The quicker you sort out any problems with breastfeeding the better for you and your baby, so do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Ask you midwife for help or make sure you have the number of a breastfeeding counsellor.
If you baby is feeding restless at the breast and does not seem satisfied, it may be that he or she is sucking on the nipple alone and so not getting enough milk. Ask for help in making sure your baby feeds in the right position. Some times the baby may also stop feeding and cry if he or she needs to burp during the feed.
Engorged breasts: a few days after the birth your breast may become very swollen and uncomfortable. Try to breastfeed as soon as possible, it may help to express milk before each feed to help the baby to latch on properly. Massaging the breast before expressing can also help. Between feeds you can apply ice-cold flannels or ice packs from the fridge.
Sore or cracked nipples:
- To avoid sore nipples make sure your baby’s mouth is opened wide (like a yawn) before he or she latches onto your breast.
- Change your position for breastfeeding. Be sure the baby’s mouth is about one inch behind the nipple and on the areola, not on the nipple.
- Rub colostrum or breast milk into your nipple and areola after each feeding.
- If your nipples are sore and dry or cracking, start breastfeeding with the less sore breast first.
- Use Lansinoh Lanolin cream on your nipples, as it is excellent to help heal the nipple skin if it is sore.
- If your nipples remain sore, ask for help. It can be normal for the nipple to feel sore when the baby first latches on, but once she gets going it should stop hurting. If it does not, then start again. Once the breasts get used to breastfeeding, in about four weeks or so, it will stop hurting completely.
Lumpy tender breasts: this happens when milk gets build up in the ducts of the breasts for various reasons. Let your baby feed on the tender breast first, if he or she does not want to feed try to express some milk. While your baby is feeding, gently stroke the lumpy are with your fingertips, smoothing the milk towards your nipple. Try leading over your baby as you feed. It is important to deal with a blocked duct as soon as possible to make sure it does not lead to mastitis.
Mastitis: it is an infection on the breasts making them feel hot and tender, and you may feel as if you have flu. You should continue to feed and ask for help to you midwife health visitor. Try the suggestions above for lumpy, tender breasts and rest as much as possible. See your doctor if this does not improve in the next six to eight hours as you may need your doctor to prescribe you antibiotics, which is safe while breastfeeding, to clear the infection.
Remember breastfeeding on demand is most natural and can avoid the above difficulties; it is best to feed when your baby wants to be fed, which might be very often to start with, the feed will become more spaced out as your baby grows. It is also important that the baby latches on the breast correctly to avoid soreness. Every baby is different, so don’t worry about setting up a routine straight away, as the baby develops they gradually set into a routine, which may be different from other babies, so don’t worry if other mums and babies are doing things differently, as babies are individuals they won’t all be doing the same thing at the same time…
Babies also have periods of growth spur at 10 days, 6 weeks and 12 weeks, that can last for about two days, during this period your baby will require more milk, so he or she will feed more often and for longer, but things will settle down quickly, as your body start to produce more milk to satisfy your growing baby. So don’t feel that you have to offer the baby a bottle, as you won’t make more milk to satisfy your baby’s demand.
In the beginning, it can seem that you are doing nothing but feeding, but gradually your baby will settle into a pattern of feeding. Try to relax into it and take each day as it comes. Breastfeeding can be a bit hard at the begging, but it gets really easy afterwards, the difficult times may seem endless, but it ends very quickly.