As a pregnant woman or as a new mother, every woman is about to take off on a big adventure. Turns out being at home and in charge of small people every single moment is not quite as easy as some of us are expecting. The trouble with motherhood these days is we're expected to be slim and look good, have a perfect home with fashionable little child-friendly details, and breastfeed.
It’s a fact! The nutritional advantages of breast milk are certainly infinite. Breastfeeding is also a good way to develop that special bonding between mother and baby. But, let’s not forget, you can also bond with your little one by giving him formula, by singing to him, keeping him close in your arms, and by showing him the biggest love a person can receive. A mother’s love.
Everywhere you read about breastfeeding, there is a universal unwritten rule that basically every woman can breastfeed if she is willing to put in the effort. Nowadays, everyone is putting so much pressure on breastfeeding that we forget that some new mothers, as hard as they try, just can’t do it.
As much as you want to, you may have had some medical conditions that you don’t even know of and they can affect your breastfeeding.
What if I’d tell you that there are some signs that you’ve had and they can be connected with not being able to breastfeed, at least not exclusively. Here are 15 of these signs. But don’t panic! In my opinion, a happy mom that can function is more important than breast milk.
15No Swallowing Sounds
One of the signs to see that your baby’s latch and sucking is correct is if you hear your baby swallowing. As a newborn, your baby may suck 5 to 10 times before you hear a swallow. That’s because your milk supply is still developing and it’s coming in small amounts. You have to listen carefully to notice the swallows. Once your milk supply has began, swallowing can be obvious and you should hear a swallow after every suck or two. The sucking and swallowing should continue the entire time the baby is nursed.
If you don’t hear frequent swallowing when your baby nurses and think that he’s not drinking much milk, contact the doctor. Infrequent swallowing may mean he is not getting enough milk.
If you think he’s not getting enough milk, weigh the baby before and after a feeding and determine exactly how much milk he is receiving. You can use a baby scale to monitor.
It’s a rare thing that a woman doesn’t produce enough milk, but it does happen sometimes. This medical condition is called Insufficient Glandular Tissue or Hypoplasia. Glandular tissue is the tissue in the breast that produces the milk.
Instead of feeling full with milk, hypoplastic breasts remain soft because there isn’t enough glandular tissue to produce milk. Hypoplastic breasts lack their normal fullness, may seem bulbous and swollen at the areola, they are asymmetric, and they don't grow or change during pregnancy.
Either if you have hypoplastic breasts, you can still try and maximize your milk supply. If you find that you still cannot make a full supply for your baby, you’ll need to supplement with formula. How much? Depends on how much milk you produce.
If you check with your doctor and confirm that you suffer from hypoplasia, just know that it’s okay. You’re not the only woman who has it and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself because you have trouble making as much milk as your baby needs.
13Girls Don’t Get Bigger During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body start experiencing some changes. Starting at around six to eight weeks, you should notice your breasts getting bigger and they should continue to grow throughout the pregnancy. The skin stretches and they could also feel a little itchy.
The fact that your breasts haven’t changed in size during your pregnancy can also be a sign of Hypoplasia, also known as Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT). A sign of IGT can also be noticed during adolescence, when a lot of women realize that “something is wrong” with their breasts. They experience little to no change in their size.
Some mothers don’t realize this may be a sign of IGT until after they give birth, when they don’t produce enough milk for the baby. Only then they find out that they have Insufficient Glandular Tissue.
However, you can do a prenatal breast assessment that reveals physical characteristics consistent with IGT.
12Pain While Breastfeeding
I have a friend who, becoming a new mother, was so happy to spend time with her new bundle of joy. You probably know the feeling. While breastfeeding her baby, she felt a sharp shooting pain in her breast. She blamed it on the tiredness of being a new mom. Next time, she felt it again. She went to a doctor and ran a few tests. The results: yeast infection.
Sudden, severe, unexplained pain in a woman’s nipples or breasts can be an indication of a yeast infection. This can also happen to an experienced mother who has been nursing her baby for a long time before, but also to new moms. Pain often continues throughout the feeding and especially immediately after.
If you notice a red or pink rash in the baby’s diaper area, know that it can be caused by the yeast infection. The area can also contain small red spots or sore looking pustules. The yeast rash cannot be cleared up with rash medications. Actually, it may make it worse, so be careful. Take your baby to the doctor and seek out proper treatment.
