The benefits of breastfeeding are plenty. “Besides meeting your newborn’s nutritional needs, breastmilk also contains antibodies to boost immunity and protect your baby from illnesses,” says Alison Bruce (RN, BScN), a perinatal nurse at Complete Healthcare International (CHI).
Breastfeeding may be a natural way to feed a baby, but it doesn’t always mean it’s easy. Issues with baby’s latch, sore nipples, a possible tongue tie or fear that milk supply is low are all common issues that may trouble a nursing mum. And they aren’t exclusive to first-time nursing mums either. A mother who’s had a successful breastfeeding journey with her first baby, might encounter issues with her subsequent child – or vice versa.
Catching a breastfeeding issue in its early stages can determine how successful your nursing journey will be. Knowing that it can be fixed or worked around, also gives a mum, who is feeling otherwise hopeless and helpless, confidence and peace of mind.
Alison from CHI identifies and iron outs common breastfeeding snags.
Q. Please explain why finding the right latch is important during breastfeeding ?
A. The most important part of successful breastfeeding is the latch. If your baby is not properly latched on to your breast, feedings can be painful. Firstly, find a good breastfeeding position. Many different positions can work, so find one that’s comfortable for both you and your baby. Popular ones include the cradle hold, crossover hold, football hold, laid-back position and side-lying position. You can easily find some videos on YouTube for details. In other cases, unexplained breastfeeding pain can be due to a tongue tie issue, indicated by not being able to stick tongue out beyond the bottom gum line. The baby does not open his mouth widely, thus not latching on to the breast at the correct angle. You can ask your paediatrician to check your baby’s tie if you have any doubt.
Q.How does a mum determine if she’s making enough milk?
A. When baby wants to nurse just an hour after feeding, it’s natural to worry that you’re not producing enough milk. It’s important to note that milk volume is not established until 6 to 8 weeks postpartum. Ways to encourage an increase in milk production, include feeding regularly, 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. Breastfeed for 20 minutes on each side until both breasts feel empty. You need to empty breasts completely to stimulate more milk production. It can be frustrating not knowing if the baby is drinking enough. If your milk supply issue is minor, herbal infusions can be very useful to increase and maintain milk flow. Some mothers genuinely have a milk supply problem caused by taking certain medications, hormonal problems, using hormonal birth control or previous breast surgery. If you need help, your doctor can prescribe auto galactagogues medication to help you lactate and may advise you to supplement with formula.
Q.How can oversupply affect baby?
A. There are a few reasons why infants choke while breastfeeding. Aside from positioning, it can also be related to milk oversupply. One way to to help your baby overcome this problem, is by doing “uphill” nursing. Position your baby above the level of your nipple to allow gravity to work against the flow of your milk. Other ways include, more frequent feedings to reduce accumulation of milk between feeds, or to pump out milk first until the flow slows down before breastfeeding the baby. Then feed the expressed breastmilk to the baby after breastfeeding to ensure they receive all the components of breastmilk (foremilk and hindmilk).
Q. Can a mum carry on breastfeeding while having blocked ducts or mastitis?
A. Blocked ducts usually mean that the milk is not moving well in a part of your breast. Moms will often notice a hard lump, which may feel tender, hot, swollen or reddened. Nursing on the affected side may also be painful. There are many causes to blocked ducts – your baby does not drain your breasts often and/or thoroughly enough, your milk flow is obstructed because you’re wearing a tight bra or your baby carrier squashes your breasts. Your milk can become backed up whether you’re feeding or not if there’s continuous pressure on your breasts. Keep breastfeeding your baby from your affected breast, if you can, even if it’s uncomfortable. It will help you to get better faster. Massage the breast during breastfeeding in a circular motion towards the nipple. Taking a warm shower prior to feeding, or using a warm compress to help dilate the ductal vessels will also help with emptying the ducts. If you develop a fever, and the pain and redness continues, then see your physician to determine if you have mastitis. An infection can occur if the blocked duct is not cleared and you may need antibiotic therapy.
Q.What should a mum do if her breastmilk is causing baby to have reflux?
A. Reflux can be managed by keeping baby in an upright position, raising the head of the crib by inserting a rolled-up towel under the mattress and burping baby frequently. If baby’s reflux is severe and can’t be relieved with the above measures, it may be that he or she is reacting to the proteins transferred from the mother’s milk. Some babies aren’t able to digest the proteins found in cow’s milk, which the mother may be drinking, and develop reflux. To link the issue to diet-related reflux, try to avoid dairy for two weeks and monitor baby’s symptoms. Discuss with your physician for guidance.
This post is sponsored by Complete Healthcare International