Breastfeeding Guide For First-Timers

It is not easy being a woman. We go through so many hardship; be it having to conform to a beauty standard, needing to cope with our monthly premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and giving birth (the scariest of 'em all).


That is not all, unfortunately, we frequently stumble upon new mums sharing their frightening first experiences in breastfeeding. Some complain breastfeeding hurts so bad they had to start weaning their babies sooner and introduced them to formula. Some complain their nipples start cracking because their infants latch on to their nipples too much.


There is no denying there are some problems mothers may face during their breastfeeding period, especially for first-timers and these are some of them;


  • Latching Pain

This can be deemed as the most common problem a mother may encounter during their first breastfeeding experience. This usually happens during the first 30 seconds of nursing where they feel soreness on their nipples. However, if it persists during the whole breastfeeding session, it could be trauma caused by your baby with a poor latch or wrong positioning of the child.


Solution:


Remember to position your baby so that their mouth is level with your nipple. Babies should latch onto the entire areola, not just the nipple.


Their head should be tilted slightly backward and make sure they do not have to turn their head too much. Their chin should be right up against your breast so their nose is clear.



  • Cracked Nipples

This particular problem may also occur due to poor latching and positioning. According to Jane Morton, MD, a clinical professor of paediatrics emerita at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, United States of America, during the first week of breastfeeding, mothers may experience some bloody discharge as their baby learns to latch.


Solution:


Morton advises mothers to let their nipples airdry after every nursing session, to help the healing process of cracked nipples. You can also apply a healing product to help speed up the healing process.


  • Engorgement

Breast engorgement starts about three days after you give birth. Yes, it is uncomfortable and your breasts become full and firm, but do not worry as it may only last between 24 to 48 hours and should be completely gone within a few weeks of nursing as you and your baby pick up the rhythm of your breastfeeding regulation.


However, engorgement can also happen if there is a long rest time between feedings and also if your baby does not drain the milk from each breast.


Solution:


Massage your breasts during a feeding session and remember to nurse regularly as frequent nursing leads to less engorgement. Morton also suggests mothers to hand-express (a technique where a mother uses their hands to get breastmilk out) your breasts before feeding to soften your breasts and help your baby to get easy access of breastmilk.



  • Clogged Ducts

When your breasts are overly full or you go too long between feedings, you may experience clogged ducts resulting in a red and tender lump on your breasts. Although this condition is not as serious, mothers may get breast infection if it is ignored. If you happen to feel feverish, it may also be a sign of infection caused by clogged ducts which is known as mastitis. Consult your doctor as soon as possible.


Other than that, breast compression that is caused by a certain sleeping position and the underwire of your bra may also cause your milk ducts to clog or even the use of a wrong-sized breast pump may lead to clogged ducts.


Solution:


Keep in mind that breastfeeding keeps the milk flowing, so keep your breastfeeding session schedule on time and you will not have to worry about it anymore. Most importantly, get enough rest.


Try feeding your baby on the affected side of your breast first and let your baby clear the milk out of the duct. Massage the affected breast every now and then to help unclog the milk ducts.


  • Low Milk Supply

To put it simply, low milk supply happens when there is little to no demand from the baby. Sometimes you may even think your breasts naturally do not or are unable to produce enough breastmilk for your baby. This usually is not the case, though.


Solution:


The more frequent you nurse or pump, the more milk you will produce. If you are still worried you are not producing enough milk for your baby, monitor your baby's weight by the time they turn 14 days old, they should be gaining on average 100 to 200 gram per week. If your baby gains less than that, it is an indication that they are not getting enough nutrition from you so you may need to consult your lactation counsellor.



Although these problems may seem scary and traumatizing for some women, there are also benefits for mothers and their babies that could be gained from breastfeeding.


Breastmilk is the most ideal source of nutrition for newborns. It contains important antibodies that helps protect against common childhood illnesses. It also reduces risks of diseases, promotes a baby's healthy and ideal weight.


Not only is it good for the baby, but it also helps with the mother's uterus contraction, weight loss, decrease risks of diseases and saves time and money.


So, do not give up on breastfeeding. It is good for your and your baby's health.


Good luck!




Reference:


1. Maximizing Milk Production with Hands-On Pumping; https://med.stanford.edu/newborns/professional-education/breastfeeding/maximizing-milk-production.html


2. Hand Expression of Breastmilk; https://med.stanford.edu/newborns/professional-education/breastfeeding/hand-expressing-milk.html


3. Top 10 Breastfeeding Problems Solved; https://www.thebump.com/a/top-10-breastfeeding-problems-solved


4. Most Common Breastfeeding Problems And Solutions; https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/breastfeeding/problems/


5. 11 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Both Mom And Baby; https://www.healthline.com/health/breastfeeding/11-benefits-of-breastfeeding