Many women opt to breastfeed their baby and health practitioners advise mothers to do so too. When you see a woman breastfeeding her child you would think that it is the most surreal thing you’ve ever seen. The look of contentment on the baby’s face and the look of awe on the mother’s face all seem to paint a rosy picture. It might be a natural process but that doesn’t make it easy or straightforward. Any new mother will tell you that breastfeeding was the first motherhood challenge they experienced and that they probably thought that it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be during those first few weeks.
Thankfully, the hiccups are common to many and can be solved. Here are some of what you are likely to experience and how to work around them so you can nourish your baby comfortably.
- Baby won’t latch
This is the first issue you’ll encounter. Latching is basically having the baby’s mouth around the areola (dark circle around the nipple) and not just at the nipple. You might worry that the baby’s mouth is too small or the baby may have a bit of a problem keeping the nipple all the way in but a little help will do the trick.
Hold the baby close while supporting his head and direct the nipple as you hold your breast. Take care not to push the baby’s head.
- It hurts!
Your nipples may be tender at first but breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful as such. Make sure that the baby’s taken a mouthful of the areola and has his head tipped back a little to keep the breast away from the nose.
- My boobs are so full!
Engorgement can be a painful nightmare! Your breasts fill up with milk and they feel tight, hot and tender. It comes as a result of increased blood circulation and is more likely to happen with first babies. The swollen breasts may be tricky for the baby to latch onto so you’ll need to remedy that first.
Gently press the swollen areas, express a little milk, place a warm cloth over your breast or take a warm shower before feeds to help with flow. You can also apply a cool pack or clean cold cabbage leaves after feeds to ease the discomfort.
- The milk seems to be too much too fast and is choking my baby
Sometimes your milk flows fast and your baby struggles to suckle properly. It can be really scare and frustrating for any mother. You can hold the baby a little more upright and try holding the breast so as to somehow reduce the flow. Removing the baby from the breast for a little while can also work so as to let your flow minimize a little. It gets better as he grows older though.
- Baby just wants to feed constantly
Newborns have tiny tummies and breast milk gets digested fast so they will need refilling more frequently. It is normal so don’t worry about it. He’ll demand feeds further apart as his stomach grows.
- How do I know I have enough milk?
Many mothers worry that they may not have enough milk to sustain their babies, and especially if the baby seems unsettled. Is your baby gaining weight? Is he peeing and pooping regularly? Do you have to change wet nappies or diapers regularly? There’s your answer. What comes out must definitely have gone in first so if you have a good number of wet nappies daily your baby is getting enough milk.
Others worry that their milk supply has reduced, especially at around six to 10 weeks. You’ll notice that your boobs aren’t as puffed up as they were but that’s because they’ve established a ‘perfect rhythm’ with the baby’s needs. You’re now producing just what the baby needs so no need to fret.
- He’s biting!
Teeth grow in and before then sore gums work. It is painful but expected. You can move the baby closer such that your breast blocks their nose and they have to open their mouth. You can remove your breast by inserting a clean finger into the baby’s mouth because pulling might hurt. Give him something to chew on to relieve the pain and keep calm when he bites. He might do it again just to see your reaction.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing once you get the hang of it. Enjoy the bonding and take the hurdles in your stride!
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