Breastfeeding is the most basic part of your journey to motherhood. It is a natural process to feed your child and help him start healthy. But feeding milk to your baby may not be as easy as it sounds. Many new mothers find it quite difficult as there are many breastfeeding problems they encounter in the early days. One of the most common problems faced by new moms are, that they are unable to feed their babies sufficiently. However, there are several home remedies to increase breast milk production. Understanding those common breastfeeding problems and preparing yourself beforehand will help you deal with the entire task in an efficient manner.
So, let us guide you through some general breastfeeding issues and their treatments:
1. Sore Nipples
Tender or sore nipples is the most common breastfeeding challenge faced by new moms. It is mainly caused by wrong position, which results into a bad latch and makes the baby suck only the nipples.
- Check whether your baby is latching on the right way or not, and improve it accordingly.
- Do not remove your baby from your breast without breaking his suction from the latch.
- Keep changing your breastfeeding positions.
- Make sure that no moisture is trapped in your nursing pads.
- Warm and slightly moist compresses can reduce your nipple soreness to a great extent.
- Massage your sore nipples gently with your own milk and let them air-dry.
2. Cracked Nipples
Your nipples may get cracked or blistered, while breastfeeding your baby. It is basically an extreme condition of sore nipples, which often leads to severe infection. A wrong latch or certain anatomical feature of your baby’s mouth may be responsible for it.
- Try to establish a better latch by adjusting your breastfeeding positions.
- Moist warmth can heal the affected part quickly.
- Massage the cracked sections on your nipples with your own milk.
3. Abnormal Shapes of Nipples
Breastfeeding may change the appearance of your nipples abnormally. Though they look large and protruding in general, you may find them flattened, inverted, turned inward or even extremely large in size at times.
- Flat and inverted nipples can be pulled out and made to look longer by using fingers.
- If your nipples are turned inward, your caregiver may suggest you devices exclusively designed for this purpose.
- The issue of having very large nipples will get fixed automatically over time.
4. Milk Bleb / Milk Blister
Milk bleb or blister is a white spot formed at the peak of the nipple. In this condition, an extra layer of skin is developed over the opening of a duct, thereby blocking the milk flow. A bleb feels like a big hard grain stuck beneath the skin and can be extremely painful too.
- Put light pressure on the bleb with your fingers and try to massage it out.
- An expert can penetrate the affected part of the skin with a sterilized needle and release the obstacle carefully.
5. Raynaud’s Phenomenon
Once you finish feeding your baby, the temperature of your nipple goes down all of a sudden. It causes the blood to flow out of the nipple abruptly. This condition of vasospasm is known as the ‘Raynaud’s Phenomenon’ and is characterized by white nipple and throbbing sensation.
- Massage the affected breast lightly with olive oil by focusing on the nipple.
- Apply warm, moist compresses to the white nipple.
6. Swelling / Engorgement
Most of the new moms experience swollen or engorged breasts within a few days of breastfeeding due to excessive fullness. It makes the breasts remarkably hard and tender.
- Feed your baby as often as 8 to 10 times a day.
- Try to enhance your positioning in order to establish a good latch and feed your baby more efficiently.
- A breast pump is very much helpful in discarding excess milk and softening a hard, full breast.
- Apply cold and warm compresses respectively in between breastfeeding your baby.
- Tuck some chilled cabbage leaves into your bra.
Also read – Tips on how to pick a good nursing bra
7. Plugged / Blocked Milk Ducts
Plugged duct is another common breastfeeding problem, which often leads to serious infection. If the flow of milk is restricted through a duct, it develops a small hard lump. The increasing pressure of milk behind this lump results into acute inflammation and severe pain.
- Breastfeed your newborn as often as possible.
- Massage the affected breast with your fingers in slow circular motion.
- Warm, moist compresses will relieve your pain.
8. Mastitis (Breast Infection)
Mastitis can be resulted from untreated cracked nipples, engorged breasts or plugged milk ducts. The breast tissues get inflamed severely, which is accompanied by flu-like symptoms. You will need antibiotics for treating this condition effectively.
- Do not stop breastfeeding your child.
- Moist warmth will help you reduce your pain.
9. Thrush (Yeast Infection)
If your nipples turn pink or purple and you feel redness, itchiness and tremendous pain in between feedings, you are suffering from thrush. It is an infection caused by the yeast ‘candida albicans’, which needs an antifungal treatment for both the mom and her baby.
- Sanitize each and everything that come in contact with the mouth of your baby or your breasts.
- Keep your hands clean by using a good hand wash frequently.
If none of these helps, seek the help of a lactation consultant right away.