Breastfeeding can be tough, especially in the initial days. It gets better along the way, as both your baby and you learn, and make some adjustments. So hang in there. There are often problems. However, with patience and good support, you will become a pro soon enough.

Delayed breastmilk

The breasts of most women do not get full immediately after having a baby. Just being a first-time mother can let your milk delay. So do not worry if it happens to you. Even when your milk delays, keep putting your baby to breast. He will get a few drops of nutrient-rich colostrum, coloured deep yellow. Colostrum deeply satisfies for your baby. It will keep him full for a long time. It also helps him to fight infections. Do not throw it away. Moreover, when your baby sucks, your brain will sense this and jolt milk production and release into gear.

To breastfeed your baby directly from the best involves close contact between your baby and you. This helps baby derive the right amount of bodily warmth from you. And it populates his skin with friendly microorganisms from your skin. This thus leaves no space for harmful bacteria that may make your baby ill.

True failure to produce breastmilk is rare.

Baby unable to suck

Another problem that may occur is that your baby may be unable to suck. This may be because baby is born premature, or your nipples are too flat or too big. It may also be because your baby is ill. Rarely, it may be because baby has a cleft palate or lip. This is an abnormal division of the roof of baby’s mouth and/or the lip. If your baby is too unwell to suck, or born premature, ask your doctor if it is alright to express the milk and feed baby with a spoon. The trick is this: it gets better.

Flat nipples

If your nipples are too flat, prompt your midwife or doctor to help you to get the nipple to come out. The nipple area is more stretchable after you have a baby, so again, there is no need to worry. A big nipple may not be able to fit into baby’s mouth right away. Sometimes it may fit, but baby may not get enough milk initially due to a poor latch. However, as you keep trying, baby will learn to breastfeed, especially after he has gained a little weight.

Sore nipples

Another common problem during breastfeeding is sore nipples. Your nipples may get sore or cracked from a poor latch. During breastfeeding, the areola should disappear into your baby’s mouth in addition to the nipple. This is the dark circular area surrounding the nipple. When your baby sucks, he then squeezes the milk ducts just ahead of the areola to let the milk come down.

Sore nipples happen when the baby does not get any areola into his mouth. The nipples become painful, red, sore or sometimes bleed. Ask your midwife to help you. If your nipples are sore, you can get some pain relief. Paracetamol is quite effective. After a feed, leave some expressed breastmilk on your nipples to dry. This promotes healing.

When your baby is very hungry, he will breastfeed aggressively. This may worsen sore nipples. To prevent this, look for early hunger cues and feed him before he becomes anxious and starts to cry. Early hunger cues include baby being very alert, baby taking his hands to his mouth, baby turning towards your breast, and making sucking movements.

Don’t put everything on your nipples

When you put antibiotic ointments on your nipple, they can encourage the growth of thrush. So discuss any such medication with your doctor. There are creams for sore nipples. Some of them may need to be rinsed off before a feed, to prevent baby from swallowing them. Do discuss with your doctor as well.

Breast engorgement

Breast engorgement is when the breasts become huge from being filled with milk, and are painful. This may happen when you do not empty your breast frequently. It may be due to a poor latch, sore nipples, baby being ill or being separated from you. If can get infected. Get some pain relief with a simple analgesic like paracetamol and then empty the breast. Express the milk and store or throw away. Better still, you can let your baby fill his little tummy with it. Whatever you find comfortable, you can do to ease the pain, including cold compresses before or after feeding or expressing milk, to reduce swelling. You can also use warm compresses before feeding to ease the pain.

Leaking breastmilk

Sometimes, you may experience leaky breasts. Breast milk comes at unwanted times, for example, when you leave baby at home and attend a long meeting. Once you anticipate that you are going to be away from baby beyond baby’s normal feeding time, you should also prepare for a letdown at a time when you don’t want it. Use a breast pad to avoid your garment getting wet. Also carry along a change of clothes. Because you may find that the breast pad is over soaked and your clothes get wet too.

No one said breastfeeding is easy, but you can enjoy it. You can be successful at it. And it will be a win-win for baby and you. You will be just fine.  Let us know so we can cheer you on.  

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