Breastfeeding Pitfalls: What To Do When Things Aren’t Going Right (Part 1)

Breastmilk is the ultimate nutrition for your child and while not everyone can feed directly from the breast, those who can and who provide to others need to be mindful of common pitfalls that occur during breast feeding. At BBy, we strive to make sure that every step of the process is as painfree and simple as possible, however there are issues that can arise. We’re committed to nurturing the next generation of humans, and the best way to ensure that is to make sure we have happy parents! Remember, while this information is physician created and intended as a guide for the nursing mother, only your personal physician can give you the custom-tailored advice needed to solve your specific needs.

Nipple and Breast Pain

Sore nipples are an extremely common complaint, if you are experiencing sore and painful nipples during feedings or pumping you should monitor your feedings closely for some tell tale signs. Normal sensitivity to feeding occurs during the first 30 seconds of suckling, while most mothers will notice that this sensation diminishes within the first month some will experience it for much of their time pumping/feeding. If the sensation leads to a pins and needles feeling, a doctor approved remedy is simple acetaminophen. However, nipple pain that persists during the entirety of a feeding session is much more likely to be nipple injury and it is important to not only distinguish what is causing the injury, but also how to prevent it in the future. The most common nipple injury comes from improper latch of either baby or pump, if you are having trouble with latch your physician or lactation consultant can work with you to ensure a proper seal and comfort.  When you are finished feeding or pumping it is important to wash and dry your nipples before covering your bosom. Washing your nipple can be done with simple lukewarm water, harsh soaps can cause abrasions on the surface of the nipple and areola which will cause further discomfort to yourself as well as your infant. Another common nipple injury is causes by baby bites, while motherly nature may compel you to simply allow the baby to bite while he or she nurses, you should always place your finger in between your nipple and baby’s mouth and stop feeding. Your baby will learn not to bite over time with this method. Nipple creams can help accelerate the healing process, pumping milk and feeding your baby through a bottle will help as well because pumps are easier on the nipple. It is important to remember that Vitamin E should NEVER be used on a nipple as excess amounts are toxic for your baby.

Nipple Vasoconstriction 

Mothers in colder environments can suffer from vasoconstriction (tightening) of the blood vessels around the nipples. It can be visually be diagnosed because the otherwise darker post-natal nipple and areola will lighten and discolor. Remember, the areola darkens so your baby has an easier time finding it, so not only is this a painful condition but also detrimental to proper latch! Thankfully, this can be easily remedied by dressing warmer than usual and pumping up the heat!

Galactoceles and Plugged ducts

Galactoceles occur when the milk duct gets blocked with milk and a cyst forms that fills with milk. It is painless but will inhibit milk flow, unless infected (discolored, green pus) in which case you should see your physician and have the galactocele drained or removed. While a galactocele is caused by a blocked duct, the blockage itself can cause a tender or painful lump to form on the breast. A tell-tale sign of blocked duct is a white dot that looks like a drop of milk permanently on the nipple. The number one reason for a blocked duct is poor feeding technique and ill fitting bras, both of which can be remedied rather easily by reviewing your feeding and pumping techniques and having your breast resized and the proper bra being worn. Occasionally, infection or engorgement can cause a more painful blockage, which is a good time to see your physician to rectify the situation.

Engorgement

Engorgement is the medical term for when the breasts get too full of milk. A potentially painful sensation which can inhibit your baby’s ability to latch as well as a breast pump’s effectiveness. Engorgement, while not the most serious of situations, can certainly feel like the most annoying! The easiest way to remedy the situation is to simply expel the milk, however due to the pain that can be associated with too full breasts it must be done slowly and with care. A hand pump can be a great tool to do this as well as you can control the pumping, salvage the milk, and take frequent breaks to massage the breast and reduce the pain. If engorgement becomes a common occurrence apply warm compress to your breasts before feeding/pumping as this should allow for easier let down.

Conclusion

Breastfeeding and pumping milk for other children is an extremely gratifying and visceral experience, with proper care, body maintenance and information you will have a very happy and healthy maternity. Remember that with all of this tips, only your personal physician can diagnose and inform you on your specific situation. This is not meant to be, nor should it be a replacement for proper medical care. Join us next time for part 2 when we talk about breast infections.