Breastfeeding problems – low milk supply, problems latching on (attaching to the breast); inverted nipples etc, are common newborn breastfeeding problems – and are usually so easily solved. The best way to avoid these newborn breastfeeding problems – is to not let them happen in the first place and this all comes down to knowing when your baby is latching on properly.
The quickest way to fix common breast feeding problems is:
- Check out our breastfeeding poster – which shows photos of best positioning of baby when breastfeeding
- Read on and/or check out our other breastfeeding resources
Instinctively – you want to breastfeed your baby. Your breasts have been growing during your pregnancy – and getting ready for the big day. Yes, the hard work is done and finally your baby is here! You have looked into the benefits of breastfeeding vs bottle feeding and you (and your partner) know you want the best for your baby – and you feel committed to this – aware that you may have some learning to do.
Are you feeling excited – tired – scared – confident?
You can do it – because you have the greatest helper right there beside you – your baby!
The placenta (the afterbirth) is still likely to be attached and sending blood to your baby – and you hold your baby close against your skin. Often your newborn baby will be alert – looking around absorbing all the strange new sounds smells and touches and hearing those voices he/she is so used to hearing over the last months inside the womb. You speak softly to your baby reassuring him/her that everything is Ok – that you are there and you are going to take care of him/her.
The hour after your baby is born – is your most precious time – give yourself, your newborn baby, and your partner time to experience every second of it. This is your special time – phone calls to family and friends can wait.
Breast feeding problems are less likely to occur when you have patience and trust yourself and your baby’s natural instincts. When your baby is ready – your baby will instinctively start to make his/her way to your breast – he/she will bob their little head up and down, and use their feet (making use of the stepping reflex) as they push themselves towards your breast. Just support his/her body gently as your baby starts their journey to your breast. Give your baby time and the opportunity to do this – there is no rush – usually within the first hour of birth this is likely to happen.
This is the best way to avoid breastfeeding problems.
You will be so surprised as you your baby latches on to your breast – taking a large mouthful of your breast – which includes the nipple – and strangely enough – some of the dark part of the nipple – the areola is likely to be above his nose. What you do while all this is happening – is make sure your baby feels secure as you hold and support him/her firmly against your body – stabilizing his/her body by positioning your hands in the small of baby’s back. Automatically your baby’s head will tilt back.
It may sound strange – but your baby actually latches on to the underneath area of the breast not just the nipple – and as your baby’s head is tilted back – baby’s nose is away from the breast and your baby is then able to breathe while feeding. (All newborn babies are nose breathers so it is necessary for their airway to be unobstructed – or they will keep coming off the breast so they can take a breath).
From your point of view – as you look at your baby attached to the breast – you will see that a larger amount of the areola (the brown part surrounding the nipple) is above baby’s nose.
If your baby is properly latched onto your breast – baby will remove the breast milk and at the same time – stimulate your breast to produce more breast milk.
So you see breastfeeding problems – low milk supply usually start with baby not latching on properly, which means that all the breast milk is not being removed. Your baby also becomes frustrated as he/she works away but is not rewarded with enough milk to satisfy him/her.
In order to avoid breastfeeding problems – low milk supply – it is important that milk production is frequently stimulated – preferably by your baby’s proper sucking – and stimulated frequently – particularly when breastfeeding is being established – it may be as frequent as one and half to two hourly. If your baby is not able to suck frequently (two to three hourly) – pumping breast milk will also stimulate the breast to produce more milk.
Mothers with preterm or sick babies who are not yet able to breastfeed – are able to quickly establish their breast milk supply – simply by pumping breast milk. This can be done manually – or many Mums prefer to use an electric pump – and may also choose to pump both breasts at the same time – using a double breast pump.
It is also important to ensure you are maintaining a good fluid intake – so keep a bottle of water handy every time you feed or pump breast milk.