7.nip ’em in the bud
If you do have problems, it’s important to correct them early on. Here are some of the most common challenges:
Sore, cracked or bleeding nipples Mild tenderness is normal in the beginning, but severe pain or rawness usually indicates an improper latch. Review your book or video, contact your breastfeeding buddy or call a lactation consultant. In the meantime:
- Latch your baby on more deeply following the steps above.
- Nurse on your less-sore breast first.
- To remove your baby from your breast, break the suction before moving him: It’s a simple matter of placing your finger in the corner of his mouth.
- Breast milk itself is soothing and moisturizing: Massage a small amount onto your nipples after each feeding and allow to air dry. Follow with pure lanolin or use hydrogel pads (Soothies) to promote healing. Don’t wash your breasts with soap; water is sufficient.
Engorgement Swelling of the breasts between the third and fifth day postpartum is normal—it’s a sign that your body is producing milk. As uncomfortable as it may be, any engorgement should subside in a day or two with frequent nursing. In the meantime:
- Apply a warm compress to the breast before nursing to stimulate milk flow.
- If the breast is extremely swollen, pump or hand-express your milk for a minute or two until the breast softens; otherwise, your baby may not be able to latch on.
- As you nurse, gently massage the breast toward the nipple.
- If pain or swelling is particularly bad, apply ice or cold packs (try a cloth-covered bag of frozen peas) after nursing. Some mothers also say that applying cold cabbage leaves to their breasts helps reduce swelling.
Leaking breasts This is a normal result of your body
adapting to nursing. Your milk supply should stabilize between the second and fourth month postpartum; until then, use nursing pads. If you leak on one side while nursing on the other, use a clean towel to catch the flow.
Slow let-down It takes a few minutes for some women’s milk to start flowing after the baby latches on. If this happens, apply a warm compress to your breast or take a warm shower before nursing. You also can massage your breast or hand-express to stimulate milk flow. Relax, listen to soothing music or light a candle while you nurse.