Top 10 Boobie Traps and How to Beat Them
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby, but it often doesn’t come naturally at first. It’s helpful to understand that just like learning a new dance, you and your tiny partner can take a little while to get 'in step' together.
As you learn how to hold your baby comfortably, your little one has to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing – but with practice and patience (and perhaps a little help from a professional, such as a lactation consultant), breastfeeding really does become easy and natural.
Here are 10 common boobie traps and tips to beat them:
- My baby won’t latch
Being born is hard work, and many babies take a while to latch and feed effectively, especially if you (and they) have experienced a long labour, drugs during labour or separation after birth. Please don't worry though, you will soon be able to make up for any early challenges. Offering lots of skin-to-skin cuddles will help. To do this, strip your baby down to his nappy and hold him against your bare chest. As soon as you notice early hunger signs (sucking movements, putting his hand to his mouth or ‘rooting’), offer the breast quickly. Supporting him, gently pull him in closely (be sure to never push your baby’s head).
A good mantra to remember as you breastfeed is “chest to chest and chin to breast.” You will find it easier to get a good latch by holding your baby close facing you with his chest against yours, not holding him so he has to turn his head sideways to latch – try turning your head to gaze sideways over your own shoulder to drink a glass of water!
You may need to feed some breast milk from a syringe if he takes time to begin feeding, and expressing will help kick-start your milk supply. Check out these videos about natural breastfeeding. Try to avoid bottles during this early learning period, as this will imprint a different sucking action from breastfeeding.
- Ouch, breastfeeding hurts!
Some nipple tenderness is normal in the early days – it’s a little like breaking in a new pair of shoes – but it isn’t supposed to really hurt. If your nipples really hurt or look squashed when they come out of your baby’s mouth, she may not be latching on correctly. Her mouth should be open wide as she latches on, with her chin pressed into your breast and her head tipped back so her nose is away from the breast. If breastfeeding hurts, get an expert to watch you feed and check what may be happening. Also ask your carer to check for tongue tie.
- He’s too sleepy to feed
A mouthful of milk will get your dozy baby sucking again. To do this, squeeze your breast (high up, well above the nipple and areola) between your thumb and 4 fingers; this will start the milk flow that will get your baby swallowing again.
You can also try rubbing your baby's hand: there’s a reflex that connects the mouth and hand, and you will notice your baby opening and clenching his hand as he sucks. Rubbing his hand can stimulate this reflex. You can also try gently stroking under his chin to encourage sucking.
- Help – my boobs are bursting!
Most women experience a few days of ‘engorgement’ – hot, tight and tender breasts – as their milk ‘comes in’. This is caused by increased blood circulation in the breast area, and happens especially with first babies. If you have had IV fluids during labour and some of your engorgement could be due to the extra fluids.
As your breasts swell up, they can be difficult for your baby to latch onto, so it helps to soften the area around the nipple by expressing a little milk before feeding. You can also gently press the swollen area back with your fingers before attaching your baby.
Engorgement can be relieved by gentle lymphatic massage -lie on your back to encourage lymphatic drainage and massage GENTLY towards your armpits (not towards the nipple). To reduce inflammation, apply a cool pack or you can try pouring water on a disposable nappy, freeze it, then wrap it around your swollen boobs – aahhh!.
- My baby wants to feed ALL the time
Your baby sucking at your breast stimulates milk production: the more your baby sucks, the more milk your breasts will make. Newborns’ tiny tummies are only the size of a marble before they gradually stretch to a larger capacity. Breast-milk is very quickly digested, so it’s perfectly normal for a breastfed baby to need feeding at least every two hours at first (or even more often) – this means two hours from the beginning of one feed until the next.
As your baby’s stomach capacity increases and he becomes a more efficient feeder, feeds will be much quicker and naturally spaced further apart. Because there is ongoing breast development in the first few weeks after birth, by allowing your baby to feed frequently (from at least 8 to 12 times in 24 hours) in the early days, you are maximising this and setting your milk supply point higher than if you start implementing a feeding routine or pushing your baby to space out feeds.
- My milk flow is so fast, it’s choking my baby
If your baby looks as though she’s struggling to drink from a fire hose, you can take her off the breast, then put her back on when the flow slows. You can also try leaning back and holding your baby in a more upright position as she feeds. As she grows, she’ll manage a fast flow more easily. Check out this lovely video of laid back breastfeeding.
- There’s a red sore patch on my breast
Symptoms such as a red, sore, lumpy breast and blocked ducts may be caused by inflammation that can be the beginnings of mastitis. As mastitis starts with inflammation, applying heat and vigilantly feeding or pumping to ‘empty’ the breast and potentially causing over-supply, can make inflammation worse. Instead, feed baby on cue to keep your breasts comfortably soft, apply cool packs, take anti-inflammatory pain relief such as ibuprofen and REST.
See the latest Mastitis Treatment Protocol HERE
If the redness hasn’t gone in 24 hours or you feel ‘fluey’ at any time you are breastfeeding, see medical help.
- Am I losing my milk?
It’s common for mums to worry they’re ‘losing their milk’ whenever their baby is unsettled. At about six to 10 weeks, your breasts tend to settle down and feel ‘soft’, which is when mothers often worry they’re ‘losing their milk’. But this just usually means that your milk supply and your baby’s appetite are completely synchronised – you’re making exactly the amount of milk your baby needs!
- How do I know I have enough milk?
Remember that what comes out must have gone in. If your baby is having 5 to 6 wet nappies, pooping daily and is gaining weight, there’s nothing to worry about. If your supply does need a boost, rest and feed more frequently for a couple of days, offer lots of skin-to-skin cuddles (this will boost your breastfeeding hormones), drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy foods. You can also download our FREE ebook “Making More Mummy Milk,Naturally”