Most expecting mothers are aware of the innumerable benefits of breast milk and long to breastfeed their newborns from the very first day of delivery. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for newborns until they are six months old. However, the usual anxieties of parenting a newborn - along with the breastfeed difficulties - often make breastfeeding a challenge.
Multiple studies show that breastfeeding difficulties are quite common and may not last for more than a few days or a couple of weeks. Most breastfeeding difficulties arise due to adoption of wrong breastfeeding techniques, which can be resolved easily by the help of pediatricians or lactation counselors.
Ritika Jain spent sleepless nights post-delivery as her new-born baby cried bitterly throughout the night despite frequent nursing. With the intervention of her pediatrician, she found that the baby was not able to latch-on to the nipple properly and remained underfed for hours. According to Dr. Anjila Aneja - Senior Gynaecologist, Max Healthcare, New Delhi - “engorgement, sore or painful nipples, plugged ducts, low-milk supply and infection of the breast (mastitis) are common breastfeeding problems which can be easily treated and should not deter new mothers from breastfeeding, for the benefit of their own health as well as the infant’s health”.
Also read: Overcoming Breastfeeding Problems
Some common difficulties while breastfeeding are discussed below; they will guide new mothers towards a successful breastfeeding period during the initial months.
- Wrong positioning of the infant - with respect to the mother’s breasts - creates difficulties in breastfeeding. The baby finds difficulty in latching onto the nipple and is unable to suck milk properly
- Many mothers experience breastfeeding difficulties due to inadequate milk supply. A low calorie diet, deficient in nutrients, and a low fluid intake often leads to this problem
- Soreness of nipples arises due to the wrong positioning of the baby while nursing, and is one of the common breastfeeding difficulties experienced within the first few days after delivery
- Sometimes breast fullness or the engorgement of breasts creates the utmost difficulties in breastfeeding. The blood vessels within the breast get congested and the breasts become swollen and hard leading to painful conditions. The nipples don’t protrude fully and the baby finds it uncomfortable to latch on properly. Breast engorgement occurs due to the accumulation of blood and milk in the breasts, and happens a few days prior to delivery
- When the milk flow in the breasts gets stabilized, many women may experience leaking from the nipples that lasts for a month post-delivery
- Women may also suffer from mastitis, a breast infection that passes from the mouth of the infant to the milk ducts. Redness of breasts is observed followed by pain and a rise in temperature
- Women may experience difficulty while breast-feeding, if the let-down reflex gets hampered due to stress or anxiety. In this process, the milk gets released into the milk ducts, normally due to hormonal actions. If the milk stays back in the breast, women may experience additional pain and discomfort
The tremendous benefits of breastfeeding are myriad and a mother’s milk is deemed as highly crucial for the proper growth and development of the infant. Once the seemingly grave breastfeeding difficulties are overcome with a little time and patience, most mothers and their babies can easily enjoy a long, healthy and joyous breastfeeding relationship.
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