Breastfeeding Red Flags in the First 3 Weeks
Breastfeeding had proven to be a challenge both mentally, emotionally, and physically for Claudia over the past 2-weeks. Evyn was hungry more frequently than the “2-3 hour” window. She was fussy and sleepy constantly. Claudia had taken prenatal breastfeeding classes and had learned a lot of great information, tips, and what-to-dos, and yet still she was sitting here struggling with body feeding her baby. Breastfeeding red flags were flaring, and Claudia was unaware of them.
Nipple Pain Red Flags
Is it pain or is it discomfort? Is any of this normal? Nipple pain during chest/breastfeeding while it is “common” in the realm of feeding isn’t necessarily what’s right. The nipple is tender and sensitive during menstruation, pregnancy, and and and is all of a sudden being tugged, pulled, and sucked on around the clock. A poor, lazy, or restricted latch can cause nipple pains. Breastfeeding may be uncomfortable, but it truly should never be painful.
Babies are learning how to feed outside the womb and need guidance. A new parent learning to feed for the first time needs guidance. But if you don’t know what to look for how do you know what to fix? If a nipple looks flat or like a lipstick tube there’s a latch issue. If there is pain upon initial contact and/or throughout the feed, there’s a latch issue. Tongue ties, lip ties, high palates, torticollis, cleft palate, prematurity, etc are some phyisiall restrictions that can occur in babies that can contribute to having higher indications latch concerns.
Having feedings assessed by a lactation professional such as an International Board Certified Lactation Counsultant (or IBCLC) can provide professional expertise with lactation. An IBCLC is the highest level of lactation expert AND is more credentialed than that of a non-IBCLC OB/GYN or Midwife.
Cracked and Bleeding Nipples
The areolas and nipples are being stimulated while breastfeeding. Which can result in cracked or bleeding nipples. Cracks can be painful and give discomfort which can negatively impact feedings. Bleeding while is unsightly for the nursing person, isnt’ necessarly harmful to the baby. It IS however an indication that something is wrong. The BEST remedy for sore, cracked nipples? Latch assessment, oral assessment, position changes, and breastmilk. The same breastmilk that nourishes the baby! After a feed, manually expressing and massaging breastmilk on the areaola and nipple to allow for suppleness and healing to occur.
Hot/Tender Breasts Red Flag
Another of breastfeeding red flags is the hot or tenderness of the breasts. Breasts that are hot or tender can be an indication of plugged duct or mastitis. A plugged duct is the build-up or backing up of milk in a milk duct. These can occur singly or in multiple ducts at a time. Typically, a plugged milk duct can be remedied by a feeding session, a pumping session, a hot or cold compress, and/or massage.
Mastitis is an infection and inflammation in the breast from a plugged milk duct. This form of infection is apparent with redness, soreness, and a hard formation in the breast. This is painful and can manifest as flu-like symptoms in the feeder. Mastitis can be remedied naturally by frequent feeding, pumping, position changes, and rest. In cases, over-the-counter pain relievers and antibiotics are needed to treat mastitis symptoms. Some antibiotics require a prescription by a provider.
When to Seek Help
Most often we seek help when we are in the trenches of a crisis. Societal, we as people are taught to “roll with the punches”, “muster through”, “be strong”, but that’s not always helpful or healthy!
Ideally, the BEST time to seek assistance with lactation is prenatal. Gaining insight prior to being “thrown into the deep end” to navigate breastfeeding is a monumental help. When one understands HOW the body works, WHAT to look for in a satisfied baby, and WHEN things are beyond the realm of normal, they can have the ultimate feelings of empowerment.
But what if everything was off to a great start, and now there have been some hiccups? Reach out ASAP! Why? Because nipping an issue in the bud help prevent long-term effects that can impact the journey. Seeking help the moment one feels that they want better for the situation is typically when they seek help. While this is the norm, please seek help from day 1, even better before day one.
Local Breastfeeding Resources for Red Flags
Support and knowledge are the yin and yang of a successful breastfeeding journey. The wonderful thing about Las Vegas is that there are WONDERFUL lactation professionals available (and wanting) to provide support throughout the journey at hand. Working alongside these professionals has provided us with referrals that meet the VFD standard. Here are a few of our go-to’s:
Southern Nevada Breastfeeding Coalition is a non-profit organization complied of lactation professionals in the Valley that strive to empower, educate, and emote freedoms in chest/breastfeeding. SNBC is a resource for families, professionals, and providers. Monthly meetings, Nurturing Naturally, celebrating National Breastfeeding Month, and an educational seminar are some of the events that SNBC put on. Their comprehensive resource list is downloadable and provides contact information for the certified lactation professionals in the Las Vegas Valley.
Our favorite resources come in the form of our Feeding Foundations class and our Infant Feeding Support. These support avenues provide one-on-one informative and educational elements that are tailored to the nursing person. Feeding Foundations is VFD’s infant feeding class that educates on chest/breastfeeding, bottles, pumping, formula, and more! Our infant feeding support gives in-home support to navigate the feeding concerns, questions, successes, and achievements.
Claudia’s visit with her lactation consultant was the perfect piece to the breastfeeding puzzle. The breastfeeding red flags that she was ignorant of prior, made sense now. Her IBCLC worked with her through every step of the feeding process and checked in with her later that week. Claudia’s insurance covered multiple visits with the lactation professional. Armed with her postpartum and infant care doula and her lactation professional, Claudia felt her postpartum period was taking a turn for the better.