Breastfeeding, scientifically, is the best way for your baby to be fed. However, even if it’s a natural process, it doesn’t work out sometimes for plenty of moms. And even if it does, it’s not always easy!
But as doulas, we don’t want you beating yourself up over this or thinking that you’re a bad mom if you don’t succeed in breastfeeding immediately. Below are some usual challenges you may face when it comes to breastfeeding and how to solve them.
Whether you’re a new mom, or a soon-to-be-mom, take heart – there are solutions to these problems!
Let’s get to it, shall we?
1. You have a low milk supply.
One of the many concerns you may have as a breastfeeding mom is that you feel that your milk supply is not enough. Well, according to the Mayo Clinic, insufficient breast milk production is actually pretty rare. And you’d be happy to know that you make more than one-third of breastmilk than your baby usually drinks!
However, your breasts must be stimulated plenty of times the first few times you start breastfeeding so that your milk production is boosted.
Here are some ways to ensure you make more milk:
- Breastfeed as soon as possible, as waiting too long to start may contribute to a low milk supply. As soon as you make skin-to-skin contact, start breastfeeding.
- Breastfeed often. Feed your child every two to three hours, and don’t skip thinking that your baby might overeat. Your baby will know when to stop feeding.
- Don’t just breastfeed from one breast. If you only let your baby feed from one breast, your milk supply may get low.
- If you miss a breastfeeding session, pump your breasts to protect your milk supply. Hand expression is one of the best ways to get an increased milk production.
- Avoid giving your baby bottles or pacifiers.
- Some medications have the unfortunate side effect of decreasing your milk supply, so make sure to consult with your doctor which ones these are. Avoid them for now if possible.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking – these can also decrease your milk production.
- Eat lactation cookies. Not only are they yummy, they also have the benefit of increasing your milk supply.
If you do feel that your milk supply is low (i.e. your baby is still hungry even after breastfeeding and you no longer have milk), look for a lactation consultant to help your milk production.
2. Your breasts get engorged.
Engorgement is when your breasts swell up, get tight, and get bigger. While it’s normal for your breasts to increase in size and get tender when they have milk, engorgement may lead to breast infection or other negative conditions. That’s why it’s important to prevent this from happening.
For relief, you can do these:
- Apply a warm compress to your breasts and massage them before feeding. Do this every two to three hours.
- Apply ice after feedings to decrease the possibility of inflammation and for relief.
- Don’t apply either warm or cold compress directly to your nipples, though.
3. Your nipples get sore.
Sore nipples is really a possibility. After all, your baby will be sucking on them many times a day. And once your baby starts to grow teeth?
You’re likely to be screaming “Ouch!” plenty of times in a day.
However, there are still ways to avoid this, such as:
- Find a proper position when breastfeeding. Your baby will be less likely to bite down or cause discomfort to your nipples if it can drink your breast milk properly.
- Make sure the baby is latched properly. If your nipple and half of your areola is completely in your baby’s mouth, that’s the correct latch. If the baby doesn’t latch properly, you might end up with sore or even cracked nipples. And if they’re not latched properly, don’t just let them keep drinking. Break contact first then try again.
- Speaking of positions, change position each time you feed. Sometimes, like down. Sometimes, feed while standing up. That way, pressure is changed each time you feed, which also means less pain.
- Do not wear bras or clothes that are too tight and might place unnecessary pressure on your nipples.
- Do not use ointments or harsh soaps on your nipples.
- Let your nipples air dry to help them heal and stay healthy.
4. You have inverted nipples.
Nipples usually protrude, but you may be one of the women who have inverted nipples. That’s not a problem, but sometimes, it can be hard to breastfeed.
However, you can still succeed with breastfeeding. While it may take some time, and your baby will need a lot of patience, they will eventually be able to suck on your nipples.
Breastfeeding, in fact, can be the “treatment” for your inverted nipples. You see, the repeated act of your baby sucking may allow the nipple to eventually protrude.
Of course, if your baby is still having a hard time feeding, it is best to again consult a lactation expert.
5. Your baby is tongue-tied.
Some babies are born tongue-tied, meaning the tongue’s range of motion is restricted. If your baby is affected with this condition, it may have a hard time breastfeeding. This will result in latching problems, sore nipples, a cranky baby, and one tired you.
Not to worry though: it can be treated as soon as it has been diagnosed. The best way to find out if your baby is indeed tongue-tied is if you take your baby to the pediatrician. They have ways to take care of this particular problem so your baby can feed better.
6. Your baby is gassy or fussy after breastfeeding.
You may notice that your baby is gassy or extra fussy after feedings. That means they’re likely swallowing or gulping a lot of air while breastfeeding, and that means they may not be properly latched. They can become uncomfortable as a result, and give you less rest.
Here’s what you can do to reduce the feeling of gassiness:
- Burp your baby well at the end of each feeding.
- Avoid overfeeding or feeding them too quickly.
- Check your feeding position. Your baby’s head should be higher than their stomach.
- Give them tummy time to force air out.
Still, need help when it comes to breastfeeding?
These are some of the common breastfeeding problems and their fixes. We hope that this article can encourage you to start or continue breastfeeding your child.
But at the same time, we do understand that it can get pretty hard if you’re doing it all by yourself. That’s when we at Northeast Doulas can come in. We can encourage you, help you with latch, and offer you the level of support that you need so you don’t give up.
Lean on us, trust us. We have been providing professional doula services to families in Greenwich, Westchester & NYC for over 18 years. We’ll gladly do the same for you and help you with those breastfeeding techniques.
Things will get better, we promise.
So if you need help, don’t hesitate. Contact Northeast Doulas today for the support that you need.
We’ll be waiting.