Breastfeeding is a time to bond with your baby and can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. However, some women may face common breastfeeding problems, especially during the initial months. Breastfeeding often requires patience, effort and experience, as your baby may not be able to latch on and feed at first. To alleviate the symptoms of breastfeeding problems, the right positioning of the baby needs to be ensured so that he is able to suck properly. Read this piece to know more about common breastfeeding problems, symptoms and some useful remedies.
- Itchiness: This may be caused due to a yeast infection called thrush and is quite common in breastfeeding women. Though yeast is normally present in the digestive system, an overgrowth can cause infection resulting in an itchiness of the nipples. Though thrush is seldom serious, it can be quite painful and needs to be treated in time to ensure continued breastfeeding.
- Sore nipples: This is one of the most common breastfeeding problems caused by continuous or frequent breastfeeding. However, if your nipples are bleeding or getting cracked, consult the doctor immediately. Improper positioning is a common cause of sore nipples and most breastfeeding problems, so practice positioning your baby comfortably. “Sore nipples are usually caused by your baby not being latched on or positioned correctly. Make sure that you latch your baby onto the areola and not just the nipple.” suggests Dr. Anjila Aneja, Senior Gynaecologist at Max Healthcare, New Delhi.
- Low milk supply: Many breastfeeding women go through this problem at some stage. Milk supply differs from woman to woman depending upon a bevy of factors such as type of diet, environment and physical fitness. When mothers don’t nurse frequently, milk supply may diminish. Certain medicines with estrogen - such as birth control pills - also affect the production of milk. In case you feel your breast milk production has reduced substantially, consult a lactation professional at the earliest possible time.
- Mastitis: Mastitis is a breast infection with flu-like symptoms. It is characterized by soreness, hardness and a burning sensation in the breast. In serious cases it may even cause swelling of the milk ducts and high fever. Mastitis is caused due to germs that enter the mother’s body through the baby's mouth, throat or nose, usually through fissures or cracks in the nipples. You must consult your healthcare provider if the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours.
- Blocked duct: Blocked duct is characterized by a painful lump inside the breast caused by a blockage. Tight clothing or poor draining of milk from the breast often leads to this condition. The only symptom is redness on the skin, where the lump exists inside the breasts; however, the mother usually feels well and shows no other symptoms. The condition can be treated through correct positioning techniques while nursing the baby.
Most breastfeeding problems and symptoms can be treated easily without any mediation. However, if you experience symptoms such as fever, body ache, acute breast pain or severe bleeding from the breast, seek medical attention as early as possible. Correct positioning and timely medication can help treat most breastfeeding problems and assure continued breastfeeding.