Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions
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This is most common in mothers in the early stages of nursing, soon after the milk first comes in. Your body and your baby are in the process of establishing their supply-and-demand relationship, and if your milk supply is greater than your baby's demand, you can end up with extremely swollen, football-hard breasts that hurt you and frustrate your baby's attempts to latch on.
Deal with engorgement promptly to avoid mastitis. Expressing some milk with a pump or by hand before feeding will make latch-on easier. According to breastfeeding expert Jack Newman, M.D., cabbage leaves are an excellent treatment for engorgement and breast inflammations. Place a cool raw leaf in each side of your nursing bra and change them often. (If your breasts aren't shaped like cabbages, roll the leaves with a rolling pin to make them more accommodating to your unique shape.)
Insufficient Milk Supply
Many new mothers worry about low milk flow, but few actually have insufficient milk for their babies. As long as your baby is soiling and wetting diapers and seems contented after a feeding, your milk is flowing just fine. If you do need to augment your milk production, stopping the use of prescription or over-the-counter medicines may take care of the problem. The following are some other techniques for increasing your milk production:
- First and foremost, drink more water. If you aren't drinking enough, your milk production will go down.
- Nurse as often as possible. Eliminate all breast substitutes for your baby, including pacifiers and bottles. If your baby only gets the real thing, the constant stimulation will greatly increase your milk supply.
- Try switch feeding. Start nursing on one breast, and switch your baby over to the other breast five minutes later. Continue to switch back and forth every five minutes until the feeding ends.
- If your baby is already eating solids, decrease them for a day or two so that he will want to nurse more.
- Take a powdered calcium and magnesium supplement at night. This can improve milk flow and help you sleep better at night.
- Try using herbs. A wide variety of herbs work to increase milk production. Try goat rue, blessed thistle, milk thistle, nettles, alfalfa, red clover, hops, astragalus, thyme, or dill.
- Increase your consumption of green, leafy vegetables, which help to augment milk flow. If these don't agree with your baby, try adding liquid chlorophyll to your drinking water.
- Try the traditional European method for improving milk flow: Drink a dark beer! (Just one.)
More on: Adjusting to New Motherhood
From A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock, Robert Rountree, and Virginia Hopkins with Melissa Block. Copyright © 2002 by Dr. Dean Raffelock. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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