By Dara Pettinelli for TheBump.com
It’s a natural process so it should be easy, right? But just like learning how to ride a bike, you need to learn how to breastfeed – and so does baby. The Bump sought the expertise of Jane Morton, MD, a pediatrician who’s been instructing doctors, nurses and lactation consultants for more than 30 years. Dr. Morton solves your 10 most common breastfeeding problems.
Problem #1: Latching pain
It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-time mom. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
Solution: Try to achieve an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above. To reposition your baby, place your index finger inside baby’s mouth to take him or her off your breast. Tickle his chin or wait until he yawns so his mouth is wide open and seize your opportunity. When your baby is correctly positioned, their chin and nose touch your breast, their lips splay out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
If baby’s position is correct and latching on still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Make sure to wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Try applying a lanolin-based cream between feedings.
Problem #2: Cracked nipples
Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush (see Problem #6), dry skin, improper pumping, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood is no cause for concern and won’t harm your baby.
Solution: Check baby’s positioning; the bottom part of your areola underneath your nipple should be in baby’s mouth. Also, try breastfeeding more frequently, and at shorter intervals. The less hungry baby is, the softer the sucking will be. As tempting as it is to treat your cracked nipples with anything you can find in your medicine cabinet, soaps, alcohol, lotions and perfumes are no good – clean water is all you need to wash with. Try letting some milk stay on your nipples to air dry after feeding (the milk actually helps heal them). You can also try taking a mild painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen 30 minutes before nursing. If all this fails, try an over-the-counter lanolin cream, specially made for nursing mothers and use plastic hard breast shells inside your bra.