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August 2, 2022

August is National Breastfeeding Month! There are many benefits to breastfeeding: breast milk is packed with vital nutrients for babies, as well as antibodies passed from the mother to the child that help protect against illnesses and diseases. However, many women face obstacles when it comes to breastfeeding their child. Below we cover some common problems for breastfeeding mothers, and ways to overcome them:

Sore Nipples

Breastfeeding should feel comfortable, not painful. Often nipples become tender when breastfeeding. To fix this, make sure your baby is not just suckling from the nipple, but most of the areola and the nipple. Ensure your baby is properly latched to minimize discomfort. Often changing positions of breastfeeding can help alleviate the symptoms of sore nipples (WIC Breastfeeding Support, n.d.).

Plugged Duct

Plugged ducts are a common problem, an occurs when a milk duct is not properly draining. Often your milk duct feels tender, and you experience a soreness in the breast. To mitigate this, be sure to nurse your child on the plugged duct breast often. This can help to loosen the milk inside the breast. Massaging the area or using a warm compress can help as well as getting some time for relaxation as a plugged duct is often a sign of overworking (WIC Breastfeeding Support, n.d.).

Engorgement

When your breasts begin to feel hard and painful, this can be a sign of engorgement. Engorgement happens when you have an oversupply of milk or are having trouble getting your baby to feed. Common symptoms are breast swelling, tenderness, warmth, redness, throbbing, and flattening of the nipple (WIC Breastfeeding Support, n.d.). Engorgement can lead to a plugged duct or breast infection, so it is recommended to act as soon as possible. To minimize the risk of engorgement, breastfeed or pump often, massage the breasts, and use cold compresses between feedings.

Exhaustion

A newborn baby can leave breastfeeding individuals physically and emotionally exhausted. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle including diet, exercise, and regular rest (Office on Women’s Health, 2021). Take time for yourself and ask for support from others on your breastfeeding journey. Try to relax when you can and regain your energy. When you are in good shape, your baby will be too.

Judgment

In Washington State, you have the right to breastfeed in any public place. Be confident in public breastfeeding by wearing accessible clothing, practicing breastfeeding in front of others, or using a blanket to cover anything you do not want to expose (Office on Womens Health, 2021). Some breastfeeding individuals face criticism for breastfeeding in public, but you should feel comfortable regardless of where you are or who is in front of you. If you face criticism, feel free to inform the criticizing individual about the benefits of breastfeeding or tell them how their comments impacted you. Only do what you are comfortable with when it comes to judgment and public breastfeeding.

Sources:

Office on Women’s Health. (2021, February 22). Common Breastfeeding Challenges. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/common-breastfeeding-challenges

WIC Breastfeeding Support – U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Breastfeeding with Confidence. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/breastfeeding-confidence

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