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You’re Not Alone: Common Breastfeeding Problems to Be Aware Of


woman breastfeeding on couch using the MyBrestFriend pillow
Breastfeeding Blog

November 16, 2015

As a breastfeeding mother, you may have to face some challenges but they’re nothing that can’t be handled with a little information and a lot of support. You’re not alone, and many mothers have to face the same challenges. Many find that once they learn the nature of these issues, they’re fairly simple and will not impede your choice to nourish your child in a healthy manner and enjoy the bonding experience as well as all the benefits of successful breastfeeding [interlink to article ‘How do I give myself the best chance to breastfeed successfully’].

The Importance of a Breastfeeding Support System

Whether you encounter any of the common breastfeeding problems or not, it is important to have a solid support system in place. This is even more important if you have other young children.

The Problem: Clogged Ducts, Mastitis, and Thrush

Many women deal with an oversupply of milk and the breasts can become engorged or very painful when you’re not nursing enough, or you can’t find a time and place to pump as much as you need to. This may lead to one or more of your ducts becoming clogged, and mastitis following the clog. When this happens, immense pain can occur, aching and a full feeling in the affected breast, fever, and the chills.

The Solution: Frequent Nursing, Antibiotics, and Probiotics

Prevent clogged ducts from happening in the first place by nursing often or pumping if your baby isn’t hungry when you need to express milk. Learn about storing milk in the freezer [interlink to article ‘Complete Guide to Storing Breast Milk] to preserve your oversupply. If clogged ducts and mastitis do occur, this is where your breastfeeding support system comes in to save you. Call your doctor at the first sign of trouble, and you’ll have to take antibiotics during mastitis. It will also be important that you get plenty of rest, drink water, and continue nursing from the unaffected breast. As mastitis ends, the risk of thrush (a rash that occurs due to lack of good bacteria in the system) becomes greater but may be prevented by the inclusion of probiotics. Talk to your doctor about the best antibiotic resistant probiotics to take during your mastitis treatment to prevent thrush before it happens.

The Problem: Your Baby Experiences Rash or Reactions to Breastmilk

Some babies, especially in the first three months of breastfeeding [interlink to article ‘Breastfeeding Timeline – the first year of expectations’], may experience bad reactions to breastmilk such as rash, loose stools, frequent vomiting, and other things that could scare you into quitting and switching to formula. The problem is not usually that the baby can’t handle breastmilk but rather that there’s something in your diet they’re reacting to, most commonly wheat, dairy, or soy.

The Solution: Elimination Dieting for the Mother

Eliminate the culprits from your diet one at a time to find out which one your baby is reacting to badly. At first, the symptoms may get worse before they get better, and this is again where your breastfeeding support system is very important and you may also want to consider adding a nutritionist to your team. As you eliminate one thing from your diet, you’ll need to supplement alternative nutrients in order to keep your energy up and stay healthy. You may also need to supplement formula while you’re learning which foods are causing your baby to react.

The Problem: Your Baby Refuses the Bottle

Breastfeeding mothers who pump, go back to work and can’t nurse every time the baby feeds or find they need to supplement with formula will need to use a bottle from time to time. The baby may be confused about the difference between your nipple and the bottle’s nipple or simply may not be interested in the bottle and refuse it.

The Solution: Introduce the Bottle Early and Frequently

Again your breastfeeding support system comes in very handy with this problem. Introducing the bottle within the first week of a newborn’s life helps stop nipple confusion before it happens but a great way to get them to take the bottle is to have someone else offer it and even leave the room or the house while the baby feeds from the bottle. Experiment with different nipples that most resemble the size and shape of your own as well as different flow rates that work well for the baby. You may need to supplement with formula because the baby will smell your breastmilk in the bottle and may be deterred by the foreign packaging. You can add more breastmilk to the mixture as the baby gets more used to taking the bottle.

Remain Diligent and Utilize Your Resources

There are several breastfeeding resources and breastfeeding products that can help you get through all of these issues and stay committed to breastfeeding as often as you want to. Educate yourself about which things are best for you and don’t give up! Talk to other breastfeeding moms as well as the professionals in your breastfeeding support system. Don’t ever forget that you’re not alone, and you can do this!