Breastfeeding Difficulties? Follow These Useful Tips
Breastfeeding is a beautiful time for you to bond with your baby…
…but it isn’t always easy.
It is not unusual to be frustrated and confused the first few times you try to feed your baby. It may surprise you to learn that, a few days after birth, more than half of mothers report some kind of breastfeeding difficulties.
How Do I Overcome Breastfeeding Difficulties?
Whether you’re dealing with sore nipples, breast engorgement or baby is having difficulty latching on, there are several challenges you face during the postpartum period, and breastfeeding is one of them. The key to overcoming these breastfeeding difficulties is to work closely with us and the other members of your health care team to ensure your success. You’ll find that you’ll likely experience breastfeeding difficulties in the first week.
Breastfeeding classes can also help prepare you for what you may face as you begin breastfeeding.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common breastfeeding difficulties in the first week and solutions to help you.
Breastfeeding Difficulties in First Week
Most women face some type of breastfeeding difficulties in the first week after having a baby. We’ve listed a few of them below, and then we’ll go into greater detail on how to overcome them:
- Painful breastfeeding, usually due to cracked or sore nipples
- Milk supply issues
- Nipple confusion
- Infant has difficulty latching on
- Breast engorgement
How to Overcome Breastfeeding Challenges
Tips for Alleviating Sore Nipples
It’s not unusual to have tender and sore breasts in the first weeks that you start breastfeeding. Working with a lactation support person can go a long way to help ensure that your baby has a proper “latch,” which will help reduce nipple soreness.
Sometimes, something as simple as making sure you have your baby in the best position for feeding can make a difference.
Are your nipples sore because your baby is chewing on them when they start teething? Simply give the baby a cold, clean, wet washcloth to chew on just a few minutes before beginning a breastfeeding session. Be sure to offer your baby another washcloth before moving on to the other breast.
You may want to feed your baby before they become overly-hungry, because this may cause them to suck more aggressively at your breast.
Assessing Milk Supply
Other breastfeeding difficulties center around milk supply. The best gauge as to whether or not your baby is getting enough milk is to keep a careful watch over their behavior and weight. If your baby’s urine is clear or pale yellow, your baby is having enough bowel movements and your baby is content after feedings, then he or she is probably getting what they need.
Remember that your baby will typically gain up to an ounce of weight each day from birth until they are three months old. Your pediatrician will work with you to track your baby’s progress.
In in the meantime, to ensure your child is getting enough milk:
- Make sure baby is latched on
- Let your baby determine when to stop the feeding
- Offer both breasts to the baby at each feeding
- Breastfeed often
- Don’t give your baby formula or cereal in the first six months unless advised to by your pediatrician because this may cause them to lose an interest in your own breast milk.
We do not recommend using pacifiers or bottles the first few weeks after your baby is born unless there is some compelling medical reason to do so. Your lactation consultant is your best resource of information, and she can show you how you and your baby can continue to breastfeed even if you need to use these supplements.
Baby Isn’t “Latching On” Properly
Sometimes trying a different position can help your baby latch on successfully. This is where we highly recommend working closely with a lactation consultant.
When your breasts become hard and painful, it becomes difficult to feed your baby. While it’s normal to have your breasts feel fuller, heavier and more tender than usual, sometimes this can cause the milk to build up, resulting in breast engorgement.
Fortunately, there are some solutions that can help with breast engorgement. We suggest:
- Working with a lactation consultant—sometimes helping improve baby’s latch can make a big difference
- Allowing your baby to feed as often as he or she likes
- Feeding more often on the engorged side
- Hand expressing some milk to soften the breast before feeding
- Using a cold compress on your breast to ease pain
- Wearing the right type of bra—one that is both comfortable and able to provide support.
You can read more about how to solve other common challenges through the U.S. Office on Women’s Health breastfeeding information pages.
How Do You Know When Breastfeeding is Not Working?
But how do you know if your baby is getting what they need? Are there clues to know if and when your breastfeeding is not working?
We’ve outlined some indicators that your baby’s not getting what they need:
- Nursing sessions that are very short or very long.
- Your baby is not gaining the proper amount of weight—mainly gaining 5 to 7 ounces a week since your milk came in. If your baby is under their birth weight, talk to your pediatrician and enlist help from a lactation consultant.
- Your baby still seems hungry after feeding.
- Your milk hasn’t “come in” after five days—especially if your breasts don’t feel “full.”
- You have breast engorgement, which can keep your baby from latching on.
- You have pain that prevents you from breastfeeding—this could be a sign of a nipple or breast infection.
If any of these conditions apply to you, get in touch with your lactation consultant immediately and take your baby to their pediatrician. It’s vital to ensure your baby gains the proper amount of weight and gets the nourishment needed to thrive.
Associates in Women’s Healthcare Provides Postpartum Support for Triangle Mothers
We sometimes refer to the postpartum time as the “fourth trimester.” That’s why we suggest that you undergo a comprehensive visit with us four to six weeks after delivery. We know that there are several physical, social and psychological changes that you’re facing, and we want to be partners in your care to help you face these challenges.
We also understand that it is very common to undergo breastfeeding difficulties during this time.
Interested in learning more about breastfeeding classes, postpartum health and caring for your newborn? We are women providing care for women, and our experienced and compassionate health care team is ready to serve you. See why we’ve been the provider of choice for women in Raleigh and the surrounding areas.
Scheduling an appointment online is quick and easy.