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Breastfeeding is natural…
But it’s not always easy. At least not for everyone – certainly not for me! (In fact, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve done.)
I watched my sister struggle with breastfeeding through two babies, and when I was pregnant with the squishy baby I swore I wouldn’t distress over breastfeeding him. I figured I would try it and if it was a disaster I would go to formula, no stress.
But of course, once he was actually here I felt very differently. I wanted desperately to breastfeed. It’s been uphill… in fact, we have personally dealt with SEVEN of these breastfeeding problems.
9 Common breastfeeding problems
Not necessarily considered a “breastfeeding problem” by all, but jaundice can make it difficult for your newborn to wake for feedings – and this is NOT good since the first few weeks are crucial for your new breastfeeding relationship. Our squishy baby was so sleepy it was nearly impossible to get him to eat sometimes… (and getting them to eat is one of the key ways to treat jaundice. hmmmm.)
This is common, especially for first time moms – NEITHER of you has ever breastfed before and learning needs to happen! A poor latch is painful but easy enough to fix (as long as there’s no anatomical cause for the poor latch, like a lip tie, but we’ll get to that). Learning to latch babe properly will solve any latch related issues – How to Breastfeed: Getting a Deep Latch.
Lip and / or Tongue Tie
If baby has a lip or tongue tie (or both, like the squishy baby) latching could be very difficult no matter what you do (but also very important, because the more diligent you are with latch the less nipple damage you will sustain before you can get the tie corrected). In our experience, the ties make it difficult for baby to nurse, but also painful for mom.
Baby is also likely to take in lots of air while nursing. This makes them gassy and uncomfortable. Our first month with the squishy baby was SO much more difficult than it had to be… if we had gotten the ties corrected in his first week, our whole breastfeeding relationship could have started out differently.
The fix is a relatively simple correction surgery. The “extra” tissues are cut – it takes seconds. (Not saying it won’t be hard on you thought! I cried for two days.)
These posts are must reads if you’re having breastfeeding struggles and haven’t ruled out ties:
Thrush is an overgrowth of yeast. It makes your nipples uncomfortable and can give your baby a diaper rash.
If you took antibiotics at any point in your pregnancy, there’s a good chance you’ll get thrush at least once. If you are prone to yeast infections, you might get thrush. Or, if you are just unfortunate like me (didn’t take antibiotics and not prone to yeast infections either), you – apparently – may still get thrush. It just happens.
If you have burning or stabbing pain in your nipples, if they appear unusually pink, if they are itchy or if your shirt is really irritating to them you should see your lactation consultant about possible thrush. (Or if baby has weird white patches in his mouth / a bad diaper rash you can’t heal.)
There are a few ways to treat thrush, and believe me, you want to treat it ASAP.
Plain Old Sore Nipples
So sometimes your boobies hurt because of a poor latch / thrush / mastitis and sometimes they just hurt because you are new to breastfeeding and they need to toughen up a bit. Be prepared for that.
If you have deep pain in your breast that you can’t peg down to poor latch or thrush and you don’t have a fever / red spot indicating mastitis, you probably have a plugged duct (PRE mastitis. You must deal with this, or it could become mastitis – but understand the difference: mastitis vs plugged duct).
I’ve included great articles on how to deal with plugged ducts, but I Came up with the BEST way to deal with them on my own with some help from the Wonder Gram:
Cover your breasts in castor oil, and have a hot hot bath, finished off by rolling over in the tub and submerging your sore breast in the hot water (for as long as I could comfortably hang out on my side in the tub…not THAT long). I suppose a hot hot shower would work – castor oil doesn’t really “rinse” off without soap. (Wash it off before you get out.) Then, while you’re still warm, either nurse or pump while gently massaging the hard spot.
Natural Remedy for a Clogged Milk Duct (FYI this post has some SUPER awesome and unusual remedies I had never heard of before!)
If you don’t get that plugged duct treated in time… Mastitis. (One breastfeeding trouble that I haven’t actually personally experienced yet – yay!) But I’ve had those clogged ducts, and I can tell you right now, I don’t want mastitis. I hear It’s clogged ducts on steroids.
Low Milk Supply
As frustrating and disheartening as it is to be in constant pain, perhaps none of the above problems with breastfeeding are QUITE as devastating as feeling like your babe is always hungry. I just about cried one night when, after I had nursed for 45 minutes, the squishy baby wouldn’t stop crying… until we fed him 3 ounces of pumped milk and he fell straight to sleep.
That was when I set out on my journey to increase my milk supply. I did all. the. things. ( I think the most important thing I did was pumping after feeding him during the day. Emptying the breast is key.)
It’s hard for someone with low supply to believe this is really a problem, but I understand that it is.
Breastfeeding can be really, really hard…
Like I said, before my baby was here, I wasn’t at all concerned with breastfeeding. I figured as long as the baby was fed, that would be fine. But I am SO glad we have persevered through our breastfeeding troubles and mostly, I feel like we are winning.
The longer you can breastfeed your baby, the better for the baby; providing she’s not hungry all the time and you’re not stressed all the time! If breastfeeding issues are ruining your ability to enjoy your babe while babe is tiny, maybe it’s NOT the best thing. A visit to a lactation consultant really helped us out. Something to consider if things aren’t getting better for you.
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