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10 Tips for Dealing with Common Breastfeeding Problems

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If only making the decision to breastfeed magically meant that every mother and child would be able to do so without any problems whatsoever. Unfortunately, those first few days and weeks after birth are wrought with breastfeeding pitfalls, leading to frustration and tears, from baby and from mom! After speaking to Katy Linda, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, here are 10 tips to tackle common breastfeeding problems.

1. Having a Supportive Partner Goes a Long Way

When it’s 2:30 a.m., and little junior is having trouble latching, the last thing you need is for your partner to mumble, “Just give him formula,” and roll over in bed. Share the benefits of breastfeeding and ask that he understand how important it is. He may still have sleep eyes, but perhaps he will be more receptive to helping you change positions and achieve that elusive latch.

2. Having Professional Support Goes Even Further

While a supportive partner is a big help, a certified lactation consultant can help diagnose and fix recurring problems. Consultants are educated and have experience working with moms one-on-one. La Leche League is a start to find a local consultant, while The Leaky Boob Facebook page is a wealth of information, and a good place to connect with other moms.

3. A Painful Latch is Not Normal

Breastfeeding might feel odd or unusual at first, but according to Linda, pain shouldn’t be a common sensation. “The signs of a good latch are that it's comfortable, and the baby is comfortable,” Linda said. “Usually this is with a deep latch, so that as much areola as possible is in the baby's mouth.  The upper and lower lip should both flange out.”

4. Avoid Mastitis By Preventing Clogged Ducts

While plugged milk ducts are a common issue, there are ways to prevent them from happening. Wearing the right bra, sleeping on your back, and not going too long between feedings are the best ways to keep ducts clear. A clogged duct can lead to mastitis, a painful infection in the breast that could lead to prematurely weaning your baby.

5. Let the Stress Go

As impossible as it may be, remaining relaxed and calm during those first few feedings are instrumental in setting the tone for the baby. Your little one will feed off your energy, and if you are at ease, she will be, too.

6. Pacifiers Can Slow Milk Production

A pacifier can prevent your little one from realizing he is still hungry, since the sucking motion is the same. Because of this, he might go longer between feedings, confusing your breasts and keeping your milk supply from keeping up with your baby’s actual nutritional needs. If the pacifier can’t be avoided, be sure to let the baby feed often to make sure they aren’t just “pacified” for the moment.

7. Let Your Baby Set the Pace

While getting a newborn on a sleep and feeding schedule might be the goal of new parents, it is often counter-productive in terms of breastfeeding. It can prevent moms from reaching their milk supply potential, and lead to early weaning because of lack of production. By taking a cue from their baby, and feeding on-demand, moms can ensure that their body understands the baby’s needs and keeps up.

8. Medications and Other Complications Are Confusing

Some mothers might need to take certain medications after giving birth, undergo other surgical procedures, or otherwise have to be separated from their child, leaving them unable to breastfeed. Regular pumping is the best way to keep milk supply up even when you can’t breastfeed. You can check to see what medications are safe with references like "Medications and Mothers’ Milk" by Dr. Thomas Hale.

9. Low Milk Supply Can Be Discouraging, But Keep Trying

If the baby is not where he should be for his weight, it might be because of low milk supply. Frequent feedings and pumping during the day can increase production and help baby gain weight. Make sure you are eating enough calories, and drinking enough water throughout the day, as well. If you have concerns about your milk supply and are wondering if you should supplement, always discuss your worries with your pediatrician or lactation consultant.

10. Yes, It’s Demanding, and Hard Work, But It’s Worth It

Through all the problems that can occur while trying to successfully breastfeed, it’s understandable to think about how much easier it would be to fill a bottle with formula. But, if all possible, you can be rest assured that you gave your baby the best possible chance by fighting the uphill battle of choosing to breastfeed.

 
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