Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for both mom and baby. Breastmilk provides baby with a boost of antibodies and full balanced nutrition. It promotes healthy bonding and helps momma lose her pregnancy weight. There are too many advantages for me to list. However, breastfeeding can hurt as well as cause pain and strain throughout your body. Having successfully nursed 4 children I have experienced some serious bumps throughout my journey. I have suffered from oversupply, low milk supply, dehydration headaches, cracked and bleeding nipples, clogged milk ducts, and thrush. Thankfully I never experienced mastitis but will touch on it so you know what to look out for. Here are some of my best tips.
Cracked and Bleeding Nipples
With the combination of breastfeeding being new and your baby being an inexperienced feeder. Your nipples can crack, blister and even bleed. The pain can be so horrific that you may want to quit breastfeeding immediately.
Some tips are to make sure your baby has a good latch. If you need breastfeeding support you can contact a lactation consultant or member from the La Leche League, or the Jack Newman Breastfeeding Clinic. You can also get reach out to other moms on a Facebook breastfeeding group.
I also suggest purchasing a natural brand nipple cream. You can also speak to your doctor or lactation consultant about a prescription for Jack Newman Multi-Purpose Cream. Being proactive is the key here. Don’t wait to notice cracking before applying the creams use them straight when the baby is born after each feed.
Ouch, if your breast becomes engorged it can be quite painful. While your milk is regulating and getting used to your babies needs they can cause some woman to experience a milk oversupply. Your boobs may feel rock hard and like a boulder and be tender. One may be engorged while the other is not. It may look bumpy and lumpy. Even after months of breastfeeding, you may become engorged. For example; if your baby skips a feed.
A few tips are to take a hot shower and express some milk. Feed your baby often even. The pain should subside once your baby is feeding. You can also pump, freeze and store your milk. Make sure you switch breasts with each feed. If you have a lot of milk you can also look into donating it to a baby in need.
Low Milk Supply
I was fortunate to have a great milk supply straight from birth, however, I got sick often and was run down so I wasn’t always producing a lot of milk at certain points through my journey. My 3-year-old son was both formula and breastfed and that had a huge impact on my supply. They say the more you feed the more milk you will produce. That your body knows how much your baby needs by how much they drink or cluster feed to make more. Since my son fed from a bottle of formula my body was confused and some days I just couldn’t satisfy his hunger. Tips to increase your supply are to breastfeed or pump often (invest in a good double pump it will help), eat well-balanced meals, Drink a lot of fluids, boobie smoothies are a great option, drink nutritional drinks, you can take Fenugreek supplements or find it in health food stores. Really the best way is a combo of these things.
Drink, Drink, Drink! Moms are tired and busy, they often forget to drink and eat. You’re breastfeeding you need to drink a lot. You need to keep hydrated. You need to eat well-balanced foods and keep your calorie count up. My tip is every time baby feeds you drink a full glass of water. Make it a habit. Baby is literally sucking everything out of you. If you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. Try to keep on top of your fluid intake. Sports drinks also really helped me as well as occasional meal supplement drinks. If I didn’t drink enough the headaches would come.
Clogged milk ducts
If you have a clogged duct your breast may feel swollen or hard in an area. It will probably hurt during feeds and be tender to touch. Some tips are to feed your baby on that side and deep massage the area while the baby is feeding with your fingers. I have used the bottom end of an electric toothbrush to massage the area. The vibration helped unblock the duct. A warm cloth and a hot shower with the water beating down can help too. Feeding your baby on the side that’s blocked even if it hurts will help release it.
Thrush is a yeast infection in or on your breast that can be passed back and forth between mom and baby. Thrush is my own personal nightmare. I am have had it so many times. Thrush can cause pain inside the breast and outside, itching on the nipple and areola, it can change your nipple color, produce a rash, it can cause an excruciating shooting or stabbing pain deep in your breast. You may have thrush if when your baby latches it hurts. The letdown can hurt so much you want to quit breastfeeding and give your baby a bottle.
You or your baby may have multiple symptoms or just one symptom of you may have no symptoms. You can check for signs of thrush in your babies mouth. It’s tricky but look inside their cheeks and on their tongue for white/yellowish splotches. It may be milk tongue but If you rub the white and it doesn’t come off its likely thrush. Even if you don’t see anything in babies mouth it may be in their throat. If you are having symptoms you should investigate further. Lastly, if baby wants to feed or sooth at the breast but keeps pulling off not feeding or acting fussy you may want to consider thrush as the culprit. Don’t let people tell you it’s just your bad latch causing the baby to behave that way. Look into it further.
Here are my tips. It is safe to feed through the pain even though it may hurt. Make sure if you suspect thrush you treat both yourself and baby. I am not a doctor but I have used over the counter Canestan or anti-fungal cream on my nipple area. If you choose this method make sure to wash it off before each feed. You can purchase a product called Gentian Violet over the counter and follow the directions. It is messy and stains purple but it works. You can go get a prescription from your dr or lactation consultant for an oral anti-fungal safe for you and baby. You can be proactive if you are prone to yeast infections by adding an acidophilus probiotic to help prevent future cases. Wash all infant toys regularly, Wash your bras in hot water and change your breast pads often or buy reusables. Use the Jack Newman multi-purpose cream as it has an antifungal agent that will help as a preventative
Mastitis is an infection in your breast while breastfeeding. Thankfully I have not experienced it. If your breast is hard has a red spot, feels warm to the touch, you have a fever, and maybe in a lot of pain, make sure you get medical treatment asap.
I hope you and your baby enjoy breastfeeding and that you don’t have to experience any of these things. If you do hope I have taught you a thing or two about how to handle the not great side to breastfeeding. Good luck with your breastfeeding journey. Remember if you can’t breastfeed or choose to stop that is ok too. Fed is best.
Please comment below if you find this information helpful. Please ask any questions or add anything I have missed that you may have experienced that can help others. I really appriciate it. Thank you.