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Health & Baby

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Common Breastfeeding Problems

Solutions to sore nipples, infections, and more, plus resources for breastfeeding moms.

Yeast Infections or Thrush continued...

Signs of thrush include red or pink shiny skin that usually itches, and may flake or peel, says pediatrician Audrey Naylor, MD. To learn if your baby is infected, look for white spots on the inside of the cheeks, or sometimes a persistent diaper rash.

You might also find that you have symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection -- a clumpy white discharge and extreme itchiness.

If you do have a breast yeast infection, Naylor says you don't have to stop breastfeeding. But you and your baby do need treatment.

"See your doctor and let her or him make a recommendation for treatment. Don't try to buy a drugstore product and treat the infection yourself," says Naylor. While some products are safe to use while breastfeeding, others are not. Only your doctor will know for certain what is right for you and your baby.

Engorged Breasts

Engorgement is normal and can develop when your milk begins to flood your breasts, usually between the second and sixth day after you start nursing your baby.

"Once milk starts to come into the ducts, there is also a flooding of lymph fluid and blood, which causes the tissue in the breast to swell," says Sterner.

Because that swollen tissue pushes down on the milk ducts, the ducts can sometimes clamp shut. When milk can't be expressed, it builds up inside the breast and engorgement occurs.

Sterner says your best solution is to place cold packs on the breast, along with clean washed cabbage leaves. Leave these on your skin for about 20 minutes. Both can help reduce the swelling and allow the ducts to open.

"Right before you are ready to nurse, put a warm pack on your nipples for a few minutes -- this will also help with the 'let down' [milk flow] and can encourage feeding," says Sterner.

Showers are not recommended when you have engorged breasts, warns Sterner. The warm, pounding water can dilate blood vessels, increasing the swelling and congestion in your breast.

"Most important is to keep on nursing," Huotari tells WebMD. "The more milk that is expressed, the less chance you have of engorgement."

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