Breast milk is the best diet for infants. Breastfeeding has several health benefits for the mother and her baby; moreover, it also builds an emotional bonding between them. Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is six months. This means that apart from breastmilk, the baby should not be given any fluids or solids till they reach six months of age, even water. This, however, may not be done because of several problems a mother may face when she is breastfeeding her young one. Most of these problems can be solved by seeking medical help. Thus, whenever a woman finds it difficult to breastfeed, it is advisable to seek help from their doctor, nurse, or a board-certified lactation counselor.
Some of the common problems mothers face when breastfeeding are described below.
Insufficient breast milk production: Many women give up breastfeeding because they think that their breast milk is not enough in quantity for the baby. Insufficient milk production may occur if
- There was inadequate breast development during pregnancy.
- The mother underwent breast surgery or radiation therapy.
- There is a hormonal imbalance in the mother.
- The mother takes medications that interfere with milk production.
To stimulate milk production, the mother may
- Feed the baby from both the breasts during feeds.
- Stay calm and relaxed while feeding the baby.
- Keep the baby close to her and hold them skin-to-skin.
- Feed the baby frequently (around 8-12 times per 24 hours in the first week of life, gradually decreasing to seven to nine times per 24 hours by the fourth week).
- Take a healthy diet.
- Consult her doctor to know what is causing less milk production.
- Breast engorgement (a condition in which the breasts become painfully overfull of milk).
- Nipple injury caused by the baby or a breast pump.
- Blocked milk ducts in the breasts.
- Breast and nipple infections.
- Excessive milk production.
- Skin conditions affecting the breast such as eczema or psoriasis.
- Sore or cracked nipples: You must consult your healthcare provider to resolve pain in the breasts or nipples. Keeping the nipples dry after feeds is important. You should not use harsh soaps or cleansers on your nipples or breasts. You must not use vitamin E on your nipples because it may be toxic for your baby in high quantities. Your doctor will also help diagnose and manage any inborn problems with the baby, such as a tongue-tie, which may be causing problems with breastfeeding. Using warm compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may lower the pain.
Mastitis: It is a common cause of breast pain. Inflammation of the breasts is called mastitis. It is often associated with breast pain, swelling, redness, and fever. Mastitis may or may not be caused by an infection. Although it can happen any time during lactation, it is commonly seen during the first six weeks after delivery. Mastitis may result due to nipple damage (such as cracked nipples) or prolonged breast engorgement. You must seek medical help if
- You have a firm, painful, and red area on the breasts.
- You have a fever higher than 101°F or 38.5°C.
- You develop muscle pain, chills, or other flu-like symptoms.
Untreated mastitis may lead to the collection of pus, forming a breast abscess that needs surgical drainage.
Fungal infections: Yeast infections are common in lactating women and can cause severe breast pain. There may be a history of vaginal yeast infection or the presence of thrush or diaper rash in their infant. The skin on the breast may appear shiny or flaky. Your doctor may prescribe treatment such as antifungal creams or gels and antifungal pills for treatment. A purple medication called gentian violet (0.25-1%) may be prescribed for application in your baby’s mouth before breastfeeding.
Bloody nipple discharge: Bloody discharge from the nipples may occur during the first few days to weeks of lactation. The condition is more common in the first pregnancy and is also called rusty pipe syndrome. Breast milk may appear pink or red and is caused by increased blood flow to the breast tissue. This usually resolves within a few days. If bloody nipple discharge continues for over a week, medical help must be sought.
Breast milk overproduction: Excessive milk production beyond the infant’s demand can also make breastfeeding difficult. Milk oversupply may cause a sudden rush of milk that may make the infant choke or cough during breastfeeding. They may even bite the mother’s nipple in an attempt to clamp to it. Milk overproduction may also cause breast engorgement and pain.
The condition may subside on its own. You may consult your healthcare provider to know if overproduction is due to some hormones or medications.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Problems When Breastfeeding Related Articles
Breastfeeding With Rheumatoid ArthritisYou can breastfeed your baby even if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, you must always consult your doctor before you start the process.
Breastfeeding: Common Breastfeeding ChallengesBreastfeeding an infant can cause common challenges both for the mother an infant. Some challenges include sore nipples, low milk supply, oversupply of milk, engorgement, plugged ducts, breast infection, fungal infections, nursing strike, inverted, flat, or very large nipples, breastfeeding a baby with health problems, and breastfeeding in special situations. Tips and helpful information can inform mothers how to manage and handles these challenges while continuing to breastfeed her baby.
Can Mastitis Go Away on Its Own?Mastitis is defined as the inflammation of the breast that may be associated with an infection. Mastitis is commonly seen in breastfeeding women. Mastitis generally develops in the first 6 to 12 weeks of starting breastfeeding (lactation). Mastitis can sometimes subside on its own.
Do Inverted Nipples Make Breastfeeding Difficult?Inverted nipples can make breastfeeding difficult for nursing mothers. Learn how to identify an inverted nipple, why inverted nipples can make it difficult to breastfeed, and what you can do to treat inverted nipples.
How Do I Know if My Baby Has Thrush?What is thrush, and how do you recognize it in your baby? Learn the signs of thrush, what causes it, and what to do for treatment.
How Do You Know If You Have Mastitis?Mastitis is a common issue that affects many breastfeeding mothers. Learn the signs of mastitis, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and how you can prevent it.
Ovulation & FertilityBoost fertility and increase your chances to conceive. Learn about ovulation calendars, diet, aging and other factors that can affect pregnancy.
Pregnancy Myths QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Early Pregnancy Symptoms and SignsPregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
What Are the Types of Breast Implants?Breast implants are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved devices that are fitted into your breasts to enhance the look, shape and feel of your breasts. The different types of breast implants include saline, silicone, gummy bear, round, smooth and textured implants.