I love everything about breastfeeding. From the health benefits to the amazing bonding experiences that it offers, I simply love it. I have been a breastfeeding mama for almost 8 years. Breastfeeding has become second nature to me but it wasn’t always this way. There are many common breastfeeding problems and I am happy to share several natural remedies to help with these issues if you should encounter them.
I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed, I assumed that it would be a beautiful, natural, and easy experience. It was certainly a beautiful and natural experience but the ‘easy’ took a bit of time. There are a few common breastfeeding problems that you may encounter during your breastfeeding experience. I would like to discuss these and offer a few natural solutions that can be helpful in easing any discomforts that you may encounter while breastfeeding.
Discomfort during latching is totally normal. Your nipples may feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. However, if the pain does not fade after you baby has latched or the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
Correct the latch if necessary. Watch this five-minute video. It provides a combination of instruction and demonstration of breastfeeding including correct latch on and positioning tips and guidance. If you are still having latch troubles please consult a lactation consultant, they will be MORE than happy to help you!
If your baby’s position is correct and you are still experiencing latching pain your nipples may be dry. You can try not washing with soap, wearing loose tops, and applying lanolin-based creams between feedings.
Cracked nipples can be caused by many different things. Dry skin can easily cause cracked nipples. My nipples cracked so badly with my first child that scabs formed.
Applying lanolin based creams between feedings helps tremendously. Rinse the nipple with water after each feeding to reduce the risk of infection. Cracked nipples can also be caused by improper latch, when beginning to pump, or thrush.
Engorgement makes it difficult for baby to latch on to the breast due to the breast being hard and un-conforming to his mouth.
Hand-express a bit of milk prior to feeding so that your breast will become softer, making it easier for baby to latch and access milk. Please, don’t stop nursing! The more you nurse, the less likely your breasts are to get engorged.
Place washed cabbage leaves on your breasts between feeding. Cabbage can be very helpful in the beginning days of breastfeeding, try to have some in the fridge!
You can also apply cold compresses between feedings. Avoid heat and excess stimulation.
Low Milk Supply
Often, mothers think that their milk supply is low when it really isn’t. If your baby is gaining weight on breast milk alone, then there is no problem with your milk supply. If you are concerned about your milk supply being low please hop over to KellyMom to learn more!
Nurse frequently. Do you and your baby a favor and take a nursing vacation if you can! Stay in bed for 2-3 days and simply nurse. Avoid pacifiers and bottles.
Switch nurse. Every time the baby begins to fall asleep and ‘comfort’ nurse switch sides to keep your baby feeding longer.
Remember to relax. Even though it can be difficult at time your milk will flow better if you are relaxed not stressed. There are also many herbal teas and cookies that can assist your milk supply.
Clogged or Plugged ducts are due to your milk not draining completely. Your breasts may become sore to the touch and even red. You may also notice a hard lump on your breast.
Try not to have long stretches in between feedings because your milk needs to be expressed often. If your baby gets full before your breast feels empty pump to drain any excess milk. Make sure your baby is getting a good latch (above), a poor latch is the leading cause of clogged ducts.Try to position the baby so that the baby’s chin is pointing toward the blocked milk duct, or change the baby’s position when you breastfeed. This may help to expel milk from milk ducts that may not be draining as much as others.
Breast massage after feeding then attempt to squeeze out the blockage. You can do this by placing the fingers at the outer edges of the areola, and then press down and squeeze the fingers inward toward the nipple. Make sure that you have a towel nearby in case the milk begins to flow!
A warm compress using a cabbage leaf (or a towel soaked with hot water) is an excellent way to help loosen the blockage in a clogged milk duct. Simply heat up a cabbage leaf (not too hot!) then place it on the breast for 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat this every hour.
Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can also spread to your breasts causing them to itch and become sore (a rash may also present). Severe thrush in babies is easy to diagnose, it looks like patches of cottage cheese in your baby’s mouth.
I don’t like to take a lot of drugs but there is no substitute for prompt treatment when it comes to thrush. You will need to get an anti fungal medicine from your doctor to use on your nipple and in your baby’s mouth.
However, there are a few natural treatments for thrush that may speed your recovery. I encourage you to go braless. Make sure that you use towels, breast pads, and bras only once then wash in hot water with a vinegar rinse.
Avoid dairy, except yogurt. Not only should you eat lots of yogurt you can use smear it on your nipples and use it to coat your baby’s mouth after each feeding. You can dip your finger in the yogurt and let your baby suck it off or smear the yeast patches with yogurt using a cotton swab. Make sure you don’t double dip your swab or finger because you don’t want your yogurt to become contaminated with thrush. As well as yogurt you should eat lots of fresh garlic.
Black walnut tincture on your nipples 2 to 3 times a day or Gentian Violet solution, 1% swab on nipples and inside babies mouth once daily for up to four days. Both of these solutions will stain your clothes so be careful!
Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts. You will experience flu-like symptoms and pain in your breasts. Mastitis is common within the first few weeks after birth. It is caused by cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement.
Hot compresses and frequent emptying are necessary. Take a nurse vacation, get in bed and nurse! Mastitis is often your body’s way of saying “please slow down!”.
Use a cold compress on your breast between feedings.
Massage the breast often during feedings and between feedings to help loosen the plugged area. It is also suggested that you take a very warm shower, allowing the warm water to flow over your breasts.
If you are having fever ingest at least 2-3 raw cloves of garlic a day. You can also take a tincture of Echinacea 3-4 times per day and consume lots of vitamin C.
If the mastitis does not improve, or if it gets worse, while treating it naturally for 2 days please contact your doctor. Antibiotics are sometimes necessary.
I have covered many of the common breastfeeding problems and offered natural remedies that can help. My main advice to anyone suffering from breastfeeding problems is to stick with it, find support, and ask for help. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, especially in the beginning. Breastfeeding has been life changing to me and I cannot imagine not sharing this experience with each of my children. I wish you and your children the very best on your breastfeeding journey!
If you would like to read more about breastfeeding I highly recommend La Lech League International and Kelly Mom.
To read more of my natural parenting posts please click here.
This gathering of breastfeeding support comes in response to the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) continued stance on breastfeeding, which we all have a great concern with. While the WAPF does support breastfeeding as the best option for feeding babies, it does so with a caveat. Breastfeeding mothers must follow the strict tenants of the WAPF diet and mothers who are not following their nutrient dense diet recommendations would be better off feeding their babies homemade formula (based on the WAPF recipe). In addition, they are outspoken against using donor milk.
The bloggers sharing posts today are concerned with the confusion this may cause breastfeeding mothers. Not only does research support the myriad of health benefits of breast milk for babies regardless of the mother’s diet, it also outlines additional benefits of breastfeeding such as better bonding, deeper trust, and a long list of other emotional benefits. Let’s not forget the health benefits for moms!
We will have a complete list of all the blog posts published today (as part of this Blog Party) in a separate post on Sunday, March 31st. We welcome you to join this blog party by linking up your own new and previously published posts which focus on any positive aspect of breastfeeding and breast milk. Please enter using the Linky Tool which can be found at Hybrid Rasta Mama, Cooking Traditional Foods, Whole New Mom, Alternative Parenting, or African Babies Don’t Cry. (All links will be subject to moderation. Any link not following the spirit of the Blog Party will be removed.
Information is provided for educational purposes only. Unless otherwise noted, posted items are not written by doctors or other health care professionals. If you are concerned about your health, or that of your child, consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation. Keep in mind that online information is NOT a substitute for an in-person evaluation by a qualified, independent International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).