The Difficulties and Challenges of Breastfeeding
While breastfeeding is the way nature intended we feed our offspring, it does not mean it will necessarily go smoothly, or be easy. If only it did, maybe all women would breastfeed.
Some women are lucky to have a good experience breastfeeding from the start. Their newborn baby latches on well, the milk comes in with no problems, and they experience relatively no pain. But not all women are so lucky. For a successful, relaxing nursing experience, you may need time to practice or get used to nursing, it may take your body some time to learn your baby’s needs (how much he eats and how often, etc.), etc. For a positive breastfeeding experience, it is suggested you start breastfeeding right after giving birth, and seek help from a lactation consultant while still in the hospital if needed.
Difficulties you may experience include:
Nipple soreness is common with first time moms. After all, you never had a baby feeding from your breasts before. This can last for a few weeks and if soreness doesn’t disappear, speak to a lactation consultant to see if your baby is latching on correctly or not, baby’s position while breastfeeding may need to be adjusted, or you may need to care for your nipples with creams.
Engorgement, or breast fullness, can be painful and if not treated can lead to infection. Engorgement is caused by congested blood vessels and milk buildup in the breast. The breasts feel swollen, hard to the touch, and painful. This fullness also leads to difficulties for your baby to feed, since the milk is not letting down, which can be frustrating for the both of you.
To overcome engorgement, try a warm bath or shower, and express milk yourself to relieve the fullness. To avoid it, try feeding more often or pumping out milk. If it is caused by difficulties nursing, try different breastfeeding positions and learn to relax while doing so.
Plugged milk duck is caused by milk buildup (which can happen if your baby is not feeding well or you are weaning). Symptoms include tenderness, heat and redness on the breast or a lump close to the surface of your skin. To relive the discomfort, massage your breast with mild pressure.
Mastitis is a breast infection. Its symptoms include fever, muscle aches, redness and tenderness on one breast. If you suspect you are suffering from mastitis, speak to your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Causes for mastitis include: stress and exhaustion, cracked nipples, plugged milk ducts or engorgement, wearing constricting bra.
To treat mastitis your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics. Use warm compresses on the infected breast, rest and wear a comfortable bra. Continue breastfeeding from both breasts. The infected breast will heal faster if you keep nursing, or pump if you prefer. It is safe for your baby.
Thrush is a common yeast infection that can be passed between mom and baby through nursing. This type of an infection is hard to cure, but it largely uncommon. Symptoms include tender, deep pink nipples right after nursing, white patches and redness in baby’s mouth. If you suspect you may have thrush, contact your healthcare provider immediately for antifungal medication.