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Put a stop to breastfeeding problems

There is no reason why a breastfeeding mother should have to suffer. However, if your baby is not latched on properly or is not feeding as often as necessary, you may encounter problems, which can make breastfeeding much harder. Here are some of the main breastfeeding problems and some tips to help you recognise and treat them in the best possible way.

 

Cracked Nipples

These are small, deep cracks in the centre of the nipple that can be very painful. They appear because the baby is not sucking properly.

What can you do?

You should correct your baby's position and avoid nursing for too long on the affected breast.

It is not recommendable to stop breastfeeding, even if the cracks are bleeding, as there is a risk of this causing blocked ducts and reducing your milk supply.

In any case, you can express milk by hand until the pain subsides, and feed it to the baby from a bottle.

 

Engorgement

This is when milk builds up, which is particularly prone to happen during the first days of the baby's life. It happens because the breasts are not emptied often enough or because the baby is not latching on properly. The symptoms are: swollen breasts, tense, shiny, red skin, pain, and sometimes even a temperature.

What can you do?

Apply hot compresses to the areola for 10-15 minutes before beginning a feed.

You can also use cold compresses for approximately 10 minutes between feeds to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation.

 

Mastitis

This is a breast infection caused by bacteria penetrating into the mammary gland, normally through cracks in the nipple. It can also be caused by a blocked duct that has not been properly treated, by a transitory lowering of your defences, which is quite common during the post-partum period, or by wearing bras that are too tight.

This condition can cause sore, red breasts, as well as giving you a temperature, tiredness, nausea and a headache.

What can you do?

The important thing is not to stop breastfeeding and to start feeds with the breast that is not inflamed.

You should also gently massage the painful area, moving in towards the areola to help the milk flow.

Treatment also consists of taking antibiotics to stop the infection, always under medical prescription.

 

Blocked Ducts

This is a localised inflammation that stops the milk from flowing in the affected area. It is caused by not feeding often enough or by not draining the milk correctly from one of your breasts. It usually results in swelling, tightness and pain.

What can you do?

It is a good idea to give yourself massages to prepare your breasts during pregnancy, especially if you have flat or inverted nipples.

You should avoid wearing bras that are too tight and generally anything that might irritate your breasts, such as lace edging, metal parts, etc.

While breastfeeding, it is best to nurse your baby frequently, changing her position from time to time.

It is important to apply warm compresses before feeds or gently massage your breasts to help them drain properly.