Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure your newborn gets all the right nutrients and beneficial antibodies. For many women, however, it doesn’t come without challenges. Sore nipples, infections, baby feeding strikes and milk supply issues are among the most common breastfeeding challenges. Fortunately, there are usually ways to deal with each challenge so you can get back to feeding and bonding with your baby with a little more ease.
Common Breastfeeding Challenges and Solutions
- Sore nipples. This is probably the number one breastfeeding challenges that new moms face. Nipples are very sensitive, and an over-zealous newborn can wreak havoc on them! A proper latch is the most important way to avoid soreness, according to womenshealth.gov . Consider consulting a lactation specialist to help you determine the best way to get your baby to latch on properly. Rubbing drops of your own breast milk into the nipples can also help prevent soreness.
- Infections- Breast infections can cause the same symptoms as the flu, such as fevers and fatigue. Your breast may be hot to the touch. It may also look redder than the other breast. Fortunately, the infections typically only occur in one breast. Until it passes, use the other breast to feed your baby. Infections typically clear up within 48 hours. If it hasn’t, you may need medicine. See your doctor right away if you notice blood or pus in the milk or around your nipples.
- Low milk supply– Sometimes what seems like a low supply is actually a normal supply decrease. At some point, you and your baby will get into a rhythm of supply and demand. During your baby’s growth spurts, you may need to nurse more often to help stimulate more production. If you are still concerned that your supply is low and your baby isn’t growing properly, discuss it with your doctor.
- Nursing strikes- Nursing strikes are one of the most daunting breastfeeding challenges because moms worry their babies aren’t getting enough to eat. This can happen when she’s teething, dealing a mouth infection, or just plain doesn’t feel well. She’ll usually resume eating normally once she feels better. In the meantime, you may want to express the milk on your regular nursing schedule to avoid becoming engorged. Try getting the milk into her with a dropper or spoon until she is ready to resume nursing. If it continues, contact her doctor.
More tips to help avoid breastfeeding challenges
- Wear the right bra. Good support can be the difference between comfortable breasts and sore, achy breasts. The right bra fit means it’s not so snug that it feels like it’s cutting off your circulation, and not so loose that you feel like you’re going to fall out of it.
- Change nursing pads regularly. Letting a moist nursing pad sit for too long can cause irritation, chafing and even infection.
- Choose the right position. The position of yourself and your baby has a major impact on the overall comfort of breastfeeding. If your milk supply is low, go with a position that allows gravity to help. If it’s a bit too abundant or comes out very quickly, consider a side-lying position.
- Avoid fragrant products, creams, and cleansers. This is just common sense. You wouldn’t rub lotion all over your baby’s bottle nipple if you were formula feeding, right? Besides, those products can cause more harm to sore nipples than they help.
If you are having a difficult time coping with breastfeeding challenges, talk to your local lactation specialist. Your pediatrician can recommend someone if you don’t already have one. They’re typically the best resource because they have extensive experience in all areas of breastfeeding.