Breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world but that doesn't mean it comes easily. Moms and babies both have to learn a lot of new skills to form a successful breastfeeding relationship. There are a few common issues to watch out for when you first begin to nurse. There are also several perfectly normal aspects of nursing that can be a little alarming if you don't know to look out for them. A little bit of information goes a long way in preparing you for this exciting time. Get familiar with these common issues and changes and you'll be even more confident as you feed your little one.
10 Weight Loss
Most newborns lose around 7% of their body weight immediately after birth. Don't be alarmed if your little one's weight suddenly dips. Many mothers fear this means their new baby isn't getting enough to eat. Your supply is likely just fine. This is a natural occurrence for most children. Once your milk fully comes in you can expect the typical baby to gain about 6 oz per week until they get back to their birth weight.
9 Frequent Nursing
Cluster nursing can feel like a never-ending ordeal for new and seasoned moms alike. A newborn can nurse as many as 12 times per day. You can't nurse a new baby too frequently but you can nurse too little.
These frequent feedings will encourage your milk supply to come in. If your baby is sleepy don't be afraid to wake them up to eat. Don't let your baby go more than 4 hours without nursing during the night or 2 hours during the day.
Your body will adjust to your baby's appetite and your milk supply will increase. If you miss feedings or fail to drain your breasts completely you may find yourself engorged. Engorgement usually includes feeling hot, full and hard. Being overly full of milk can be quite painful. A hot shower can help milk let down and relieve engorgement. You can also use warm compresses and pumping to fully empty your breasts and relieve pressure.
The easiest way to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat is to count their dirty and wet diapers. The first day after your baby is born expect one wet and one dirty diaper. Their first dirty diaper will likely be dark and sticky like tar.
On day two you can expect two dirty and two wet diapers. Expect three on day three. Around day 4 or 5 mom's milk should be in. After that, you can expect 3-4 dirty diapers and 5-6 wet. As long as your baby is producing enough wet or dirty diapers you know he's getting enough to eat.
6 Cracked Nipples
Cracked nipples are one of the most common complaints among breastfeeding mothers. The constant moisture and suction that nursing puts your nipples through can dry out and damage your skin. There are a number of nipple creams available for all skin types and preferences. Keep your nipples clean, dry and protected to reduce the risk of cracking. If nursing becomes too painful you can use a nipple shield to protect your damaged skin while you continue to feed your baby.
5 Milk Changes
You may be surprised to see your milk change in consistency and color in the days following the birth of your baby. The day your baby is born you'll produce colostrum. This thick, yellowish milk is a newborn superfood. It's jammed packed with antibodies and nutrients to get your little one off to a great start. Your milk will begin to thin out and may even appear clear at times. Don't be alarmed. This doesn't mean your milk is losing its nutritional value. As your breastmilk comes in it changes to adapt to your baby's increasing appetite and changing nutritional needs.
4 Blocked Duct
There are few breastfeeding issues as panful as a blocked milk duct. It's important to sufficiently drain each breast to avoid a clog. Build up to milk behind a clogged duct can lead to lumps, pain and even mastitis.
If you feel that you can't fully drain your breasts while nursing there are several things you can do. A warm compress will often help release milk. You can also use manual or electric pumps to finish emptying your breasts after nursing.
3 Baby Pulls Away
Nursing is a complicated skill set that takes time to learn. There are so many common issues that can seem alarming. Many are nothing to be concerned about. If your baby gets fussy or pulls away while nursing your milk may be flowing too fast for them. Simply let baby rest and catch her breath for a few minutes before relatching. Calming down can help her ease back into nursing. Babies also pull away when milk flows too slow or the breast is drained. This can be resolved by switching sides to a fuller breast.
2 Poor Latch
One of the most common issues for breastfeeding mothers is a poor latch. If your baby isn't getting enough of your breast into their mouth they can't get enough to eat. Ensuring you get the proper latch is the first step to successful breastfeeding.
Make sure your baby's mouth is open wide enough before you try to put her to the breast is important. Your entire areola should be in her mouth. You may think that sounds impossible but it's how you fit together. Her tiny mouth is bigger than you think. A trained lactation consultant can help you learn to get the perfect latch every time.
1 Milk Blisters
You may notice a small white dot on the end of your nipple. These painful bumps are known as milk blebs or milk blisters. They're formed when layers of skin grow over a milk duct opening and trap milk behind them. Milk blisters can be extremely painful and annoying. Regular nursing or nipple massage can help resolve them. If you need relief you can pierce the blister with a sterilized needle and drain it. These are a natural part of nursing and nothing to be alarmed about.