For women who wish to breastfeed and are able, breastfeeding can be one of the most wonderful experiences a mom can have. But as natural as breastfeeding is, it does not always come easily to a new mom or baby. Getting help is important to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat.
Here are the top five most common problems mothers face when providing breast milk for their babies and some suggestions to help.
The first few days postpartum can be uncomfortable as well as joyous. Engorgement — painful swelling of the breasts — happens to most women when their milk “comes in” three to five days after birth. It usually lasts for a day or two and then subsides. Here are some ways to get relief:
It is normal for milk output to be low during the first few days, even though breasts feel so full. Milk production should increase in a couple of days. If you at any time feel flu-like symptoms, call your physician. Continuing to nurse or pump milk is fine.
Often, a mother’s main concern is whether her baby is getting enough milk. Here are some indications your baby is eating enough:
If you do not pump or nurse at night, or if you offer bottles and don’t pump at that time to keep up your supply, you may make less milk. Women who have had breast reductions or women with polycystic ovary syndrome may also have a lower milk supply. As a rule, the more you pump or breastfeed, the more milk you will make.
Breastfeeding should not be painful. Pain with breastfeeding may mean baby is not latching properly. The baby’s mouth should be covering the areola (the brown skin around your nipple), not just latched on the nipple. Your baby needs to pull on the ducts behind the nipple to release milk, and needs a wide open mouth to get a deep latch. Always bring the baby to the breast, do not put your nipple in the baby’s mouth.
Other causes of sore nipples may be:
Lactating breasts may be uncomfortable initially, but if pain persists or comes back after the engorgement phase, there may be a problem.
Navigating the internet for accurate and helpful information on breastfeeding and pumping breastmilk can be overwhelming. Between blogs, corporate promotions and social media it can be hard to find quality sources for the information you need. We recommend these reliable websites for accurate and research-based information.
Be wary of blogs or social media posts that may be based on personal opinion or folklore. When in doubt, check with an internationally board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) or your pediatrician for up-to-date, evidence-based information.
Enjoy your breastfeeding experience and congratulations on providing the best nutrition for your infant and growing child! If you have concerns about how your baby is feeding or are worried about your milk supply, talk to your pediatrician.