In this article you will find guidelines for troubleshooting the three most common problems associated with breastfeeding.
Kindly note: These are only guidelines. A mother may have unique problems which require unique treatment that can be only given by personal (one-on-one) counselling from your lactation consultant after proper discussion.
The common problems associated with breastfeeding are as follows:
- Flat or Inverted nipple
- Nipple Soreness/cracks
- Breast engorgement.
1.Flat or inverted nipple
If the nipple is flat or inverted, you may find it difficult to latch the baby. In majority of the cases, flat nipples might not require much intervention if you allow the innate reflexes of your little one to play. Some simple steps to resolve this are as follows
• Syringe suction method which can be taught to you by your LC or nursing staff. (Make sure it is done very lightly, too much of suctioning might cause nipple injury)
• Manually stretching and rolling of the nipple between the thumb and finger several times a day
• Learn how to grasp the breast tissue so that areola forms a teat, and allows the baby to feed
• Breast pumping for 2-3 minutes may be helpful
• Silicon nipple shields can be the last resort
2.Nipple soreness or cracked nipples
Pain in the nipples while breastfeeding or trauma to the nipple is caused mainly due to
• Incorrect attachment/latch when your baby is only chewing or biting the nipple
• If there is breast engorgement/tightness in the breast which can cause hindrance in deep latching
• If there is some fungal infection
You should continue breastfeeding unless the pain is unbearable
• Correct the position & attachment by consulting your Lactation Consultant.
• Application of hind milk to the nipple may be quite helpful to reduce soreness
• Exposure of the nipple to air
• Breast pumping sessions should not be too long or at a very high setting as it might further worsen the soreness
• If the cause is fungal infection, consult your gynaecologist for antifungal treatment
More commonly seen by 3rd to 5 the day post delivery when the let down begins, you might start to feel heaviness and discomfort in the breast due to accumulation of excess milk in the breast tissue. If not treated in time, it might cause a lot of pain and you might feel feverish with chills and/or body ache. It’s essential that the correct cause of breast engorgement is found and troubleshooting is done at the earliest to prevent further complications like mastitis or breast abscess. Do consult your LC/ gynecologist as soon as you see first symptoms of engorgement
Engorgement in the breast is mainly caused by
• Incorrect latching of the baby
• Delayed and infrequent breastfeeding
• When there is an oversupply and the breasts are not getting emptied completely
• Lightly massage the breasts, learn the correct technique from your LC
• Gently express milk prior to feed, use of breast pumps or breadtfeeding the baby.
• Moist hot fomentation before milk expression can be very helpful
• Cold compress for 2-3 minutes between feeds will help reduce pain and burning sensation
• Put the baby frequently to the breast (baby should be ideally put to breast at least 8-12 times in 24 hours
• Pain killers may be prescribed by your gynecologist, if required