Tips to Overcome Breastfeeding Challenges
One of the greatest wonders of motherhood is giving our baby the nutrition and immunity they need to grow strong and healthy. While breastfeeding is fulfilling, it comes with many challenges.
Do you feel like giving up on breastfeeding, especially when you feel the fatigue, discomfort, and pain?
Your feelings are valid and expected, and we would like to urge you to continue your breastfeeding journey.
You can read back our article on Why Should You Breastfeed to encourage you and remind you of the numerous benefits you and your baby can get from breastfeeding. Here are also some tips you can follow to help you overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.
Common Breastfeeding Challenges and Breastfeeding Tips to Overcome It
1. Low Milk Supply
When your infant is fussy or wants to nurse all time, you are probably wondering why your baby is always hungry. You begin to suspect that your baby is not getting enough breastmilk that he/she needs. Before you start worrying or get frustrated, you can consult with your pediatrician and check your baby’s weight gain. If your baby is putting on the expected weight, then you have nothing to be concerned about. Otherwise, you need to boost your milk supply.
Here are tips to give you an idea of how to increase your breastmilk supply.
· Check your baby’s latch.
Your baby may not be able to get milk if he/she is not latched on to your breast correctly. You may consult with a lactation consultant or your kraamverzorgster about your baby’s latch.
When you are carrying your infant, ensure that your baby’s head, neck, and spine are aligned. You may gently squeeze your breast to resemble the shape of your infant’s mouth. Hold your baby close to you and within your nipple level, and then encourage your child to open his/her mouth wide.
Remember that your baby’s latch is correct if it feels like a gentle tugging and still feels comfortable. Your infant’s chin and the tip of his/her nose are touching your breast. Once you get the latch right, your baby will be able to suck and drink milk better.
· Make time for skin-to-skin contact.
Skin-to-skin-contact with your baby has numerous benefits. It can help your baby maintain body temperature, absorb nutrients better, have a stable heartbeat, and it may help you to increase your milk supply. Being in close contact with your baby stimulates the production of prolactin and oxytocin, which both help your body produce and release breastmilk.
· Check your bra.
Underwear that is ill-fitting and tight may hinder milk production. Get yourself a nursing bra that is wire-free, seam-free, and supportive.
· Try to feed often.
Your body produces milk based on demand. If you frequently breastfeed your baby, your body understands that it needs to supply milk on a regular schedule.
You may also try using a manual or electric pump after nursing to stimulate more milk production.
· Do not skip the night feedings.
You must first establish your milk supply and wait until your baby is six months old before you start night weaning.
· Refrain or Completely avoid giving a pacifier to your baby.
Pacifiers can help babies to self-soothe, but it also gives rise to some challenges such as difficulty in latching and not feeding as frequently as needed. As mentioned earlier, your milk supply will decrease if you have a long gap in between feedings.
· Relax and try not to let the pressure and stress get to you.
Motherhood can be tiring and stressful but try to relax because stress can decrease your breast supply. You can turn to activities that promote relaxation, mindfulness, and happiness.
· Eat galactagogues or food to increase breastmilk supply.
Galactagogues are food that can help boost your breastmilk supply. You may consult with your doctor or lactation consultant before modifying your diet. Examples of galactagogues are oatmeal, fenugreek, fennel seeds, moringa leaves, and garlic.
2. Breast Engorgement
Your breasts become engorge and painful when it has an oversupply of milk. Excess happens when your breast produces more milk than your baby drinks. Your breast may feel firm and swollen, and it makes it hard for your baby to suck milk. This condition is typically temporary and can be relieved when the breast releases the milk.
· Ensure to nurse your child often as possible because long feeding gaps can result in breast engorgement.
· Do not forget to let your baby feed on both breasts.
· Check your baby’s latch is correct.
· Massage your breast during feeding to help drain the milk.
· If your breast still feels full after feeding, express your milk manually or using an electric breast pump.
· Apply a warm compress over your breast to relieve the pain and help with the milk flow.
· Wear comfortable and wireless undergarments.
· If the pain is no longer bearable, consult your doctor. You may need to take medicine to treat the inflammation.
3. Dry, Chapped, or Cracked Nipples
Breastfeeding moms often suffer cracked nipples, resulting from trauma from an incorrect latch or wrong nursing position.
· Please work with your lactation consultant to determine the cause of your dry, chapped, or cracked nipples and address it as necessary.
· Use a gentle cleanser to clean your chest area.
· Shower one to two times a day to prevent dryness.
· Pat your breasts dry with a soft washcloth after feeding.
· Let your breast breathe out from time to time
· Use lanolin cream to soothe your nipples.
4. Oversupply of breastmilk
While some moms suffer from low milk supply, some moms have an overabundance of breastmilk. It may sound like a good thing, but it is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Also, having oversupply increases the chance of Mastitis, a breast inflammation.
· If you experience leaking breasts during the first six weeks, don’t worry. It is normal. Use nursing pads, especially if you are out of the house, to avoid leak accidents.
· Try to feed in a reclined position to give your baby more control during feeding.
· Massage your breasts to relieve the pain in your breasts.
· Avoid lactation treats and supplements. If you are still taking galactagogues, stop taking them.
· Consult your lactation consultant about block feeding to help control your milk supply.
5. Plugged Ducts and Mastitis
If you feel hard lumps in your breast, you may have clogged or plugged milk ducts. It usually happens when your breasts are not fully emptied during nursing. You may experience fullness, pain, and discomfort when you have clogged ducts. While it may be relieved after feeding, it may progress to an inflammation. If it worsens and you have Mastitis, you may have a fever, flu-like symptoms, burning sensation during feeding, swollen and red breasts.
· Breastfeed as often as possible.
· Switch the breastfeeding position and check if it will improve your baby’s latch and feeding.
· Massage your breast and put a warm compress over it.
· Consult your doctor or lactation consultant if you need to take medication to treat the inflammation.
If you have tried our tips, but you are still having difficulties with breastfeeding your baby, do not hesitate to ask for support from family members, friends, and other support groups in your community. You can also seek guidance from your lactation consultant or doctor. You may need more help to identify the real underlying cause of your challenges.
If you are a breastfeeding mom who would like to give inspiration and practical tips to your fellow moms, feel free to write your experience.
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