It may seem like breastfeeding should come naturally to mother and child, but the fact is, nursing is a learned behavior. Breastfeeding offers an unmatched host of benefits for both mom and baby, so it's incredibly frustrating when obstacles get in the way of nursing.
While our lactation specialists can help troubleshoot any breastfeeding challenges you have, it's always nice to head trouble off at the pass. Here are three of the most common breastfeeding problems, and how you can prevent them.
Problem #1: Your Baby Hasn't Mastered the Breastfeeding Latch
Latch is the term used to describe how your baby's mouth is positioned on your nipple - and it's a key component of successful nursing.
A good breastfeeding latch means your nipple is placed in the back of your baby's mouth with your child's lips around your areola (the darker colored area around the nipple). When your baby has a proper latch, it stimulates your milk flow and improves the nursing experience for both of you.
A bad latch - when your child is mouthing your nipple only - will quickly lead to sore nipples and a hungry baby. The best way to make sure you and your baby are doing it right is to ask for help while at the hospital, after giving birth. Our nurses and lactation specialists can give you one-on-one guidance to make sure you get breastfeeding off to a great start.
Problem #2: Sore Nipples Make You Want to Quit Nursing
Sore nipples are often the result of an incorrect breastfeeding latch, but they can sometimes signal an infection. The most important thing you can do to avoid sore nipples is to make sure your baby latches correctly every time you nurse.
Other breastfeeding tips that can help prevent sore nipples include:
- Rub a few drops of breast milk over your nipple after every nursing session. Breast milk has natural healing properties.
- Allow your breasts to air dry after breastfeeding.
- Use nursing pads, and change them frequently so your nipples stay dry.
- Regularly switch breastfeeding positions.
- Wash your nipples with warm water only. Soap is not needed.
- Use a lanolin-based nipple cream made for breastfeeding moms.
If your baby is latching properly but you're still experiencing pain during breastfeeding sessions, see your doctor. You could have a common fungal infection, called thrush, which needs to be treated with medication.
Problem #3: It Seems Like You Have a Low Milk Supply
As a mom, it's easy to worry that your baby isn't getting enough to eat. But most times, your baby is getting plenty of milk.
To ensure your baby's growth is closely monitored, make sure you schedule well-child visits at regular intervals with your child's pediatrician (a doctor who specializes in caring for children). A good growth pattern is the surest sign your child is getting enough nutrition. But if you're still worried, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.
Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will produce. To keep your milk supply up, breastfeed frequently and on demand whenever you’re with your child. While at work or away, be diligent about pumping at least every two hours.
Learn More Breastfeeding Tips
All moms go through a nursing learning curve. If you struggle with any aspect of breastfeeding, it's important not to get discouraged. Instead, get the help and support you need to continue nursing.
At Franciscan Health, we offer breastfeeding classes to prepare you, support groups to discuss questions you have while nursing and appointments with lactation specialists.
Learn more about our lactation specialists or find one of our virtual breastfeeding classes.