Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between the mother and child. But, it comes with its own share of challenges. Various breastfeeding issues can make nursing a baby an ordeal for both the mother and child.

This article addresses various issues with breastfeeding. It also enlists solutions to cope with them.

Swollen Breasts

Around 72 hours or up to a week after childbirth, the breasts feel sore and appear swollen. It is normal. The swelling will subside as the milk production system gets used to the chore. To make feeding less painful, you can apply warm compresses to the breast.

Poor Latch

If you want to have a successful breastfeeding session, the baby must latch well onto the breast. A poor latch blocks the proper supply of milk to the baby. Besides, it causes a lot of discomfort to the mother resulting in cracked and sore nipples. A poor latch is a position in which the baby does not get a proper grip of the breast; it sucks only at the nipple.

Seek guidance from a lactation consultant regarding the best position for you and your baby while nursing. The baby’s lips should sit on the areola when feeding. When the baby sucks, it should feel like a gentle tug or pull. If you feel pinches or bites, stop and re-latch.

Low Milk Supply

Women often worry if they produce the right amount of milk. How will you determine whether your body is producing an adequate amount of milk? You will be able to hear soft swallowing sounds when the baby suckles, the baby seems content and sleeps after the feed, soils and wets a few diapers during the day and gains healthy weight. You will also notice the breasts that feel full and firm before feeding feel soft after a feed.

If the milk supply is very low, review your diet. Increase your intake of fluids. Another method to increase and maintain a healthy, flexible milk supply is to continue nursing. Constant nursing stimulates the production of milk.

Sore Nipples

Cracked and sore nipples are one of the most common breastfeeding problems. Sore nipples are caused because of an incorrect latch. Delicate skin is also another cause of cracked nipples. In some cases, the nipples may also bleed.

Correct your baby’s position to avoid the development of cracked nipples. When breastfeeding, the baby’s tummy should be positioned against yours. Ensure that the baby latches correctly- the nipple should be positioned far inside the mouth. Start nursing with the breast that is not sore. After a feeding session, you can gently apply breast milk to the sore nipple. It will soothe and prevent infections. Do not wear a very tight bra.

Engorgement

This breastfeeding problem generally arises in the initial weeks after childbirth. The breasts feel full and heavy. They may also be hard and painful to touch, thus causing a lot of discomfort to the mother. The sensation subsides after the first few weeks. However, if it continues, it signals a problem. It is called engorgement. In this condition, the breasts produce more milk than the baby demands.

The best solution to relieve engorgement is to feed the baby frequently but do not overfeed. Check if your baby latches correctly to the breast. You can use warm and cold compresses on the breast before and after feeding, respectively. You can hand express milk after a feeding session to reduce discomfort and heaviness or use a breast pump.

Plugged Ducts

Plugged ducts are an outcome of engorgement and could culminate in breast abscesses if left unchecked. A plugged duct feels like a small lump in the breast. It may appear red and swollen and is painful to touch. Tight-fitting bras and inadequate outflow of milk could cause plugged milk ducts.

To unclog a milk duct, massage the breast gently during feeds starting from the armpits and moving downwards. Use cold compresses—express milk between feeds to remove excess milk and prevent engorgement.

Mastitis

Mastitis is a severe form of breast inflammation. In this condition, the breast tissue is infected by bacteria. A cracked nipple may facilitate the entry and establishment of bacteria. Inadequate emptying of the breast can also cause mastitis. It starts with a plugged milk duct. The infected area of the breast develops red streaks and becomes sore. Women experience fatigue and slight body pain. It is also accompanied by fever and other flu-like symptoms.

Mastitis will require a visit to the doctor. The doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics, topical, and pain medication. Massage the breast lightly to promote emptying. Use different feeding positions. In case the infection is very severe, the doctor will drain the breast using surgery.

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