Struggling to breastfeed? A lactation consultant can help.
When you have a baby, there are all sorts of new experiences to navigate. Breastfeeding is one of them.
For many women, breastfeeding can be a challenge. If you are struggling to breastfeed your baby, rest assured that support is available.
In this article, we cover common questions about breastfeeding and explain how a lactation consultant can help.
The World Health Organization recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Ongoing breastfeeding until the age of two is encouraged, with appropriate introduction of complementary foods.
Benefits to baby
- Babies receive all the nutrients they need from breastmilk.
- Breastmilk contains antibodies and other healing properties to fight disease and infection.
- Formula-fed babies have an increased risk of SIDS, obesity and illnesses such as ear infections.
Benefits to mother
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of certain illnesses, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer and diabetes.
- Breastfeeding helps shrink the uterus back to its original size and promotes weight loss.
- Breastfeeding may delay the return of periods and act as a contraceptive if done exclusively (though not always).
Getting the latch right
Getting the attachment right is key to ensuring an enjoyable experience for both mum and bub. If baby is on your breast the right way:
- You shouldn’t experience any pain when breastfeeding
- Your baby should have a good mouthful of breast, with their tongue well forward over the bottom gum and cupping the breast
- Your baby’s lower lip should be slightly curled back and turned out
- Your baby’s chest should be against yours
- You may hear your baby swallow
If you are finding breastfeeding painful, try a few different feeding positions. Some may work better than others.
Another tip is to rub a little breastmilk onto your nipple and areola after feeding to help promote healing.
How often should you breastfeed?
The Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends feeding your baby whenever they are hungry. This will help build your supply.
All babies are different – some may need to be fed 10 to 15 times in 24 hours, others may only need to be fed 6 to 8 times. The good news is that you can’t overfeed your baby, so just go with it and listen to their cues.
Knowing if they are getting enough milk
Worrying whether your baby is getting enough milk is a common concern. Take note of how many wet nappies your baby is having. They should have at least six pale yellow wet cloth nappies or five heavily wet disposable nappies a day.
Babies younger than 6 weeks will usually have at least 3 to 4 bowel motions in 24 hours.
Your baby’s weight is another clue. If they are gaining weight, they are likely getting enough breastmilk.
Common breastfeeding issues
Some of the issues experienced by breastfeeding mums include:
- Nipple tenderness (particularly during the early weeks)
- Engorgement (when breasts are full and painful)
- Blocked ducts (which results in a hard lump in the breast causing pain and other symptoms)
- Mastitis (inflammation of the breast due to a blocked milk duct or engorgement).
It’s important to remember that each of these issues can be worked through with the right support and advice. How a lactation consultant can help
A lactation consultant is a medical professional with extensive knowledge in this area. They can assist with everything from positioning to more complicated issues such as managing mastitis and breastmilk supply issues.
At our sister clinic, Bluff Road Medical Centre, we are lucky enough to have an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and General Practitioner on hand. Dr Anita Bearzatto consults with families experiencing lactation problems and other issues related to maternal and child health.
For immediate advice, you can also call the Breastfeeding helpline on 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268). The Australian Breastfeeding Association website is another great resource.