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Mother and Baby Magazine
Although many women find breastfeeding straightforward, there are some who have problems. But don't give up because there are ways of relieving them
Sore, cracked nipples
Your baby’s frequent attempts at latching on, especially if she doesn’t manage it properly first time at each feed, can make your nipples very sore and sometimes cracked and bleeding. But, uncomfortable as it may be, the best cure is actually to keep on feeding, but making sure your baby is correctly positioned at the breast. If you think you’re still not doing it properly, chat to your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding counsellor to check your baby’s position. Expressing milk into a bottle can give your nipples a rest, too, and they should heal within a day or two.
When your milk first comes in, your breasts become very full and engorged. Engorgement can also occur later if you don’t alternate breasts when feeding. Feeding your baby relieves the condition. Engorged breasts can flatten out your nipples, making it more difficult for your baby to latch on. If this is the case, express a little milk by hand before you feed her.
A blocked milk duct can sometimes cause a hard, tender red patch to appear on your breast. Make sure your bra is not too tight and feed your baby from the affected breast first, leaning forward slightly as this will help to empty the breast. Putting cold Savoy cabbage leaves from the fridge into your bra to the soothe your breast often helps. Standing in a warm shower and gently stroking a comb down the affected part of your breast may help to ease the blockage. Talk to your midwife, health visitor, GP or breastfeeding counsellor if there is no improvement within a couple of days.
This is usually caused by breastmilk collecting behind a blocked milk duct, although it can also be caused by an infection. Your breast will become hot and tender and you’ll develop a high temperature and flu-like symptoms. If you have these symptoms, see your health visitor or midwife as soon as possible so you can start a course of antibiotics.
>>Top tips on breastfeeding>>10 things you need to know about breastfeeding
If you suffer from intense pain inside your breasts during or after breastfeeding, have cracked nipples that won’t heal or very sensitive nipples, you may have thrush, which may have been passed on orally by your baby during breastfeeding. Talk to your GP, midwife or health visitor about getting treatment.
Using nipple shields Nipple shields - flexible silicone protectors with holes at the top, which are placed over the nipple - may help to ease the pain while feeding. They can be difficult to keep in place if your breasts are very full. Use them only to give your nipples a couple of days rest, otherwise your baby may get used to them and find it hard to return to your breast. Let down
Let down - a reflex that starts your milk flowing down your milk ducts - can be felt as a slight tingling sensation, or it can be quite uncomfortable. It can take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on how relaxed you are. If you do find it uncomfortable, make sure you are wearing a well-fitted bra, don’t wear tight tops and avoid carrying bags that brush against your breasts and cause discomfort. Who can help
* National Childbirth Trust, Alexandra House, Oldham Terrace, London W3 6NH. Tel: 020 8992 8637. Offers counsellors, information and advice on breastfeeding.
* La Leche League, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1 N3Z. Tel: 020 7242 1278. Breastfeeding counsellors and advice.
* Breastfeeding Network. Tel: 0870 900 8787. Advises on local breastfeeding counsellors.
* Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM). Tel: 020 7813 1481. 9am-5pm.Telephone support for breastfeeding.
>> Why and how to breastfeed>> 10 things you need to know about breastfeeding
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