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Breastfeeding - What you do not know

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd August 2011 03:00 AM

BREASTFEEDING has always been portrayed as the most natural instinct of a mother. Your friends and mother and doctor will tell you all the great stuff about breastfeeding; “It’s wonderful, soothing, magical, fun, natural, empowering, and so good for the baby!” This, however, may set you up fo

BREASTFEEDING has always been portrayed as the most natural instinct of a mother. Your friends and mother and doctor will tell you all the great stuff about breastfeeding; “It’s wonderful, soothing, magical, fun, natural, empowering, and so good for the baby!” This, however, may set you up fo

By Penlope Nankunda and Vicky Wandawa

BREASTFEEDING has always been portrayed as the most natural instinct of a mother. Your friends and mother and doctor will tell you all the great stuff about breastfeeding; “It’s wonderful, soothing, magical, fun, natural, empowering, and so good for the baby!” This, however, may set you up for a very upsetting experience.

These well-intended advisors think, why be negative? The reality is, most new moms have to struggle a lot with the breastfeeding techniques and it might take days, even weeks, to master the technique and set a rhythm of breastfeeding the baby.

The problems in breastfeeding include:

Cracked and sore nipples:
Cracked Nipples sounds pretty bad, and they are. In most cases, sore nipples are only caused by poor technique and latching problems. However, it may be because some women have really delicate skin or an extra rough-nursing baby (or both).

“The first week of breastfeeding felt like I was being attacked by a swarm of safari ants. Whenever my baby tried to breastfeed, he latched hard and I felt like he was trying to rip my nipple off. I soon developed wounds. I later leant that this was common among first-time mothers,” narrates Fiona Kalanzi, a mother of two.

After she found a comfortable position for herself and her baby though, Kalanzi had a wonderful breastfeeding experience. “I used a pillow to support my arm and elevate the baby, which allowed me to rest my head against the wall or the sofa. After this, it was smooth sailing,” she says.

True, the common solution is usually changing the breastfeeding position. Applying ointments, creams and gels, as well as using warm compresses and leaving the breasts clean and dry are other solutions. The best solution, however, is to prepare well beforehand and manage the pain when it occurs. Above all, don’t give up breastfeeding.

Leaking breasts:
Leaking and dripping breasts are normal in the weeks after delivery when your body is still getting the hang of making milk and delivering it on a breastfeeding schedule. It’s your body’s way of perfecting the art of making milk and sticking to a feeding schedule.

Until your breasts get it right (releasing milk when baby is at the breast and not at random times), be prepared to spring a leak without warning, anytime, anywhere. And even worse, bad odour.

“On several occasions at my work place, my blouse got wet from the milk. I even realized that the milk smelt really bad. What’s more, I knew that my workmates smelt it too. One of them finally told me outright that I smelt bad because of the leaking breasts,” Gladys Kisakye, a mother of six, narrates.

Fortunately, she was advised to buy breast pads and gone were her miseries.

Nursing pads are not exactly sexy, but they are a nursing mom’s best friend. They’ll absorb leaks and drips and keep your clothes clean and dry. Choose either disposable pads or washable cotton ones (wear them day and night).

Dress smart. Stash away the silks for a while, and opt for darker colours (better for camouflaging milk marks), until the leaking stops.

Stem the flow by pressing on your nipples or folding your arms tightly against your breasts, but don’t perform this maneuver until your milk production is well established and your feeding schedule is in full swing. If you try to plug the dam in the early weeks, you can cause a clogged milk duct.

Blocked ducts:
A blocked milk duct is a common problem during breastfeeding. Nursing breasts can be bumpy or smooth — changing shape and feel before, during and after feeds. All of this is normal. Even if you notice a small and tender bump (or lump) on one of your breasts, don’t panic. What you’ve probably got is a blocked milk duct — not cause for panic but definitely cause for action.

Breast milk is produced in your breast and flows through milk ducts out of the nipple. When one of those ducts becomes clogged for some reason, milk can back up and cause a tender lump.

“I breastfed my baby without trouble for a month; after this, I realized that when he tried to suckle, the milk just wouldn’t flow out. My breast grew a size bigger and painful. I even cried, especially when he tried to suckle. I also got a fever. My friend advised me to use a hot towel compress on my breasts to let the milk out,” says Christine Walakira, mother of three.

Without treatment, a plugged duct can lead to a breast infection or worse.

Mastitis:
It is a painful breast infection that results in red, inflamed breasts and sometimes fever and chills. Mastitis can occur at any time during breastfeeding but is most likely to happen within the first six weeks.

The condition usually affects only one breast. Mastitis develops when germs (either from your skin’s surface or from your baby’s mouth) enter your breast through a crack in your nipple or through one of the milk ducts.

Bacteria then multiply, causing an infection. If clogged milk ducts are not unplugged can also lead to mastitis, as can wearing a too-tight bra, which restricts milk flow.

Oral antibiotics usually deal with the problem, clearing the infection and making you feel better pretty quickly. Do not stop breastfeeding. If it is too painful to nurse from the infected breast, use a pump or express the milk by hand. Warm compresses before a feeding can help encourage the milk to flow. Be sure to drain the infected breast as best you can to avoid another bout.

Flat nipples:
The way your nipples are shaped can have a big impact on your breastfeeding success. Most nipples are shaped perfectly to fit a baby’s mouth, but some women have flat or inverted nipples that might make nursing more challenging because baby has trouble getting a firm grasp.

With the right care and attention, even those with flat or inverted nipples can nurse just fine. One can wear nipple shields. These shields made of silicon, help the baby to make a proper latch on to the breast. It also applies gentle but constant pressure on the areola, which along with the skin’s natural elasticity, helps draw out the nipples. Another option is drawing out your nipples with a breast pump immediately before nursing.

Swollen breasts:
Right after delivery, your breasts will become rock hard, huge and downright uncomfortable — all signs that they’re filling up with the milk your baby needs. Fortunately, engorgement is temporary and assuming you start breastfeeding right away, the pain and hardness should diminish within two to three days. By the time your baby and your breasts devise a good supply-and-demand relationship, the engorgement will have diminished completely.

Although these hurdles can be overcome, dealing with them is frustrating. It is, however, imperative to keep trying to feed the baby because in the initial days, breast milk is the most vital nutrition for the baby.

Adopted from whattoexpect.com

Breastfeeding - What you do not know

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