Breast milk is an excellent source of nourishment for new-borns, providing fat, protein, vitamins, and antibodies while also strengthening the baby's immune system. Even as per WHO and UNICEF, infants should be nursed within an hour of delivery and exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is not without its challenges, despite the fact that it is a natural process. Every mother's path is different, with ups and downs.
There may appear to be more downs than ups in the first few days and weeks. For new moms, these hurdles can be a huge cause of anxiety or worry but with practice and time, it gets simpler! The important thing is to know what to expect and to get help if needed. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Sheetal Sabharwal, M.D., D.G.O., Obstetrician & Gynecologist Consultant, P.D Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Khar facility, about the problems that mothers face if not breastfeeding properly.
Problems mothers face if not breastfeeding properly
Let's take a quick look at some of the most prevalent issues and their basic prevention and treatment:
1. Leaking breasts
Many new mothers have milk leakage at some point, especially while milk supply levels are still being established. While leaking isn't harmful to your health, it may be embarrassing. These leaks can occur at any time and in any location, but they are more likely to occur when you hear or merely think about your baby.
Breast leakage should improve within four to six weeks when your baby's milk needs begin to match your supply. Mothers should not skip feedings or wait longer than necessary between feedings. Disposable nursing pads should be placed in the cups of your bra to absorb moisture and prevent milk from seeping through your shirt. Avoid pads with plastic lining, which can trap moisture against your skin and cause nipple pain. If you feel you're leaking and are unable to nurse your baby, gently pushing your breasts against your chest wall will usually halt the flow.
2. Nipple pain
In the first few days of breastfeeding, mother constantly complain of minor nipple pain. When a mother experiences severe nipple pain or nipple discomfort that does not ease after milk arrives, it indicates that baby is either connected to the breasts in a wrong way or is not sucking properly. Severe pain indicates that something is wrong, so don't dismiss this crucial indicator. Get immediate assistance with your breastfeeding technique.
3. Cracked or sore nipples
Sore nipples are a typical reason many women stop nursing. Many women describe a “pins and needles” sensation in the first 30 seconds or so of breastfeeding. However, if your painful nipples are caused by damage from your infant, the uncomfortable sensation will continue and even worsen throughout nursing. This is usually temporary and your nipples will "toughen up" within a few weeks. If pain persists, it is likely that a woman has damaged her nipples, which may be caused by a baby with a bad latch and/or a strong suck, as well as a breast pump being set too high.
The ideal solution is to educate your infant how to correctly latch on. When breastfeeding, begin with the less uncomfortable side because your baby will suck the most strongly early in the feeding. You can also apply some fresh breast milk to your nipples at the end of feeding to soothe them. Because human breast milk has antibacterial characteristics, it can help to minimise the risk of infection. If your soreness persists, consult your doctor about putting a lotion on your nipples.
4. Breast engorgement
It's common for breasts to feel full and heavy during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, but if the discomfort persists, mothers may be suffering from engorgement. The most common reason is insufficient milk elimination. For example, if the baby does not feed frequently or for a long enough period of time, your breasts will get overfilled with milk.
The easiest approach to avoid severe breast engorgement is to nurse often, at least every two to three hours. Warm compresses before breastfeeding can frequently stimulate milk flow, while cold compresses between feedings can help ease pressure and discomfort.
5. Nipple thrush
Nipple thrush is discomfort in the nipple or within the breast that burns more severely at the completion of feeding. It appears suddenly and gradually or in addition to existing pain. An antifungal ointment is typically all that is required to treat the infection. After each session of feeding, apply a small coating. It is not necessary to remove it before breastfeeding and continue this for a few days after the discomfort has subsided.
6. Poor latch
The most prevalent cause of nipple discomfort and chapping is a poor nursing latch. Your infant need a good latch that encompasses both the nipple and the areola so that the milk ducts under the areola are compressed and milk flow may start. More discomfort at the onset of feeding, as well as a distorted, flat, or pinched nipple after the infant exits the breast, are signs of a bad latch.
To avoid a bad latch, first get into the proper breastfeeding posture, then squeeze your areola between your fingers. Tickle your baby's cheek to activate the rooting reflex, which causes her to open wide, and then bring her straight up to the breast. You should also start nursing with the less sensitive breast and experiment with different breast-feeding positions.
While feeding their new-borns, first-time mothers should keep a few things in mind like:
- Mothers should position their children's heads at a 45-degree angle from their breasts. It is best to nurse the kid when he or she is seated
- Never put the infant to sleep just after nursing
- After nursing, hold the infant and caress the back for two to three minutes while laying the baby's head on your shoulder. This will aid in digestion of the milk.
The nursing journey of every woman is different, therefore you might have some issues or none of them. If you do, keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to seek assistance. No matter how difficult nursing may be at first, with time and effort, breastfeeding will become second nature for every mother.
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