Breastfeeding is often portrayed as something that comes to women naturally, and works out straight away. Unfortunately that’s not always the case and there are many potential challenges breastfeeding women have to face. We have collected some of the most common problems and some tips on how to handle them.
Baby Not Latching
Keep in mind, especially if you are a new mom that breastfeeding is new territory for both you and your baby. You both need to adapt, learn, and figure this out together. There are many reasons as to why your baby is having trouble latching. First and foremost make sure your baby is ready to feed and is in a comfortable position. Patience is key here, find one pose that feels comfortable for both you and your baby. Ensure that they have easy access to your breast but they aren’t smushed too close either. Drop a few drops of milk into their mouth so they get the idea of what the fuss is all about. If your baby seems uncomfortable or fussy you can try skin to skin contact as it can be soothing for them. If you have inverted nipples you can get some nipple formers to draw them out providing an easier target to your baby.
You can also contact a lactation consultant if you are really struggling. They will be able to guide you through the process and help you with any issues.
Baby Chokes on Milk
Spitting up some milk while feeding is completely normal for some babies. This can be caused by fast milk flow which means they are getting too much milk into their mouths and they can’t swallow all of them. The excess milk can get into their airways which can cause them spitting and choking. To stop this from happening first of all you need to make sure your baby is latched properly. If they are only loosely holding onto your nipple, milk can accumulate in their mouths and that can result in choking.
Block feeding can usually help you solve this issue as well, which means only feeding your baby from one side for a block of time (usually 3-4 hours at least). This allows the other side to fill up therefore signaling to your body to slow down the milk production.
Sleepy Baby (photo of mom cuddling baby)
Newborns sleep a lot, and usually only wake for feeding. The comfort of your cuddle and body heat along with the warm milk however can be enough to make your baby snoozing in no time again. Unfortunately this sometimes means that your baby falls asleep before feeding enough. This can result in more frequent feeds throughout the day which is less than ideal especially if you are already struggling to sleep throughout the night yourself. The easiest way is to keep them gently awake until they are full. Change positions, or just simply give them a little attention until or a cuddle they perk up a bit. Feeding with the skin to skin contact can also be helpful in this case as well. Your baby should be feeding for at least 10 minutes at the time so don’t feel bad for trying to keep them awake for this short period.
Baby is Biting
A baby biting your nipples doesn’t sound so horrible until it actually happens to you. Thankfully there are some ways to stop these incidents from happening or at least make them less frequent. First of all make sure your baby is latching properly as they won’t be able to bite you that way. Biting usually happens when your baby is bored at the end of their feeding or while they are teething. If they are biting you out of boredom you will just need to observe and keep an eye on the signs. Most often this will happen when they finish feeding and they are just playing around. You can just simply remove your breast before the chomp, just be sure you don’t do it suddenly. Teething however is a completely different story. Offer them a teething toy straight after breastfeeding and make sure you use a lot of positive reinforcement. Never shout or yell when your baby bites as it can result in a negative experience for them. This can cause further breastfeeding issues and they can also bite again if they get startled making the situation even worse.
Once they are a bit older make sure you praise them a lot when they are doing well.
Tongue-tied Baby (picture of baby at the doctor)
If your baby is tongue-tied they might not be able to open their mouth enough to latch properly and breastfeed comfortably. Tongue-tie or ankyloglossia is quite common among babies. It means that their frenulum (the piece of tissue that connects their tongue to the bottom of their mouth) is too short. Nowadays it’s common practice to check for tongue-tie in the hospital however it can be easily missed. If your baby is struggling with breastfeeding and is not gaining weight this might be the reason why. This issue is usually fixed by minor surgery. Make sure you consult your healthcare provider or lactation consultant if you suspect this could be an issue.
Just like many things related to parenthood breastfeeding will also require a lot of patience. Remember that everything your baby is experiencing is brand new and it can be overwhelming at times even for them. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep your cool when you are potentially sleep-deprived and aching all over. It’s completely normal and try not to feel guilty about feeling frustrated. Give you and your baby some time to adapt to all these new things and overtime it will click. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice from people in your life whose opinion you value. Remember that many women struggle with breastfeeding so it’s likely that you know someone who has gone through the same thing. There is an abundance of information and tips available on the internet however make sure you ask for professional help if you are feeling a bit defeated.
Have you struggled with breastfeeding as well? What has worked out for you the best?
Let us know down in the comment section!