According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of a child’s life – and longer is even better, if possible. Unfortunately, many women experience struggles when it comes to breastfeeding. Here are some issues women have while breastfeeding and how to help manage them.
1. Issues with Latching
Many women struggle with the idea that breastfeeding isn’t happening naturally. This is primarily because the baby will not latch on. Thankfully, there are several options available. Breast pumps come in a variety of options that can help to enlarge the nipples, making it easier for the child to latch. If you still are unable to make the connection, women can overcome many of these challenges with the help of a lactation support specialist.
2. Sore Nipples
One common issue women have while breastfeeding is sore nipples. This could be due to poor latching, improper use of a breast pump, or even an infection. There are different approaches you can take to help alleviate the soreness. Changing the positioning of your baby, breastfeeding duration, and even the use of creams or ointments can all help, depending on the severity of the pain.
3. Plugged Duct
Milk ducts are the tubes which send breast milk from the glandular tissue within the breast out of of the nipple. Women have about 15 to 20 milk ducts in each breast. The opening of your nipple is where the milk duct, also known as the lactiferous duct, ends. This can become clogged or plugged if it’s not properly drained. This could be due to the baby not drinking enough milk, or even from wearing too tight of clothing. Unfortunately, if not properly treated, it can lead to other more serious issues. Try various positionings with your child while breastfeeding. Use a moist compress on the breast that is clogged and nurse from the other while it’s healing. Warm Epsom salt baths can also help to relax the blockage and release extra pressure.
4. Nursing Strike
If your child has been successfully breastfeeding for several months, but one day they suddenly stop, your baby is on what is called a nursing strike. If this happens, it’s important to have your baby examined by your pediatrician. There could be other underlying issues such as a sore throat or ear infection that may need to be treated. If your baby is six months or older, you can opt to use clean plant-based products to continue providing them with the nutrients they need as they grow.
5. Cluster Feedings
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you may find that your baby needs to be breastfed significantly more than usual. This is particularly due to growth spurts happening with your child. This is normal to experience, but it can put a major strain on your body. This is why a breast pump comes in handy. If you’ve been pumping, you’ll have extra milk readily available for your child during these times.
6. Intense Exhaustion
Did you know that breastfeeding can burn around 500 calories per day? It’s no wonder why you might feel extremely exhausted. Your body is working overtime and your baby is probably not sleeping through the night. It’s important to get as much rest as possible. Ask for extra support from friends or family members. Trade nights getting up with the baby with your spouse. And don’t be afraid to nap while your baby is napping. Any extra sleep you can get is going to help.
Most women experience common breastfeeding challenges, especially throughout the first six months. Try not to panic. The added stress will only make it more emotionally and physically difficult to work through. Talk to a lactation specialist if you’re still struggling. They can help guide you through various products or techniques you might need to alleviate some of these issues.