Common Breastfeeding Issues and How to Solve Them

August is breastfeeding awareness month. Inspira maternity services ensures that each mother planning to breastfeed receives support from mother/baby nurses trained in breastfeeding, certified lactation consultants, and her pediatrician, obstetrician or midwife.

mother breastfeeding baby

When it comes to a nutrition plan for your new baby, evidence supports breastfeeding as the healthiest option for both mother and baby whenever possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends breastfeeding exclusively for your child’s first six months, then for a full year once complimentary foods are introduced.

“Breast milk has all of the nutrients necessary for strong development, as well as antibodies and other immunity-boosting properties, all in an easy-to-digest form,” explains Deborah Frye, a certified lactation consultant with Inspira Health. “Beyond being the ideal food for your infant, breastfeeding has been linked to strong cognitive and emotional development.”

“Breastfeeding is also valuable for mom’s health” adds Frye. “Research shows skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is an important bonding time, while the act of breastfeeding burns calories, introduces restorative hormones and decreases the risk for certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease.”

Frye believes education and support that starts well before a woman is in labor and includes a partner/support person if possible, is the best way to help woman overcome challenges and meet their breastfeeding goals. “We offer breastfeeding classes prenatally and lactation support in the hospital. Our goal is to have every breastfeeding mom leave the hospital knowing that their infant is latching and breastfeeding as well as understanding the resources that are available to help her if she has any breastfeeding problems or concerns after she leaves our care,” says Frye. “Inspira provides a ‘breastfeeding warm line’ so moms can call us with questions, and we have a weekly breastfeeding support group at our Vineland campus.”

The nurses and lactation consultants can also share information about private lactation consultants and organizations that can help. Additionally, the WIC government program provides free breastfeeding help to women who qualify.

Here some of the most common challenges to breastfeeding, and how you can make it easier.

Nipple pain and soreness can be common during the first several weeks of breastfeeding and should eventually subside. Pain within the first few weeks of birth can usually be reduced or eliminated with better positioning of the baby during feeding and with a proper latch of the baby onto the breast.

So, if you experience pain and soreness, try repositioning your baby. Ideally, the baby should take in as much of the breast as possible, so that the nipple is at the back of his or her mouth. If pain persists, seek help. Nipple and breast pain in later weeks after breastfeeding is well established is more likely to be caused by thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection that can be passed between mother and baby. If you experience nipple or breast pain, ask your doctor to screen for thrush. Recent antibiotic use can make a woman more susceptible to contracting thrush.

Engorgement is due the increase in the volume of milk being produced in the breast as well as extra blood and fluid in the breast that occurs on about the third day after the birth of the baby. To prevent or minimize engorgement, make sure the baby is latching well and that feedings are unrestricted, feeding on demand at least 8-12x/24hours. If the infant is sleepy and not waking frequently, awaken him at least every 2-3hours and offer the breast. Always offer both breasts at each feeding and if breasts are still feeling full after a feeding, you can hand express or pump until your breasts are comfortable. You can apply heat before feeding to encourage milk flow and cold between feedings to reduce swelling and relieve pain.

A clogged duct is usually marked by a lump or tender spot in the breast. Though these clogs have no impact on the quality of breast milk, they can make feedings painful and difficult. Heat and massage prior to feeding and massaging the breast while feeding can help dislodge most clogs. Changing the feeding position is also helpful. You should stay in touch with your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant to ensure the situation doesn’t worsen. If you have a fever or flu like symptoms call your midwife or obstetrician as these may be symptoms of mastitis, a breast infection that may require treatment.

Inspira offers classes on breastfeeding to expecting mothers and their partners. Women who are already nursing can receive support through our weekly support groups for new parents and our breastfeeding warm line at (856) 853-2074.

Call 888-31-BIRTH to request an appointment with an OB/GYN or midwife for maternity care