11Newborn Losing Weight
Some of the frequent questions you hear since you become a parent are “how much does your baby weigh?” and “is the baby growing well?” The most used marker when monitoring a baby’s general health is the weight, so every parent should keep an eye on their baby’s progress.
Newborns are often weighed immediately after birth in the hospital and again 48-72 hours after discharge. As a parent, you should again weigh your baby a week after birth and again at two weeks after birth.
Most babies weigh at birth between 6-9 lbs. For a breastfed baby, a 7-10% loss in weight is considered normal. Most babies should be back at their birth weight by days 10-14 of life. If a baby loses a significant amount of weight, there is a problem.
If your baby is consistently losing weight you should see the doctor. A common issue for the weight losing problem can be that you’re not producing as much milk as you should or you don’t have any milk at all.
10Sores And Blisters
Breastfeeding should be a beautiful thing. Nipple soreness is common while you both adjust to breastfeeding, but it is not supposed to hurt. If the pain is too much, it usually indicates a problem.
If you see that your baby is sucking and you develop sores and blisters on your breasts, it may be an indication that he is sucking on empty breasts. You have no more milk. This can happen even after a week or two of nursing successfully.
You may also notice that your breasts didn’t get engorged and didn’t experience that “let down” reflex, also called the milk ejection reflex, when your breasts squeeze out milk.
Your baby is used to your milk, and begins to suck even harder, causing the sores and blisters. Check with your doctor and, don’t be alarmed if you can’t breastfeed him anymore. It is what it is and you have to accept it. You’re more than just a woman, you’re a mom now.
9Not Enough Wet Diapers
A four day old baby should have 5-6 wet diapers every 24 hours and 3-4 stools daily. Some babies stool every time they nurse.
If you see that your baby is having fewer than six wet diapers in a 24-hour period or no wet or dirty diapers or nurses less frequently than he should, there may be a problem and it could mean he's not getting enough breast milk. This can put him at risk for dehydration and inadequate weight gain.
How can you determine if your baby has urinated? One way is to place a square of toilet tissue in the fresh diaper. If it’s wet, you don’t have to worry. You can also do a pinch test. If the diaper feels the slightest bit mushy, it's holding liquid.
If you're worried for any reason that your newborn is underfed, take her to the pediatrician immediately.
You’ve just breastfed your baby, but your baby starts to cry. He detaches from your breast, arches his back and screams. It’s frustrating, and it could mean serious trouble. It may be an indication that you don’t have enough milk, and you have a starving baby in your arms.
Breastfeeding should be pleasant for both you and your baby, and your baby's distress does not indicate a pleasurable experience.
The fact that your baby screams at the top of his lungs while breastfeeding and he’s also not gaining weight may also indicate a milk protein allergy or you don't have enough breast tissue to produce the milk needed by the baby. If your doctor confirms this, you should stop nursing him and switch to formula. Don’t worry! You will immediately see that he will begin to gain weight and be healthy, even if he’s feeding on formula.
As I said it before, breast isn’t always best and a happy and healthy baby is all that matters.
7No Postpartum Engorgement
After the second day as a new mother, your breasts should become larger, heavier, and a little sore. All these symptoms are a sign that they begin producing more milk. The extra blood and lymph fluids in the breast tissue cause the fullness of the breasts. After the first few weeks, the fullness begins to ease and your breasts should feel softer. This is something normal for a new mom.
If your breasts are beginning to feel hard, swollen, full, or painful, you are likely engorged. A lot of women experience postpartum engorgement, but some mothers have felt that their milk production was inadequate because their breasts didn’t get engorged and their babies wanted to be nursed all the time. These, together with baby not gaining weight, may be an indication of hypoplasia. You breasts may be underdeveloped in terms of milk glands. They don’t grow during pregnancy and there is no engorgement when the milk is supposed to come in.
6Overly Large And Bulbous Areola
The areola is the dark part around the nipple of your breast. During pregnancy, your breasts should grow in size, due to the growth and development of the milk glands and they "fill" the breast. The areola starts to darken, and breasts start producing colostrum.
If your areola seem swollen and looks inflamed and your nipple seems like a large soft bubble, than you have a bulbous areola. This could also be a sign of underdeveloped or hypoplastic breasts. Besides the bulbous areola, hypoplastic breasts also look long, thin, and tubular. They also may look assymetrical and “narrow”, especially where they join to the chest wall.
