Are you going to breastfeed is one of the questions women will be asked more and more regularly as their due date nears, but sometimes it isn’t the right choice for women and often they’re made to feel guilty about that.
There are plenty of different opinions when it comes to breastfeeding, but ultimately it comes down to the mother and the child and what is best for them.
Dr Emma-Jane Down talks us through the different scenarios that can arise when women begin breastfeeding and offers her insight into the woes that can come with them.
Breast is Best
It’s a line you’re going to hear over and over when you’re pregnant and deciding whether it will be breast or formula milk for your child.
You’ll hear it time and time again because breast milk is packed with essential nutrients that a baby needs, plus it’s a natural food choice.
Unicef also says that there is research can have a positive effect on your baby’s health thanks to the essential nutrients it has, which has a positive effect on protecting from infections and diseases.
Not only is it good for the baby too though, women who breastfeed actually have a lower risk of developing certain cancers like ovarian and breast cancer.
Beginning with breastfeeding
It’s been recommended since 2003 by the Department of Health that for the first six months of a baby’s life they should have breast milk, after this time other food and drink can be introduced into their diet.
However, no matter what you think breastfeeding is a skill that takes practice and you might fight it difficult in the beginning days or weeks.
Dr Down advises that if you’re having difficulty with breastfeeding you should always ask for help, whether it’s difficult or uncomfortable, asking for support is the best way to get through this tough stage.
Health conditions that can occur because of breastfeeding
When you breastfeed there is a chance that health conditions can arise, which cause complications for the mum and baby. They’re typically nothing too serious, but it’s important to be aware of them so you can treat them correctly if they do happen.
Blocked milk duct – When the milk gets blocked you’re likely to get a swollen and red area on the breast. The best way to treat this is by nursing on the breast that has been affected in a bid to clear the trapped duct.
Mastitis – This is caused by a blocked milk duct that hasn’t cleared after a few days. Mastitis is the infection that’ll be caused by it. You’ll see if the duct is infected because the area will be hard, painful, red and swollen. You might also get a fever and start to feel unwell in yourself. If this happens you’ll need antibiotics to clear the infection. It’s also recommended that you still continue to nurse from this breast too, as this can help clear the blockage.
Breast abscess – These are less likely to occur, but can still happen. They cause a hard, painful red lump on the breast which is made up of pus. To get this sorted you will have to see a doctor who will drain it, and then you’ll be given a course of antibiotics.
Thrush – Thrush on the breast results in severe pain on the nipple or whole breast, what’s more, it can be spread from the mum to baby too. To treat it you’ll need a prescribed anti-fungal medication, the mother will usually be given a cream and if it has spread to the baby they’ll be given a gel for the mouth. In some cases, painkillers might be required for easing the pain.
How to ensure that breastfeeding is comfortable
When breastfeeding is difficult, it might be worth considering the following this which can contribute to it, Dr Down suggests things like not latching on properly, timed or scheduled feeds and the overuse of dummies can all hinder breastfeeding.
Even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first, it’s worth persevering because of the bond it can create, as well as the skin-to-skin contact being a comforter for the infant and the fact that the more you feed, the more that is produced by the body.
Ensuring that you have the right position is vital for helping to stop blocked milk ducts from occurring, as well as preventing sore nipples too.
How to make breastfeeding that little bit easier
The National Childbirth Trust has got a few tips for those who are breastfeeding, with the aim of making things a little easier for you.
It’s important that you sit comfortably and have your shoulders and arms in a relaxed position.
Ensure the baby swallows their food more easily by having their head and body in a straight line.
Get your baby in the right position so that it’s easier for them to attach, you want to ensure that their nose is on level with your nipple.
Throughout breastfeeding, you’ll need to ensure that the baby’s neck, shoulders and back have all the support they need.
If you’re struggling to get the baby to latch on, you could try stroking their top lip, this will encourage them to open their mouth.
The important thing to remember is that you must ask for help if you’re struggling, you could get the right advice you need from someone in the know.
Feeding your baby with formula
Dr Down insists that no mother should be made to feel guilty or ashamed for using a formula to feed their baby, in some cases breastfeeding just doesn’t work. A mother needs to be happy because that translates to a happy baby and if breastfeeding isn’t making you happy then don’t force yourself into doing it.
When using formula it’s vital that you follow the instructions carefully, measuring the powder and water meticulously, and always sterilising bottles to avoid dangerous bugs.