Even with all the support, preparation, and education that new moms have these days, breastfeeding can still be a challenging experience for many. The first few weeks are often filled with frustration as mom and baby learn to establish and maintain an optimum latch. The process can also take a toll on a new mama’s body. Sore nipples, painful feedings, and bleeding or cracked nipples are just some of the potential problems that can arise while breastfeeding. Luckily, you don’t have to struggle alone as so many moms before you have had similar struggles in learning how to breastfeed effectively and comfortably. Here are some common issues that may arise while nursing your newborn and how to address them:
Many women experience some nipple injury in breastfeeding or nipple soreness in the early days of breastfeeding due to the baby’s initial sucking and stimulation of the nipple, which can be intensified if the baby doesn’t have a good latch. If you experience some soreness, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain.
- First, you can try using a nipple cream or ointment. Your OB-GYN or midwife can recommend a product that is safe to use while breastfeeding.
- Also, try wearing a breastfeeding pad while breastfeeding to absorb any excess milk or blood that leaks while breastfeeding.
- Be sure to maintain a proper latch by positioning the baby’s mouth over the nipple and not the areola.
- If the soreness continues or gets worse, check in with your doctor to rule out any infection.
Feeding pain can be a sign that the baby is not latching effectively. The baby’s tongue is also responsible for applying pressure to the nipple, which can cause pain for the mom. Here are some ways to address feeding pain:
- Try changing positions during feedings. You can try laying on your side with the baby cradled in your arm or sitting upright with the baby on your lap.
- Also, try offering the baby your other breast during the feeding.
- For some women, feeding on a schedule can help alleviate feeding pain as it helps regulate the baby’s feeding schedule.
- If none of these approaches work, it may be due to an improper latch.
Bleeding or Cracked Nipples
If you are experiencing bleeding or your nipples are cracked, there is a good chance you have an improper latch. Take the necessary steps to correct the latch as soon as possible to avoid developing an infection.
The Baby Is Struggling to Latch Effectively
If you have been able to establish a latch but are still experiencing pain, you may have a baby with a weak suck. This is a relatively common issue with newborns and can be addressed with some minor adjustments and assistance. Here are some ways to boost the baby’s suck strength:
- You can try to increase the suctioning power by putting the baby in a prone position on your chest and gently pressing down on the back. This stimulates the baby’s gag reflex and can boost the suctioning power.
- You can also use a nipple shield to provide additional assistance for the baby.
- Finally, you can pump the breast to stimulate the let-down reflex and increase the flow of milk.
Baby Is Choking or Gagging While Feeding
If the baby is coughing or gagging while feeding, you may have an improper latch. Take the necessary steps to correct the latch as soon as possible to avoid developing an infection.
Breastfeeding can be challenging in the beginning, especially if you’re experiencing nipple soreness or if the baby isn’t latching effectively. Remember that these are all common issues and there are many ways to address them. Remember to be patient with yourself and your baby, and to always seek help if you need it.