Thursday, April 18, 2024

Maternity Matters


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Midwife Andrea Jordan

Three Troubleshooting Solutions

for your

Breastfeeding Woes!

Why is breastfeeding such a struggle? What am I doing wrong?

These are the words spoken by many a new mother in the early days with their newborns.

Let’s face it, even though breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural process, for some mothers, and babies, it can be a real challenge.

Pain and discomfort are one of the most common reasons for the challenges women face while breastfeeding, but it’s often surprisingly easy to correct. Sore, cracked nipples are a common complaint and can be a source of great distress, nudging mothers towards abandoning breastfeeding altogether. So how do we deal with painful breastfeeding?

Troubleshooter Solutions #1

• Make sure your baby latches on properly and is removed from the breast gently.

If your breasts are engorged, expressing some milk off first helps baby to latch on more easily.

• Get help for better latching and positioning techniques sooner rather than later.

• Use of nipple creams, breast-pumps, cabbage leaves (for engorgement) can be useful aids.

• Get measured for a nursing bra and make sure it is comfortable and well fitting.

How do I know that my baby is getting enough breastmilk? This is the next big question on any mother’s mind, especially once any problems with pain or discomfort are resolved. And who wouldn’t worry or be concerned? After all, breastfeeding is very much a hidden process that one cannot easily see or quantify. Trusting in the process is definitely a must!

Troubleshooter Solutions #2

• Skin-to-skin contact with your baby within the first few hours of birth helps to ensure an early latch which helps mothers’ milk come in early too (around day 3-5).

• Feeding baby as often as he demands will enable mother’s body to synchronise with baby’s needs and encourages an abundant milk supply.

• Checking that baby is latched on correctly will ensure that he can drain the breast effectively and receive a bellyful.

• Allowing baby to feed on one side for as long as possible before switching to the other side, will ensure he gets the ‘foremilk’ (lower in fat content) and also the ‘hindmilk’ (much higher in fat content). This again equates to better ‘bellyful’ for baby.

• Avoid giving baby artificial nipples like bottles and pacifiers, especially in the first days and weeks of breastfeeding. This can sometimes lead to nipple confusion and rejection of the breast in favour of the teat, resulting in a significant decrease in milk production.

• Night feedings are an annoyingly important way to ensure mothers’ abundant milk production. The milkproducing hormone ‘prolactin’ peaks every night in the mother, and the action of frequent sucking from baby stimulates the prolactin to create more milk. Therefore, frequent night-feeds = increased milk for baby.

Breastfeeding can be messy, with wet patches and milk stains in unwanted places!

Mother’s breasts often leak when they are full, and overflow when the let-down reflex kicks in, for instance, when any baby within earshot cries, or when mother feeds from the other breast.

How to deal with the overspill Troubleshooter Solutions #3

• Expressing a little milk from the breasts before a feed can help manage overspill, but be aware that the more stimulation the breast is given by expressing, the more milk is made.

• Breast pads and shells are useful to avoid clothing becoming soiled with breastmilk; both disposable and washable types are available.

• When going out, carrying a change of clothes (bra, top and extra breast pads) is a good idea. If the let-down reflex happens and milk starts leaking, cross arms in front of the chest and hug, pressing gently against the breasts, which should stop or slow down the flow.

• If one breast leaks when the mother is feeding from the other, using a sterilised breast shell, or ‘silicone breast pump’ to catch and collect the leaked breastmilk is very useful. The collected milk can be frozen and go towards building a stash of stored milk, ready for feeding to baby later, or using as a top-up instead of formula.

Remember that a good latch is the key to successful breastfeeding, and there are important signs to check for that baby is properly latched on. These are that the bottom lip is curled back, the chin is touching the breast, the mouth is spread wide open, the areolar (dark area around the nipple) shows more above baby’s top lip than under his bottom lip, the sucking doesn’t draw in the cheeks and the sucking pattern changes from rapid to long deep sucks; and most importantly, any pain gradually minimises.

In August we celebrate International Breastfeeding week. Happy International Breastfeeding week Barbados!

Andrea Bonita Jordan is a registered (freelance) Midwife, Breastfeeding Specialist and co-founder of two charities: The Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Foundation (The BCNF charity # 1169) and Better Birthing in Bim.

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