One of my patients who just became a new mom recently described to me what a failure she felt when she found out that she was not able to breastfeed. She told a horrible tale of being belittled in the maternity hospital and how the lactation consultant made her feel as if she wasn’t trying hard enough. You’ll get none of that at the Yinova Center where our job is to support Moms. So l want to start by saying that whilst there are some benefits to you and your baby from breastfeeding, if you find the task impossible, for whatever reason, your baby will be fine on some of the excellent formulas that are available. As Moms we all do the best we can and we all end up compromising in some areas. It’s OK.
That being said breast milk provides your baby with perfect nutrition, boosts his or her immunity and promotes good digestive health. The hormones you release whilst breastfeeding are good for your mood, help reduce your uterus back to it’s normal size and help you regain your pre-pregnancy figure. So how’s it done? For most women it is relatively straight forward. You’ll get plenty of support and help in the hospital and here at the Yinova Center we are big fans of the La Leche League who have excellent information on their website.
- Get yourself into a comfortable position with your back and feet supported. You can use a pillow on your lap to support the baby so your arms don’t get tired.
- Cradle your baby so she is lying on her side with her mouth and nose near your nipple.
- Squeeze the nipple to release a small amount of milk to moisten it.
- Use your free hand to compress your breast so that it conforms to the shape of your baby’s mouth
- Use the nipple to stroke the baby’s lips so that he opens his mouth wide.
How to prevent sore nipples
Although you can expect to be a bit tender for the first few days of breastfeeding, sore nipples are a sign that something is wrong and that corrections need to be made.
- Make sure that your baby is latching on correctly. She should have most of your areola in her mouth with your nipple near the back of her mouth so that her gums are pressing down on the milk sinuses that are about 1″ behind the nipple.
- When removing your baby from your breast, break the suction gently by pulling on baby’s chin or corner of mouth.
- Look after your nipples between feeds. We have an excellent sore nipple cream here at the Yinova Center which is non-toxic and gentle. Our new Mom’s swear by it for keeping their nipples in good shape.
What to do if you feel you don’t have enough milk
At the Yinova Center we have found that most new Moms worry about this unnecessarily. Most women really do have enough milk for their baby.
- Your breasts make milk based on how much your baby uses, so feed your baby frequently and for as long as she wants.
- Offer both breasts at each feeding but let the baby stay on the first breast for as long as he wants so that he benefits from the fat-rich “hindmilk”
- If your baby tends to fall asleep and stops sucking – try switching him between breasts to wake him up and promote active sucking.
- Drink plenty of water
- Get some rest.
- Limit your baby’s sucking on things other than the breast by stopping the use of pacifiers.
- Try herbs. To start with you can try over the counter herbal teas such as fenugreek and fennel, which some Mom’s find helpful. If that doesn’t work call us at the Yinova Center and we will have a specially tailored herbal formula made for you. Chinese herbs can really help you to produce more milk but please make sure that you use a specialist to prescribe them because many Chinese herbs are contraindicated when breast feeding.
- An acupuncture treatment in conjunction with the Chinese herbs can be helpful in increasing milk supply.
If your breast become hard and painful they may be becoming engorged.
- Keep feeding
- Use a breast pump to release more milk and store it for the future
- Soak your breasts with warm water just before feeding
- In between feedings apply a cold compress to your breasts to reduce pain and swelling
- Wear a loose fitting bra.
- Try not to sleep on your stomach which compresses the breasts.
- In Chinese medicine engorgement is related to qi and blood stagnation. Call us for an herbal formula that can help move the stagnation and relieve engorgement.
- Acupuncture to move qi and milk in the breast area has been used for thousands of years in China and many of new Moms find that it brings them relief.
If your breasts are swollen, inflamed, red and tender you may have mastitis which is an infection. Often this follows engorgement because milk that does not flow can clog up the ducts in the breast leading to an infection. Other signs of mastitis include running a fever and feeling as if you have the flu.
- Contact your doctor to see if you need antibiotics. Untreated mastitis can lead to a breast abscess so it is never sensible to wait.
- Keep breast feeding. The infection will not harm the baby and it is important to keep milk flowing.
- Breastfeed regularly (every 2 hours) to improve milk flow.
- Massage the tender area to encourage blood circulation and help clear the blocked ducts.
- In Chinese medicine we see mastitis as a combination of qi and blood stagnation with toxic heat. Acupuncture can help move the stagnation and we have anti-bacterial herbs that can help with the toxic heat (infection).
- Alternate warm and cold compresses on your breasts. The warm compresses encourage blood to flow and the cold compresses relieve inflammation.
- Drink lots of water.
- Get a much rest as you can.
Although we’ve talked about solving problems in this article, most of our Yinova Moms do not struggle with breastfeeding. They enjoy the closeness and intimacy of feeding their baby and take pride in their ability to resource their child. If you do need help please don’t hesitate to call us. We are here to support you and we love meeting your babies.