There are many common ailments that could rear their ugly heads during breastfeeding.
Some of these ailments seem minor while others are outrightly scary, especially for first-time mothers.
These ailments are responsible for some mothers prematurely canceling out the breastfeeding of their babies out of fear of causing their babies to be sick.
Fortunately, most of these issues have straightforward treatments when they are quickly tackled, so there is nothing for a worried mother to be scared about.
As soon as these ailments are treated, they can return to giving their babies the best meal that every baby requires for proper growth and good health.
In this article are three common breastfeeding issues that mothers may encounter during the process and how to treat them.
Also, it is important that a mother treats these ailments immediately if she notices the symptoms or anything out of place. If left untreated, these issues could worsen and cause a lot of trouble for the mother and/or child.
1. Breast Engorgement
Breastmilk floods the breasts of a new mother after delivery. When the milk is not released on time, especially for a few days after delivery, more blood flows into the already full breasts.
And when blood and milk accumulate in the breasts for too long without being removed, congestion occurs. This congestion then makes the breasts look reddish and shiny, and feel heavy and painful.
The delayed extraction of milk from the breasts could happen when a mother does not start the breastfeeding process on time. It could also happen when the baby is not feeding effectively or frequently enough.
Both breasts often suffer breast engorgement at the same time. They become swollen and painful, and their skin puts on a shiny red look.
The woman may develop a fever, but that only lasts for a day or less. Besides these, the nipples become tightly stretched out and flattened.
This nipple condition makes it hard for babies to attach and suckle enough milk, which wouldn’t even flow as it should.
Since excess breast milk in the breasts is what causes breast engorgement, the logical solution is to empty the breast milk in the breasts when they get filled up.
If the baby suckles effectively, the mother should feed the baby as often as the baby wants. And if the baby doesn’t suckle effectively, the mother should express her milk until her breasts soften enough for the baby to suckle.
She could do this by hand or with a pump. Before expressing, however, the woman should apply a warm compress to the breasts. She could even take a warm shower if she wished. The warmth enhances the milk flow.
Mastitis happens when milk remains in the breast for too long (also called milk stasis) or when there is incomplete removal of milk from the breast.
When any of these happens, there is a non-infective inflammation in the breasts. And if the milk is not quickly removed, an infection could set in.
An infection could also develop when the mother has an infected nipple fissure. Milk stasis could also happen when there are long intervals between the baby’s feeding.
This could be because the mother is too busy to feed the baby frequently or the baby sleeps for too long without feeding.
Poor attachment of the baby when feeding or frequent pressure on a part of the breast from tight clothing or grasping, could also lead to mastitis.
It is easy to confuse mastitis for breast engorgement, but they are very different. Mastitis makes a part of one breast swell, harden and redden.
Breast engorgement, on the other hand, does this to both breasts. Mastitis is also painful and may cause the mother to develop a fever.
The ailment often happens during the first three months after delivery, but some have it long after then.
Treating mastitis is as easy as addressing the causes. The mother needs to get a lot of rest and feed the baby more often.
Application of a warm compress before feeding the baby on the other breast also helps to stimulate oxytocin reflex and milk flow.
The woman could also use some analgesics, such as ibuprofen, to help with the inflammation. Paracetamol could also do the trick.
However, in severe cases where there is already an infection or no apparent improvement in 24 hours after milk extraction, the mother should take extra steps.
The extra steps may include the use of penicillinase-resistant antibiotics.
3. Fissured or Sore Nipples
The principal cause of fissured or sore nipples is the poor attachment of babies when suckling.
The woman experiences severe pain in the nipple when the baby suckles. A fissure may appear on the nipple or around the base of the nipple.
And after feeding, the nipple may look squashed, with white lines appearing on the tip.
Treating fissured or sore nipples is easy. The baby has to be attached properly. The way to know if the baby is properly attached is when there is less pain as the baby suckles.
Also, there is no need to stop breastfeeding as nipples heal quickly when they are excused from further stress.
To anyone who isn’t directly involved in taking care of new babies, having a baby is always a sweet thing. Those little bundles of joy, who wouldn’t love them?
Parents might have a slightly unique view. Of course, they still love their babies. But they are the ones that have to clean up the “backdoor pilgrims” and console them when they cry for no apparent reasons.
It could even get scarier for mothers when they notice something wrong with their breasts during breastfeeding. While nothing might be wrong, it doesn’t hurt having a comprehensive health plan to keep your mind at rest.
Also, knowing these common ailments and how to treat them would save nursing mothers from unnecessary worries.