Common Breastfeeding Challenges
1. Sore and cracked nipples. Check the position of the baby when she latches on; smooth lanolin over your nipples after each nursing session; and let your nipples air dry after each nursing session. Also, alternate which breast you start on for each session. Put a safety pin or plastic bracelet on your wrist on the side of your bra that was just used to help you remember. You should also not hear any clicking or sucking sound. If you do, the baby isn't positioned right. Bring Baby closer to you, and her mouth covers as much of the areola as possible. Correct positioning/latch is most important prevention of sore nipples.
2. Engorgement (overly full breasts) or blocked milk duct. Warm compresses, letting warm water run over your breasts in the shower, or laying cabbage leaves on your breasts can help relieve some of the pressure. You can also try pumping some milk between feedings.
Breastfeed often and long, allowing baby to finish the first breast first; apply cold compresses in-between feedings; if still feeling full, express milk; apply heat a few minutes before breastfeeding or milk expression to help you relax and stimulate milk flow.
3. Mastitis or breast infection. If you feel like you have the flu and one breast is red, hot and sore, you probably have mastitis. You'll likely need an antibiotic to clear up the infection. In the meantime, keep nursing and/or pumping on that side as much as you can, even though it hurts. To prevent mastitis, make sure you empty your breasts regularly. If you do take antibiotics, add a probiotic (good bacteria such as lactobacillus) supplement, or eat a container of live culture yogurt every day, to help prevent the next complication: thrush.
4. Thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection that can form on the breast and be passed between your breast and the baby's mouth. Overly moist breasts, sore or cracked nipples, following a diet high in sugar or yeasty foods or taking antibiotics, birth control pills or steroids can all throw your body's natural yeast levels out of control and lead to thrush. Symptoms are very sore nipples, achy or painful breasts or pink, flaky, shiny, itchy or cracked nipples.
Your baby may have little white spots in her mouth, or a diaper rash that won't heal. You will need to treat both your breasts and the baby's mouth with a prescription antifungal or with the over-the-counter antifungal gentian violet. To prevent thrush, air-dry your nipples, use nipple pads in your bra, wear a clean bra every day, and reduce the amount of sugar and yeasty products in your diet.
Increasing Milk Supply
Breastfeeding is a basic supply-and-demand activity. The more you nurse, the more milk your body makes. So when your baby goes through a growth spurt and seems to be nursing all the time, keep in mind she's signaling your body to up the milk production for her new nutritional needs.