Breastfeeding Problems In The First Week, Solved

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Breastfeeding is a simple and natural process, but it does come with its own set of challenges. If you’ve recently started breastfeeding, you would know that it is not as easy as it seemed to be. Many new mothers face issues related to breastfeeding and might be disheartened by it. But it’s good to know that these problems are common and can be managed with some hacks and the right approach. As a new mother, you are bound to get stuck and confused every now and then. Do not feel discouraged before giving yourself some time to learn and understand the basics of breastfeeding. Here are some solutions to the problems that you might be coming across in your first week:

Cracked Nipples

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Cracked nipples can stem from multiple issues such as a shallow latch, dry skin, improper pumping, tongue-tie, or soreness in the baby’s mouth. Cracked nipples can be uncomfortable but what’s worse is that they can also allow bacteria to enter into the breasts and cause other complications (1).

If you’re suffering from this, it may help to make sure to position your baby correctly where their mouth is covering your areola. This way, you will be more comfortable while feeding your baby. Also, you can apply a few drops of your breast milk or let the milk rest on your breast after you are done feeding. Keep a good nipple lotion, moisturizer, or some hydrogel pads handy. These will help in relieving the soreness and help with dryness as well. The cream soothes the skin, and refrigerated hydrogel provides instant relief from breastfeeding pain. Other options can be having a mild painkiller (with doctor’s prescription) a few hours before breastfeeding or using breast shells — they prevent your clothes from rubbing against sore areas (1).

Latching Problem

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It is entirely normal to face latching problems. Both you and your baby will learn as you slowly start breastfeeding. One way to resolve this problem is by knowing how to position your baby. Your little one’s mouth should be covering the areola and not just the nipples. This will ensure that your baby has a good grip on your breast and the nipple doesn’t slip out of your baby’s mouth.

Another thing you need to take into consideration is your baby’s breathing. Are they able to breathe easily while feeding? Sometimes, women experience latching problems because of inverted or flat nipples. Pumping them before can help in this case (2).

Insufficient Milk

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In the initial days, you might find that your supply of breast milk is low. This is totally normal and just takes a few weeks before reaching optimum levels. Remember that most mothers make enough milk for their babies. Also, how many times you are feeding the baby can be a determining factor here. You must not rely only on your own routine but consider your baby’s hunger cues too. Feed your child when they are hungry. The more you are going to feed them, the more the milk supply will be. Not feeding the baby every few hours can dry your milk and affect the supply (3). The mother’s body functions are intrinsically linked to the baby’s and can produce as much milk as required by the child.

Make sure you maintain a well-balanced diet and have a sufficient amount of water each day. You can try consuming lactogenic foods such as brewer’s yeast, fenugreek seeds, oats, barley, and dark green leafy vegetables (3).

Mastitis

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Mastitis occurs in nursing when sore and cracked nipples give space for bacteria to enter inside the breasts. Breast engorgement can also accompany mastitis, and if you’re suffering from this, it can be extremely uncomfortable (2).

Mastitis is a bacterial infection, so it has to be treated with antibiotics. You may also experience fever-like symptoms. Begin with treatment only after consulting your doctor. Along with your antibiotics, you can also apply cold packs for some relief. Take good rest, and keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough fluids. It would be best if you did not stop nursing because it will help you clear this infection every time you feed. Surprisingly, it is safe to breastfeed the baby during mastitis, so you don’t have to worry about infecting your little one. It may be painful, but it is necessary! Also, work on improving your breastfeeding techniques and avoid overfilling of breasts (4).

Breast Pain

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One of the significant causes of breast pain is breast engorgement and mastitis. But that’s not all. When you’re lactating, your breasts need to be emptied so that they can make more milk — it’s a cycle. When your baby isn’t feeding too often and if the milk is not being emptied, the milk ducts can get clogged, which in turn can cause pain in the breasts. Along with this, you may also experience hardness in the breasts. Engorgement also causes nipples to become flat, and this will create problems with latching for your baby.

To get rid of this pain, make sure that you’re feeding your baby frequently, approximately ten to twelve times in twenty-four hours. If your baby is not drinking your milk for some reason, at least use a breast pump to express the milk. You can then feed your baby your expressed milk via a feeding bottle. A warm compress may help if you’re suffering from breast pain (2).

Inverted Nipples

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It is normal to experience inverted or flat nipples during pregnancy and when nursing your child, so don’t freak out if you see this! Inverted nipples can hinder the feeding process by making latching difficult. You’ll be able to tell if your nipples are inverted or not by pinching the areola — if it retracts, then it is an indication of inverted nipples. Using breast shells, nipple shields, or breast pumps can help you correct inverted nipples and promote easy latching (5).

The problems are temporary and likely to get solved with the proper intervention. For infections and medicinal treatments, it is advisable to see a doctor or lactation consultant in case there is an underlying cause. Don’t worry, breastfeeding is not exactly a walk in the park — it can take some time for you and your baby to get used to it. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Prevalence And Factors Associated With Cracked Nipples In The First Month Postpartum
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975913/
  2. Breastfeeding Difficulties and Risk for Early Breastfeeding Cessation
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835226/
  3. Maternal Perceptions of Insufficient Milk Supply in Breastfeeding
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508856/
  4. Acute Mastitis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557782/
  5. Inverted Nipple
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563190/
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