Breastfeeding is the most natural and beautiful way of nourishing your baby. It provides various health benefits for both the child and the mother. But it is a known fact that this journey is not always as smooth as it seems. Many breastfeeding mothers come across problems that may cause discomfort and frustration. In this article, we will discover breastfeeding problems, their causes, and solutions so that you can breastfeed your baby more confidently and comfortably.
The Importance of Breastfeeding
As mentioned above, breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and baby. Breast milk meets your baby’s nutritional needs and creates a unique bond between mother and baby. Here are the five benefits of this journey:
Nutrition source: The best source of nutrition is breast milk, which will evolve to meet your baby’s nutritional needs as he grows.
Protection of babies: Your breast milk can help your baby protect against illnesses and diseases. For example, breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity, type 1 diabetes, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, etc. In addition, if you breastfeed your baby, s/he will have a lower chance of having stomach bugs or ear infections.
Sharing antibodies: Your breast milk will pass antibodies from you to your baby. It means that you will help your baby develop a strong immune system and protection from strong illnesses.
Comfort for babies: As your body naturally produces breast milk after birth, you will not need to prepare formula and bottles. Even when traveling, you can easily breastfeed your baby who feels comfort in stress or lack of regularity.
Protection of mothers: As we mentioned before, if you breastfeed your baby, it will provide benefits to you as well. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Common Breastfeeding Problems
Although people state that breastfeeding is easy, many mothers of newborns may face some problems. If you are suffering from the challenges of breastfeeding, you should first contact your midwife, health care provider, or breastfeeding specialist.
Here is a detailed list of the most common breastfeeding problems:
Engorgement: Engorgement is the situation that occurs when breast milk can’t be fully removed from your breast. This situation can happen, especially as your milk transitions from colostrum to maturity. In addition, changes in nursing frequency may cause engorgement. Engorgement may cause discomfort and make latching difficult for your baby. In order to prevent engorgement, you can try frequent nursing, a warm compress on the breasts, a gentle massage, etc.
Sore nipples: Sore nipples are one of the most important breastfeeding problems. It happens, especially during the initial stages. If your nipples itch, crack, burn, or are pink, it means you have a sore nipple problem. To prevent yourself from this problem, you can ensure a proper latch, allow nipples to air dry after breastfeeding your baby, or use lanolin cream.
Low milk supply: One of the challenges of breastfeeding is low milk supply, which can happen due to worry, inadequate feeding or pumping frequency, hormonal issues, or medications. To increase your breast milk supply level, you should try to increase the frequency of breastfeeding, pumping, eating a balanced diet, and staying hydrated. But if your low milk supply problem continues, you should ask for professional advice.
Overmilk supply: While some mothers face low milk supply, others can have overmilk supply problems. It can happen naturally. But sometimes overstimulating the breasts can cause this problem. Oversupply can lead your baby to feel discomfort, choking, fast letdown, or colic-like symptoms. You can prevent these symptoms by feeding in an upright position, using a breast pump, or blocking feeding.
Clogged milk duct: The main reason for blocked milk ducts is inflammation in the blood vessels and the tissue that surrounds the milk ducts. It can happen for several reasons: irregular feeding or pumping; changing the feeding schedule. If the feeding or pumping sessions are not regular, you may face blocked milk ducts, which can cause tenderness and lumps. To clear your breast ducts, you can apply warm compresses, massage, nurse, or pump more frequently.
Mastitis: Mastitis is one of the breastfeeding problems that can be caused by bacteria that enters the breast through a sore or cracked nipple. If you have mastitis, you can feel severe breast pain, warmth, and redness on your breasts. In addition, this problem has flu-like symptoms as well. If you have mastitis, you should ask for medical advice from your doctor. You will most likely use antibiotics, rest, and pump your breast milk frequently.
Difficulty latching: Your baby may face difficulty latching properly, which can cause ineffective breastfeeding. The reason why your baby cannot latch properly can be due to poor positioning, tongue tie, or other reasons. You can ask for support from lactation consultants, use various nursing positions, and perform gentle exercises.
Painful breastfeeding: Painful breastfeeding is one of the most common breastfeeding problems. If you feel persistent pain while nursing your baby, you should check your medical situation. This problem can be a symptom of an incorrect latch or infection. To be sure, if you are healthy and everything is fine, it is better to ask for medical advice!
When should you Seek Medical Advice?
Although you can solve many breastfeeding problems with self-measures, there will be times when you should ask for professional advice. For example, you should seek immediate medical attention when you experience severe pain, which can be a sign of infection. In addition, if your baby cannot gain weight adequately, you should see a doctor and follow instructions.
Psychological Benefits of Breastfeeding
Nursing your baby with your breast is like a miracle that creates a bond between you and your baby. On the other hand, it is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Here is a list of the psychological benefits of breastfeeding:
Stress: Inflammation is one of the most common responses in our body. If your inflammation levels are high, you may feel depressed. But if you are nursing your baby, breastfeeding can help you lower inflammation levels. Moreover, lowered inflammation levels will reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep: We are sure you will be surprised if we say that nursing your baby will help you sleep better. It is not a coincidence if you fall asleep while you breastfeed your baby. Furthermore, according to the research, mothers who only nurse their babies with breast milk fall asleep easier, sleep more deeply, and stay asleep longer.
Hormone boost: If you breastfeed, your body will naturally make the hormones oxytocin and prolactin. This sentence may mean nothing to you. Let us explain briefly: oxytocin creates a nurturing and peaceful feeling, helping you relax and focus. In addition, it also creates a strong attachment and love between you and your baby.
Calmness: Although you may face many kinds of breastfeeding problems that can be prevented at home or medically, breastfeeding has many psychological benefits. The best one is, for sure, increased calmness. The experts state that nursing supports your baby’s emotional and physical wellness. In addition, breast-fed babies are less likely to cry and have fewer childhood illnesses.
Bonding: As there is skin-to-skin contact while breastfeeding, an emotional and physical bond occurs between mother and baby. According to recent research, affectionate bonding during the first years of a baby’s life helps lessen behavioral and social problems. In addition, the bond created during the first stages of a newborn’s life helps the baby feel safe and confident.
Alternative Feeding Methods
You may face breastfeeding problems, and you may need to find alternative methods. While trying to overcome the breastfeeding problems, you can use the methods we listed below:
- Bottle feeding
- Cup feeding
- Spoon feeding
- Eyedropper or syringe feeding
- Finger feeding
In some cases, you can check for alternatives such as donor milk or formula milk. But you should be sure that you ask for advice from your doctor that will help you find alternative ways.
Breastfeeding problems are common. Therefore, you should not blame yourself for this problem. In addition, you can solve all problems, including infections, with knowledge, support, and appropriate strategies. You should always keep in mind that overcoming breastfeeding challenges is unique and precious during your journey with your baby. Be sure to seek professional advice when needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the common problems with breastfeeding?
Some of the common breastfeeding problems are sore nipples, engorgement, low milk supply, overmilk supply, blocked milk ducts, mastitis, nursing strikes, etc.
When do you know breastfeeding is not working?
One of the most common breastfeeding problems is poor latching, which causes babies’ to get less milk. While nursing your baby, you should observe your baby. For example, if your baby’s mouth is loosened, he or she cannot be fed properly.
What is the hardest month of breastfeeding?
According to the statements of mothers, the first six months of breastfeeding are challenging. Both your body and you try to find balance. Therefore, you should be patient and ask for advice when needed.
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