Common Breastfeeding Problems
Solutions to sore nipples, infections, and more, plus resources for breastfeeding moms.
Engorged Breasts continued...
"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
"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."
Resources for Nursing Mothers
Nursing mothers are often surprised to discover how
little their obstetrician or pediatrician knows about breastfeeding problems.
Lactation consultant Katy Lebbing, IBCLC, says that as recently as the
mid-1990s, a full 50% of medical schools were graduating doctors without a
single day's training on breastfeeding.
In one study published in the American Journal of
Preventative Medicine, the obstetrical staff of a California hospital
answered just 53% of the questions correctly on a simple 15-minute quiz about
breastfeeding. Only 14% of the doctors said they felt confidant about their
knowledge on this subject.
If you have questions concerning any aspect of
breastfeeding, including medical issues about your breast health, you'll often
get the right answers fastest by contacting a lactation counselor.
Usually, the hospital where you delivered your baby
will have at least one lactation counselor on staff. This counselor may have
even visited you shortly after you gave birth to help you begin
Most lactation counselors are also available for
at-home consultations after you leave the hospital. If this isn't the case,
they can suggest private practice lactation experts to help you.
Although many people experienced with childbirth, such
as doulas and midwives, may be able to help you with breastfeeding, try to find
lactation consultants with the initials IBCLC after their names. This stands
for International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants.
An alternate credential is RLC -- for registered
lactation counselor. Both credentials mean the counselor has received special
training and has certified expertise in breastfeeding.
The following organizations can help you find a
lactation counselor in your area:
- Le Leche League International. The oldest name
in the breastfeeding arena, this worldwide organization has counselors and
group leaders nationally and internationally. To access its huge database of
experts, visit the web site: www.laleche.org. Or call (800) LALECHE.You can
also try your local telephone directory under La Leche League, where you might
find a local chapter.
- International Lactation Consultant
Association. This group helps train lactation consultants worldwide and
provides many of the guidelines and training materials used to teach
breastfeeding counselors. Visit its web site, www.ILCA.org, to access a
national database of experts. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (919)