Ah, liquid gold, the fluid that feeds infants across the globe!
Society makes it seem like breastfeeding is an act that should come naturally and a woman’s breast should flow milk from morning until night, but it’s actually more difficult. It’s okay if you’re having trouble breastfeeding, you are not the only one, but it’s also important to get breastfeeding help as soon as possible so you can get the ball rolling, you don’t want to dry up before your infant has been properly supplied with nutrients.
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor. (http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics#1)
But just in case, here are three main concerns, that I feel are the most important and can help you prepare your mind and body for feeding your baby:
1. Latching Pain
It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
To help with this pain you might want to achieve an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above. To re position him, place your index finger inside baby’s mouth to take him off your breast. Tickle his chin or wait until he yawns so his mouth is wide open and seize your opportunity. (Sandwich the breast as described in the YouTube video I linked below, to shape it to the baby’s mouth.) When he is correctly positioned, his chin and nose touch your breast, his lips splay out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola. If baby’s position is correct and latching on still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Make sure to wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Lanolin-based creams are good for applying between feedings.
2. Cracked Nipples
Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush (see #6), dry skin, pumping improperly, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood, while kind of gross, won’t harm baby.
A helpful tips would be to check the baby’s positioning — the bottom part of your areola underneath your nipple should be in baby’s mouth. Also, try breastfeeding more frequently, and at shorter intervals. The less hungry baby is, the softer his sucking will be. Try letting some milk stay on your nipples to air dry after feeding (the milk actually helps heal them).
3. Clogged Ducts
Ducts clog because your milk isn’t draining completely. You may notice a hard lump on your breast or soreness to the touch and even some redness. If you start feeling feverish and achy, that’s a sign of infection and you should see your doctor. Most importantly try not to have long stretches in between feedings — milk needs to be expressed often. A nursing bra that is too tight can also cause clogged ducts. Stress (something all new mommies have an over abundance of) can also affect your milk flow.What you can do to help this is applying a warm compresses to your breasts and massage them to stimulate milk movement. Clogged ducts are not harmful to your baby because breast-milk has natural antibiotics. That said, there’s no reason why you have to suffer. Breastfeeding should be enjoyable for mom and baby.