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A recent telephone conversation with a friend who was struggling with breastfeeding together with a (unpublished) post I wrote a while ago made me remember how breastfeeding could be difficult sometimes. It could be painful, not easy and resulting in you having mixed feeling about it and thus definitely not the best thing on earth.

With Bonny I think I could not have gone through anything worse. I have just tought that my experience might be of some help. Who knows? So here are my top tips to try to deal with breastfeeding difficulties classified by chance of likelihood.

  1. Cracked nipples

Almost impossible not to get cracked nipples when you start breastfeeding. Pretty common, pretty painful. Usually do not last for more than 3 weeks.

Reasons: Various, time necessary for your nipples to get used to the way of sucking’s of your baby but often due to a baby latch on your breast that is not perfect.

How to help your nipples to heal:

Make sure that the baby’s latch is correct (there is plenty of website explaining about what a correct latch on should be so I will not quote any), if not do not hesitate to restart again (I know it is easy to write but not really practical to do with an hungry crying baby).

Change the baby position at each feed to allow the cracked area to heal and avoid it being cracked again and again; If you are lucky enough as I was you will end up with a nipple cracked all around leaving no choice but expressing your milk and giving your baby a bottle for a while. I know the lll does not encourage you to do that they’d rather make you feed you baby with a spoon instead (I tried good luck!)

Right after a feed, cover your nipple with a drop of your own milk which is antiseptic and has healing power.

Inbetween feeds make sure that your nipples are dry.

Inbetween the feeds, leave your nipples nacked when you are at home (very sexy when your mother and father in law are visiting!)

Outside I would recommend to wear breastshells rather than breast cotton pads that are not really as good unless you change them frequently. I would recommend Medela breastshells (be careful breastshells are difference from milk collection shells, they have large holes allowing your nipples to breathe and do not encourage to the milk production),

There are a few cream available to ease the healing process: Lansinoh is probably one of the most famoust ones. I have been recommended in France a cream with Calendula in it by the Laboratoires Boiron. Always read the components because bear in my mind that your baby is going to swallow it.

And I know they are contraversial but nipple shields helped me to ease the healing process in Blondie’s case (I used them sporadicly for 3 weeks). I tried them with Bonny but she would not manage to such the milk out of my breast with them.

If with all the above it has not changed anything then what I used in Bonnie’s case was Urgotul (the doctor did prescribe either of both: Urgotul or Jelonet but frankly speaking I would not give Jelonet to my baby to swallow). Inbetween feeds I apply a little square pad of Urgotul that I wedged against my nipple with the breast shell. It helped a lot to maintain my nipple in an bearable situation while every single feed was creating an additional damage.

And if still haven’t found the cause of your cracked nipple, have you heard about tongue-tie. For some people having their babies gone through tongue tie surgery completely changed their life. For me Bonny had her done twice and it dit not change anything. Just thought you might want to know. Better search for your lactation consultant or doctor advice.

2. Thrush:

How do you know you have thrush: obviously: one or two nipples are itchy. They are very painful while breastfeeding but also the pain continues after it. They are white spots in your baby mouth. non obviously: your breasts are very painful and the dolor is something like someone is stabbing you in the breast.

The treatment is to take Flucanazole and get a treatment for your baby as well in order to breake the contamination circle. If you think you have thrush you better talk to your doctor about it.

3. Blocked Ducts & Mastitis

If you start having a red mark on one of your breasts, a bit hard, watch out. That is probably the sign of blocked ducts and the first premises before mastitis. How do you know you got mastitis? the red mark has spread to a wider part of your breast, breast is very painful and you even sometimes got a high temperature. you feel a bit as if you have a flue. Why does it happen, usually when you have spaced out the feed for one reason or another or even if you had pressed your breast during a feed (I got my mastitis because I was holding my breast while feeding and the mastitis came from the contact of my thumb on my breast). Treatment consists in draining your breast, i.e. nipple massage under hot shower can be of great help, breastfeeding more frequenty (every 2/3 hours) or express your milk and if the pain is unbereable takes paracetamol and Ibuprofen alternatively by following the dose.

I have found these pictures on the weleda website and I found them self explanatory for nipple massage

4. Breast infection

Well, I had other breastfeeding pleasures such as breast infection.

How did I know that I had breast infection, well…. The doctor told me that unhealed cracked nipples for more than 2 weeks was probably coming from a breast infection. So I took antibiotics treatment but I would not comment more on that and would advice that you seek for doctor assistance if you think that you have breast infection.

Me & The Girls

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