Breastfeeding is without doubt the best way to give your baby everything he needs nutritionally. It is recognised by The World Health Organisation as being the best way for mums to feed their baby. Despite this, establishing breastfeeding can be difficult and as mothers face many hurdles, they give up on breastfeeding all too soon and instead choose to feed their baby with formula.
One of the most common discomforts when trying to feed your baby from the breast is sore and cracked nipples. There are several ways you can over come this. The simplest way is to apply some of your own breast milk to your nipples, rubbing a little breast milk on to your nipples and letting it air dry is known to alleviate how sore they are. There are also many creams from brands such as Lasinoh that can help repair cracked nipples fast or you could try a natural remedy such as Chamilosan, a chamomile based cream that also helps soothe nappy rash. You may also want to use a nipple shield. These soft shields will still allow your baby to suckle, but they will prevent damage by acting as a barrier between you and your baby. You may also want to consider wearing breast pads that contain aloe vera, as aloe vera is known to soothe cuts and sores.
The most common cause of cracked or bleeding nipples is a poor latch. Ask your midwife, health visitor, a lactation consultant or family member to help you secure a better latch.
Another common breastfeeding discomfort is engorged breasts. Engorged breasts can often feel hot, hard and uncomfortable. The best way to alleviate this is by letting your baby feedas much as they need to, this will reduce engorgement and your breasts will eventually produce milk to meet your baby’s needs. If you find that feeding your baby on demand is not enough to alleviate this problem, use a manual or electric breast pump to assist.
There are many ways you can make breast feeding easier, one of them being co-sleeping. When done safely, co-sleeping does not increase the risk of SIDS and makes feeding your baby a more pleasant and successful experience. You must ensure that neither you or your partner smoke, drink or use recreational drugs. It is also important to ensure that neither of you take medication that makes you drowsy and that you are not extremely tired. Co-sleeping allows you to access your baby easily during the night and many women find that their baby will latch on by themselves, reducing disturbed sleep for both mum and baby. If you are not completely comfortable with the idea of having your baby in bed with you, try a bedside cot. Bedside cots pull up next to your bed and attach, they have a rail that drops down beneath the cot, making the bed act as an extension to your bed.
For further information about successful breastfeeding, speak to your midwife, health visitor, a lactation consultant or a La Leche League representative.