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Trouble with the Girls (aka Breastfeeding Problems and solutions)

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**Disclaimer: MEN, you may want to shield your eyes! Graphic pictures and content of breasts doing what the girls were made to do…feed babies!

After nursing 7 babies, I think I’ve had just about every problem and breastfeeding-associated ailment, that you can name. I actually did a lot of research before I had my first child and I still wasn’t prepared for some of these! I’m sure there are many other conditions and problems that are possible, but these were the common ones for me and how I dealt with them. As always, this is my personal experience and advice. I’m not a healthcare professional and do not claim to be.

Clogged/blocked ducts: These can happen for a variety of different reasons such as oversupply, poor latch, change in feeding schedule, not fully draining the breast, or pressure on certain spots (such as an underwire). The main reasons I have personally experienced these is because of underwire and skipping feedings. This is probably the most frequent nursing related ailment I have struggled with, even to the point that I’ve delayed solids because inevitably when I started introducing solids and altered my feeding schedule, I would have multiple clogged ducts to deal with. I exclusively breastfed until around 8 months, and this seemed to help with this transition.

What helps: Make sure you have a good latch. Their jaw needs to be dropped and their mouth needs to cover the areola, not just the nipple. Think “open wide” 😂 I noticed that clogged ducts were more frequent when I wore underwire so I had to pretty much stop wearing bras with underwire except for occasionally. I found some really supportive breastfeeding tank tops (link below) and that is what I pretty much live in for a year! The other thing that helped me was to just try and keep a pretty regular feeding schedule. With my first few kids this was hard, life was busy and I felt like I was just planning my life 2-3 hours at a time, but the more comfortable I have gotten with feeding anywhere (and I promise, I’ve fed just about everywhere!) the easier it is to keep a schedule and not let my breasts get too full. Short term, hot compresses, showers, loose clothing, plenty of fluids, massaging the area while nursing, changing nursing positions (football hold or nursing on all fours so gravity can work), pain relievers, and rest are all things that have helped me deal with clogged ducts.

Mastitis: The very mention makes me shudder! 😩 If you’ve had mastitis, you get it. SO painful and awful! Mastitis is a painful infection of the breast tissue due to a clogged duct or bacteria entering the breast. It can result in swelling, fever, chills, heat of infected area, and breast pain. Luckily I’ve only had mastitis a few times, but when I did, it started out as clogged milk ducts that I didn’t “take care of” and it ended with mastitis. You basically feel like you have the flu!

What helps: Antibiotics. If you have mastitis, it is recommended that you see a doctor. There are some natural home remedies you can try, but if my clogged ducts ever got far enough that I had fever, an antibiotic was the only way I could get it to clear up. Short term, hot compresses, hot showers, loose clothing, rest, fluids, and try to keep nursing even though it HURTS!

Build supply: Early on, my lactation consultant told me that breastfeeding was supply and demand. It really is! There have been a couple times that I wanted to build my supply. It was not an overnight success, but it can work with some patience and consistency.

*Side note: One thing to remember is how little your baby REALLY needs! I hear Mom’s say all the time, that they don’t have enough milk, and that is true in some cases, but for the most part, I think we just expect them to need more. As new moms we are worried about how much our babies are eating, but especially in those first few month’s their stomachs are so small they don’t need quantity just consistent small portions. I have heard it described that when a baby is born, there stomach is the size of a gumball! That puts things in perspective!

What helps: What worked best for me was pumping after feeding. I would feed the baby and then I would pump for a few minutes after each feeding. At first, I would not get very much milk, but as I stayed consistent, my supply increased. I will not lie, this was hard and time consuming, but it worked. I also used lactation cookies and herbal tea (links below) that seemed to help in conjunction with pumping. If you want to take the herbs by pill or capsule look for fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa.

Blebs: This was something I did not deal with until my fourth child and had never heard of them! A nipple bleb is a white or yellow spot that forms at the end of a milk duct. It is a pooling of the milk under the skin. Often times they are in conjunction with clogged ducts, but not always. Blebs can be caused by friction form a powerful suck, or rubbing from clothing on the nipple.

