3 Common Breastfeeding Problems That Moms Face

Breastfeeding benefits go a long way for both infants and mothers. But some first-time moms face common breastfeeding problems that experts hope to address.

Generations of women have been told that breast milk is the best food to give to a baby. “Safe, clean, natural, and free. Breast milk contains the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Plus, it has essential vitamins, minerals, and antibodies needed for your baby’s development and protection against diseases,” says Patricia Florestine Kho, MD, from the Obstetrics and Gynecology department of Makati Medical Center.

Common Breastfeeding Problems That Moms Face

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Children who are breastfed are less likely to be obese, diabetic, and asthmatic. Moreover, they experience less ailments like ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and upset tummies. They also grow up smarter, as evidenced by their high scores on intelligence tests. As for moms, breastfeeding lowers their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancers. And because it burns calories, breastfeeding contributes to post-pregnancy weight loss!

Yet for all its advantages and the numerous laws in place to encourage breastfeeding, the exclusive breastfeeding rate in the Philippines is a mere 34%. This is according to a University of the Philippines report.

“Mothers will tell you that breastfeeding hurts or that they can’t produce milk,” says Dr. Kho. “Others say they are too exhausted to breastfeed after a long day at work.”

Still, breastfeeding advocates are not giving up. And with government support through the promotion of breastfeeding programs and maternity protection in the workplace, plus the expertise of breastfeeding counselors within reach, they hope to bring the number up to at least 50% by 2025. The World Health Assembly has set this goal.

Hospitals like Makati Med encourages the practice of this most natural, nutritious, and beneficial means to nourish infants. By offering solutions to mothers’ most common breastfeeding problems.

Common Breastfeeding Problems That Moms Face

Common Breastfeeding Problems

“I don’t produce enough breastmilk.”

Polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes, and thyroid or hormonal problems have been known to interfere with the production of breastmilk. These, as do stress, dehydration, weight loss, obesity, and certain medications (contraceptives and cold medicine).

Otherwise, health experts describe the production of breastmilk as a matter of supply and demand. “The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you produce,” Dr. Kho explains. “Try breastfeeding every two to three hours, or at least eight times a day. This way you empty your breasts to encourage milk production and sustain lactation. Nurse baby from one breast to the other and compress your breast as baby suckles to facilitate milk flow.”

“Breastfeeding hurts.”

Nursing a baby may be a unique bonding experience between mother and child. But when your nipples end up painful, sore, and cracked, the last thing you want is to spend time with your little one. “Consult your doctor or a lactation specialist on the proper way for your baby to latch,” Dr. Kho advises. “Inverted or flat nipples may pose challenges in breastfeeding and can lead to breast pain. And these health experts can advise you on how to ease the pain.”

To relieve sore nipples, gently massage the sensitive area and place a warm heating pad or washcloth on your breast before feeding. (READ: 6 Best Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding According to Moms) Put a cool compress over it after feeding. “Also, find a place and position where breastfeeding is comfortable for you and baby,” adds Dr. Kho. “Use pillows and footstools for extra support.”   

“I’m tired.”

After a long day at work or managing your household, you deserve some “me” time. “It’s perfectly normal for moms to want to check out temporarily from parenting duties to rest and recharge,” says Dr. Kho. “But they can still feed the baby on time by pumping or hand expressing their breastmilk then storing what they collected until it’s time to feed.”

According to the Makati Med health expert, breastmilk lasts up to eight hours at room temperature, from one to eight days at 2°C-4°C in the fridge, and for three months inside a 2-door freezer.

“While you are producing breastmilk, take advantage of its many health benefits for your baby,” is Dr. Kho’s message to moms. “We only want what’s best for our children, and they have everything to gain from nature’s ‘perfect food.’”

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