Common Breastfeeding Problems
I'm 7 weeks into my breastfeeding journey with my third child and so far things are going well. My baby boy latched without difficulties right after birth and has been eating well ever since. All three of my children have been great nursers as infants. My breastfeeding problems appear once I go back to work and have to rely on a the hum of a breast pump to make the magic happen. With just five weeks left of maternity leave, I'm starting to remember how painful plugged ducts and mastitis are. I am stubborn though and know I will plow through whatever breastfeeding issues come my way this time around, just as I did the first two times.
Breastfeeding problems tend to be the main reason why many mother's wean their baby earlier than the first birthday.
If you are struggling with a breastfeeding issue seek help from a lactation consultant, a friend or a physician, who has experience working with nursing mothers. The key to a successful breastfeeding journey is to address the problem early and appropriately. Here are some breastfeeding challenges you may face after birth or down the road:
1. Sore and cracked nipples
Right after birth your nipples may be sore, as your baby is learning how to latch. The soreness should not last longer than a few days. If the pain persists, it may be due to a poor latch. A poor latch can lead to poor milk expression and inadequate weight gain. In addition, your nipples may be raw and chafed from the friction of your baby's mouth. In order to get start your nursing journey off on the right path, inquire with the hospital you deliver at about lactation consultant services to find assistance in correcting your latch.
2. Engorgement When your milk comes in your breasts will feel heavy, full, and warm. This feeling should only last about 24 hours. A mother who is experiencing engorgement typically has discomfort and sometimes a low grade fever. Breasts that are engorged are hard and uncomfortable with tight, translucent skin. The pain and distention often can extend into the underarm area. More severe engorgement can also cause numbness and tingling in the hands from pressure on an individual’s nerves.
3. Plugged Milk Ducts
At some point, you may experience a plugged milk duct. A plugged duct occurs in only one breast. It is a hard lump that feels sore and tender. Plugged ducts occur when a milk duct is not drained properly and becomes inflamed. Unfortunately they can lead to mastitis if not treated promptly. In order to loosen a plugged duct, one should breastfeed at least every two hours. It also may be helpful to massage and apply warm heat to the affected area before nursing. I found that it is helpful to soak in a warm bath or just soak my breast in a bowl of warm water. Finally, avoid wearing a tight bra, which may constrict milk ducts.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast which may feel tender and like a hard lump (much like a plugged duct) as it begins, but you may find the lump difficult to dislodge. Mastitis may also be accompanied by a low grade fever, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. The breast may be warm to the touch and look red or pink. A plugged milk duct and mastitis have similar symptoms, but mastitis typically does not resolve without medication. If treatment remedies for plugged ducts are not relieving your symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting medication. Untreated mastitis can lead to further issues and complications.
If you experience a breastfeeding problem just know that you are not alone and there is support available to you. For more information about breastfeeding be sure not to miss reading Breastfeeding Resources and Support, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2013.