Hey Mums, It’s been World Breastfeeding Week! This is a calendar event every 1-7th August ran under the World Health Organisation in support of breastfeeding as a good start to life. This year’s theme has been “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life” — a recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to a baby’s future. The African woman must be praised for her efforts towards breastfeeding but sometimes it can prove to be challenging especially for first time mothers. Just so you know, most mothers will experience discomfort or breastfeeding complications at least once during their breastfeeding journey. This can make any mother feel insecure, guilty or discouraged when breastfeeding doesn’t go perfectly.
FACT: Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally and doesn’t always go perfectly. It is not something you should just know how to do and just like being a mother, isn’t at all perfect.
Good news is most breastfeeding related issues get better with more nursing. Here’s my post on tips and prevention methods to help care for your breasts as you nurse your baby.
1. Nipple soreness and pain
This usually happens due to hormonal changes, a skin disease, breast infections or baby positioning during feeding.
What to do
- Ensure your baby is latched/positioned (see image above) onto your breast correctly
- Only use creams or ointment or other meds recommended by a doctor
- Do not leave wet breast pads on your breasts
Natural Remedies Include:
- A cool cabbage leaf applied to the nipple can help reduce discomfort
- Warm salty soaks ie 1 tablespoon of salt in water. Soak the affected nipple in the water
- Apply vitamin E oil directly to the nipple to encourage healing
Blocked milk ducts
This happens when the milk produced for a certain period is not released from the breast.
What to do
- Try breastfeeding with the baby’s lower lip in line with the blocked duct and at more frequent times
- Consider pumping to help empty the breast completely
- Massaging the breast in a warm shower can help relieve the blockage
- Alternate both breasts when feeding
Engorgement is characterised by swelling of the breasts after you begin breastfeeding your newborn. In most cases you may feel some pain or have a swelling. In bad cases your breasts may become sore followed by a fever. If engorgement is not treated, the milk supply might be affected and nipples can be damaged.
What to do
- Empty your breast by nursing on demand
- Apply a cool cabbage leaf to ease discomfort
- Use your hand to express making it easy for your baby to feed
- Apply a cold pack or towel between feeding (not more than 20 mins) for temporary relief
- Massage breast from time to time
If you notice prolonged pain or swelling, it is best to consult your doctor for professional advice.
Mastitis is a breast infection where the breast gets swollen, painful or hot. It often happens when the breasts are blocked and the breasts are not regularly emptied. Mastitis can easily turn into breast abscess so it’s best to have the infection checked by a health professional.
What to do
- Seek medical attention for anti-inflammatory meds
- Nurse as often as possible
- Massage the breast toward the nipple while the baby is nursing
- Eating garlic 2-3 raw cloves daily can help
- Placing a warm cloth on your breast can lessen the pain because of the warmth