There are many, many, many things that can happen during breastfeeding that can be troublesome. Today, I am going to attempt to answer what I think are the most common.
Is my baby getting enough to eat?
Is baby gaining weight? Is baby growing in length? Is baby alert and active? Is baby eating at least every 2-3 hours? If you answered yes to all of those questions, your baby is definitely getting enough. If you answered maybe or no, consider this. One surefire indication is the amount of pee and poop your baby is producing. During the first 6 weeks of life, baby should be wetting at least 6 diapers a day and having at least 3 bowel movements. You can tell how wet a diaper should be by putting 2 to 4 tablespoons of water into a diaper and feeling its weight.
Am I making enough milk or is my milk good and nutritious?
This question normally comes around week 2, week 6, 2 month, 6 months – or what I like to call growth spurt days. Most every baby has a growth spurt during these times (some more often). Baby will want to nurse around the clock! Literally, that is all they will want to do. Most moms want to supplement with formula, but that is exactly what you DO NOT want to do. Your baby needs more milk, and by nursing, he is building up your milk supply to meet his needs. If you supplement, you won’t be able to increase your supply. God is so good to give our babies hunger and the desire to nurse when they are growing. It might take a day or two to get your milk supply built up (hence the constant nursing), but it will happen and baby will be satisfied with the new amount of milk he
I’m ENGORGED!!!! What do I do???
Engorgement normally happens when your milk comes in for the first time. You get the “sense” of engorgement because there is extra blood rushing to your breasts to make sure everything is working properly and your breast tissue is also swollen. Some mothers only experience moderate fullness where as others experience extreme fullness and feel like there is enough to feed twins or triplets! Engorgement will normally subside within the first couple of days after your milk comes in. It is important to continue nursing your baby every 2 hours because emptying the breasts helps relieve some of the congestion. There are a couple of ways to handle engorgement. The first thing I would do is try a hot shower or hot compresses on your breasts, and try to hand express a little to get some relief. (If you need help learning how to hand express, please let me know or contact your lactation consultant.) Once you get some relief, let baby nurse, but have a burp cloth handy in case baby gets choked up and needs to pull off. A simple massage might help as well, but make sure you are massaging down toward your nipple.
For serious cases of engorgement, use cabbage leaves. They can be refrigerated or room temperature. Wash them, cut the vein out, and cut a hole for your nipple. They can be placed inside your bra around your breasts for two to four hours. Do not use them for more than 8 hours at a time or it will affect your milk supply. If you are so engorged that your nipple becomes flat and your baby cannot latch on, take a wash cloth, hold it over your nipple, and massage to draw it out. You might also get engorged later on when baby starts sleeping for longer stretches. Use the same techniques mentioned above. It might take a couple of days, but baby will get your flow regulated. They’re good about that.
Breast Infections – What should I do and is it safe to nurse my baby?
The simple rule to most breast infections is this: Apply Heat, Get Plenty of Rest, and Nurse Often.
A plugged milk duct (normally a tender and hard spot on the breast) can be taken care of by following the rules above. Prompt and proper treatment of a plugged duct will usually keep a breast infection (mastitis) away. If you notice symptoms of a plugged duct accompanied by a fever or flu-like symptoms, you probably have a breast infection. This normally occurs if other family members are suffering from colds or other types of flu. If you start treatment immediately (using the steps above), you may not need other treatment. However, if you still have fever after 24 hours, and other symptoms persist, or if your fever is more than 101.5 degrees, you’ll want to get in touch with your doctor. If your doctor prescribes a medication, you will want to continue getting lots of rest and nursing while you are taking your medication. It is not harmful to your baby to continue nursing while you have a breast infection. Studies have shown that the infection clears up more quickly when the breast is kept empty. Antibodies in the mother’s milk protect the baby from the bacteria that may be causing the infection. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, make sure you take all of it. Most people don’t because they feel better after a couple of days. This might cause a reoccurring breast infection because the first one wasn’t completely gone in the first place.
If you suddenly get sore nipples after several weeks or months of comfortable breastfeeding, you and/or your baby may have contracted thrush. Thrush is a fungus infection that thrives on milk. It may appear as white spots on the inside of your baby’s cheeks, or on his gums. Your baby may also have a persistent diaper rash in connection with thrush, and you may have a vaginal yeast infection. Thrush can be related to taking oral contraceptive pills or an antibiotic. Mothers with diabetes may have a greater susceptibility to thrush. It is more common in warm, humid climates. You may have it on your nipples even when there is no sign of it in baby’s mouth. Thrush may take several weeks to cure. Your doctor may prescribe medication or other forms of treatment. Be sure to treat both the baby’s mouth and your nipples. Others in the family may also require treatment. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, as this will help keep thrush from spreading. You must be persistent about treating thrush but it is no reason to discontinue breastfeeding. (This was taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding). I would also add, that I think it is important to help build up the good bacteria in your body and baby’s body – I do this by taking some form of live probiotic each day.