Although we all know breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, the reality is that it can feel far from it. Breastfeeding really is a set of learned skills, both for a mother and her baby. It can take weeks and sometimes even months for breastfeeding feel comfortable and not require lots of concentrated effort.
Some of the reasons you may find it uncomfortable
· Breast engorgement
· Blocked milk ducts
· Cracked and tender nipples
· Painful let down
How to get through the tough days
It can be very tempting for mothers to reconsider if breastfeeding really is worthwhile, especially when it is painful. But the overall health benefits of breastfeeding for both a mother and her baby are so clear that it is almost always worth persevering. Don’t feel you are on your own.
Many breastfeeding problems are resolved by ensuring the baby is correctly attached and sucking effectively on the breast. Frequent feeding, good attachment as well as time and expert support almost always help. Be patient, most breastfeeding problems resolve with time and perseverance.
When to take a break from breastfeeding
Occasionally it can be necessary to have a short break from breastfeeding and for a mother to express her breast milk. Reasons vary but are generally related to breast or nipple pain, maternal or infant illness, periods of separation or returning to work.
Ideally, when a baby is not directly breastfeeding, they are having expressed breast milk (EBM) from a bottle or a feeding cup. Feed times can then become an opportunity for partners and family to share this special time with the baby.
Devices that can help you
There are many breastfeeding accessories out there that are designed to make breastfeeding more comfortable and enjoyable.
Breast Pumps: these come in either manual or electric options. Many of them will provide comfortable, easy expressing options for mothers who are keen to maintain their breast milk supply during periods of nipple healing.
Breast Pads: these help absorb leaking breast milk, ensuring comfort and dryness. This is especially important for healing cracked nipples.
Heat or cold packs: When warm, these can support milk flow by eliciting a mother’s “let-down” before feeding. For breast pain due to engorgement, a cooled pad provides soothing relief.
Nipple shields: these provide relief for sore or cracked nipples. They can also be used for mothers who have inverted or flat nipples and need help with attachment.
Breast shells: these are a protective cover designed to protect sore nipples and support healing by allowing air to circulate. They are worn inside the mother’s bra and also act as a reservoir for breast milk which would otherwise be absorbed by a breast pad.
Please note: Seek advice from a healthcare professional if you need additional support.
Jane Barry is a spokesperson for Philips AVENT