Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things and the healthiest ways to feed a baby. To some women, it comes naturally, while to others it does not.
If you are a new mother who is finding breastfeeding a challenging experience, consulting a lactation consultant can be helpful. A lactation consultant is a certified professional who specializes in identifying and addressing a comprehensive range of breastfeeding problems.
In this article, we will discuss breastfeeding challenges new mothers often face, solutions to these challenges, and how lactation consultants can help make breastfeeding easier.
Common Breastfeeding Challenges
According to an estimate, over 80% of American women breastfeed their newborns, however, fewer than a third continue to do so for the recommended amount of time because of the breastfeeding challenges they face.
The following are the most common breastfeeding challenges:
Sore, Painful, or Cracked Nipples
Nipple soreness or pain can discourage breastfeeding. Lactation consultants can assess the correct cause of the pain and suggest applying a warm moist compress to the nipples, trying different breastfeeding positions, and making sure the baby is latching on correctly. Rubbing fresh expressed breast milk on the nipples can also help heal them.
Plugged Milk Ducts
Small, hard lumps can form in the breast when the milk clogs up and block the narrow milk ducts. To help with plugged milk ducts:
- Make sure that baby is latching correctly and drinking breast milk efficiently
- Breastfeed your baby often
- Breastfeed on the side with a plugged milk duct first
- Apply a warm compress to encourage the flow of breast milk
- Massage breasts during breastfeeding
This occurs by the end of the first week when breast milk completely fills the breast and it becomes swollen and tight. Breast engorgement can be painful for women and make it hard for the baby to latch on. Do the following to address this issue:
- Breastfeed your baby often
- Use a breast pump or hand expression technique to remove excess breast milk
- Apply a warm and soft compress to relieve pain
- Gently massage the breasts
Problems With Milk Supply
A low breast milk supply can cause fear and frustration among new moms. A problem with milk supply can be addressed by checking if your baby is latching properly, breastfeeding the baby more often, keeping the baby at the breast longer, eating well, and drinking plenty of fluids.
On the other hand, to deal with too much breast milk, offer only one breast at each feeding, breastfeed against gravity, and be sure that your baby is burping frequently.
Breast Infections, Like Mastitis
Swelling or inflammation of breast tissues can result from other health issues, such as blocked milk ducts, breast engorgement, or certain illnesses. To deal with a breast infection, visit your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics. Also, get plenty of rest and apply a warm compress to the breasts.
Consulting a Lactation Specialist
Lactation specialists can perform a comprehensive assessment to check on lactation issues. They can review your medical history, pregnancy, and delivery, watch you breastfeed the baby, observe how the baby latches onto your nipples and drinks milk, and how they breathe as you breastfeed them. They may also conduct a physical exam, in which they will assess your breasts and nipples to identify the problem.
Based on this initial assessment, they will advise you on how to:
- Increase your supply of breast milk
- Recognize signs of your baby’s hunger
- Ensure that your baby is latching on to nipples properly
- Establish a feeding schedule
- Use breast pumps to express breast milk
- Identify if the baby is getting enough milk and gaining enough weight
Lactation Consultant at Wooster Community Hospital
If you are in search of highly trained and skilled lactation consultants, visit us here at Wooster Community Hospital. We have highly trained and board-certified lactation consultants who are available to support all your breastfeeding needs. Our consultants also help mothers with breastfeeding issues, such as sucking abnormalities, failure to latch, low milk supply, returning to work, and more. We also offer inpatient and outpatient prenatal breastfeeding classes and consultations.
To schedule a one-on-one breastfeeding consultation with one of our lactation consultants, call us today at (330) 202-5548.