Breastfeeding Your Baby: Common Issues New Moms Encounter

For new moms, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting can be breastfeeding. Many mothers struggle with different things throughout the breastfeeding journey, including pain, positioning and timing. Here are a few common issues moms might encounter, and some tips on making each of these issues a little easier.

Breast milk and your baby don’t arrive at the same time.

A mother’s milk often doesn’t come in until three to five days after delivery. This is tricky, because the baby arrives and is hungry on day one! Babies are fine for the first few days, as they are getting the nutrient-rich colostrum provided by the mother. Colostrum comes before the milk and helps boost the baby’s immune system.

Tip: During the first few days after birth, frequent breastfeeding and holding your baby against you will help milk come in faster.

It’s painful to breastfeed.

A lot of people will tell you that breastfeeding isn’t painful if you are doing it right and that simply isn’t true. Breastfeeding can be painful for new moms, especially as their baby is initially learning to latch.

Tip: Try not to let the baby stay on the breast all the time. The longer the baby stays on the breast, sucking and keeping the area wet and agitated, the more difficult it is to heal.

Tip: When removing the baby from the breast, place your finger in the corner of the baby’s mouth to break the seal they have around the nipple. This is a much less painful way to un-latch the baby.

Nipples become red, cracked or bleeding.

Nipple pain and bleeding is a common problem new moms encounter, as both she and the baby are learning the process. New moms should know they are not alone in dealing with this pain.

Tip: Once the baby is done feeding, take some breast milk and rub it on the affected area including the nipple and the areola. This can help with the healing process. Also, if the nipple becomes red, inflamed or bleeding, visit with your obstetrician or pediatrician about ways they can help.

Mom needs to take medicine.

Many medications – even those sold over-the-counter – can interfere with breastfeeding. Some medications can be harmful for the baby, and others can dry up a milk supply.

Tip: Always consult your doctor before taking any new medications.

Supplementing with formula is needed.

There are times in the breastfeeding journey where new moms might need to supplement their breast milk supply with formula. Some instances where this might be needed is if the baby is losing too much weight or if the baby is dehydrated or jaundiced.

Tip: Always supplement with formula after the baby breastfeeds.This helps the baby continue to practice latching and sucking, and it tells the mother’s body to make additional milk. This also helps with the natural bonding that occurs during breastfeeding.

Tip: It’s best if someone besides mom gives the bottle of formula, so breast is always associated with her, and bottle is associated with someone else.

Your baby is jaundiced.

Sometimes with breast-fed babies, jaundice can occur. Especially at the start of the breastfeeding journey, when there isn’t a lot of milk, babies can get a little dehydrated. In addition, the lack of milk causes fewer stools, which can also increase the risk of jaundice.

Tip: When the baby is around one month old, give one drop daily of Vitamin D supplement drops for infants. These drops can be purchased over the counter and should be continued as long as breastfeeding continues.

Mom isn’t getting enough calcium.

Women’s bodies need calcium to make breast milk, and if the mother isn’t taking in enough calcium, her body will begin taking that needed calcium from her bones. This is why past generations of women can seem slumped over, because they didn’t take in enough calcium when they breastfed.

Tip: Continue taking prenatal vitamins throughout the breastfeeding journey. If you cannot take prenatal vitamins, take two Tums a day or an Os-Cal supplement.

Breastfeeding can be difficult, but it’s important to remember: This experience is a gift you are giving to your baby. Knowing that you are feeding your baby the very best possible milk – offering the most nutrition and immunity – will hopefully make all of the sacrifices worth it.