You may experience several challenges to breastfeeding in the early days, most of which are related to correct latching and the establishing of a milk supply. Luckily, if you know what to watch out for these obstacles can be easily overcome.
Here are a few general tips that will make breastfeeding life easier:
- Feed according to demand, not a schedule
- Make sure baby is latched correctly (see here)
- Keep good hygiene
- Change breast pads often
- Eat and rest well
- Wear a good supportive bra (avoiding underwires)
- Avoid overly tight clothing that could put pressure the breasts
Breast milk is considered mature after three months, and up until that time, you and your baby are still getting your personal feeding rhythm right. After three months the incidence of breast problems decreases and you can settle into happy breastfeeding life with your baby. Let’s have a look at some of the things that may cause problems and how to treat them naturally. It is always a good idea to discuss any problems with your health care professional, especially if symptoms worsen.
Sore or tender nipples are most common when starting to breastfeed, but usually, disappears as you and your baby get more experienced. To avoid tender nipples make sure you latch and remove your baby correctly (see here how). If problems persist it is a good idea to see a lactation consultant.
- Milk blisters (Blebs)
A milk blister is a small “bubble” of milk trapped under a thin layer of nipple skin and happens when skin grows over a milk duct pore. You can recognise it by a small, but very painful and sensitive, white or yellow blister on the nipple or areola.
Cracked nipples may follow from sore nipples if latching mistakes are not corrected. Additionally, you should avoid cleaning your breasts with soap as this dries out the skin. Also moisturise the nipple frequently with a little expressed breast milk or lanolin oil. If nipples are badly cracked and start to bleed this could affect the taste of the milk, and pumping from that breast could help till the nipple is healed. The tissue salt Nat Mur (no. 9) can also be taken every hour to help with cracked nipples.
Cracked nipples can lead to surface infections of Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Candida. These can usually be treated with a topical antibacterial or antifungal lotion that is safe for your baby (check with your health care provider). Additional measures you can take include washing your hands and breast well and regularly (avoiding soap on the nipple), Additional measures you can take include treating cracked nipples quickly, to wear cotton based breast pads and to wash your hands and breast regularly throughout the day.
Blocked milk ducts can occur because of improper emptying of the breast and appear as lumps in the breast that is sore to the touch. A blocked duct can be cleared through breast massage and frequent pumping or nursing. Application of a heat pad can help clear a duct, especially if done together with pumping or nursing. Naturally, prevention is better than cure, so make sure to feed your baby or pump each breast frequently, making sure to completely empty the breast each time. The tissue salts Nat Mur (no. 9) along with Silica (no. 12) can also be taken every hour to help with blocked ducts.
Untreated blocked ducts can lead to mastitis, which is an infection of the milk ducts. Symptoms also include a painful lump in the breast but can be accompanied by a warm reddish skin on the breast over the lump and a fever or flu like symptoms. If caught early, natural treatment of mastitis includes clearing the blocked duct as quickly as possible with the addition of the tissue salts Calc Sulph (no. 3), Ferrum Phos (no. 4) Nat Mur (no. 9) and Silica (no.12) taken every hour until symptoms improve. It is also a good idea to take a natural immune booster (such as Echinacea or Natura Organo 1) while struggling with mastitis (personal note: this remedy worked wonders for me when I had mastitis).
Who is Helene Steenkamp?
Scientist, Writer, Scientific proofreader. I am a Namibian born South African citisen with a great love for nature and its intricacies. I write from home for my own website BioParentology which is focussed on parenting, pregnacy, birth, breastfeeding, health and exersise research. I completed my PhD in molecular phylogenetics at the University of Pretoria in 2011, and has since worked as a postdoctoral researcher in this field at the university as well as the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. Through my work I have published several peer reviewed scientific articles with the use of phylogenetic tools, where I mostly specialised in bacterial and viral genetics. I have also co-supervised 5 MSc students in the field and have assisted them not only in data analyses but also in article structuring and scientific writing. To complement this I completed a course in proofreading and copy editing in 2012