We’ve solved all your niggly breastfeeding problems:
Problem: It hurts to breastfeed.
It could be… A poor latch. An incorrect latch means breastfeeding is more likely to be painful for you, and frustrating for your baby.
Try this… The secret of a good ‘latch’ is to bring your baby to your breast and not the other way around. Find a comfy position by holding your baby so that he can feed easily from the breast without having to crane his neck or strain to reach your nipple. You could lay him on a cushion on your lap so his body is supported, on his side, with his tummy close to your body and his mouth in front of your nipple. If his mouth is shut or he is crying, try brushing your nipple against his lips to stimulate the rooting reflex – he’ll start looking for your nipple so he can latch on. Make sure his mouth is open wide as he takes your nipple into his mouth, and that his tongue, bottom lip and chin touch your breast first. Once he’s latched on, hold him close to your body. His head should be tilted back slightly, with his chin against your breast and his nose clear – he should be able to breathe freely. He’ll start with short sucks that become slower and more rhythmic once the milk starts to flow. Your baby will probably feed continuously for 10 minutes or so, but if he gets sleepy, which is common with newborns, stroke his cheek or feet to keep him alert.
Problem: The health visitor has told me my baby latches on well, but breastfeeding still really hurts.
It could be… Your body adjusting. Unfortunately, breastfeeding can often be painful for the first six weeks before your nipples ‘toughen up’ and get used to your baby’s strong sucking.
Try this… Try to persevere with breastfeeding as, after six weeks or so, it will get easier and you might even find yourself enjoying the closeness with your baby. For support and advice, visit your local breastfeeding clinic, call The Breastfeeding Network on 0300 100 0212.
Problem: I’m worried my baby isn’t getting enough breastmilk.
It could be… A very common case of overanxious new-mumitis!
Try this… While it’s hard to know how much milk your baby has taken during a breastfeed, one of the most reassuring signs is that after a feed, your breast will feel soft. This indicates your baby has taken the milk from it. Also, time how long your little one lasts between one feed and the next – the longer he lasts, the more milk he’s likely to have had. As your baby’s tummy starts to get full, his sucking will slow down and he’ll pause between sucks. When your baby is pausing almost as often as he’s sucking, you can assume that he’s emptied your breast or had enough milk. He should also be producing between five and eight wet nappies a day, and regular poos. Newborns can have as many as eight to 10 bowel movements a day, but as long as he is having at least one, he’s getting enough milk. See your GP if you are worried.
Problem: I have quite large breasts, and they’re even bigger now I’m breastfeeding. My baby seems completely overwhelmed when I try to feed him.
It could be… Difficulty latching on or fast milk flow.
Try this… Nipple shields can be used to make the breast a better shape, so it’s easier for your baby to latch on. Don’t use them in the first few days, as the colostrum (first milk) is coming through then, but after that, they can make all the difference. They tend to work better for women who have fast-flowing milk but every woman’s milk supply and flow is different, so it’s worth giving them a try. Remember to use the correct size nipple shield. This relates to the size of the baby’s mouth, NOT the size of your breast.