Breastfeeding problems and solutions
Although breastfeeding is best for your child, problems like sore nipples and difficulty with your breast milk supply can make it a bit of a challenge. The good news is that with a little help and practice these can all be overcome, so speak to your doctor or a specialist breast-feeding consultant for guidance.
Breastfeeding problems and solutions
SORE, CRACKED OR BLEEDING NIPPLES
Sore, cracked or bleeding nipples are usually a sign that your child is not latched on properly or positioned incorrectly, or you could be using a breast pump incorrectly. Your doctor can help with your breastfeeding technique.
In the meantime:
- Feed as often as you can to drain the excess breast milk.
- Make sure your child is latching onto your breast correctly.
- Try using a breast pump to drain your breasts fully after a feed and ask your doctor for a safe pain reliever. Gently massaging your breasts and applying warm flannels can help too.
Thrush is a fungal infection that children often get on their genitals and in their mouths. It can also spread to your breasts during feeding. If your child has thrush you’ll notice white spots in their mouth and on your breasts. The spots may be flaky and itchy and your breasts might feel sore.
Two to three days after you give birth, your breasts may become full, tender and lumpy, with flattened nipples. The swelling may even spread to your underarms and you might get a small fever. This happens when your breast milk ‘comes in’. It can be painful, but it’s quite harmless and usually goes away quickly.
To soothe the symptoms, express some breast milk before you feed, using a pump or your hands. And use warm flannels, baths and showers to help soothe and relax your breasts between feeds.
Your breasts may leak if they are too full of milk, or your ‘let down reflex’ is triggered. Usually your breasts only release milk when your child suckles, but sometimes just hearing a child cry can trigger your breasts to ‘let down’ their milk!
The more regularly you feed, the less likely your breasts are to leak. Most mums wear breast pads inside their bras in case of any leaks. You’ll probably find that the problem disappears almost completely after about seven to ten weeks of breast-feeding.
TOO MUCH BREAST MILK
Producing too much breast milk is common in the first few days. Initially your body produces lots of milk to allow for a high volume of feeding, this settles down once your child is feeding well and should regulate itself. If your child isn’t latching on properly then this regulation doesn’t happen and you may find that you continue to produce extra breast milk, especially as they’ll need to feed more often. So make sure your child is latched on properly. Too much breast milk can also be down to an overactive let down reflex or an imbalance between the amount of foremilk and hind milk you’re producing.
If you’re still producing too much breast milk after your child’s pattern has settled, you can express some and store it for later. Be sure not to express too much or in-between feeds though, as this will cause your body to produce more breast milk to fill the extra demand.
Some mums can produce a strong spray of milk either as a side effect of producing too much or as a problem on its own. This can be off-putting for your child and can cause some children to refuse the breast.
If this happens, it helps if you can express some excess milk before you let your child feed. Or you can try letting them suckle to bring the milk down, and then capture the initial spray in a towel. When the flow has calmed a little let your child latch on again.
If your child is refusing your breast, it’s usually their way of telling you there’s something wrong. It might just be teething pain, or difficulty breathing from a cold.
If your child has gone on breast strike, try feeding them when they’re very sleepy, and keep the room quiet and distraction-free. You could also try different feeding positions, or even try feeding on the move as the rocking motion can be comforting to your child.
It’s also a good idea to see your doctor to make sure there’s nothing wrong, such as an ear-infection or thrush.
FEEDING FROM ONE BREAST ONLY
Sometimes children develop a preference for one breast. It won’t harm them, but you want to give both your breasts the chance to produce equal amounts of breast milk.
If your child’s being choosy, try feeding them on the breast they don’t favour in the same position as the one they do. So if you’re cradling your child on your left breast, just move them across to the right one, instead of turning them around. You’ll find it more comfy if you put a pillow under your supporting arm.
A biting baby is not much fun! If your baby is teething, let them have a good chew on a cold teething toy to get it out of their system and numb their gums. And if they do bite, draw them close. This makes it difficult for your child to breathe through their nose, forcing them to open their mouth and let go!
If your child is biting because they think making mum yell is a great game, be firm, say ‘no!’ and put them on the floor for a minute.