“This happens whenever I breastfeed. Is this normal? I’m worried.” This might be a thought that comes to your mind when you start your breastfeeding journey.
The experiences following childbirth are mostly about breastfeeding concerns. Here are some common challenges mothers face when breastfeeding and we will debunk if they are normal!
Are These Breastfeeding Concerns Normal?
Certain breastfeeding concerns arise when you’re nursing your baby. It is also important to understand these concerns and address them through consulting with your doctor. For starters, identifying these concerns is a must to know the right questions to ask your family specialist.
Low Breast Milk Supply
Low breast milk supply is common among some mothers. Having low breast milk supply means the baby suckles minimum to no breast milk at all during breastfeeding.
There could be many reasons why a mother has low breast milk supply for the baby, some of which are uncontrollable.
Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT)
Also known as ‘hypoplasia’ in other terms, IGT is when a mum’s breasts lack sufficient glands or ducts that can help in producing and supplying breastmilk.
While this is a common case among mothers, it is not something that most breastfeeding mothers experience.
Hormonal signals are responsible for the supply of milk to the breasts. This is why hormonal concerns can play a role in low breast milk supply. Having diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid problems, hypertension or hormonal problems specifically can disturb the production of breast milk or stop it entirely.
In most cases, hormonal concerns are normal when it comes to concerns regarding breastfeeding. Especially following childbirth, your physician can help you balance hormonal changes and normalise breast milk production.
In most cases, breast surgeries are risky and damage the milk ducts in the breasts, which will eventually lead to the suspension of breast milk production. Especially breast implants and enhancements, they usually remove the capability to produce any more breast milk for a mother.
Improper Latching And Irregular Breastfeeding
It is a common dilemma for mothers to wonder why their baby is losing interest in breastfeeding. At times, it is too late to realise that it is the poor latching and irregular breastfeeding that causes the baby to wean from breastfeeding as babies find other ways to feed.
The lesser milk the baby suckles due to improper latches, the lesser their interest in breastfeeding is. The more poor latching happens, the more the supply goes low and the baby finds it difficult to express breast milk.
These common breastfeeding concerns only require frequent breastfeeding and learning more about proper latching for your baby.
When a baby’s tongue is tightly attached to the thin tissue under it, a baby has tongue-tie. This is one of the uncontrollable concerns of breastfeeding. Due to a tongue-tie, a baby will not be able to properly suckle for breast milk and cause nipple pain for the mother.
While this is a common issue for mothers, it is important to remember that tongue-tie can only be remedied through surgery. This is when mothers usually refrain from breastfeeding their baby and transition to formula milk. It is still up to the mother should she prefer to breastfeed despite the pain or do the switch.
One of the most common causes of breast pain during breastfeeding is engorgement – your breasts are filled with milk and your milk ducts need relief. If you have not been breastfeeding as often as you used to, this is what eventually occurs.
It is a normal concern among mums, especially when it’s the right time to wean the baby and stop breastfeeding. Expect engorgement whenever breastfeeding is halted for a couple of days tops.
The home remedies to engorgement are;
- massaging the chest wall going into the nipple area
- applying warm compress on the swollen breast
- breast pumping
- breastfeeding frequently and on-demand
- properly latching the baby
Mastitis is a yeast infection of the nipple and milk ducts. This occurs when bacteria finds its ways to the milk ducts and causes inflammation. It’s not a common concern among mums and is usually mistaken for engorgement of the breasts.
The best thing to do when you experience mastitis is to continue breastfeeding your baby. Breastfeeding and breast milk can help treat the yeast infection. Mastitis is also not risky for your baby’s health when they breastfeed.
If you are feeling uncomfortable breastfeeding your baby with mastitis, you can consult your prescribing doctor for antibiotics and remedies until the pain subsides.
To prevent mastitis, practice the following religiously;
- clean your breasts and nipple areas before breastfeeding
- avoid re-using bras and tops while you are breastfeeding
- take regular baths
- never miss out on using and bringing wet cleansing wipes with you everywhere you go
If the pain persists, consult your prescribing physician as soon as possible.
Painful latching is improper latching. Proper latches do not cause painful breastfeeding considering latching is the case.
To properly latch your baby onto your breasts:
- the baby’s body must be facing you
- take your entire breasts and guide your nipple to your baby’s nose
- from your baby’s nose, slip it down the philtrum until it slips into the baby’s mouth
- make sure the mouth of the baby is covering your areola
- your baby’s lips should be turned outward
Breastfeeding In Public
In some societies and cultures, it would not be a normal practice to see mums breastfeeding in public places. Yet, being in the days we are now, it is starting to become a norm for some to accept and support breastfeeding.
In Singapore, it is not illegal to breastfeed your baby in public. As long as the mother only exposes what is necessary to breastfeed her child and uses nursing covers, it is acceptable in the country.
If you are not sure if it is normal to breastfeed in your community, there are some things you can do to ease into the public eye without triggering other individuals like;
- practice proper breastfeeding techniques and positions at home best used in public
- using a nursing cover
- wear comfortable clothes outdoors like nursing tops and bras
- turn away from people to fix your baby’s latch
- choose a spot that is comfortable and unnoticeable
In A Nutshell…
Breastfeeding is a milestone for a mother and a baby. Not only does breastfeeding pose amazing benefits for both parties, but it is also a great way of providing promising nutrition for the baby.
Facing breastfeeding concerns is a normal experience for mums, especially new mothers. Most of the common concerns can be remedied, while some are out of anyone’s control.
How was your first breastfeeding experience? Tell us about it!