Breastfeeding: 13 Burning Questions Answered

Finding out you’re going to be a mum is the most exhilarating feeling in the world – one that is rife with feelings of fear, excitement, doubt, love and a range of indescribable emotions (coupled with hormones) all rolled into one big, beautiful mess.

It is so wonderful and precipitous.

Besides your pregnancy journey, breastfeeding, is another journey you will take with baby. While it is one of the most intimate journeys to go on with baby, one that seals a bond between you and your child, it is also one of the hardest and most challenging you will go through but it is one of the most rewarding and beneficial decisions you will ever make if you and baby are mutually agreeable.

We turn to Madam Partum and speak to their Founder, Yen Lim and Lactation Consultant, Ellen Nepilly about some burning questions every new momma asks.

1. Isn’t Breastfeeding Supposed to be Easy?

As natural as it may look, breastfeeding is not easy at all and definitely a steep learning curve. It is a learned skill like many other skills that we need to learn first. For example baby’s first steps or riding a bicycle.

There are instincts that help with the process but the actual act of breastfeeding needs some support and mummies need to equip themselves with the right knowledge for a successful breastfeeding journey.

2. How Can I Avoid Colic While Breastfeeding?

Exclusive breastfeeding is the best way to avoid colic. Try to feed on demand when baby shows early hunger cues. Crying are already late hunger signs.

If baby has colic, it can help to keep baby close and carry him/her. Don’t worry about spoiling a baby by holding and soothing.White noise or making the “sh” sounds can also help. Mummies may also help baby to do tummy rub in case of any colic problems to ease the gassiness.

3. Is My Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?

This is a very common question that most mothers ask and wonder about. I would say yes if mummies are latching baby to breastfeed on demand, at least two to three hour apart.

The best way to know that a baby is getting enough is by checking the output and weight gain. If nothing gets in nothing comes out. A baby that is one week and older should have at least five to eight and three or more soiled diapers.

4. What Can I Do About Sore Nipples?

First of all, try to find the cause of nipple soreness. Some babies have oral restrictions like a tongue that can cause it but often it is only a matter of an shallow latch that can be corrected by someone with breastfeeding experience or with the help of a Lactation Consultant.

Try not to unlatch the baby by pulling it off but break the suction first with your finger.If your nipples are already sore a lanolin nipple cream can help with the healing.

5. What are Some Treatments for Blocked Ducts and Mastitis?

Treatments for Blocked Ducts and Mastitis requires few measures. Most importantly is to find the cause and correct the latch so that baby is able to empty the breast better.

Other causes can be infrequent nursing so that the milk remains for too long in the breast. More frequent feeds or pumping can help to avoid this. It is recommended to nurse and empty the breast thoroughly every two to three hours.

For blocked ducts, mummies can try hand expression and self massaging at the blocked area while taking a hot shower at home. If mummies with Mastitis have a fever which persists for longer than 24 hours it’s essential to see a doctor and get antibiotics. Mummies can continue breastfeeding even if on antibiotics.

There is also promising research that the probiotics Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus salivarius are helping with mastitis because it often occurs if there is an bacterial overgrowth in the breast.

6. What Can I Do About Engorgement?

Engorgement usually occurs three to four days after birth – this is actually an uncomfortable feeling of fullness that new mothers experience during the early breastfeeding days. This is a good sign, it means your milk is coming in.

The best you can do is have baby on you skin to skin and breastfeed as often as baby wantsand as least every three hours. However sometimes, it will be difficult for baby to latch on.

So when mothers are faced with engorgement, we would advise to use the reverse pressure softening method and use your hands to create a sandwich hold to your breasts for baby’s easy latching.

To decrease discomfort, mothers may also use cold cabbage leaf and compress between feedings.

7. What is Breastfeeding Jaundice?

Breastfeeding jaundice is due to insufficient feeding as some babies are not latching well or falling asleep at the breast.

For such cases, mummies are advised to see a lactation consultant to help with correct the latch and help to make sure baby has sufficient intake. The best to keep levels down is to make sure that the baby receives enough breastmilk.

8. What is Finger Feeding?

Finger feeding is a feeding method to avoid bottle feeding. Bottle feeding in the first weeks after birth can interfere with breastfeeding by causing nipple confusion. The muscles used to drink from a bottle are different than those being used breastfeeding.

The baby is fed by putting a finger in the mouth and having baby suck on it. On the side of the mouth the caregiver puts a syringe or a feeding tube and the baby sucks the milk out of that.

9. Should a Mother Stop Breastfeeding if She is Sick?

No, absolutely not. Chances are that the baby was already exposed to the virus/bacteria that caused the illness before mum showed symptoms. The baby will receive antibodies tailored to fight that specific pathogen through the breastmilk.

There are no antibodies in formula so not breastfeeding might actually cause baby to get sick or sicker when baby would have been ok with breastmilk.

There are only very few illnesses where breastfeeding would be discouraged such as HIV, T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II and untreated active tuberculosis.

“There are no antibodies in formula so not breastfeeding might actually cause baby to get sick…”

10. What is Breast Compression and How Can it Help with My Milk Supply?

Breast compression is one of the first things I will show a new mum. I learnt this from Dr Jack Newman – it is very effective especially with a sleepy newborn.

Babies tend to fall asleep when the flow slows down in the early days and breast compression help to “wake” the babybecause when there is a good flow, baby is forced to drink and be more alert.

Also for pumping, there is a higher yield with breast compression.

11. What are Challenges for Working Mothers who Breastfeed?

One of the challenges can be the mother missing the baby and feeling guilty for being away from your baby and the physical adjustment of breasts leaking and engorgement if she doesn’t get enough breaks to pump. 

There could also be a possibility of a drop in the breastmilk supply. Baby might also not be used to the change and may refuse to take a bottle during the day. This could result in baby waking more at night and wanting to nurse more.

Lastly, there could be a challenge of not getting good support from the workplace. For example, not having supportive employers and colleagues and a conducive room to pump.

12. Should I Try Domperidone to Increase My Milk Supply?

If your doctor prescribes it, I would recommend it if you have a low supply. Its been proven to increase the supply quite effectively.

13. Can My Baby Be Allergic to My Breast Milk?

No, babies cannot be allergic to breastmilk. A baby can be allergic to something in her mother’s diet but not to breastmilk as such.The most common cause is Cow’s Milk Protein or Soy.

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