Common Breastfeeding Problems & Solutions
Congratulations mommy! You’ve given birth to a beautiful, bouncing baby girl or boy. If you’re anything like most moms-to-be, you spent the last past 9 months studying and researching all there is to know about bringing a baby into this world.
Although much of the information and advice you received was helpful, nothing can truly prepare you for what to expect once your new baby is home with you. In addition to the initial shock of having a little human to care for every second of the day, the sleep deprivation and hormone imbalances can make the first few days, weeks or even months of motherhood quite challenging.
Bringing Baby Home and What to Expect
As mentioned previously, the first few days or weeks with your baby can be extremely overwhelming. Once home, you quickly learn that life with a baby is nothing like the commercials on television. It is a great deal of work, and as much as it is rewarding it’s also exhausting.
You no longer have the help of the nurses on staff or perhaps your midwife. From here on out, you are solely responsible for a little human that needs you for what seems to be every second of the day. It is a huge learning curve that all mothers, both new and veteran must overcome.
Aside from coping with postpartum depression and sleep deprivation, one of the most difficult transitions into motherhood is probably conquering the art of breastfeeding. As a mother, breastfeeding is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. However, one of the primary issues that many women face with nursing is when their baby isn’t emptying their breast.
The Anxiety and Struggles of Breastfeeding For the First Time
Am I Doing This Right? My Baby Isn’t Emptying My Breast?
For many mothers, learning to breastfeed their baby for the first time can be quite intimidating. You’re tired, your baby is screaming and isn’t draining your breast. If the latter describes you, don’t fret You are not alone.
Breastfeeding can be very challenging, and due to the anxiety of it all, many mothers, unfortunately, do not see it through to the end. In the beginning, nursing your baby will hurt depending on your individual threshold for pain. However, despite the latter, it will get better.
With patience and consistency, you will get through it. For most mothers, the first 2 weeks have proven to be the most difficult. However, studies have also shown that if you are able to make past the first few weeks, you will more than likely be successful in your breastfeeding journey.
What Do I Do When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Seem To Be Working?
Don’t Be Ashamed To Ask Questions
If you are having difficulty with getting acclimated within your breastfeeding journey, please never hesitate to ask questions. Second, don’t panic. You are not alone. There’s a plethora of resources as well as various organizations that deal solely with issues regarding breastfeeding.
In most U.S hospitals there are lactation consultants that work closely with mothers before and after their pregnancy. Before you leave the hospital, be sure to alert the staff if your baby isn’t emptying your breast. Before your actual milk supply comes in you will have colostrum. Colostrum is quick thick and sometimes your baby may have trouble extracting it.
There is also the non-profit organization La Leche League, which focuses on providing education, advocacy as well as training for all things breastfeeding related. All of the above are reliable resources that are in place to help you as much as possible.
Ensure That There Is No Underlying Medical Reason
There are a number of reasons that could be causing issues with nursing and perhaps why your baby isn’t draining your breast. Many of the issues that most mothers face can be easily remedied at home using various natural techniques. However, one major reason that may be causing issues with your baby draining your breast could be a mechanical problem called “tongue tie”.
A tongue tie occurs when the thin strip of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short. This issue makes it difficult for babies to suckle effectively. As a result of the latter, your breast will most likely not be drained effectively during feedings which will cause them to become engorged and your nipples sore. If you do suspect that your baby is suffering from a tongue-tie, the remedy will require the help of a medical professional.
Common Reasons Why Your Baby Isn’t Emptying Your Breast
The main issue that most women face when nursing is when their baby is not draining their breasts. The latter can be the result of a number of issues. Below are some of the most common reasons why your baby isn’t emptying your breast effectively.
”My Baby just won’t latch”: It is extremely common for infants to have trouble latching for the first time. Most infants are quite sleepy the majority of the time, so you’ll often have to do some encouraging to get them to eat. When nursing it’s best to use the “nose to nipple technique”.
After getting your baby into a comfortable breastfeeding position, place baby’s nose directly on the nipple. The smell of your milk or colostrum will stimulate and should result in your baby opening her mouth to eat. Another technique you could try is expressing a small amount of milk onto your nipple and then placing it on baby’s lips. This will also help to stimulate your baby to wake up and eat, as well as encouraging effective draining of your breast.
”When my baby does latch it’s painful”: As mentioned previously, breastfeeding can be somewhat uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. Unfortunately, there is no method that will completely eliminate the discomfort. There are, however, creams and even nipple shields that can help somewhat with the pain.
”My baby falls asleep after only a few minutes of nursing”: A great way to help your baby wake up and eat is to use the “skin to skin” technique. Most mothers have heard of the latter at some point during their pregnancy or during their postpartum period. Skin to skin causes your body to release prolactin, which is the hormone that helps your body produce milk. If your baby isn’t draining your breast because he or she is too sleepy, try undressing them. It’s best to take off everything except the diaper.
When your baby can feel your skin and smell your milk, it will cause her to “root” or search for your breast. Once latched, do not allow your baby to fall asleep. Even if your baby is actually hungry, sometimes their desire to sleep is greater than their will to stay up and eat.
Quick Mommy Tip: Keep in mind that all babies eat differently. Some babies are fast eaters, that will be done within 5 to 10 min. While others may require anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour before they are full. Stopping the nursing session short, could also be why your baby isn’t emptying your breast thoroughly.
Blocked ducts: A blocked duct can definitely be the culprit in why your baby isn’t emptying your breast. A blocked duct in your breast occurs when the surrounding tissue becomes inflamed or swollen. You may also feel small lumps on your breast that feel sore when touched.
To treat the latter try using a warm compress followed by gently massaging your breasts. After the compress and massage, you can also try to hand express. Repeat these steps as often as necessary until the blockage has released and your baby is draining your breast properly. If you are dealing with a blocked duct please do not let the issue prolong. A plugged or blocked duct left untreated can cause an infection.
Be Patient With Your Body and Your Baby
Breastfeeding won’t always be easy, you may very well have a few hurdles to climb before you get the hang of it. However, don’t give up. If you find yourself dealing with a baby who isn’t emptying your breast or perhaps you’re dealing with latching issues, don’t panic it’s not the end of the world.
Don’t forget that you are not alone. Many women have trouble initially with draining their breast effectively. Be patience with your body, nothing happens overnight. However, with a little time and perseverance, you will be a breastfeeding pro in no time.