There are very few challenges which should cause you to stop feeding. With the right help and information, most challenges are temporary hitches. Here are a few:
Not enough milk?
- First, check your positioning and attachment at the breast with a professional or at a support group. A poorly-attached baby can sometimes limit the milk flow.
- How often are you feeding your baby? Feeding your baby as often as they ask is the very best way to ensure that your body knows how much milk to make. Your baby should be asking to feed at least 8 times in every 24 hours, including at least once at night.
Blocked Ducts / Mastitis
Symptoms of mastitis are usually redness and tenderness of the breast, flu-like feelings (fever, shivers). Again these are often caused by poor attachment which doesn’t allow the milk to flow
freely and can cause blockages.
If this occurs try :
- Feeding baby as often as possible, if too sore then express. It is important to keep the milk flowing.
- Ibuprofen to help reduce swelling.
- Paracetamol to reduce high temperature.
- Hot shower/bath/flannels to help milk flow
- Cabbage leaves to relieve pain and throbbing. If all the above are not working within 24 hours, then antibiotics may be needed, maybe sooner if the nipple is damaged. Try to look after yourself as much as possible during recovery; relax, rest and eat well.
Anxious about milk supply?
- Are baby’s wet and dirty nappies as expected for his age? See the nappies page
- Can you hear baby gulping and swallowing?
- Do you feel full before a feed, softer afterwards?
- Is baby settling between feeds?
- Is baby gaining weight?
It is common to feel anxious because you can’t actually see how much milk is being made. If your answer to all five is yes, then rest assured your baby is getting enough milk. If not, seek support.
Full Breasts – difficult to attach
- Try expressing some milk before attaching baby, to relieve the pressure.
- Try different positions
- Keep feeding on demand so breasts do not become so full between feeds
- Is your baby sleeping too long between feeds?
- Try waking baby to feed at shorter intervals.
Too much milk
- Milk supply usually tailors itself to baby’s needs within 6-8 weeks
- Try leaning back once baby is attached so milk comes out slower
- Try feeding from the same side at two consecutive feeds. Fullness on the other side will help your milk supply to decrease – watch out for mastitis though.
- Expressing extra milk for the freezer may help but be careful not to overdo it as you can end up making even more milk.
Cracked / Sore nipples
Cracked and sore nipples are nearly always caused by the baby being wrongly attached at the breast. Try to get to a support group or ask a health professional to look at how your baby attaches and feeds. If your nipples
are chapped, try applying a little breastmilk to keep them moisturised. If your nipples are too painful to feed, try expressing for 12- 24 hours to rest them and try again with help to get the positioning and attachment right. Blood might sometimes pass into the milk, this is not at all harmful to your baby and is not a reason to stop.