.
Many moms stop breastfeeding before six months. Others give up on their best efforts after three months of breastfeeding torment, and still, some moms start weaning when their baby starts eating solids food.
There are also moms and babies who enjoy toddler and preschool breastfeeding before the child uses other ways to self-soothe. The nutritional value of breast milk remains even in prolonged breastfeeding.