Every mum should enjoy their baby’s first days, weeks and months, but if you suffer from one of the common breastfeeding problems, it can be difficult to take any enjoyment at all. The good news is that most breastfeeding problems have a very simple solution – from changing breastfeeding position to changing their feeding routine. Here are a few common problems to look out for:
If you suffer from cracked – or just sore – nipples, the worst thing you can do is just put up with the pain. Pain is not normal and, if it persists, you should consult help from your doctor.
In the meantime, you may want to try a different breastfeeding position. Often, sore and cracked nipples are a symptom of baby not latching on properly and a change of position could be the answer. You may also want to consider the following:
- When you have finished feeding, rub a drop or two of milk on to your sore nipples.
- Change your Breast Pads after every feed.
- Treat cracks with white soft paraffin or purified lanolin.
- Avoid using soap as it can cause dry skin and irritation.
- Make sure your bras are the right size and comfortable – cotton bras are recommended.
Blocked Ducts and Mastitis
If you suffer from a blocked duct, or even mastitis, it is often tempting to stop breastfeeding altogether. This is not the correct approach and will actually serve to make your symptoms worse. If you suspect you have a blocked duct, you must keep breastfeeding as most symptoms are caused by nothing more than an oversupply of milk built up in the breast. Consider the following:
- Check if your baby is latched on well. If not, try a different feeding position or seek help from a professional.
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting bras. Tight fitting bras will only serve to add to your discomfort.
- Feed your baby more often and maintain a regular feeding routine. Missing a feed can cause an oversupply of milk in your breast and soreness.
- Let baby feed on the tender breast first.
- Stroke the tender or lumpy area while breastfeeding to help the milk to flow.
- Express milk using an Electric Breast Pump or a Manual Breast Pump.
- Painkillers such as ibuprofen are acceptable.
Of course, mastitis can also be caused by an infection. If you suffer from the following symptoms with no sign of improvement when you have tried the above methods, contact your doctor.
- Breasts that are hot and tender to touch.
- Painful, red skin patches on your breasts.
- General feeling of being unwell – achy, tired, tearful.
- High temperature.
Thrush is more common than many realise and can be very easily transmitted from baby to mum and vice versa. If you suddenly suffer from sore nipples despite having been feeding without problems for a while, you should contact your doctor as thrush will require treatment. A number of anti-fungal creams are also available over the counter. Ask your pharmacist for more help. Thrush is not harmful to your baby in any way and you should continue to breast feed.
Tongue tie is a birth defect that effects between 5 and 10 per cent of newborns whereby the piece of skin that attaches the tongue to the base of the mouth is too short. This restricts baby’ ability to feed properly. Often, this problem resolves itself, with the skin breaking on its own or after minimal contact. Sometimes however, the problem requires surgery. It is better to have tongue tie treated sooner rather than later. The earlier it is corrected, the less traumatic it is. It is an extremely quick and straight forward procedure.
If you are experiencing breastfeeding problems that you believe are related to tongue tie, consult your midwife or doctor for more advice and guidance.