7 Common Breastfeeding Discomforts
Breastfeeding is kind of a big deal. Trust me, I breastfed three babies and I can confirm that on most days it is a real commitment. Despite the proven health benefits for both mom and baby, breastfeeding is hard work that comes with it’s own unique set of challenges. Here are seven of the most common breastfeeding discomforts, and some of our favorite solutions for addressing them
1. Sometimes breastfeeding makes our nipples hurt.
It’s completely normal to experience sore nipples — especially as a newbie to breastfeeding. It’s also good to remember that every baby, every latch is different; each breastfeeding experience will be unique. So don’t feel bad, mama! I had to consult a lactation nurse with baby number three. By all means, DO NOT be afraid to ask for help when you need it. This is basically the golden rule of motherhood.
Once of the most common breastfeeding discomforts is sore nipples and it is often due to an improper latch. Achieving the best latch will certainly help. You want to achieve an asymmetrical latch, where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple, rather than above. Place your index finger inside baby’s mouth to unlatch and reposition her. NEVER yank her off your nipple. I cannot even begin to describe the pain this will cause. When she is correctly positioned, her chin and nose will touch your breast — her lips splayed open, so that you cannot see any of your nipple or areola.
If baby’s position is correct, and your nipples are still sore, they may be dry. Wear loose-fitting clothing, avoid washing the nipple area with soap in the shower, and use a lanolin-based nipple cream between feedings. You can also try taking a mild painkiller about 30 minutes before feeding (or pumping). Still have questions? Talk to your doctor. She may be able to refer you to a specialist. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence.
2. Clogged (or plugged) ducts are basically the worst.
You MUST breastfeed (or pump) often. You HAVE to empty your boobs regularly, and completely — otherwise you are going to be in a world of pain. If you notice a hard bump in your breast, redness, or start feeling feverish and achy, you could have an infection (known as mastitis). You will probably want to see your doctor — you may need a prescription antibiotic to clear it up. Try not to stretch too far between feedings or pumping.
Failure to wear a nursing bra, or a nursing bra that fits incorrectly (too tight) can also cause clogged or plugged ducts. Do not wear a bra with underwire. This is just asking for problems. We LOVE the super soft and comfortable nursing bras from Bravado Designs. Adequate rest will also help to combat plugged ducts and mastitis. (Ask your partner for help when you can!) Plugged ducts (and even mastitis) are not harmful to your baby, because breastmilk contains natural antibodies.
3. Thrush is also no fun.
Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can also spread to your breasts. It can cause itchiness, soreness, and even a rash. You will want to consult your doctor — he will be able to prescribe an anti-fungal for both you and baby. It is imperative that you are both treated at the same time, otherwise you will pass it back and forth (and basically continue to hate life). Ain’t nobody got time for that.
4. Baby keeps falling asleep while breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding tends to make baby (and mom) a little sleepy. It has to do with the hormone (oxytocin) that is released during nursing. Milk flow is quickest immediately after let-down. Start at the fuller breast, then switch to the other breast when finished with the first. If you notice baby dozing off, remove her from the breast and try to stimulate her — burp her, change her diaper, tickle her feet — then try to transition her to the other breast. This should get better with time.
Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. Want to make more milk? Nurse (or pump) more often. Are you drinking plenty of water? Eating enough calories? Getting enough rest? These are just a few ideas for increasing your milk supply. You can check out more ideas here.
6. Overproduction of milk
Another very common breastfeeding discomfort is engorged breasts. When you produce too much milk, your breasts can get very full, very fast and it can be really painful! Try hand expressing a little milk — to help soften them up and get the milk flowing — before trying to latch baby. Also, try practicing different breastfeeding positions to make sure your baby isn’t forced to swallow too much milk too fast when you let down. Remember, the more you nurse, the less engorged your breasts will be.
Talk about breastfeeding discomforts: breastfeeding in public can be awkward, especially if you’re limited by your wardrobe. Wearing the same outfit 52,000 times just so you can breastfeed can get old really fast. So we were beyond excited to find this incredibly adorable nursing line from Loyal Hana. The clothes are seriously cute, and they have these nifty zippers for quick and convenient access. I don’t know about you, but just because I AM tired, doesn’t mean I want to look TIRED. With Loyal Hana, problem solved.
And when all else fails? Don’t be afraid to pump and pack a bottle when you know you’re probably going to encounter a more challenging breastfeeding situation. (Like when mama really needs to brunch — or is headed to a preschool Halloween party and doesn’t feel like whipping out a boob, while haranguing a toddler. I may be speaking from experience here.) So nurse on, Mommy Chicks! We are basically rockstars, parenting goddesses. We survived labor and delivery; surely we can handle breastfeeding, and any challenges it may throw our way!