The first and most important decision a mother will make for her newborn is the decision to breastfeed. The benefits of breastfeeding are very difficult to ignore; a newborn baby gets every single nutrient it needs from its mother's milk. Breastfeeding also boosts a newborn's immune system significantly when the mother nurses right from birth by way of a substance known as colostrum. Consequently, breastfeeding your newborn baby allows for healthy bonding between mother and child, and this is an important aspect of development. However, there are challenges that come with breastfeeding that every new mother should be aware of during this integral phase of parenthood.
An unexpected problem that women deal with when trying to breastfeed for the first time is a newborn that isn't latching on. This can be very troubling to mothers and some mothers are completely unaware that their baby is having difficulty latching on correctly. Kristy King describes this issue and how to tell if a newborn is able to do so. For the most part, a lactation consultant should be able to assist new mothers with establishing the proper latching technique and resolving these types of issues, but as Suzanne Barston mentions, there are other solutions such as opting to exclusively pump breast milk and bottle feed this to the baby. This helps mothers avoid being forced into giving up on breastfeeding altogether.
Producing too little or producing too much
Another challenge that breastfeeding mothers will encounter is associated with their milk supply. A mother may find that she is producing very little milk and may be very concerned that her child isn't receiving all of the nourishment it requires. Lactation specialist Wendy Haldeman has presented mothers who face this issue with excellent tips for increasing milk production. These tips are fairly simple to follow. Haldeman instructs mothers to do the following:
- Increase feedings
- Pump to stimulate the breast
- Get extra sleep
- Drink for thirst instead of over hydrating
On the other hand, there are some mothers who experience the opposite problem, which is overproducing milk. This can cause milk to leak from the breast and milk duct blockages. In addition, the baby may be unable to keep up with the flow of milk and this can cause an uncomfortable nursing environment for them. Mothers can try using each breast for a larger portion of time before switching or position themselves so gravity is working against the milk's flow.
Duct blockages and infection
From time to time, breastfeeding mothers encounter milk duct blockages. There are some instances where a blockage can create an infection of the breast, also known as mastitis. Mastitis can be very painful and make the mother ill. This infection requires, at the very least, NSAIDs, and in half of all cases, a cycle of antibiotics must be administered. Haldeman also offers advice on how to treat mastitis and soothe the symptoms. In any event, keeping a raw or irritated nipple as clean and dry as possible can prevent a breast infection. In cases where a milk duct has been blocked, a mother should apply stimulation to the area while pumping in order to loosen the blockage.