Breast milk is in fact the true elixir of life and contains several nutrients that cannot be manufactured nor substituted. Quite a number of studies have proved the benefits of breast milk and its long term benefits for the baby.
The importance of breastfeeding cannot be explained completely; in fact the colostrum contains almost every nutrient the child will require in the long term.
The mother passes on the antibodies to the baby through the breast milk. This improves the immunity and helps prevent diseases. Breast-fed babies are less likely to have respiratory illness, ear infections, stomach problems, SIDS (Sleep Induced Death Syndrome) and Eczema. It is advisable to exclusively breast feed the baby until 6 months and continue along with Iron rich food up until the baby is a year old. Today, mothers understand the importance of breastfeeding but are faced with issues such as latching, sore nipples, blocked nipples, mastitis, thrush, high milk supply, low milk supply, flat nipples, and baby sleeping at the breast.
Latching to the breast is new for both you and the baby. It may take several feeds for your baby to get the hang of it. The baby might latch onto just the nipple instead of taking the areola and this not only cracks the skin on your nipples but makes feeding hard for the baby. Another problem with latching could be flat nipples or improper positioning of the baby.
Solution: To begin with, you need to hold your baby in the right position. Using a feeding pillow or just a normal pillow makes it easier to feed new born babies. Make sure that your baby takes the nipple till the areola part into his mouth. In case you have flat or inverted nipples, use a nipple shield. While you are at the hospital, meet with a lactation consultant to learn all about latching and to check if your baby is latching well.
While your baby is trying to latch and feed, you might experience pain or soreness of nipples. This could be because of sore nipples due to your baby continuously feeding or cracked nipples where the skin is broken, causing pain and bleeding. It can be difficult and extremely painful for the mother to feed everytime. This usually occurs in the first week or two.
Solution: To avoid this problem, the baby has to latch properly. Some mothers don’t face this problem and some do. If you have sore or cracked nipples, wash them with soap and apply any edible oil. If your nipples are bleeding, then you can go for Lanolin creams to seal the cracks. It is safe for the baby and very quickly heals the wound. Another solution is to apply some of your breast milk on your nipples and let it dry. Breast milk is said to cure wounds and infections.
When the milk doesn’t come out fully, then your ducts may get clogged. You may feel lumps in your breast and sometimes even pain. If you are experiencing pain along with fever, then consult your doctor as you may have developed an infection.
Solution: Do not leave long gaps between feeds and use tight bras. If your baby is not feeding well and you feel your breasts are heavy with milk, express using a breast pump. To dissolve the lumps, you can massage your breasts using your palm.
Mastitis is an infection caused by the bacteria due to cracked nipples or blocked ducts. You may have fever along with body pain and pain in your breasts.
Solution: It is important to keep feeding the baby and take antibiotics prescribd by your doctor. In case, your breasts are still engorged you can keep hot compresses. Drink lot of fluids and get some good rest. You can also squeeze out the excess milk or express it using a breast pump.
Thrush is a yeast infection that causes redness, itchiness and shooting pain in your nipples. If you have yeast infection, it could be from your baby’s mouth.
Solution: Your doctor will prescribe an anti-fungal cream to be applied on the nipples and in your baby’s mouth. It is important to keep feeding and with medication the infection clears up soon.
High/ low milk supply
If you have high milk supply, then you may feel uneasiness or engorged breasts. If you have a low milk supply, your baby might not get sufficient nutrition and this can be stressful for you as a mother.
Solution: For high milk supply, express the extra milk using a pump and freeze it for later use. You can keep cold compress to relive the engorgement.
For low milk supply, consult with the paediatrician to provide formula supplementation. The doctor might even prescribe medicines to increase the milk supply. You can improve your milk supply with frequent feeds and improving your diet.
Baby sleeping while feeding
Some babies sleep while feeding barely filling their small tummy. The warmth from your body and nursing soothes the baby to sleep.
Solution: Stimulate baby’s ear and feet and start feeding with a full breast.