Breastfeeding Tips: Mom-to-Mom

Lisa Harmonby Lisa HarmonBreastfeeding: Mom-to-Mom

As a nurse practitioner and a mom, I would like to share my personal experience and advice on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, as we all know, is the best thing you can do for your baby. It is also a great bonding experience.

1) One of the most important things I have learned is to RELAX. I know, easier said than done, right? When I first returned to work, I became very stressed about pumping and my milk supply. Then I realized that supplementing with formula when needed is OK. Pump at the times you would normally feed your baby when you are away from him/her. Sometimes babies will take more milk from a bottle simply because it comes out faster and easier.They don’t have to work as hard for it. My baby is now 8.5 months old. She nurses when at home with no formula supplementation. However, at daycare she takes the milk I have pumped with 2 oz of formula added. She is a happy, healthy baby. Now that I am not so stressed about milk supply, I am much happier and more relaxed too!

2) Plugged milk ducts. Ouch! Unfortunately, this is a common problem in breastfeeding women. I have personally experienced these…many times. A plugged milk duct is exactly what it sounds like. It occurs when the milk duct becomes inflamed because milk cannot flow through easily. It may feel like a small lump that is tender and sore. Some women are more prone to these than others. There are many causes, including tight clothing, underwire bra, not emptying the breast well enough, going too long between nursing sessions. If you get a plugged duct, act immediately. Apply heat prior to nursing or pumping, massage the area during nursing/pumping, nurse on the affected side first, and position the baby so that his/her chin is in the area of the plugged duct if possible. You should rest as much as possible and increase your fluid intake. You can also take ibuprofen to help with the discomfort and inflammation. If redness or fever develops, contact your physician immediately. If the plugged duct does not resolve within a couple of days, contact a lactation consultant for assistance.

3) Mastitis. This is a breast infection that can result from plugged ducts or when bacteria enter the breast tissue through cracked/sore nipples. Mastitis causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, body aches. You may also have a sore area in the breast and redness. Nurse frequently, especially on the affected side. You do not need to wean. Weaning may actually make the infection worse. Contact your physician so antibiotic treatment can be started quickly. You should begin to feel better within 24-48 hours after starting antibiotics. If you do not, let your physician know.

4) Board Certified Lactation Consultants are excellent resources for nursing mothers! Use them. They are so knowledgeable and helpful. They are experts in breastfeeding and can provide great support to you.

5) Enjoy this time with your baby…..and RELAX