Breastfeeding: Common discomforts and what to do about them

Breast milk is the best food for your baby. Breast milk gives your baby important nutrients that help him grow healthy and strong. Do not feel discouraged if you have some discomforts when you first start breastfeeding. Many new moms have difficulties. However, with the right support and information, you will be able to breastfeed your baby.

Here are some common problems moms may have and what you can do about them:

“My baby won’t latch-on.”

When your baby’s latched on, her mouth is securely attached to your nipple for breastfeeding. To help your baby latch on, first, find a comfortable place to breastfeed your baby. It could be in a chair, on the couch or on your bed. Remove your clothes from the waist up and have your baby wear only his diaper. Lay your baby between your breasts so that your tummies are touching. Skin-to-skin contact is the best way to help your baby get comfortable and ready to latch-on. Here’s how to make sure your baby gets a good latch:

  • When your baby opens his mouth, bring him to your breast. Bring him to you — don’t lean into him.
  • Hold your baby close. Both his nose and chin should touch your breast. Don’t worry — he can breathe and eat at the same time. Your baby should have a good mouthful of your areola (the area around your nipple).
  • When your baby has a good latch, you will feel his tongue pull your breast deep into his mouth. If you feel his tongue at the tip of your nipple, it’s not a good latch.

“My nipples hurt.”

Many women feel nipple pain when they first start breastfeeding. If your nipples are cracked and sore, you may need to change the position you use to breastfeed. If you have nipple pain:

  • Make sure your baby is fully latched on. If she’s not latched on, remove her from your breast and try again.
  • After feeding, put some fresh breast milk on your nipples. Just like breast milk is good for your baby, it can help you too. Creams also may help. Ask your provider which kind to use.
  • Talk to your provider or lactation consultant if the pain doesn’t go away.

“My breast is swollen and feels hard.”

Your breasts swell as they fill up with milk. They may feel tender and sore. Most of the time the discomfort goes away once you start breastfeeding regularly. Here are some ways to help feel better:

  • Try not to miss or go a long time between feedings. Don’t skip night feedings.
  • Express a small amount of milk with a breast pump or by hand before breastfeeding.
  • Take a warm shower or put warm towels on your breasts. If your breasts hurt, put cold packs on them.
  • If your breasts stay swollen, tell your provider.

With patience and practice, you and your baby can be great at breastfeeding! Give yourself time to learn this new skill and trust yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may just need a little extra support to get started. Your health care provider, a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding peer counselor or a breastfeeding support group can help you. Find out more about how to get help with breastfeeding by visiting marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding counseling, breast pumps, and supplies are services covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

 

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