Overcome these 6 breastfeeding challenges

Overcome these 6 breastfeeding challenges

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. If you’re dealing with challenges, it’s important to know you’re not alone.

“Most new mothers experience some challenge with breastfeeding, typically within the first week of baby’s life,” says Marla Warnke, a nurse and lactation consultant in the Aurora Sinai Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Milwaukee, Wis. “Many of the issues can be easily solved, but don’t be afraid to reach out to your lactation consultant, nurse or pediatrician for advice. We are here to help.”

Warnke was recently named Nurse of the Year at Aurora Sinai for her work in the NICU and her leadership in the hospital. She offers some tips to help with some of the more common problems new mothers often have with breastfeeding.

Baby is not latching properly: Baby is correctly latched onto the nipple if the chin touches the lower part of the breast and the nose is clear. If your baby is not latching onto the nipple correctly, try going skin to skin with your baby. Remove your clothes from the waist up and get baby down to just a diaper and lay the baby on your chest in a semi-reclining position. It’s a skill that mom and baby need to learn together.

Not producing enough breast milk: When you first start breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is getting enough. If there are wet and dirty diapers, that’s a pretty good indication, as is being able to hear your baby swallow during feeding. If you are still concerned, be sure to offer the baby both breasts during a feeding and alternate what side you start on to help stimulate production.

Your breasts are engorged: It can take some time for your milk supply to match up with your baby’s needs, which sometimes can leave you with breasts that are too full of milk and feel tight and painful. You can express a little milk by hand or pump to relieve the pain. Don’t fully empty the breast, because that will stimulate more production. You also can apply cold compresses to your breasts to help with the pain.

Nipples are sore and cracked: Sore nipples are most common early on, before you and the baby get the hang of latching and positioning. Reach out to your doctor, lactation consultant or midwife early before your nipples get too sore and crack. If your nipples are cracked, try dabbing a little expressed breast milk on them after feeding.

Pain in both breasts after a feeding: That could be thrush, an infection that can happen when the mother has cracked or damaged nipples. The candida fungus that causes thrush can get into your nipple. If you begin to feel pain in both nipples or breasts after feeds, especially if you previously were not having pain, you may have thrush. Signs of thrush in a breastfeeding infant include creamy white spots on his or her tongue, gums or insides of the cheeks. If you suspect you or your baby have thrush, see your doctor.

Tender spot in your breast: That could be a blocked milk duct, which could happen if breast engorgement isn’t relieved, or for any number of other reasons. The goal is to un-block the milk duct. Position your baby so the chin points toward the tender area while nursing. You can also massage that area while the baby nurses and apply heat between feedings. If you can’t relieve the pain, it may turn into mastitis, an inflammation of the breast. See your doctor if that happens.

Your provider, lactation consultant or midwife can be of service during this time. If you have questions or concerns, contact them.

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Heather Collier

Heather Collier works in Advocate Aurora Health’s public affairs and marketing department. She is based in Milwaukee.