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Common Breastfeeding Problems & Solutions

In commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week from 1st - 7th Aug 2022, we will be talking about the common problems mothers face when breastfeeding as well as some tips and tricks to help you! This week is meant to not only raise awareness about breastfeeding but also to encourage support for mummies around the world who face issues breastfeeding. This year’s theme “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet” looks at protecting and promoting women's access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.


Introduction

It is important to know that some mummies may not be able to breastfeed for various medical reasons and that is perfectly Okay! You are still doing an amazing job raising your baby with the advice of your doctor or lactation specialist so do not feel like you are any less. For the mummies who are able to breastfeed and might be new to this journey, we are here to make this an easy and simple process!



Inverted Nipples


Problem: One or both nipples don’t protrude from the breast making it difficult for babies to latch.


Solution(s):

  1. Shape your breast by pulling back on the breast tissue, rolling your nipples and pinching gently on the areola

  2. Use a breast pump to draw out your nipple immediately before breastfeeding

  3. Use a nipple shield with the guidance of a lactation professional


Latching Pain


Problem: Extremely sore nipples post-breastfeeding due to poor positioning or incorrect latch-on technique


Solution(s):

  1. Ensure the baby’s mouth completely covers the lower part of the areola in order to form a decent and painless latch

  2. Learn from a lactation consultant how to correctly position and attach the baby

  3. Speak to a lactation consultant or paediatrician as latching pain could be a sign of the baby having tongue-tie

  4. Heal the sore nipple with purified lanolin cream and a breast shell may be worn in between feeding


Candidiasis (fungal infection)


Problem: It may begin as soreness of nipples despite proper latching-on but can also develop into severe burning sensations, itching and may appear a deep pink. Your baby might also have a diaper rash with scalded-looking buttocks and their mouth might have an oral thrush.


Solution:

  1. Seek immediate medical attention for treatment.

  2. Prevent this infection by sterilising (washing and boiling) pacifiers, teats, teethers, breast pump parts, bras or reusable breast pads. Also, avoid storing and freezing breast milk during this period as the fungus might still be actively present in the milk.



Clogged/ Plugged Ducts


Problem: Caused by the breasts producing milk faster than it can be consumed or drained. It usually presents as a painful lump, swelling and soreness of the nipple. Plugged ducts can develop into mastitis if not treated. Other causes of plugged ducts include compressing of breasts while sleeping, using wrong-sized pumping parts or an inefficient pump or having something hit your breast in the same spot, like the underwire of your bra


Solution(s):

  1. The best way to unclog them is to breastfeed.

  2. Massage the sore breast and apply a warm compress to soothe the pain.

  3. Use different feeding positions to help drain the different parts of the breast

  4. Seek advice if redness and fever persist.


Cracked Nipples


Problem: Caused by a shallow latch, pumping improperly, thrush or even dry skin, cracked nipples can cause bloody discharge or pain while breastfeeding


Solution(s):

  1. Apply a lanolin-based breast cream between feeding sessions

  2. Leave a little milk on the nipple after breastfeeding

  3. Wear loose cotton bras and avoid soap, alcohol or regular body lotion

  4. Space out the feeding if possible to reduce pain


Engorged Breasts


Problem: Caused by an oversupply of milk or infrequent feeding, engorged breasts can lead to swelling, throbbing and feeling uncomfortable.


Solution(s):

  1. Offer an engorged breast to the baby before it cries for milk to ensure success in latching

  2. Avoid pumping the extra milk to prevent the body from overproducing

  3. Massage the nipple before the feeding session to soften it and ease the latching process

  4. Apply a cold pack or cold cabbage leaves on the breast in between feeding to help reduce swelling

  5. Seek help from a lactation specialist if engorgement persists



Milk Blister


Problem: A whitish, tender blister found at the tip of the nipple which seals a pore causing milk buildup


Solution:

  1. Massage the breasts before feeding and continue breastfeeding to clear the blocked milk duct

  2. Seek help from a lactation specialist if the blister persists


Mastitis


Problem: Mastitis is a unilateral bacterial infection of the breast that causes fatigue, localised breast tenderness and a flu-like, muscular aching with fever.


Solution(s):

  1. Massage the breast to clear the plugged duct

  2. Apply heat to allow the milk to drain

  3. Increase intake of fluids and visit the doctor for antibiotics to treat infections


Breast abscess


Problem: Mastitis may develop into an abscess or a collection of pus if treatment is delayed.


Solution(s):

  1. Pump the milk from the affected breast to prevent engorgement and to maintain the milk supply

  2. Seek advice from your doctor to remove the pus



Thrush


Problem: A yeast infection transferred from the baby’s mouth to the breast, Thrush causes itchiness, soreness and even a burning sensation.


Solution(s):

  1. Application of anti-fungal medicine to the nipple and the baby’s mouth

  2. Wash all bras, clothing and nursing pads daily in hot water and vinegar to kill any yeast spores


Baby Sleeping at Breast


Problem: Babies can feel sleepy during nursing due to either not getting enough milk or incorrect position


Solution(s):

  1. When feeding, begin with the fuller breast to ensure a constant flow of milk

  2. Try rubbing the baby or blowing its face gently to gently wake them up


Painful Let Down


Problem: A milk let-down sensation (aka “milk ejection reflex”) experienced as tingling or a prickly pins-and-needles kind of feeling can hurt or be achy.


Solution(s):

  1. If caused by an excessive amount of milk, try feeding the baby longer on one particular breast and switching to the other only if you need to

  2. If it feels like many tiny-daggers-poking-your-breasts feeling, seek advice from your doctor





Low Milk Supply


Solution(s):

  1. Breastfeeding and pumping frequently to help build up supply.

  2. Consume foods to increase milk supply like Clookies lactation bakes!


Conclusion

Not knowing how to breastfeed or why you can or cannot breastfeed is okay! Remember to ask your doctor how you can feed your baby the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Remember breastfeeding may be a natural process but it does not always come naturally.


If you require a lactation consultant, feel free to contact the following for consultation services,


Thomson Medical’s ParentCraft Centre: 6251 4090

Mount Alvernia’s Parentcraft Centre: 6347 6641

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital: 6225 5554 (ask for lactation services)



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