Common Problems When Breast Feeding
Common problems when breast feeding should not discourage this practice. Although breast feeding is the recommended method of feeding infants, it is not without complications or occasional discomfort for the mother. By being aware of these common problems, the health care professional can offer advice to mothers to help alleviate potential difficulties. As a general rule, breast feeding should be continued through most illnesses, including periods of diarrhea. Some of the most common problems are listed below.
The first engorgement caused by increased blood flow and filling of the breasts will occur on the third or fourth day postpartum, usually without discomfort. However, some women experience rapid filling of the breasts causing increased engorgement and discomfort, Blocked mammary ducts may also be a cause of pain. Frequent nursing’s, breast massaging once or twice a day or before feeding, hot or cold packs, wearing a firm bra for support and avoiding the use of nipple shields can help alleviate some of the discomforts of engorgement. The best way to prevent engorgement is to begin breast-feeding as soon as possible after birth followed by subsequent frequent nursing.
Mastitis is a breast infection causing chills, fever, flu-like symptoms, redness and breast sensitivity. It may be a complication of a clogged mammary duct or caused by an infection carried from the baby. The primary goal in treating mastitis is emptying the infected breast. Healthy infants are not at risk for developing illnesses by nursing during mastitis and frequent nursing is actually encouraged. If a mother develops symptoms of mastitis, her physician should be notified. Antibodies or pain relievers that are safe during breast feeding are often prescribed. If mastitis goes untreated, an abscess could develop. Applying heat (not cold) to the breast, drinking plenty of fluids and adequate rest are advocated to aid in the healing process.
The onset of breast milk jaundice is typically at 1-2 weeks of life and occurs in about 1% of the population of breast feeding newborns. It is apparently caused by the presence of a substance in the breast milk that enhances red cell hemolysis or alters liver function. it is rarely necessary to stop breast-feeding. Mothers should be encouraged to breast feed 10-20 times per day as frequent nursing is inversely correlated with serum bilirubin levels.
Poor milk Supply
Poor milk supply can be a cause of failure to thrive in breast feeding infants. Maternal causes of poor milk supply are hypothyroidism, excessive antihistamine use, oral, contraceptive use, excessive caffeine intake, illness, poor diet, decreased fluid intake, infrequent nursing’s or fatigue. Correction of any of these causes may improve milk supply.
Infants who are breast fed may refuse to take a bottle as the weaning of breast- feeding occurs. The same musculature is necessary to suck from either a breast of bottle, however, the spatial arrangement of the tongue and nipple differs from the two modes of feeding. If the mother plans to feed formula from a bottle at anytime during the first year of life, advise her to offer a bottle during the first 2-4 weeks of life and then offer one bottle per week thereafter to decrease the incidence of nipple confusion. The bottle feedings can be given using expressed breast milk.
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