What to Do When Breast-Feeding Issues Arise

Filed under: Newborns, Babies, Feeding & Sleeping, Breast-Feeding

Breast-feeding

In the beginning, breast-feeding isn't easy for every mom. Credit: Getty Images

Although it's not uncommon for women to initially have difficulty breast-feeding their babies, many new mothers are surprised by the issues that can occur.

"Breast-feeding is natural," says Cathy Carothers, co-director of Every Mother, Inc., a national nonprofit organization that provides lactation training for health care professionals. "But sometimes it takes both Mom and baby a little time to get comfortable learning how to do it."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moms breast-feed for the first year of a baby's life.

Carothers says mothers should hold their babies skin-to-skin immediately after birth. Placing the baby near the breast allows the child to "hear Mom's heartbeat, feel her skin, smell her special scent and find their way to her breast all by themselves," she says. "Babies who latch by themselves often latch well, and milk production begins quickly."

If a baby has difficulty latching, seek help from a lactation consultant, adds Liz Brooks, secretary of the International Lactation Consultant Association. Lactation consultants can work with you at the hospital -- and after you've gone home -- to ensure your baby is nursing properly, she says.

Brooks and Carothers offer the following tips to help mothers address these breast-feeding concerns:

  • Pain when the baby latches on: It's not uncommon for a woman to experience nipple pain for five to 10 seconds when a baby latches on. Any pain that lasts longer than that is a sign of trouble and should be brought to the attention of your pediatrician, lactation consultant or obstetrician.
  • Concerns that baby isn't getting enough milk: Moms can count the number of wet and dirty diapers to be sure baby is getting enough. Newborns should have two to three dirty diapers a day. A good rule to remember is that babies should wet as many diapers as they are days old in the first few days. By the time the baby is a few days old, mom's breasts should feel full at the beginning of the feeding and softer when she is through feeding.
  • Itchy, pink, red, shiny or burning nipples or shooting breast pain after feedings: These are symptoms of thrush, a common and harmless yeast infection in a baby's mouth that can spread to your nipples during breastfeeding. Consult your doctor for treatment, which is usually anti-fungal medication.
  • Breast pain or redness, chills, fever or body aches: These are symptoms of mastitis, a breast inflammation usually caused by infection. It's most common during the first six months of nursing. It can develop if the breasts are not being emptied regularly or from a plugged duct. Women often feel tired. The condition is usually treated with rest, lots of breast-feeding and an antibiotic prescribed by a physician.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.