6 Common Breastfeeding Issues and Solutions
We can’t say this enough, breastfeeding is natural, but that does NOT mean it’s easy. As moms, new and veterans alike, we have a tendency to be incredibly hard on ourselves, especially, when it comes to caring for our babies. After 9 months spent growing this precious baby, we imagine breastfeeding is going to be all smiles and flower crowns, but in reality it’s shoveling tones of extra food and water down, dealing with sore, cracked nipples and lots of soaked shirts. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, the absolute best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to know you are not alone and do NOT let this get you down! We encourage you to reach out to a lactation specialist in your area. If cost is a concern, many of them are covered by insurance and there are others who will work with you on a sliding pay scale. It’s also becoming more and more common that hospitals will send a lactation specialist to your room before you leave and discuss things like proper latch, holding techniques and discuss some of the basics of breastfeeding. Every baby is different and even women who have breastfed their other children, can still struggle with breastfeeding their new baby.
It’s good to be aware of the various struggles and solutions to common breastfeeding issues you might encounter, which we’ve briefly covered below:
1) Issues with Latch
Is your baby latching properly? This is probably the most common breastfeeding issue because it can cover many things such as tongue tie, lack of suction from your baby and other oral issues.
SOLUTION: Before you assume the worst, adjust the angle you use to hold your baby. Sometimes it’s as simple as ensuring your entire areola is in your baby’s mouth. The first thirty seconds to a minute are key. If you are feeling pain, that is a sign that you need to break the latch and try again. You and your baby are both learning. Be patient and keep trying! If your baby appears to be having latch issues or does not seem full after nursing for extended periods of time, please contact your pediatrician and/or a lactation consultant to see if there’s something else going on with your baby.
In the very beginning, leaking is quite common and you’ll wake up after only a few hours of sleep and find yourself in a puddle of breast milk. Totally ok, just the a new normal.
SOLUTION: Leaking is perfectly common and a good sign that you’re making lots of milk! However, we know it can be quite uncomfortable to wake up all wet, which is why it’s great to use breast pads. The best types are washable and made of natural materials like organic, breathable cotton. Another option can be to use a breast pump right before you go to bed and depending on how well you baby is sleeping, wake them up for a 'dream feed,' which is when you feed your baby just before you head to bed which keeps their tummy full through the night (at least that's the hope, but all babies are different).
3) Back Pain
When holding your baby, it’s often easier to hunch when you’re nursing, causing undue stress on your lower back.
Worried Your Baby is Getting Enough - You can keep track of exactly how many ounces of milk a formula fed baby is receiving, but breastfed babies do not have this specific
SOLUTION: Unless you've studied anatomy and physiology, you may not know that the majority of lower back pain is caused by weakened abdominal muscles. Obviously, pregnancy takes a toll on your body and your abdominal muscles get stretched out. This is why utilizing postpartum exercises
4) Sore Nipples
Once your nipples get sore, it can be difficult to help them heal in between nursing and pumping sessions. Nipple balm can be very helpful, but be sure to get an all-natural or organic nipple balm
that does not need to be wiped off. All too often, moms will use a lanolin nipple balm and they soon discover that baby will ingest a portion of the nipple balm while nursing and wiping off lanolin nipple balm from already cracked nipples is incredibly painful and unnecessary if you simply use a food-grade nipple balm
to begin with.
is generally known as inflammation in the breast tissue that is an infection. It has the highest occurrence during breastfeeding, however, it can also affect menopausal and the general population of women. In general, mastitis from breastfeeding has the highest probably of occurring in the first 4 months of the an infant's life. About 1-3% of women experience mastitis and it is commonly caused by bacteria being passed from a baby's mouth to a mother's cracked nipples. (See #4 for a solution to help prevent this)
The typical symptoms can include tenderness and swelling in the breast, body aches, engorgement, fever and chills. Most women can self diagnose themselves, and most
SOLUTION: Keep nursing! Antibiotics are typically the treatment of choice and if you can continue nursing while still taking the antibiotics, you and your baby will be better off.
6) Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
This is last on the list, but certainly not last! This is likely one of the most searched topics on breastfeeding problems and solutions. A new baby is a lot of work and often times moms find themselves breastfeeding their baby and end up worried they have a low supply because their baby never seems satisfied. If you’re worried your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk, download one of the top breastfeeding apps to track time, which side you nursed from last and general reactions from your baby.