Experts advise taking care of breasts even before the birth of a baby. Wearing nursing bras that allow for proper support and comfort, and staying away from using soap to wash the areola and the nipples are some basic steps that would ensure some comfort when you start breast feeding your baby.
Breast milk is the best nutrition for a newborn. Breast milk is regarded as a complete food for the baby and is enriched with all nutrients needed for the growth and development of your baby.
A common complaint made by new mothers is of pain during breast-feeding. A tingling sensation, fleeting discomfort or pain is noted in the breast whenever milk is “let down”. This milk ejection reflex or letdown reflex is stimulated by oxytocin hormone. The reflex is responsible for stimulating muscle cells in breasts for ejecting milk.
The oxytocin hormone is released as you tiny toddler feeds after her birth. After sometime, even the thought of feeding your baby might trigger the release of this hormone. Sometimes your breasts might leak whenever this occurs.
The breast discomfort varies from person to person. Some mothers complain of the following discomforts:
- Slight pins and needles or tingling sensation
- Severe pressure and ache
- Production of excess volumes of milk
Females producing excess quantities of milk often feel painful pangs in their breasts after every feed.
Breastfeeding Infection Symptoms
Infections in the breast can manifest themselves as redness, pain, warmth and swelling and can be accompanied by following:
- Body aches
- Tenderness and swelling
- Engorgement of breasts
- Fever with chills
- Lump in breasts
- Heaviness in breasts
- Sometimes in severe cases breast abcess can also be present
- Breast pain interferes with your day-to-day activities
- Abnormal discharge from nipples
Types of Breast Feeding Infections:
Following types of infection can affect the breasts:
- Sore Nipples
If your find your nipples red and pointy after feeding a baby, chances are that the baby was not latched on properly. Sore nipples is the result of baby trying to suck the milk but not because he is not latched properly, the breast nipple is not in the hollow of the mouth and results in getting pinched and thus sore.
Sore nipples will also make it difficult for the baby to feed. You will need to find a suitable breastfeeding position for yourself and the baby. Ideally, one inch of your areola should be in the baby’s mouth, break the latch by inserting your finger if you feel the pinch and try latching the baby again. Read about latching the baby correctly here
- Thrush Or Yeast Infection
It is a fungal infection that can affect your baby’s mouth and your nipples. The sugary warm moist atmosphere of your baby’s mouth while she is breastfeeding is just ideal for flourishing thrush. Thrush infection is also called as yeast infection.
Sometimes thrush infection can progress in your milk ducts (called the ductal thrush) and can make breastfeeding really painful. Some doctors doubt the development of ductal thrush. In contrast to letdown pain, the thrush pain becomes worse as the baby feeds.
Consult a doctor if your baby has thrush to check its spread and safeguard your breasts from being affected
- Mastitis or blocked ducts
Mastitis can make a specific area of breast red, swollen hot and hard. It usually happens when excess milk accumulates in the tissues of breasts.
The obvious symptoms are fever with chills and rigors. Immediately consult your doctor and get the treatment
- Breast Engorgement
Immediately after childbirth, your breasts become engorged with milk for few days. Along with breasts engorgement, more and blood supply increases to breasts and the tissues become swollen. They become painful, engorged and hot. The milk letdown becomes difficult and painful.
This is natural and it ensures your baby has enough mil to feed upon. Once the baby start breastfeeding, the amount of milk produced by breasts becomes regulated as per the baby’s requirement and the discomfort disappears. Read more on breast engorgement here
Breastfeeding Pains And Infections Treatment and Care
- The relaxation and breathing techniques that you have learnt in breathing classes can help you cope with pain during milk letdown
- You should squeeze off collected milk from engorged breasts to ease off pain and discomfort
- A warm damp cloth or compress can also relief pain
- Taking a warm shower also help in mitigating pain
- Feed more often to avoid milk from collecting in your breasts
- Some moms seek Unani medicine and homeopathy drugs to reduce milk production. But make sure you consult a specialist before taking any form of medications
- Massaging the breast gently can also reduce pain and discomfort
- Sleeping on your stomach can also ease off pain
- Wear proper and sufficiently tight nursing bra as sagging breast becomes painful
Sexual Life while Breastfeeding
The new mom should realize that your spouse is still interested in you and desires your proximity. Loving support and closeness can help you overcome the pains and discomfort associated with breastfeeding. Avoid intercourse with too much pressure on the breasts during this span particularly during first three months after delivery.
Breastfeeding in Public
Some women find it uncomfortable in feeding in public. Well, if you feel your child is hungry, do not hesitate in feeding him/her. Simply cover yourself and be confident.
Breastfeeding successfully is an amalgamation of correct technique, patience and support. Many new mothers go through some problems but proper guidance from a lactation consultant or a midwife would be helpful for you and for your baby. Just follow these simple tips to deal with them.
With time you will learn how to feed correctly and then breastfeeding will become an enjoyable experience and you will cherish these memorable times.