4 Common Breastfeeding Problems Faced in the First Week of Post-Partum

Breastfeeding is a natural process, but not every mother finds it easy. Some mummies may have a rocky start to breastfeeding and take a long time to get it right with their babies. However, painful episodes such as nipple sores, cracks or bleeding can be prevented if you are well prepared before D-day.

Did my baby get enough breast milk from my breast? I don't see any milk coming out when I squeeze my breast.

The golden liquid, known as colostrum, is the first milk right after the baby’s birth. It is a rich source of antibodies (known as immunoglobulins) that help build your baby’s immune system. The colour of the colostrum is usually yellowish and in small amounts. The first milk lasts two to four days before it transits to mature milk. 

To ensure your baby consumes the colostrum, get your baby to latch on your breast as soon as the baby is delivered. With exclusive latching, many first-time mothers like you will be eager to know how much the baby is drinking? Is my breast milk “sufficient” for my baby? The answer is YES if your baby produces “enough” wet and dirty diapers daily.

*Diaper should be calculated based on a 24-hour cycle.

This “Breastfeeding Milestones” checker, provides an overview of how much your baby should be consuming from your breast and how many wet and dirty diapers should be made from a newborn. For instance, 2 day old baby should have 2 wet diapers and 2 dirty diapers. Additionally, weight gain (150-250gm per week) and a look of contentment indicate whether your baby is getting enough from your breast.

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My nipple is torn or bleeding. Should I stop breastfeeding?

The answer is NO. You can continue to breastfeed!

The torn or bleeding is likely caused by the incorrect latch position or the baby’s attachment to the breast. Therefore, first-time mothers should immediately seek assistance from certified lactation consultants. By correcting the latch or underlying issues, mothers should experience lesser pain when they continue breastfeeding with torn or bleeding nipples.

We recommend that you continue to pump as the body will stop producing breast milk once you stop latching or pumping without emptying the breast, the body will “respond” to the “Lack in or No” demand for breast milk and therefore adjust the Supply accordingly. Therefore it’s critical to latch or pump in the early days. Experts suggest mothers with injured nipples to continue latching, hand-expressing or even pumping. You can apply breast milk on your nipple or use coconut oil/nipple cream to help moisturise the skin and speed up healing.

My breasts are too engorged! Can I pump instead?

The answer is NOT to pump immediately. The severely engorged breasts are usually overfilled and congested with breast milk, and it is harder to pump out with breast pumps. Let’s try to follow the recommended steps below to ease or relieve the engorgement. 

Step 1: Breast Massage With Hot Compression

A warm compression such as a hot shower or putting a warm towel or warm pads on your breast may help the breast milk to flow out easily. Additionally, massaging the breast in a circular motion also helps to loosen congested milk ducts (known as lumps formed in the breast)

Step 2: Reverse Pressure Softening (RPS)

Experts also recommend RPS when the mother is facing severe engorgement at home. RPS helps to decongest and soften both the nipple and areola area. Overfilled or severely engorged breasts can make it hard for the baby to latch on to any nipple. Imagine your baby trying to suck from a “super hard” apple (nipple). Ouch!

Step 3: Hand Expression, breastfeeding or pumping

Once the areola or nipple are softened, you can start to pump, perform hand expression or even get your baby to suck at the breasts directly.

Special Tip

Watch the video to learn how to do RPS at home. 

Try to maintain the same pressure for 2-3 minutes or until the first drop of milk comes out. Use a spoon or bottle to collect the breast milk while applying RPS. 

My baby has jaundice. Can I still breastfeed?

The answer is YES.

Jaundice is a medical condition (known as hyperbilirubinemia) that occurs in many newborns in the first month of life. The bilirubin level is excessively built up in the baby’s blood and causes the skin to be yellowish. There are2 types of jaundice – breastfeeding jaundice and breast milk jaundice.

Breastfeeding jaundice is more common in breastfed newborns in the first week. Breast milk does not cause jaundice, but it happens because breastfed babies don’t get sufficient breast milk, and the body cannot get rid of excess bilirubin on time. If your baby is suffering from breastfeeding jaundice, be sure to nurse your baby frequently and for a longer duration. Do it 8 – 12 times a day and minimally 30-45 minutes each time. Adding breast compression method helps to increase intake from the direct latching.

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