There seems to be this belief that breastfeeding should be easy and have no difficulties. That your baby will magically latch the first time and everything will be perfect. Now, this might be the case for a few, rare women.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, it won’t always be smooth sailing. And there is nothing wrong with you if issues arise. Here are 12 common breastfeeding concerns that might pop up while you are breastfeeding.
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9 Common Breastfeeding Concerns
Engorgement is when the breast tissue overflows with milk, blood, and other tissue. Because of this, it causes the breasts to feel very full and to be painful and swollen. This usually occurs when your milk first “comes in” three to five days after birth. Once your baby is born, a signal is sent to the breasts to start full milk production. Typically it lasts for a day or two and then it will subside.
2. Sore/Cracked Nipples
There could be a number of reasons why your nipples are sore or cracked while breastfeeding.
- A Yeast Infection
This can be quite painful and needs to be treated by a physician
- Flat Nipples
It is not impossible to breastfeed if you have flat nipples, but it can be hard to center the breast into your baby’s mouth. Wearing a nipple shield can help. It is best to be fitted by a lactation consultant to make sure you get the proper size and fit.
- Too Much Pressure From a Breast Pump
It is important to only turn up the pump as high as is comfortable and is effective. You might find like I did, that the more you use the breast pump the more pressure you might be able to handle.
3. Low Milk Supply
There may be situations where you have a low milk supply, but this does not automatically mean that your baby is not eating enough.
If you do not pump or nurse at night, you will make less milk.
If you offer a bottle to your baby, but don’t pump to keep up with your supply, you will make less milk.
Women that have had breast reductions or who have polycystic ovary syndrome might have a lower milk supply.
4. Cluster Feedings/Growth Spurt
Your baby needs to eat a lot especially at first. In the first few weeks, your baby will eat 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. When your baby’s feedings are bunched close together, this is called cluster feeding.
It seems like a lot, but it is in fact completely normal. Your baby might want to nurse more often in the evening. This does not mean that your baby is not getting enough milk. It could just be your baby’s way of filling up to sleep a little more at night.
Your baby will go through several growth spurts in their first year of life. This will make them want to nurse more often and for longer. The growth spurts usually occur when your baby is 2-3 weeks old, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. It is important to note that every baby is different, so your baby might follow a slightly different schedule. Growth spurts usually last a few days.
During growth spurts, your baby will be fussier and will want to nurse quite frequently. It can be as much as every 30 minutes. Yes, it will feel like all you are doing is feeding your baby. But this will pass and it is actually for a very important reason. This is your baby’s way of helping you to increase your milk supply so that you can keep up with their needs.
5. Plugged Duct
A plugged duct happens when a milk duct does not drain properly. Pressure builds up around the plugged duct cause the tissue around it to get irritated. This usually only occurs in one breast at a time. A plugged duct feels like a tender, sore lump or knot in the breast.
This is a fungal infection that forms in the breasts or on the nipples. This infection can also be called a yeast infection. When you have this infection, usually your baby will have it as well.
Mastitis is the inflammation of breast tissue. The inflammation results in breast pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. You might also have a fever and chills. Sometimes an infection will be part of it.
8. Breast and Nipple Size and Shape
You might have heard that you can’t breastfeed if you have flat, inverted, or large nipples. Or if you have large or small breasts. This is simply untrue. It is possible to breastfeed no matter the shape of your nipples or the size of your breasts. The size and shape of your breasts have nothing to do with how much milk you can make.
9. Painful Latching
As you go about your breastfeeding journey, you might hear how breastfeeding should not be painful. This is true, but might not be at first.
When you first start to breastfeed, your nipples are not used to having a baby suck on them. They need to toughen up. You might feel a little bit of pain, pressure, or stinging for a while your nipples and breasts get used to your baby feeding on them.
Now if your baby isn’t latched properly, that does cause pain. Your baby’s mouth should be covering the whole areola, (the brown skin around your nipple), not just latched onto your nipple.
Latching only to the nipple will cause pain. Always bring your baby to your nipple, so that your baby can have a wide-open mouth to latch. Never bring your nipple to your baby.
Have you ever experienced any of these breastfeeding concerns? Did you have any other breastfeeding concerns?