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Managing Common Problems

Breastfeeding is a time of intense emotions. While it is a beautiful, natural experience, sometimes problems can occur. Here are a few tips to help manage some common breastfeeding issues you might have so you can fully enjoy this experience.

Feeding Issues

  • Your baby demands to be fed constantly. This is quite normal in the beginning: there’s no reason to worry about feeding your baby too frequently. You're both learning how to breastfeed, and your baby needs time to find his stride – this can take an average of six to eight weeks. In the meantime, be patient, follow your baby’s cues, and stay confident.
  • Your baby refuses the breast. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like your milk. His stomach might be a little upset, or you may have changed moisturizer and he doesn’t recognize your scent. In any case, this refusal is usually temporary and returns back to normal very quickly.

Comfort Issues

  • Crevices. These small cracks on the nipples can be very painful. To avoid this, make sure your baby is latching to your breast correctly (the nipple to the top of the palate) and his mouth covers a good portion of the areola. Also, be sure to practice good hygiene. Before nursing, wash your hands and wash your nipples in clean, cool water. To relieve chapped nipples, apply a few drops of your own milk: it’s practical, economical and very effective. If necessary, consult your doctor.
  • Engorgement. If your breast is swollen, hard and painful, then you may be experiencing engorgement. This is basically an overflow of milk in the mammary gland. One effective remedy is to stimulate the flow of milk by multiplying feeds, or using a breast pump. If the pain is intense, you can take a hot shower or take a warm glove on your breasts just before nursing to soften the hard lumps, massaging with circular movements. After feeding, apply cold compresses. Please seek advice from your doctor or lactation consultant if the problem persists.
  • Mastitis. Sometimes milk, if not fully expressed from the breast, can result in mastitis. This inflammation can be very painful and accompanied by severe fatigue. Excess milk must be "emptied" from the breast, either by a sucking baby or using a breast pump. If symptoms persist and/or you have a fever, see a doctor.