Like many expectant new mothers, I spent the majority of my pregnancy eagerly anticipating the arrival of this brand new bundle of joy. Determined to do everything “just right”, I combed through stacks of parenting magazines and new mommy books; frequented parenting blogs and websites; and invested many an hour planning and preparing for my baby’s arrival. After learning that “breast is best” from those whose opinions I trusted the most, I wholeheartedly intended to breastfeed for as long as possible. After all, this was what women had done for millennia, right? Breastfeeding should come easily and naturally, shouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case but until one becomes a mother and attempts to nurse her child, she may not fully understand just how difficult the breastfeeding process can actually be.
One common problem that new mothers face while breastfeeding is latching pain.1 When a mother starts to breastfeed, it is common for her nipples to feel some soreness. However, if the baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute, the mother should check her baby’s positioning. To relieve that latching pain, the mother should try an asymmetrical latch, where the baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple than above it.
Another common problem breastfeeding mothers face is cracked nipples.1 This can result from a variety of different aspects of breastfeeding, such as: dry skin, pumping improperly, and latching issues. One solution may be to breastfeed baby more frequently, and at shorter intervals. The less hungry the baby is, the softer the infant’s sucking motions will be. Allowing some breast milk to stay on the nipples after a feeding can actually help to soothe and heal the area. And despite an onslaught of advertised products telling us otherwise, mothers need only wash their nipples with clean water.
Mothers may also encounter the painful problem of having clogged or plugged ducts.1 A mother’s ducts clog because her milk isn’t being drained completely. In these cases, the mother may likely feel a hard lump on her breast or her breasts may be sore to the touch. If she starts feeling feverish and achy, this can be signs of an infection, and she should contact her doctor immediately. While one solution to this problem is to obtain adequate rest, this can be difficult to do when nursing a newborn. Thankfully, a mother may find that applying a warm compress over her breasts while massaging them may stimulate milk movement, thus relieving some of her pain.
Breastfeeding can feel overwhelming at times, especially in the beginning, when both baby and mom are learning this new process. Although every mother’s journey is different, the following link displays some of the most common problems (and, more importantly, solutions!) that the majority of breastfeeding mothers may find helpful: