Although breastfeeding is a natural process, a little practice and skill is needed in order to master it successfully. Learning the proper latch and positioning techniques can make all the difference when you first begin to breastfeed.
It is important for first-time breastfeeding moms to know that even though there may be a few challenges along the way a successful breastfeeding relationship is possible. Some of the most common breastfeeding problems include engorgement, mastitis and sore or cracked nipples.
Engorgement refers to an extreme fullness of the breast and can make it difficult for a young baby to latch on properly. It most commonly occurs in the early days in breastfeeding when a mother’s body is still trying to regulate how much milk it needs to produce for her baby. When engorged you may experience throbbing pain and breasts that feel hard. Engorgement can be relieved with frequent nursing. You can also express just enough milk to relieve the pressure with a breast pump. In engorgement persists you may develop mastitis.
Mastitis, an inflamed breast infection, is diagnosed by breast tenderness, swelling and flu-like symptoms. Mothers who miss feedings, are overly stressed and have cracked or bleeding nipples are at a higher risk of developing mastitis. If you are affected with mastitis, you should continue to breastfeed on the infected side, drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest. Some mothers may need a round of antibiotics to clear up a case of mastitis. An infection can be avoided by relieving engorgement promptly.
Breastfeeding should not be a painful experience. Sore or cracked nipples are a result of latch-on or positioning problems. Learning how to position your baby comfortably and achieving a good latch can eliminate pain while feeding. A couple of drops of breastmilk or pure lanolin can help to heal cracked nipples more quickly.
Line Up a Lactation Consultant –
If you are planning to breastfeed your child, then selecting a lactation consultant prior to his or her birth should be one of your top priorities along with choosing a pediatrician. Finding a lactation consultant before your child’s birth will ensure that you have access to a breastfeeding expert from the start. Your lactation consultant can be a lifesaver when you need help achieving latch-on or comfortable positioning in the early days of breastfeeding.
Be Sure to Have a Strong Support Group – Overcoming even the smallest challenge will be easier if you have a group of people that are supporting your decision to breastfeed. Your husband or partner is often the most important member of your support group. If he is uneasy about your decision to breastfeed it can help to educate him on the many benefits that breastfeeding will give you and your child.
Joining the La Leche League chapter in your area is another way to build your breastfeeding support group. By attending LLL meetings, you’ll have a chance to interact with mothers who are going through the same experiences as you or have been through them before. These mothers can help to provide you with much needed encouragement and support when breastfeeding is a challenge.
Being thoroughly prepared and having a support group can make it easier for you to handle any problems that you might experience during your breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
This article was contributed by Elizabeth from Breast Pumps Direct.
As a nursing mother to her 1-year-old daughter and a breastfeeding counsellor, she spends a great deal of time everyday thinking, talking and writing about breastfeeding and breastmilk.