Potential Issues with Breastfeeding and Their Solutions

Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, but that’s not to say that the natural way always feels natural and goes without a hitch. There are problems many mothers face when starting to breastfeed their child and other problems develop down the road as new developmental stages develop.

A Poor Latch

The first problem many mothers face is a poor latch. When a baby doesn’t hold the nipple correctly in his mouth, it can be frustrating for the baby who can’t get the food he’s desperately seeking and exquisitely painful for the mother. A poor latch can result in painful breastfeeding and even extremes such as cracked and bleeding nipples.

A lactation consultant or pediatrician can show you the correct way to latch your baby onto the nipple if you are having trouble. Resolve latching issues as quickly as possible as this issue can spell the end to breastfeeding if both mother and baby are overwhelmed and frustrated. When latching, the baby should open his mouth wide to take in the nipple. Almost the entire nipple enters the mouth with the point of the nipple facing slightly up. If your baby latches incorrectly, break the seal his little mouth creates by slipping a pinky between your breast and his mouth and try again. Keep trying until you get it right, otherwise, you’ll be in serious pain and your baby might not get enough to eat.

Inverted Nipples

If your nipples pull in instead of pointing out, your baby might have a hard time getting latched on. You can help resolve this by using a nipple shield. This gives your nipple the shape the baby needs for a correct latch. As the two of you get more familiar with the process over time, you can remove the shield to see if he’s able to latch effectively without it.

Engorgement

When you don’t feed your baby fast enough, or when your body steps up milk production, your breasts will swell with milk until they are hard and painful. If they get too hard, your baby will have a difficult time latching on, but the only real solution is to have your baby nurse or to pump away the extra milk. If your baby can’t latch onto your engorged breast, express some of the milk using your palm to apply pressure on top of the breast. This might reduce the hardness. Once he starts feeding the pressure should continue to reduce. Pumping with a breast pump can reduce the engorgement as well, plus you get milk to store, which is always a plus.

Chapped Nipples

After a few days you might notice that your nipples are chapped and possibly cracking or bleeding. This might have to do with a poor latch if pressure is distributed wrongly, but if your latch is fine, it is more likely due to combination of conditions that causes chapped lips. Baby’s little mouth leaves your nipples wet and the abrasion on your bra or breast pad irritates and dries out the tender skin until it becomes chapped. When this happen, don’t use petroleum jelly as it isn’t safe for your baby. Instead use a product designed for this situation. Lanolin is a product that creates a heavy duty moisture barrier that is safe for baby. Once the chapping is resolved, you can prevent it by continue to use just a dab of lanolin or by allowing your breasts to air dry before putting on your bra after a feeding.

Mastitis

Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that can make you feel sick as if you are having a flu. Redness, heat, swelling and tenderness of the breast are signs of mastitis in a breast. It is normally only in one breast at a time, and you are safe to feed your baby while you have mastitis unless your doctor tells you otherwise. In fact it could be your baby who is causing the infection due to the contact of a foreign body.

Use warm heat on the affected area and have your baby nurse more often. Try to empty the breast completely. If this doesn’t work, see your doctor who will give you antibiotics and prescription. Do not ignore mastitis; it can lead to abbesses in the breast which might require surgery to drain together with very strong antibiotics.

The Health Benefits of Breastfeeding to Both Mother and Child

Breast milk is the perfect baby food for your baby. Breast milk is very easy to digest and it has all the nutrients that meet the needs of an infant for the first 6 months. Undoubtedly, breast milk is an unequalled source of nutrition for a baby. Breastfeeding not only offers a number of significant health benefits to an infant, it also provides several benefits for mom.

Breastfeeding offers many health benefits for the baby. The benefits to the baby from breastfeeding, may include, but are not limited to:

  • a decreased chance of developing allergies;
  • an improved fatty acid profile in the blood, which can prevent heart disease in later years;
  • improved immunity against ear infection, lower respiratory tract infection and diarrhea;
  • better bone health;
  • some protection against cancer;
  • protection against diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.

The health benefits for women who breastfeed are:

  • experience close bonding and psychological well-being that breastfeeding provides
  • may experience less stress or anxiety during breastfeeding. This is due to the release of hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin, which provides calming effects
  • protection against developing diabetes and heart disease
  • a reduced risk of osteoporosis later in life
  • a decreased risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers

Breast Milk – Benefits for Baby

Breast milk is nature’s perfect baby food, and when a baby is exclusively breastfed there are advantages to both the little one and his mother.

Maternal Bonding

Breastfeeding is a natural process that allows mother and baby to spend ample amounts of time together in a skin-to-skin setting. This has shown to reduce the stress level in infants and to promote a closer relationship between mother and child.

Perfectly Balanced Nutrition

The best benefit of all for baby is that breast milk is the body’s perfect form of nutrition. It is perfectly balanced and easy to digest so long as the mother hasn’t eaten something that would disagree with baby, such as extremely spicy food. Breast milk is not consistent throughout the way compare to formula in a bottle. Breast milk starts off as a thin watery substance to sate baby’s appetite immediately. This is followed by the bulk of the meal which is in a medium consistency. Finally, the hindmilk is released which is much like cream. This milk is rich in nutrients and is extremely soothing to baby – It is one of the reasons babies fall asleep while feeding.

Reduced Risk of Allergies and Illness

Antibodies and other aspects of the mother’s immune system are transferred through the milk to the baby to a certain degree while breastfeeding. This helps baby ward off more of the common illnesses and complaints. Breastfeeding also helps baby’s fragile digestive system develop at the proper pace preventing the onslaught of allergies and food sensitivities that might stem from milk-based formula’s harsher proteins.

Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Obesity

Recent studies have shown that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of becoming obese. The cause is speculated to be the style of feeding rather than the actual diet of the babies. Babies crave sucking for comfort and while nursing, the baby can suck to a degree for comfort and not actually feed at the same time. A bottle-fed baby might be offered a bottle every time he cries, which he gladly takes for its soothing principles. With a bottle, however, there is no degree of sucking and every bottle provides food which can create a comfort and food association over time.

When You Shouldn’t Breastfeed

There are numerous advantages to breastfeeding, but there are circumstances when breastfeeding is not an option or potentially dangerous. Any toxins or diseases you have can pass to your baby through breast milk. If you are taking prescribed medication, it might not be safe for breastfeeding and you should never breastfeed without clearing each prescription with your doctor. This is true for many over-the-counter medications as well.

Communicable diseases can be passed through breast milk. In fact, a sizeable portion of the world’s babies infected with HIV were born HIV-free, but contracted the disease later from their infected mothers. Diseases and medications aren’t the only things passed through your breast milk. Caffeine and alcohol can be passed as well, so many breastfeeding expert recommend pumping and dumping a feeding after imbibing in alcohol and to keep caffeinated beverages and alcohol to a minimum.