By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Pediatric Primary Care Physician
Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
August is National Breastfeeding Month and August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week! We all know the many wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child, so let’s take a moment to provide some validation and calm fears. Breastfeeding can be difficult and exhausting. Just because it is primitive and innate for humans, breastfeeding is not necessarily intuitive. It will sometimes take practice for both you and your baby before it becomes easy and comfortable.
Here are a few quick tips for becoming a champion at breastfeeding:
Take a deep breath
Having a baby can make you anxious about everything, but remaining calm is crucial because your baby feeds off your anxiety. Although your baby may be screaming from hunger, be sure to stay relaxed when getting ready to feed.
The latch is the most essential part to breastfeeding. If your baby can create a good seal around your nipple and areola (the area around the nipple), breastfeeding is more likely to be successful. Ask your pediatrician about lactation consultation or visit www.healthychildren.org for more information about breastfeeding positions and proper latching techniques.
Colostrum is the clear to golden, gooey liquid that comes from your breasts beginning at the end of your pregnancy through the first several days of breastfeeding. It is SUPER important because it is packed with antibodies and immunoglobulins that protect your baby from infections; colostrum also helps your baby pass the first tarry stools (meconium).
Soreness and Mastitis
Frequent breastfeeding can lead to sore and/or cracked nipples and sometimes the breast can become infected (this is called mastitis). Good breastfeeding technique (allowing baby to take the nipple and most of the areola into the mouth, as opposed to just the nipple) can help prevent soreness and cracked nipples, but if this is not enough, several over-the-counter creams exist to help soothe the pain. As painful as it may be, stopping breastfeeding (and not emptying your breasts) can lead to mastitis, which is a painful area in one breast that may be red and/or warm to touch and can cause fever, chills, and body aches. Be sure to talk to your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician if you are concerned you may have mastitis, but remember to continue to breastfeed through the infection. It is still safe for your baby and it will help the mastitis go away.
For more information about breastfeeding, visit healthychildren.org. To find a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Pediatric Primary Care Clinic, visit https://www.christushealth.org/santa-rosa/childrens-hospital-of-san-antonio/services-treatments/primary-care/pediatric-clinic.