Common breastfeeding dilemmas

By Susan Guest, Dina Da Rosa and Julie Tagi on September 17, 2012
We asked a team of healthcare experts from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Mother Baby Unit in Toronto to respond to some of the breastfeeding questions most commonly asked by new moms.

Question: I have inverted nipples. Am I able to breastfeed?

Answer: Half of the success of breastfeeding lies with baby. If your baby is able to suck effectively, then over time the nipple will evert naturally. If your baby has difficulty doing this consistently, we would suggest seeking support and help from a lactation consultant so that you are able to successfully achieve your breastfeeding goals.

Q: I just delivered by C-section and my milk hasn’t come in. When can I start trying to breastfeed?

A: Start right away in the recovery room after your C-Section. Begin by doing skin-to-skin contact in the first hour after birth. Skin to skin involves having your naked baby placed upright on your bare chest so that the baby can feel your warmth, hear your heartbeat and your voice. Research supports that when the baby is skin to skin with mom, the baby will naturally find his or her way to the breast. Breastfeeding can be initiated immediately. Colostrum is the first form of breast milk that is rich in nutrients, calories, and antibodies and is usually sufficient in volume to feed the baby.

Q: My nipples are cracked and bleeding from breastfeeding around the clock. What can I do to make the pain go away?

A: You can express colostrum/ breast milk and let it air dry on your nipples, as breast milk contains healing properties. Cracked and bleeding nipples can be a result of improper latch or positioning and can be corrected with assistance from your nurse or lactation consultant while in hospital. Other community supports are also available for breastfeeding. It is not unreasonable to take medication to relieve your pain. You should consult your healthcare provider to advise you of which medications would be safe for breastfeeding.

Q: I know that breastfeeding is natural, but I feel awkward breastfeeding in public. Are there any tips or tricks I should know about so I’m not housebound for a year?

A: Breastfeeding is more widely acceptable and more common in public places. Some public areas have designated breastfeeding areas. Other tips might be to use a light blanket, your shirt, or nursing canopies. Once you are more comfortable with breastfeeding, very little needs to be exposed when nursing your baby.

Q: My son is four months old and is getting his first tooth. Will this affect his ability to breastfeed in any way?

A: No. Babies don’t actually use their gums to breastfeed; they use their jaw and tongue to get the milk to flow and to drink. If a baby were to bite, the milk stops flowing and baby learns quickly that this behaviour will not result in a full feed.

Q: How can I make my husband feel like he is an important part of caring for our baby? I’m afraid he feels a little left out.

A: Your partner can be involved by supporting you in a number of ways, such as helping with baby care, giving the bath, doing skin to skin (putting the diapered baby against your partner’s bare chest), changing diapers, helping you to have rest periods, helping make meals, ensuring you get proper nutrition and fluids, being emotionally supportive and encouraging. Most moms say that the best support is to be there through the ups and downs of breastfeeding.

Susan Guest, RN, MN, IBCLC, Dina Da Rosa, RN, BScN, and Julie Tagi, RN, MN, work in the Mother Baby Unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and support the hospital’s Postnatal Ambulatory Clinic.

Originally published in ParentsCanada: Best Wishes, Spring 2012.

By Susan Guest, Dina Da Rosa and Julie Tagi| September 17, 2012

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