Occasionally, new mothers who breastfeed encounter some difficulties. But less than 5 percent of women are truly unable to breastfeed their babies due to physiological reasons or because they are on certain types of medications. If you experience difficulties, seek the help of a breastfeeding counselor. You can locate one through a local hospital, breastfeeding support organizations or your pediatrician’s office.
The following are some common problems and what you can do to get relief:
Engorged breasts – This uncomfortable swelling of the breasts makes them hard and tender. Try feeding more frequently, applying warm, moist heat to your breasts or taking a warm shower. Also, try expressing a little milk while you’re waiting to feed.
Sore nipples – It is not uncommon for your nipples to become tender, raw or even cracked. If this persists after the first week or two, it is almost always caused by positioning. Be sure your baby is taking the whole nipple and most of the areola into the mouth and does not slide down the nipple during nursing. Offer the less sore side first. Massage a drop of expressed milk onto the nipple and allow it to air-dry between feedings. Use a nipple shield inside your bra and make sure it stays clean and dry.
Infection – If your nipples are red, burning or itching, contact your doctor about a possible infection. Applying a warm compress to the affected area or taking a warm shower may provide some relief. Express milk or breastfeed while massaging the tender area.
Low milk supply/low weight gain – If your milk supply is low, your baby will not nurse well and will not gain weight. And, if your baby is not nursing well, your milk production will not be stimulated. Make sure you are eating and drinking enough. Boost your milk supply by nursing frequently and expressing milk. If your baby is not nursing effectively, ask a lactation consultant for suggestions.