By Dr. Vidya Shetty, Gynaecology
Although lactation consultants are there to help you find ways that make breastfeeding comfortable for both you and your child, the early days of breastfeeding are difficult and uncomfortable. Most women do not face the challenges mentioned below or may face them only with their first child and not with their second or third child. However, complications in breastfeeding can arise and shouldn’t be ignored.
1. Sore Nipples: One of the most common complaints of new mothers is tender or sore nipples. Nipple sensitivity and tenderness will subside within thirty seconds after your child starts suckling, and is completely resolved when your child is a week old. Sore nipple or nipple pain is usually due to nipple injury, improper latching by your child or trauma during delivery.
2. Engorgement: Normally breasts become larger, tenderer and heavier when they start lactating, but one of the challenges women face while breastfeeding is engorgement i.e. when the breast becomes hard and painful due to milk building up in the breasts. This usually takes place in the third to fifth day after giving birth. Oversupply of milk or infrequent breastfeeding causes the breasts to engorge and throb painfully.
3. Plugged Ducts: If the milk is not able to flow freely, tender spots or lumps are formed in the breasts and are painful to touch. These lumps are known as plugged ducts. Usually, they only happen on one breast at a time and due to the improper draining of the milk duct that builds up the pressure and inflames the tissue.
4. Breast Infection (Mastitis): Mastitis is one of the most serious breastfeeding complications. Causes of mastitis range from an untreated plugged duct or cracked nipple to anaemia, stress, and fatigue. Mastitis leads to fever, headache and muscle ache, excruciating and localized pain, and a swollen breast.