What helps: Again, make sure you have a good latch. Drink plenty of water and fluids. These seemed to be directly correlated with my diet. If I didn’t drink enough, if I’d gotten busy and not eaten well or had alot of greasy food (can we say pizza?), then I would inevitably get one of these. Lecithin. It works so well that I take one pretty much everyday to keep the blebs at bay. It can be found at any store that sells vitamins. Apply heat and massage while you nurse to try and work it out or open it up. You can “pop” it, but it may or may not help. This has helped mine a few times, but mostly, I feel like it just opens it up for bacteria. Keep your nipples moisturized. Sounds funny, right!? Some people pay lots of money for wrinkle cream, and I say a good nipple cream is worth it’s weight in gold! 😜 Keep those girls moisturized and keep on nursing! They will eventually “work themselves out”.

Weaning: When it’s time to wean, your baby will let you know. I have fed all my babies for around a year, some a little longer, but I’ve always known when it was time to wean. I will say this is probably different for everyone, but this is my experience. If you want to feed your baby until they are 3, go for it, if you don’t, go for it! Your baby, your business. Your child will give you cues that they want to nurse for food or comfort. As they get older (over 1 year of age), I don’t turn them away, but I don’t offer unless they have shown signs that they want to nurse. As your child grows, they will gradually nurse less and less over time and in my opinion, this is the best scenario for you both. That way you don’t have any engorgements and they still feel safe and comforted. My kids have gradually cut back until they are only breastfeeding before nap and bedtime. This way they, are mostly nursing for comfort and when the time comes, something else can be replaced to comfort them at bedtime. Again, this is different for everybody, but a gradual tapering off has been the best for me and my kids.

Sore Nipples: Mostly this is a problem early on in breastfeeding for me, when the nipples are “toughening”, but anyone can experience soreness from time to time due to dryness, cracking, biting, or long nursing sessions. Out of necessity, as with most of my home remedies, I made my own cream because of dry, cracked, and sore nipples. You can check it out here.

What helps: Breastmilk is magic! Putting some breastmilk on your nipples after feedings can help. It is antibacterial and provides plenty of moisture! Keep them moisturized with a good nipple cream. Make sure the latch is good. Again, think “open wide”. 😉 Change up positions frequently to avoid friction on specific parts of your nipple. Gel pads and compresses are always helpful to me and sooth soreness. Also, realize that more than one factor can be causing sore nipples and it may take a little time to figure out what is the root problem. In the mean time, my advise is to keep a good latch and moisturize!

FIND SUPPORT! Whether it be from friends or family members, professional lactation consultant, or a group through the La Leche League, support is SO important! I have been blessed that I had a very great and supportive lactation consultant early on, and I am 100% sure that if I hadn’t had her advice and answers to my unending questions, I would never have been successful at breastfeeding. So find your support, find your people!

Breastfeeding through all the stages!

MY FAVORITES: (supplies for breastfeeding)

My favorite nursing bra without underwire– I’ve tried ALOT of nursing bras with my 7 kids, but this is one of my most favorites! It is supportive without underwire, soft, and super comfortable. It has also held up really well through a lot of washes and wear.

Easy and Delicious Lactation Cookies: These are super easy to make and taste good too! RECIPE HERE!

Best nursing tops– These are THE BEST! I’ve had alot of nursing tops over the years, but this style is by far my favorite. They are extra long so they cover plenty of my postpartum belly. They are also really stretchy so they fit no matter what stage of postpartum my body is in. And they are surprisingly supportive for a full bust size without underwire that may cause irritation.

My FAVORITE leggings– These have been a lifesaver for me post partum. You can imagine what my stomach muscles are like after 7 pregnancies, so these are supportive but not uncomfortable. They are high quality and have lasted through all my washes. I have literally worn them at least 4-5 days a week since I gave birth in July. They are thick and soft, but not too hot. They come up really high so they give support AND hide my belly while nursing, but unlike others they don’t roll and fall down. They stay in place all day no matter what activities I’m doing and I don’t have to constantly tug and pull on them. In my opinion, every new Mama needs these!

My favorite nursing nightgown– It is super soft and comfy and makes nighttime nursing SO easy.

Lactation Tea– You can check out what I made here. Or you can always purchase the ingredients at a health food store or online and make your own! I like to use Mountain Rose Herbs. If you are making your own, make sure you have reusable tea bags. I love these for all kinds of tea and have truly gotten my money’s worth out of them! You can find them HERE.

Gel Nursing Pads– These are so good for when you first start breastfeeding and have some soreness. These can be put in the freezer and used cool to help soothe your breasts for a variety of reasons.


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