Breastfeeding. It’s supposed to be one of the most natural actions that a mother can do with her child.
Then why is it so hard?!
Sometimes, it’s not easy to just ‘put the baby on the boob’ — there many reasons why breastfeeding can feel like an uphill battle. The good news is, there are a few things you can do that can make the process a little easier. We’ll take you through six common breastfeeding problems and a few tips on how to remedy them.
- Nipple Pain
Painful, cracked or bleeding nipples is a common occurrence when starting a breastfeeding journey.
After giving birth, it’s completely normal for your breasts to become more sensitive in the first few weeks. The discomfort and sensitivity should reduce and go away over time.
Try feeding your baby before they’re crying with hunger. A calmer baby will be gentler on your nipples. They’ll usually give you cues that they’re hungry.
Using specially formulated Hydrogel Soothing Pads straight after a feed helps with skin recovery by cooling the skin and preventing further irritation.
You can also hand-express a few drops of your own breastmilk at the end of a feed and spread it over your nipple to soothe the area.
Try applying purified lanolin ointment between feeds to help with the pain. Speak to your midwife, GP, child and family health nurse or lactation consultant before using any nipple products.
Chicco Breast Shells are a great way to soothe and protect tender nipples in between feeds. They support the skin in its recovery by allowing airflow around the nipple and preventing clothes from rubbing on them.
If you think your nipples are damaged, see your midwife or GP.
2. Breastfeeding Position
There’s no right or wrong position to breastfeed your baby in. The important thing is that both mum and bubs feel comfortable.
Make sure your baby is comfy. Whatever position you’re in, your baby should be stable and supported, while their head, neck and spine should not be twisted.
Using a pillow while sitting down can help support you both during feeds. The versatile Boppy Pillow has special padding to help mum maintain a comfortable position, reducing muscle tension in the arms, shoulders, and neck. The pillow also provides your baby with the proper support, helping them maintain a comfortable and natural position whilst feeding.
3. Inverted or Flat Nipples
Flat or inverted nipples is a common issue for many breastfeeding women. While it can make it difficult for your baby to attach to your breast, using a nipple shield can make it possible.
Nipple shields are thin, flexible silicone pieces that you place over your nipple before breastfeeding to protect it.
4. Full Breasts
Approximately three to four days after giving birth, your breasts will start producing milk; and lots of it. This is known as the milk ‘coming in’.
Your breasts may even produce more milk than what your baby currently needs. This can cause a certain level of discomfort but should only last a few days.
When your milk ‘comes in’, your nipple may become full and firm, making it difficult for your baby to attach correctly to your breasts.
The Royal Women’s Hospital of Victoria has some great ways on how to relieve the discomfort of full breasts:
- Hand express some milk before you attach your baby to your breasts. This will soften the areola and make it easier for your baby to attach.
- Offer one breast per feed. Don’t swap sides unless the first breast feels very soft after the baby finishes feeding from it.
- If your baby wants a top-up feed within an hour, feed again from the same breast.
You can also use thermogel breast pads to encourage milk let-down to relieve the feeling of full breasts. They work best when used just before feeding to soften the breast.
Mastitis is normally the result of a blocked milk duct that hasn’t cleared. Some of the milk banked up behind the blocked duct can be forced into the nearby breast tissue, causing the tissue to become inflamed.
The inflammation is called mastitis. Early symptoms of mastitis can make you feel as if you are getting the flu. You may begin to get shivers and aches.
If you think you have mastitis or are suffering from flu-like symptoms, seek medical advice.
It’s best to start treatment as soon as you feel a sore spot in your breast.
It sounds painful, but your baby’s sucking can help your mastitis because your breasts need to stay as empty as possible. The milk is safe for your baby to drink.
Also, using cold packs on the affected breast can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Use a warm pack (or a warm object) just before a feed (for up to a few minutes). This can help trigger your let-down to clear the blockage and relieve pain.
The Chicco Thermogel Breast Pads are a versatile two-in-one solution. Depending on the need, they can be applied to warm the breasts or used to cool them down to quickly relieve redness.
A tongue-tie is when the piece of skin under the baby’s tongue (called the frenulum) is tight or shorter than usual.
Signs of a tongue-tie can include:
- A thin or thick piece of skin that can be seen under their tongue
- Not being able to poke their tongue out past their lips when their mouth is open
- Not being able to lift their tongue up towards the roof of their mouth
- Having trouble moving their tongue side to side
- A ‘V shape’ or ‘heart shape’ tongue tip
- A flattened or square tongue tip
When breastfeeding, you may notice that your baby:
- Comes on and off the breast
- Makes a clicking sound when sucking
- Gets tired quickly during feeds
- Has little or no weight gain
A lactation consultant or experienced clinician will conduct a thorough assessment of breastfeeding and baby’s tongue mobility to determine if further action is required.
Most women feel like they have to jump over a few hurdles to achieve breastfeeding success. A lot of the associated problems can happen when women don’t recognise difficulties when they emerge.
The trick? Get help quick! There’s help everywhere, online, lactation consultants, midwives, general practitioners, family health clinics and specialists. Getting help early is the best way to avoid some of the more severe breastfeeding issues.
Wherever you’re at on your breastfeeding journey, we’re here for you.
Breastfeeding problems | The Royal Women’s Hospital. https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-problems/
Sore nipples & nipple infection | Raising Children Network. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/breastfeeding-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding-challenges/sore-nipples-infection
Full breasts | The Royal Women’s Hospital. https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-problems/full-breasts/