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Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions

Plugged ducts
A plugged duct is your body's early warning sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. Slow down and take the time to clear the duct out to avoid ending up with an infection. The plug feels like a hard lump, and there may be some engorgement or pain. Nurse from that side, massaging the breast while baby drinks, to try to loosen the plug. Massage from the armpits downward and toward the center of the breast. If you can, point baby's chin in the direction of the blockage. For example, use the football hold (cradling the baby under your arm) if the plug is in the lower outside quadrant of your breast. If the plug is on the armpit side of your breast, you can also try lying on your side next to your baby with the affected breast above him, and nurse him by dropping that breast down across the other one to his mouth. When the baby is done, pump off or hand-express any excess milk.

If you see a small blister on the nipple of the breast with the plugged duct, Dr. Jack Newman recommends opening it with a needle that has been sterilized by being held in a match's flame for a few seconds, then allowed to cool. This may allow you to gently squeeze out the blockage. Smooth an antibiotic ointment on the nipple to protect against infection (wipe the ointment off before nursing and reapply it afterward). For the plugged duct that won't let go, therapeutic ultrasound may do the trick. Ask your OB/GYN about this if necessary.

Dr. Newman suggests that women with recurrent plugged ducts take 1,200 milligrams of lecithin (a supplement usually made from soybeans) three to four times daily. Marshmallow – the herb, not the puffy, white, sugary snack you set aflame over campfires as a child – also can help clear up breast blockages and inflammations. Follow the dosage directions on the product label.

Thrush
This sometimes itchy, sometimes painful condition is the result of the overgrowth of a yeast called Candida albicans, the same yeast that causes vaginal and intestinal yeast infections. You may develop an itchy rash on your nipple or experience pain when your baby nurses. If your baby's mouth is lined with white patches that don't wipe away easily, she has thrush, and you may have it too, even if you are not having symptoms. Thrush can also cause your baby to develop persistent diaper rash. The use of antibiotics is often the cause of yeast overgrowth because these drugs kill off "good bacteria" that normally keep yeasts in check.

While thrush is usually not dangerous, it can be uncomfortable. Nipple pain caused by thrush tends to last for a period after baby nurses, and may burn and radiate deeply into the breast. If there is no discomfort, however, you can just let thrush resolve on its own.

The best treatment is to repopulate those good bacteria with an acidophilus/bifidus supplement. Organic plain yogurt contains these bacteria and can be a good topical remedy for nipples. Your baby can take baby acidophilus powder in breast milk or directly from your nipples. The infection should clear up in a few days.

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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.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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