The size of your breasts does affect the breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Many times babies have some difficulty in latching on in the beginning because they have such a tiny mouth in comparison to the areola they are supposed to take into their mouth and suck on. This problem should go away as the baby grows older. If it doesn’t, it is a problem.
Check with your doctor and if your bulbous areola is associated with Insufficient Glandular Tissue, it means that your production of breast milk can be affected.
5Tubular Shaped Girls
Tubular breasts are actually breasts that didn’t develop properly. They don’t have a normal shape or size, having insufficient breast tissue for producing milk inside the breasts. This condition is also called hypoplasia, tubular breast or tuberous breast.
Tubular breasts look like empty sacks and they are flat against the chest wall. The areola is often bulbous, the breasts are placed with a space between them, and they are not the same size.
There are a few things that can cause tubular breasts. One of them is not having the progesterone that stimulates the growth of milk producing cells. Another cause for tubular breasts may be hypothyroidism.
If you have tubular breasts, just know that their appearance can be repaired through surgery and your breasts can look normal again. But surgery does not cure hypoplasia, and you must realise that your chances to breastfeed after surgery are minimal. Also, please note that during surgery there is always some glandular tissue that is destroyed.
4The Girls Get Infected
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue. It usually occurs within the first three months after giving birth. Women who are diagnosed with mastitis suffer from pain in their breast, and it may present with a breast lump, some swelling, redness, and warmth in the area. They may also experience symptoms similar to the flu, such as aches, a high fever, chills and tiredness. Sometimes this infection is associated with breastfeeding. This is called lactation mastitis.
Lactation mastitis is, in most cases, caused by a high production of breast milk than normal. Basically, it means that the breast ducts become plugged. Some women are more susceptible than others, but especially those who are breastfeeding for the first time.
Call your doctor if you feel any of the symptoms of mastitis. You have to start with treatment as soon as possible. Mastitis treatment consist of antibiotics, so you will probably have to stop breastfeeding.
Postpartum endometritis is in fact an infection in the uterus after giving birth. It typically occurs between 2 days and 6 weeks after vaginal delivery. There are few cases where the infection also appears after having a C-section birth. Most new moms who get this infection feel sick, pain on the lower back and have a high fever. If you experience these symptoms and pain, don’t hesitate to go to the doctor and get yourself examined. In some cases, especially when you discover it early, you can continue to breastfeed.
Postpartum endometritis is treatable with antibiotics. The downside of this treatment is that you can’t breastfeed anymore. Antibiotic treatment present some risks for your baby’s health. Almost all medications that we ingest in our body is transferred to the milk.
Check with your doctor to see if it’s safe to breastfeed while on antibiotics. Some may work while breastfeeding. If your doctor tells you to stop breastfeeding, don’t get alarmed. It is for the baby’s health.
A low thyroid consists in low thyroid hormone levels and elevated TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels. Some of the symptoms are dry skin, poor appetite, fatigue, depression and reduced milk supply.
The thyroid stimulating hormone can be secreted into breast milk. If TSH is present in breast milk at high levels, it can cause the same hyperthyroid condition to the breastfeeding baby.
Hypothyroidism can affect the milk supply by decreasing it. Thyroid hormones help breasts produce milk. When there are not enough thyroid hormones, the milk supply can be affected.
Some of thyroid medication are considered not safe for breastfeeding. It has the potential to cause reduced thyroid function or goiter in breastfeeding babies.
1Breastfeeding Troubles In The Family
A sign that you won’t be able to breastfeed could be that one of your family members had the same problem. Maybe even your mother encountered breastfeeding issues and a low supply of breast milk.
I’ll tell you, from my own experience, that my mother hadn’t breastfed me, at all. She had some problems giving birth and didn’t have milk. At all. So, I was nursed with formula milk. And I’m OK. I have a healthy and strong body.
After I’ve given birth to my beautiful boy, I’ve experienced the same problem. A low milk supply. My baby cried at my breast, being hungry. I didn’t want him to lose weight, so I gave him formula besides my milk. I tried for one and a half months, but my milk supply was very very low. I gave up, and nursed my baby with bottles of formula.
I’m OK with my decision. Better to have a healthy child, right?
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