Breastfeeding isn’t always easy and even for a second or third time mother it comes with challenges and can bring on anxiety. Every baby is different, so even if you have breastfed before with no issues, there are some common problems you might face second time around. Conversely, maybe with previous babies you haven’t been able to breastfeed or struggled with several issues, but that doesn’t mean you won’t breastfeed successfully with subsequent babies.
Low supply is a common concern for new mums. Am I producing enough milk? Is my baby feeding enough? Medications, premature bubs, mastitis and other problems can lead to a low supply. Keep an eye on your baby’s nappy output and how often they want to feed if you think they aren’t getting enough milk or your supply is low. Talk to a lactation consultant if you feel that this is an issue for you, they can be such an asset to your breastfeeding journey and can really make the difference between a good experience or a bad one.
Engorgement in those early days of breastfeeding when your milk first comes in can be painful and incredibly uncomfortable. You may feel like it’ll never ease and you can’t keep going, but it will get better. Best way to get through it is to feed your baby frequently and the engorgement should subside in a week. You can express off a little of the excess milk to relieve the pain. Handy hint – wet a couple of nappies, put them in the freezer and then in your bra for a short period to ease the pain.
At some point in your breastfeeding journey you may get mastitis which is inflammation of the breast tissue often caused by a blocked duct. It can be very painful and make you feel lousy overall. It can also progress quickly so it’s best to see a medical professional as soon as possible and ensure you empty the affected breast fully at each feed even though it can be very painful.
You might find you start leaking milk during pregnancy or it might not happen until your milk comes in, but leaking breastmilk is very common. Sometimes even just thinking about your baby can cause your milk to let down. Once breastfeeding is fully established (after a couple of months) your supply should adjust and leaking will be less frequent and less in quantity. Handy hint – get some good quality washable breast pads which will soak up leaks better than disposables, be more comfortable and better for the environment, not to mention cheaper! You can get then in lots of pretty designs, organic cotton or bamboo materials are also soft and comfortable.
In the first weeks while establishing breastfeeding you’ll likely get sore nipples that may even crack or bleed. Working on getting the best attachment with your baby will help, and a lactation consultant can help get that attachment right and get rid of the pain. A good cream or rubbing breastmilk on your nipples after each feed will also help the healing.
Feeding in public
Intimidating. Possibly embarrassing. Totally natural. At some point you’ll be out somewhere, your baby will want a feed, there’ll be no baby room available to retreat to. So you have no choice but to feed them. It can be really intimidating but you don’t have unbutton your top and pull your breasts out if you aren’t comfortable. Carry a blanket or feeding drape in your nappy bag and use it to drape over yourself and your baby when feeding. Breastfeeding in public can be done discreetly if you want more privacy, but if you are comfortable there is absolutely nothing to stop you from feeding your bub when and where they need it - it’s the law!
Working and feeding
For financial or personal reasons, you may need to return to work before you are ready to wean baby off breastfeeding. Many workplaces now have breastfeeding friendly working conditions allowing you extra breaks to express as needed and some may even have a nice comfy place to do it and store your milk. Get yourself a good breast pump and find a comfortable and quiet spot to express (not the bathroom). You will need a clean fridge to store milk in. Talk to your manager and HR team well before returning to work so you know the procedures and facilities available in your workplace.
There may be many reasons why you need to express breastmilk, you may be returning to work, have a sick or premature bub or want to give your partner the opportunity to feed bub. Expressing can feel unnatural and awkward. Getting a good quality breast pump and setting up a nice area to relax in while you express can help. Read more tips for expressing here.
Remember, if you are struggling with your breastfeeding journey, there is always help available! Talk to your child and maternal nurse or a lactation consultant for support or call a breastfeeding helpline like the Australian Breastfeeding Association.